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Robert Stephen Toale

About Robert Toale

About me

I grew up in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. Upon graduation from high school, I left New Jersey and found my way to New Orleans, where I attended Tulane University and graduated with a degree in political science.


Although I have known that I wanted to be a criminal defense lawyer almost all of my life, after graduating from Tulane I decided to take some time off, so I began selling insurance for the Equitable Life and saving money for law school. After three years of working. I started law school at Loyola University but continued to work for Equitable during law school and for a year and a half after law school.


I am proud to say that I have never worked for a law firm or the district attorney's office. All of my clients have been individual people and owners of small businesses. Many of my first law clients were friends, insurance clients or referrals.


I also began accepting appointments to criminal cases in Jefferson Parish to help build my practice. Within a short period of time my reputation grew, and although I did not seek the job, I was offered a part-time salaried position with the IDB (indigent defender board) as a public defender in juvenile court. During my tenure as an IDB lawyer in juvenile court, I tried hundreds of cases, gaining invaluable trial and courtroom experience.


While working in juvenile court, I continued accepting appointments to criminal cases in Jefferson Parish and handled my first two murder cases, including a death penalty case. Along with another lawyer, I represented Tyronne Lindsey.


Tyrone had been previously sentenced to death by two juries: I represented him before the third jury. Unfortunately, he was again sentenced to death and at one time had the distinction of being the oldest resident on Louisiana's death row.


Fortunately, due to the United States Supreme Court Atkins decision, his sentence was commuted to life. Out of approximately 20 death penalty clients I have represented, he is the only one who was sentenced to death. The rest of the cases were dismissed, reduced, or pled out to a lesser sentence.


Soon after leaving juvenile court, I was one of the first attorneys hired by the Jefferson Parish IDB, after the system was overhauled and began hiring attorneys as independent contractors. At any given time I handled, on the average, approximately 125 clients in five sections of court. I tried a number of jury trials in these five divisions, sometimes as many as two jury trials a week. During these trials, I gained invaluable trial experience.


Less than a year after being hired by IDB, I was invited to form a new team of lawyers that would handle only the most serious felonies, defined as crimes carrying a life or death sentence. I, along with one other attorney, immediately jumped at the opportunity and accepted the offer. It turned out to be an incredible opportunity - far greater than I had ever imagined.


I learned a great deal about forensics and DNA. (This was the late 80s and DNA evidence was brand new.) Unlike many public defenders in Louisiana at the time, I had access to money for private investigators and expert witnesses, and became proficient in using experts to build a defense and cross-examine expert witnesses.


During my time with the Jefferson Parish IDB, I represented clients in a number of high profile cases, such as: Vernon Williams, Patricia Van Winkle, Thomas Abadie and Joel Durhan. Representing these high-profile clients, I learned how to deal with the media, sometimes appearing on local television and radio three or four times per week. In addition to the local media, I was interviewed and quoted by CBS News, the ABA Journal, Newsweek, Lawyer's Weekly, and the National Law Journal.


Throughout my career, I have had a difficult time telling people that I cannot help them. As a result, I have handled almost any kind of case imaginable: divorce. custody, civil litigation, bankruptcy, wills, successions, collections, contracts, property disputes and personal injury.


Today, most of the people I represent are accused of crimes for the first time and are referred by other lawyers and clients. However, I have a fair number of repeat clients and now I am representing the children of former clients.


In my nearly 30 years of practice, I have tried over 100 jury trials with many not guilty verdicts.  I have represented approximately 5,000 clients over the course of my career.


I hope this has given you a clearer understanding of the depth of my experience in representing clients in criminal cases in all courts. If you have been arrested or you think you may be arrested, please call (504) 368-8440 or e-mail me for a consultation to discuss your case.

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