I am often asked one of several questions by people with no understanding of what I do:
- Why do you defend criminals?
- How can you do it when you know they are guilty?
- Don't you feel bad winning when you know you got them off on a technicality?
I am very proud of what I do. I work each and every day to protect people and their Constitutional rights. I protect them from an overzealous government. I protect innocent people and people who have made mistakes. And make no doubt about it, everyone makes mistakes.
I have always been a public servant. I worked for over ten years as a public school teacher. There did come a point however, when I decided I needed to do more. I saw kids that I could not reach. They were not going to do their homework for me or learn from me when they weren't safe at home (think back to Maslow's hierarchy of needs).
When I started law school, I immediately became an intern at the Public Defender's Office. My first week on the job I saw a ten-year old in handcuffs. I cried. This wasn't justice. I knew at that moment, that this area of the law was what I was meant for.
It was also through my work at the Public Defender's Office that I met James Bain. Through a joint effort of the PD's office and the Innocence Project, he was exonerated after 35 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. He is such a wonderful man. He has no hate in his heart. It is truly amazing.
I have represented people who have been harassed for no reason by our government simply because they looked different or poor or "like trouble." I have represented people whom I know were completely innocent of what they were accused of, yet their lives were potentially ruined because of the stigma.
And yes, I have represented people whom I have no idea if they were guilty or not. But that is not my job. My job is to protect their rights. Every person in this country has certain rights and protections guaranteed by our Constitution. The Constitution is not a technicality. These rights are not only given to innocent people--they are given and guaranteed to all people. If those protections are eroded, our country as a whole has lost. Whose rights will they come after next?