Recently I had the opportunity to be lead counsel on the largest white collar crimes case tried by the Attorney General’s office in three (3) years. It was an eight (8) day jury trial that cost tens of thousands of dollars and left 12 jurors deliberating for a day and half. Needless to say, it was a daunting task for any criminal defense attorney. When all was said and done, and the dust had cleared, the Defendant, Edna Kay Jackson, was found guilty on seven (7) counts, not guilty on four (4) counts, and received a complete dismissal on the 12th count. We considered it a victory under the circumstances, and the Defendant now stands a chance of little to no jail time in the wake of the conflicted jury.
However, not everyone will get that story. Initial news coverage reports Jackson to be guilty as charged, with little hope of alleged victims seeing restitution. While the story was better, the truth was lacking, and from the depths of this spin of the truth comes the wayward misconceptions of the public. One particular member of the public was a family member, choosing to give me the silent treatment, and speak poorly of my profession. Again I am disappointed at the perpetual chain of misconception brought forth by the misrepresentations of the media.
Let us be clear that the purpose of the law is to provide justice, not just for victims, but those accused. Just recently my wife found herself wrongly accused of a seemingly meaningless act; a traffic violation that would go uncharged, but would create a sense disappointment in our law enforcement by an otherwise trusting person. I too witnessed that same disappointment in the jury panel of this trial. Of the close to 100 people on the potential jury panel, nearly every hand was raised when asked the question, “Does the fact that the defendant is charged with a crime, make her more likely guilty in your mind?” A yes answer here leaves me deflated and concerned that our system of “innocent until proven guilty” not only lacks in reason, but in application. If not for family members that judge without knowing, if not for media who spins the truth, if not for citizens who assume the worst and have misplaced trust in our government, do we even need attorneys?
I set here today confident in our legal system, but weary of our masses. I only urge the public to do their research and believe what they know, not what they think.