I listened to a talk radio personality recently say that he wonders how criminal defense attorneys live with themselves and are happy. "Most the people they represent are guilty and how could they (defense attorneys) feel good about representing such scum?"
Below is my response to that question:
My career as a criminal defense attorney happened somewhat by accident. I was a prosecutor for 8 years and believed most of those years that I would prosecute for the rest of my life. I loved being a prosecutor and I was good at it. I received meaningful awards, unsolicited letters of support and praise from victims of crime. I felt that it was my calling in life- until I left to enter private practice to try and make a better living for my family and me.
I have made a better living in private practice but that’s not why I love being a criminal defense attorney and strongly feel that God has placed this particular call in my path to learn, grow and bless others to do the same in a very meaningful way.
What I lacked, however, as a prosecutor was a personification of the Defendant. I definitely had the victims’ interests but the Defendant was a person who I read about what he or she did in a police report. I didn’t read about who they were. It’s very different. The comment that “these people [in the criminal justice system] are scum” is very much an objectification, rather than a personification, of the individual- and for the most part is inaccurate. None of my clients believe that they are scum. In fact many people who have felt that way change their tune real quickly when they come to me to represent them, their sons or daughters or grandchildren for serious mistakes, misjudgments, bad decisions that have led them to my office.
Are some people un-deserving of advocacy? Perhaps that’s not for us to judge.
I do, however, screen and assess every potential new client who comes in or contacts me. And I make a determination of whether or not that person is someone whom I can help.
It is the main job of a criminal defense attorney to be an advocate for the Defendant and that often means personifying the Defendant to a prosecutor.
I am fortunate to know how to negotiate and litigate through a very stressful system that is foreign to most people living in our country. That knowledge and skill provides for my family and I am proud of it. I strongly believe in the constitutional principles. I have seen these principles in action when juries have returned "not guilty" verdicts for my clients
As for the cases that don’t go all of the way to a jury, they are generally a negotiated resolution where prosecutors and defense attorneys wrestle (figuratively) between justice and mercy, strengths and weaknesses of a case.
So that’s the long answer to the question. The short answer is: I sleep well. I am happy. I wake up refreshed and excited to face a new day.
I hope I have enlightened anyone who wonders at least how this criminal defense attorney lives with himself.
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I have known Mark since he prosecuted felonies. He was a competent trial attorney then and has only become more passionate and more creative an attorney as he switched to the defense and as the years have passed. I endorse this attorney.
Rachelle Ferraro Criminal defense Attorney
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|Award name||Grantor||Date granted|
|Prosecutor of the Year||Pinal County Attorney's Office||2004|
|2004 Vertical Prosecutor of the Year||Arizona Auto Theft Authority||2004|
|Partner||Davis Miles, PLLC||2013 - Present|
|Attorney||Law Offices of Mark J. Andersen P.L.C.||2006 - 2013|
|Deputy Prosecuting Attorney||Pinal County Attorney's Office||2003 - 2006|
|Deputy County Attorney||Maricopa Country Attorney's Ofc||1997 - 2003|
|South Texas College of Law||Law||JD - Juris Doctor||1997|
|Brigham Young University||English||BA - Bachelor of Arts||1991|