Attorney Matt Kroes recently took a battery case to trial, and you better believe Attorney Marc Lopez wanted to hear about it! What follows is a lightly edited transcript of their conversation.
Matt, you had a pretty big week! You had a trial, and you came back to the office like, “Ah, we won!” It was awesome because, number one, winning is always awesome, and number two, we’re excited to get back in the courtroom. Tell us what happened, boss.
We showed up ready to go to trial. The State had their witnesses present. My client really wanted a trial because we had a really good self-defense argument. It was a battery charge and a domestic battery charge, so there were two different counts with two different alleged victims. It was pretty wild, but we had a very good self-defense argument.
One of the main points of contention was the question of whether our client was actually in a place where she was entitled to be. Ultimately the judge sided with us after all the evidence came out.
It was a good trial. The client did an amazing job. I appreciate the fact that they were able to put their trust in us. Came back not guilty on both counts.
So Matt, this is a case where police came to the scene, they talked to our client, they talked to the people that she is alleged to have hit, and they decided to arrest our client. We didn’t accept that because our client insisted she wasn’t guilty. We prepped the case, and when it came time for trial, you—with an assist from our new law clerk—were able to convince the judge the officers were wrong, the prosecutor was wrong, and no crime had been committed.
How did that feel?
It feels great. Every defense attorney loves hearing the words not guilty, but to be honest, that was probably the second-best thing that came out of that day.
It’s not very often a client is willing to put their money where their mouth is, and that trust meant a lot to me. Feeling that trust was actually the best part of this whole experience. The client trusted us to go to trial, and she was actually gung-ho about it.
So the best part was the client’s trust and enthusiasm. And the verdict? That’s the whipped cream and cherry on top.
You were able to show the judge that 1) the client acted reasonably, both from her own perspective and from the outside looking in; 2) the client had the right to be where she was; and 3) the client was not the one that started the trouble.
Just to review: you can’t get to a trial unless a lot of people have decided that a trial should happen. First, an officer has to look at the facts and make an arrest. Second, the prosecutor reviews what the officer wrote up and decides whether to file charges. Third, the State’s allegations are reviewed by a judge to see if they appear to be sufficient.
So by the time this got to trial, there had already been three opportunities—with the officer, the prosecutor, and the judge—for the State to reconsider things. And it didn’t. The State just plowed ahead at every step until we got to trial. And I give judges so much credit for not letting themselves be prejudicially influenced by the process. The judge may have signed off on the probable cause affidavit, but that doesn’t automatically mean the prosecution wins at trial.
When clients put their trust in us to go forward with a trial, that a huge responsibility. I applaud you for fighting the good fight.
Any time a person is charged with a crime, it’s a life-changing event. Even if it’s a misdemeanor, even if the charges don’t appear to be that serious—it’s always important to have an attorney by your side.
Good work, Matt!