Seth Okin’s Approach to Criminal Cases
I empower my clients in criminal cases. I give them all the same lecture, and that is, “From the very beginning, you are hiring me, and in doing so, I essentially work for you. It’s my job to give you information, it’s my job to educate to you, and it’s my job to go over all the facts with you.” In my opinion, everyone is telling the truth – my client, the state, the officer. But the most important truth, the definitive truth, is my client, and what I need from them is the ability to analyze what else is happening. We sit down to go over the facts in order to revisit and envision the moment. We start two hours before an incident and end two hours after, and I figure out what is missing from the other statements; what [is the client] telling me that they didn’t? From there, we make decisions together. I don’t like to handle my clients; I don’t like to force them, and I don’t like to do things for them. I want them to know all the facts available to them, all the laws they need to understand, and I want them to be able to make decisions.
I don’t want to walk into a courtroom, get an offer from the state, turn around to my client to explain what the offer is, and have them ask me what I think. I’ll do what they want me to do. I don’t want them to do anything but what they feel is just, and if that means that we have a good deal in play and it’s worth pursuing, maybe we do that. But if my client looks at me and says, “I want to go home today,” and they’re facing jail time, then I am prepared for trial, and we can go forward. That’s the most important thing, that’s what I give my client – some sense of relief. They’re not as stressed because they don’t think I’m hiding something from them, they don’t think I’m back there making deals with the state without their knowledge. I give everything to my client, and without that honesty, without that relationship, I’ve got nothing. That pillar of trust is too important. That’s what I develop from the first moment I talk to someone, before they even become a client, and then we continue to build.