When it comes to defense strategy, the client has a real advantage when his lawyer knows the judge well. Over time, an attorney gains insight into a judge’s political leanings, which can suggest a certain bias against either the prosecution or the defendant. By recognizing that bias and understanding the judge’s past rulings, the seasoned lawyer generally can tell how a particular judge will view his client’s case.
Jury Trial or Plea
Some judges are more receptive to certain arguments than other judges. The experienced lawyer knows this and adapts his defense strategy to the particular judge assigned to the case. The strategy may be to try the case because the judge seems pro-defendant, or negotiate a plea given the judge’s history of non-leniency when sending defendants to prison following a guilty verdict.
Judges Discourage Trials
Rather than challenge the prosecution’s case at trial, far too many innocent defendants plea down the charges. One reason could be the criminal courts are so overwhelmed that it’s hard for every defendant to have his day in court. Another reason is many judges in the Tampa Bay area punish defendants who exercise their constitutional right to a jury trial. Consequently, even if the evidence favors them, many defendants feel compelled to take the plea rather than risk a jury trial controlled by an unsympathetic judge.
Make Informed Decisions
Unfortunately, it’s naïve to believe that the innocent defendant will prevail in every jury trial. Judgments are made by people and sometimes they get them wrong. To help prevent that result, the defendant should hire an experienced, board-certified criminal defense lawyer, specifically one who knows the special temperaments and tendencies of the judges in the Tampa Bay area. It may not matter if the evidence favors the defendant if the judge is the type that won’t listen to it.