I started my career as a lawyer as a prosecutor in the Dade County State Attorney’s Office on August 11, 1986. The day was so significant in my life that I remember it thirty-two years later. Janet Reno, who later went on to be the Attorney General of the United States, was the State Attorney in Miami. She was my boss.
Miami was a thrilling place to be a prosecutor in the 1980s. The town was awash in drug money and violence and there was no shortage of opportunities to quickly become involved in serious investigations and prosecutions. My career as a prosecutor included working in the narcotics division- where I prosecuted cases against some of the best criminal defense attorneys in the county, and as a division chief where I supervised prosecutors and handled murder investigations and prosecutions. I frequently went to crime scenes at all hours and became friends with the hard-working crime scene investigators and detectives who often worked two or three days straight when a homicide investigation began.
The courtroom trial work was exhilarating. Beyond the cases I was assigned to, there was never a lack of opportunity to jump into a big case with a colleague who was going to trial. The time I spent as a prosecutor was akin to the training medical school interns and residents receive. The pay was low; the work hours long; the satisfaction was great.
When the time came to leave the State Attorneys Office I was fortunate to work with a group of experienced lawyers who helped me learn the business side of being a lawyer. I knew my way around a courtroom, but I didn’t know how to run a law office.
Over the years I have seen the areas of criminal law in Miami expand. South Florida always seems to be on the cutting edge of new types of crimes and prosecutions. Mortgage fraud in the early years of the new century morphed into health care fraud, business fraud, money laundering, and financial crimes and forfeiture defense which are the areas I concentrate on today.
So why does an award-winning prosecutor become a defense attorney? There are a few reasons, actually.
I like the challenge. I like helping people. I like deciding which cases I will become involved in. My practice is split between handling pre-indictment investigations, handling trials, and handling appeals. I also am fortunate enough to teach trial and appellate law and skills to lawyers and I often say that to become a better trial lawyer- do a few appeals, and to become a better appellate lawyer-do a few trials.
The people I now represent are good people. Some of them made bad choices but most of them became involved in businesses that they had no idea would expose them to arrest and criminal prosecution. They are good people who have had bad things happen to them.
America is not only the land of opportunity but also the land of second chances. We love an underdog and we love someone who has been knocked down getting off the canvas and winning the fight.
The federal criminal justice system can be harsh. The federal sentencing guidelines often recommend lengthy prison sentences for first-time offenders based solely on the total amount of loss – even where the client never benefited from the offense.
That’s where I come in. I work to minimize the damage for clients who made bad choices. I try cases to win and get clients out of the clutches of the federal government. I handle forfeiture cases to get back the money or the home or the airplane or car that the government is trying to take away from my client. And if things have gone bad before I become involved in a case, I handle appeals to help clients get out from under what are usually lengthy prison sentences.
Bad things happen to good people. But the measure of a person is not many times they are knocked down. The measure of a person is how many times they get back up. That’s where I come in.
I will be updating this blog frequently and I hope you come back to check out what I have to say. Thanks for reading.