People frequently ask me “Am I better off going with a lawyer who practices only in one district court, or someone who is an expert in fighting DUI cases?.
Occasionally, prospective clients express concern that because I do not spend all my time in one court, I might not know the court personnel well enough to help him or her obtain a favorable outcome. It’s true that I represent clients charged with OUIs in all criminal courts in all parts of Massachusetts. In fact, out of the 70 district courts in Massachusetts, I’ve represented clients in all of them.
However, being a “regular” in any specific court matters very little. There are no backroom deals, and no good ole boy backslapping that is going to get your OUI case dismissed with a wink and a nudge. The clerks, court officers, and probation officers have no control over the substantive outcome of a case.
As for the prosecutors in the district court, they have some control over a case; they can recommend a harsh or a light punishment. Yet as far as OUI cases are concerned, prosecutors have little to no discretion. They must recommend a punishment based on the policy of that particular District Attorney’s office.
Prosecutors must treat each OUI case the same. If you’ve been charged with an OUI, it will not make a bit of difference to the prosecutor if you’re being represented by someone he sees frequently. To that end, prosecutors almost never dismiss OUI cases; they’d rather fight the case and lose at trial. The reason is that OUIs are a hot-button topic in the media.
Besides child sex crimes, domestic violence, and murders, drunk driving cases attract the most negative publicity of any crime. You’ve all seen the stories in the news where there is a horrible drunk driving accident and the driver is found to have multiple OUI arrests or convictions.
No prosecutor is willing to risk cutting a defendant a lenient deal, to find out that 6 months later they are involved in a serious drunk driving accident. Prosecutors take that into consideration, and therefore treat each OUI case very seriously.
Knowing that, it’s important to be represented by someone who specializes in defending OUI cases. I can can fight the case on the merits, and on the narrow and technical points of the OUI statutes.
Knowing something about the judge, on the other hand, can be quite important. Different judges may be tougher or more lenient on sentencing following a plea or guilty finding, or may have different standards for handling evidence presented at a trial. And knowing that is particularly important in choosing whether to have a bench trial, where the judge alone decided the outcome, or a regular jury trial.
We keep detailed notes on all the judges in Massachusetts. And because we represent clients all across Massachusetts, we’ve compiled comprehensive and detailed synopses on all judges. Judges, like some lawyers, move from court to court. For example, on one day Judge B could be sitting in Plymouth District Court on Monday, Brockton District Court on Tuesday, and Stoughton District Court on Wednesday – we’ve represented clients in those courts many times.
Since we defend cases in every court in Massachusetts, we have appeared in front of almost all judges at one time or another.
An example: at a trial earlier this year, the judge in the jury session was not particularly friendly. I knew this because I had appeared before him several times in the past. My client agreed with me when I recommended that we have a better chance at achieving a not guilty verdict with a jury.
When my client’s case was called I told that judge that we were choosing to have a jury trial. The judge then sent us to a different courtroom with a different judge. The new judge was one that I knew to be more potentially sympathetic to our defense, so with this judge, I thought we had a better chance of obtaining an acquittal with a bench trial. The client agreed to waive his right to a jury. Our decision paid off, the judge ended up finding the client not guilty.
Call me now for a free consultation on your Massachusetts OUI case, in any court.
– Attorney Russell Matson
(781) 380-7730 – 24 hours a day