Does the State Know Everything About a Case?

Answer: not always.

Texas criminal defense lawyer Mark Bennett recently wrote the following words in a blog post.

I suspect that some prosecutors come into the practice (from the high school – college – law school track with no intervening real-world experience) thinking that the State holds all of the cards. This is often true but, with a competent defense lawyer, probably not more than half the time. By the time we get to trial, no matter how much the case looks like a whale (to you and even to me), I guarantee that I’ve got something up my sleeve that is going to make you sweat.

These words are very true. When I was a prosecutor, defense attorneys usually presented something at trial that I did not see coming. Furthermore, in Illinois, this is particularly true in misdemeanor cases because the State does not have a right to discovery. (Discovery is where the parties in a lawsuit exchange information about the case. In a criminal case in Illinois, the “lawsuit” is between the People and the defendant.)

How does Mark get that “something up [his] sleeve?” I only know Mark from reading his blog, but my guess is that he gets it through preparation, preparation, and preparation. Some signs of a good attorney are that the person works hard, knows his cases, and is always prepared. Preparation goes a long way to make up for a lack of charisma or good looks. As Thomas Jefferson said, “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more luck I have.” How true this is.

5 Responses to “Does the State Know Everything About a Case?”

  1. 1 Mark Bennett August 1, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Thanks . . . hey, waitaminute. Did you just say I lack charisma and good looks?!?

  2. 3 chicagocrimelaw August 1, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    Jeremy, welcome to the blawgosphere…I too publish an Illinois Criminal Defense blawg, based out of Chicago. you can catch me at which is known as the “26th St. Bar Association” after the venerable 26th and California criminal court house down here. Welcome!

  3. 4 Windypundit August 1, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    Welcome. I’m a politics and policy (and economics and photography and cats) blogger, not a lawyer, but I get a lot of my topics from the legal bloggers. I’ve been lamenting the lack of local blawging, so it’s good to see Illinois represent. Good luck!

  4. 5 Wilson August 4, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    I enjoy reading your experienced insight into the legal system. Keep it coming.

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Jeremy J. Richey, Attorney at Law
© Jeremy J. Richey and The East Central Illinois Criminal Law & DUI Weblog, 2008-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.