In 2005, I started DelSignore Law as a criminal defense firm handling all types of criminal charges. While we handle every type of criminal charge, we soon got recognized around Massachusetts for handling DUI cases. It was a great honor to quickly be recognized as one of the top firms for OUI defense in Massachusetts. The reason I like handling OUI cases is that I can really identity with what the client is going through. After an arrest, a person feels as though their life is over, they worry about their job, and family life and it is an anxiety that from day one I try to ease for the client. I can relate to someone who has worked there entire life for something only to believe that it is taken away by one mistake; to give someone a second chance by proving a stop was unlawful, that there was not sufficient evidence to prove the case in court or to be passionate enough to be able to convince the jury in the face of difficulty facts is a very rewarding job.
Unfortunately, until the person hears the words not guilty, I cannot predict the outcome or completely ease the stress of being charged. But I have tried to develop systems over the years to reduce the stress during the process. I understand what my clients are going through. It was three days before my law school orientation at University of Connecticut School of Law where I was going to start law school. It was a goal I had been working toward for the last four years of college. It was my vision in high school as I was on the mock trial team.
All of a sudden while driving home from Bryant College I saw the blue lights in the back of my window like so many of my clients. I was on the side of the road performing field tests, thinking I passed only to be told I failed. How was that possible? My fate was in the hands of a police officer. There was nothing I could do. I knew I drank next to nothing that night; I was released and never charged because when I took the breath test the result was zero. I was arrested because I was nervous and overcome with fear from having my fate in the hands of a police officer. While I did not go through the stress having to go to court, the experience stuck in my mind that my clients are all at the mercy of the judgment of a police officer. When I looked at the report the officer wrote, I noticed it was inaccurate, putting quotes for phrases I never use.
Those who are charged with OUI are really good people. When the case is over, my goal as a lawyer is to bring some positive to the person’s life. I developed a love for reading during high school. It took me awhile to become self motivated in school, but learning is an obsession of mine. I enjoy reading every book and material on trial advocacy and working with a jury. I think it is my job to continue trying to improve and get a little better each day. It is no different than sports stars; Tom Brady, never stops working on his throwing motion and Michael Jordan’s drive during practice is the reason he was unstoppable during his playing career.
It think that makes me unique as a lawyer. I believe firmly that I am preparing for trial everyday. When I read new material, go to a seminar, work on improving my delivery and developing new ideas, I am preparing for that day before the jury whether it is for the client the next day or for the client that will walk in two years later. One of the great famous quotes from John Wooden is that when the opportunity arrives, it is too late to prepare. There is nothing that gets your anxiety and adriellene running like hearing the court say the jury is entering the room. It is that point when you are about to start you are thankful for all the preparation put in before hand.
Having done hundreds of trials, I know that I have to take each moment before the jury to make my client’s case, make plays, teach the jury our theory of the case. It is important to not rush a cross examination of a police officer no matter how many times you have questioned an officer on a DUI. For the jury, this is a first time experience. Just like the performer in a show like Chicago where it is done for months at a time, for the audience, it is there only time seeing the show.
There is nothing like the intensity of the split second before you hear the verdict and the clerk asks has the jury reached a verdict. That is the moment you find out if all the work and effort during the past six months, one year, or how ever long the case took is going to get the client the result they wanted. I’ve been on both sides of the verdict and the excitement and relief when your client walks out with a not guilty is a rewarding experience.
I recall driving one client back home while he was calling his friends telling them he would still be able to run the business and be part of the family. The day before that trial; he was telling me how scared he was. I was nervous too, but I was able to focus on my job in court by going back to all the preparation I put in. Whenever I am nervous, I look back at prior cases, prior tests I had to take in law school and college and have the confidence to know when I put everything into the case, usually good things happen. When there is a lot at stake, you cannot let that overcome you, but must be read to deliver a great opening, prepared for cross and ready for a passionate closing argument.
But gratitude from clients is not always related to the size of the case or outcome. One of the most moving moments in court occurred after a guilty verdict, this client was not going home, and when I told him after two days, it was time to go with the court officer’s, I was mentally drained and at that point upset that I could not save him, he said thank you, it struck me that at that time he could appreciate what I had tried to do for him. The connection with the client and the appreciate for the effort many clients will see and thank you for. It is very rewarding feeling. Most clients will see during the deliberation that you are with them in this process and going through the same emotions they are.
Although we cannot win every case, we can put everything into every case and make a connection with the client and the jury. Being a lawyer is one of the things I am most grateful for in my life on a professional level. It is impossible for me to image doing a different job or not waking up everyday to moving a case forward and take a step toward preparing it for trial.
This year we had out second annual education event for lawyers. It is a way to give back and to show our commitment to being a top trial lawyer and leader in the legal profession. At the end of our cases, most of our clients received one of my favorite books the Slight Edge; it is a way to turn the negative experience of having to hire us into a positive because I believe the ideas from books and especially that one can change someone’s life for the better.