Today starts a new topic for the Nashville Criminal Law Report .Brentwood , Tennessee lawyer John Day wrote a series of posts on " What it takes to be a great trial lawyer". I read Mr. Day’s series of posts with a passion. As I sat in court listening to a sentencing in criminal court here in Nashville , It reminded me of his thoughts. and observations. So here’s my thoughts on " What it takes to be a great criminal defense lawyer.
Know The Tennessee Rules of Evidence
As I mentioned earlier , I was watching a sentencing hearing while waiting for my case to be called. The defendant had plead guilty to aggravated assault and was testifying as to his story of what happened . The Assistant District Attorney was cross examining him trying to impeach his testimony based upon a prior statement.to the police. One warning never talk to the police unless you have a lawyer with you. The method of cross by the state was against the rules. The defense attorney made a timely objection. However, the court did not make any rulings because the objection was not precise as to reason the cross examination was improper.
The Assistant District Attorney was cross examining the defendant from a police report on what was alleged to have been his statement. No transcript or written statement was used.
One quality of a great criminal defense lawyer is you must know the Tennessee Rules of Evidence backwards and forwards. The second teaching point is always have your client read any report that may have his statement in it before he testifies at any hearing or trial.