Gruler Nation Podcast

Episode #92: Jury Trials with Kim Benjamin 

March 06, 2020 Robert F. Gruler Jr., Esq.
Gruler Nation Podcast
Episode #92: Jury Trials with Kim Benjamin 
Chapters
Gruler Nation Podcast
Episode #92: Jury Trials with Kim Benjamin 
Mar 06, 2020
Robert F. Gruler Jr., Esq.

Kim Benjamin is a trial lawyer and founder of the Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center at the Benjamin Law Firm in Kansas City metropolitan area. She has tried more than 70 jury trials and 200 bench trials in criminal and civil matters, obtaining an outstanding win record. Due to her experience as a faculty member at the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College, she consults with lawyers who wish to have an experienced trial lawyer assist them in winning big money verdicts and acquittals.  

 


Kim has been awarded the Missouri Lawyers Weekly Women Justice Award for Litigation and the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Atticus Finch Award. Kim loves helping people get to tell their stories and have their day in court. She knows that settlements and guilty pleas can be very difficult for some clients to live with, so she wants to make sure all her clients have a fighter in their corner.  

 

Kim recently co- counseled in a jury trial on employment discrimination and won the largest verdict in that county for that type of case. Kim is passionate about jury trials and in the near future will be assisting lawyers by trying their cases with them as co- counsel. Make sure to visit her law firms website at www.DWICriminalLawCenter.com, give her a call at (816) 322- 8008, or shoot her an email at info@bejaminlawkc.com to learn more. You can also find Kim on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter!  

 

#jurytrials #trial #jury #missouri #DWI #criminallaw #criminaldefense #lawfirm #civil #criminal #benchtrial #lawyer #attorney #notguilty #winning #alwayswinning #cocounsel #passion #podcast #InspirationwithGrulerNation #inspire #gruler #inspiration #GrulerNation #GrulerNationPodcast #gnp #arizonapodcast #scottsdale #yesphx #phx  

 

The Gruler Nation Podcast is a show that focuses on conversations with interesting "Level 10" people passionate about changing the world with their work, relationships and ideas. The show is hosted by Robert Gruler, an attorney and founding partner of the R&R Law Group, a criminal defense law firm based in Scottsdale, Arizona focused on helping good people charged with crimes move forward with their lives.   

 

Interested in being on the show or have a guest recommendation? Email Robert directly at robert@rrlawaz.com or visit www.robgruler.com for more information.  

 

Show Notes Transcript

Kim Benjamin is a trial lawyer and founder of the Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center at the Benjamin Law Firm in Kansas City metropolitan area. She has tried more than 70 jury trials and 200 bench trials in criminal and civil matters, obtaining an outstanding win record. Due to her experience as a faculty member at the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College, she consults with lawyers who wish to have an experienced trial lawyer assist them in winning big money verdicts and acquittals.  

 


Kim has been awarded the Missouri Lawyers Weekly Women Justice Award for Litigation and the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Atticus Finch Award. Kim loves helping people get to tell their stories and have their day in court. She knows that settlements and guilty pleas can be very difficult for some clients to live with, so she wants to make sure all her clients have a fighter in their corner.  

 

Kim recently co- counseled in a jury trial on employment discrimination and won the largest verdict in that county for that type of case. Kim is passionate about jury trials and in the near future will be assisting lawyers by trying their cases with them as co- counsel. Make sure to visit her law firms website at www.DWICriminalLawCenter.com, give her a call at (816) 322- 8008, or shoot her an email at info@bejaminlawkc.com to learn more. You can also find Kim on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter!  

 

#jurytrials #trial #jury #missouri #DWI #criminallaw #criminaldefense #lawfirm #civil #criminal #benchtrial #lawyer #attorney #notguilty #winning #alwayswinning #cocounsel #passion #podcast #InspirationwithGrulerNation #inspire #gruler #inspiration #GrulerNation #GrulerNationPodcast #gnp #arizonapodcast #scottsdale #yesphx #phx  

 

The Gruler Nation Podcast is a show that focuses on conversations with interesting "Level 10" people passionate about changing the world with their work, relationships and ideas. The show is hosted by Robert Gruler, an attorney and founding partner of the R&R Law Group, a criminal defense law firm based in Scottsdale, Arizona focused on helping good people charged with crimes move forward with their lives.   

 

Interested in being on the show or have a guest recommendation? Email Robert directly at robert@rrlawaz.com or visit www.robgruler.com for more information.  

 

Support the show (https://www.ericshouse.org/donate/)

Speaker 1:

This is episode 92 of the Gruler Nation podcast. My name is Robert Gruler, joined today by Kim Benjamin, who is a trial lawyer. She's the founder of Missouri DWI and criminal law center at the Benjamin law firm in Kansas city, metropolis truck, metropolis area. She's got a lot of experience and she's kind of my kindred spirit. We've got a lot in common. We're both criminal defense attorneys, but she's a little bit more experience than I do. She's done 70 jury trials, 200 bench trials in both criminal and civil matters. She's got an outstanding win record. She is a faculty member or was a faculty member at the Gerry Spence trial lawyer's college. I know she does a lot of work with the national college for DUI defense. She is a, she's been awarded the Missouri lawyers weekly women justice award for litigation and the Missouri association of criminal defense lawyers association lawyers, Atticus Finch award.

Speaker 1:

So a lot of accomplishments there. And uh, I want to welcome to the show. Thanks for being here, Kim. Thank you for having me. So, you know, we were speaking a little bit off offline before we hopped on the, on the show. I know you know a lot about what you do cause it's very similar to what we do. But my, my area of focus where I wanted to start with sort of the origin story, you know, how did you get into this space because a criminal lawyer who does jury trials is not necessarily what kids want to be when they grow up. You know, they want to be an astronaut or go to the moon or be president or something like that. So walk us through kind of the story of, of, of how you evolved into where you are today.

Speaker 2:

Well, my parents would probably say I was meant to be a lawyer because I was a very stubborn, argumentative child. Sure. And that's really probably what pushed me more into law than anything was them saying you need to be a lawyer. I heard that a lot as a child. Um, my parents, neither one of them had a college education, but they knew they wanted to raise kids that went on to college. So reading was huge in my family. I remember I was reading at a very young age and my parents, like I said, I argued a lot. I was a very bossy child apparently. And um, and so when I went to college, law was not on my mind at all. Um, but ultimately graduated from college and wasn't really interested in finding a job just yet. So I took the L set it, it certainly wasn't going to be medical school.

Speaker 2:

My graduate school didn't even sound interesting to me cause I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up so to speak. I'm 22 years old and one of my favorite shows at the time was LA law. That's way back. And um, it was one of my favorite shows and I remember, um, and speech communication was a part of my college education. So it just felt natural political science was too. Um, but I was not interested in politics. That was your undergrad? Yes. Political science. And then, um, speech communication. I had two bachelor's degrees. So five years of college. Not really wanting to go into the real yet. Went to law school and I'm from Kansas city area. Went off to law school in Washington D C and came back and became a public defender because what happened to me in law school actually is I wanted to be in the corporate world that interested me being like on wall street or in a corporation.

Speaker 2:

That sounded good to me. My, my background was my parents had no college education but they also were blue collar workers. So I didn't really know what corporate America meant really. Um, but anyway, I was in a class for trial advocacy and the professor said you need to not be in a law office, transactional type of lawyer. You need to be in the courtroom. And that was the push that I needed. Okay. So I came back home to Kansas city, I applied for the public defender's office and got in. And that was the beginning of me being a trial lawyer.

Speaker 1:

It was that was that public defense? Was that just cause you know you can go, you could easily have been a prosecutor.

Speaker 2:

Yes. And for me, I could have easily been a prosecutor because I didn't have any sort of, um, mindset for either side at the time. Yeah. I just wanted to be in the courtroom because the professor told me I needed to be criminal, sounded interesting to me. They're going to be in the courtroom faster than most other lawyers in any other type of law. And I actually did apply at the prosecutor's office and the public defender's office, the public defender's office hired me. And it was then within about six months, I realized I could never be a prosecutor because I was, I certainly wasn't a silver spoon child. I was raised military father 21 years when he retired. And then he worked in a factory, very middle class, suburban, small town, um, upbringing outside of Kansas city. And I had no clue that people could be in prison wrongfully.

Speaker 2:

Now it's kind of like who's in prison, who should be, because it seems like every other case is a wrongful conviction or a false confession or somebody lied to get somebody else in trouble and put them in prison. And that I just never had a clue. I did not know that the police could lie to you. We now know that the police can lie to you to get you to confess. Yeah. Um, I didn't know the prosecutors could cheat and hide the ball, which isn't thankfully the norm where I'm at, but it happens. Yeah. Um, so yeah, I was naive,

Speaker 1:

so it was, I, my story is very similar to that. You know, I w I went through law school wanting to be a prosecutor. Yeah. I actually thought, yeah, I was a political science just like you were. And I thought, you know, I'll go work at the prosecutor's office, worked my way up the chain of command and run for office one day and much like your story, I had to go, I went and worked at a defense law firm because the prosecutor's office wouldn't take me when I was an intern. I was an intern there at, during my early year in law school. They didn't want me, I was too young. I didn't know anything. And just like you, I started have to deal with prosecutors and I was like, I could never, I could never do that. No. Where. So you practice in Missouri and you, so you start there at the public defender's office. How long are you there before you decide it's time for the next chapter?

Speaker 2:

I was at the Kansas city public defender's office, so dealing with a lot of inner city type of cases for about a year. And then I went to a suburban office where I had a different type of clientele. Um, a lot of meth back then. Missouri was it, it was very bad back then. It still is. But that was a lot of my cases because I left the city, the city had a different kind of clientele leave the city and then I get a lot of drugs. Um, and I then I was promoted actually to be a manager at even further away. I was at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, central Missouri. And um, is that where the net Netflix show? Yes, that's right. The Jason Bateman show on Netflix. That's an Ozark, right? That's right. Yeah. Um, but did that for just shy of six years. I've got a ton of jury trial experience, all different kinds of cases, drugs, murder, you know, criminal, non-support, burglar, you name it.

Speaker 2:

I did all of it. And um, and not a lot of DWI work that really came into my life after I left the public defender's office, but did that for just shy of six years. And then it was that burnout moment or on spinning my wheels because there's not a lot of money in public defense, not just for the lawyers, but just in general. So you have way too many cases, your clients don't get the attention that they need of their lawyers. And most public defenders struggle with the stress of that and having more cases than they can possibly handle. Working nights and weekends all the time. And there's no such thing as a real vacation. So about just shy of six years before I went on my own and I did that back in my hometown by Kansas city.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. And I, I have a ton of respect for public defenders and, and, and people who do that, a lot of attorneys like to kind of dump on them, you know, like, well they don't care as much as we care and they're not good lawyers cause they're just government employees and stuff. And I couldn't disagree with that more. I mean, I know, I know a lot of people here locally who are excellent public Def, you know, they're, they're, they're the defense lawyers. They just happened to work for the governor.

Speaker 2:

Every really good lawyer who I respect in Missouri, 90% of them are, 99% of them are former public defenders because that's where they got into the courtroom learning the trade, learning how to be a trial lawyer. It's not for everybody. There's plenty of people that do go into public defender work that shouldn't be there. And that does happen is that as in any profession, um, but for the most part, they're the best lawyers and they certainly have the best training. In Missouri. It's a little different than every state's so different. Um, in Missouri we have, it's a state, so like the prosecutors are all County government, the public defenders, state government, state agency. And so they put a lot of time and effort into training and um, doing the best they can to work with the budget that they have. Cause they get a state budget through the legislature and it's, it's the bottom of the barrel nationwide, Missouri may national news for how bad it is actually. But you do the best with what you got. And, and their training program was amazing

Speaker 1:

in terms of, you said bottom in terms of the funding.

Speaker 2:

Funding, yeah. And having more cases than public defenders should carry. It's against the American bar associations guidelines actually. So we were living in a world of chronically being, um, in a malpractice situation, for example, or an ethical violation because we had too many cases. What kind of numbers? I don't know what it is today, but it's quite public. The Missouri public defender's quite public with how bad their numbers.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. That's a bomber, you know, and it's, and it's one of those things, and I kind of want to get your thoughts on, on this, you know, defense lawyers in my experience have gotten a lot of kind of negative stigma from, from the rest of society. You know, how can you represent these people? They're criminals, they're scum, they deserve to be in there. And my experience has been that quite frankly, most of our clients are extremely good people. You know, 99.9% of them are very good people. They just had one little bet, one bad night, one bad argument, one bad, you know, trip to the bar or whatever it is. But they're good people. Their fathers, their mothers, their, you know, they've got employees or teachers, you know, we've represented, you know, airline pilots and firefighters and all sorts of things. And so for, for, for people who are, are, are being charged with a crime, you know, they need, they need help. And a lot of them just simply do not have the resources to go help somebody. So, so, you know, people who are doing public defense work, they're helping people who are sort of completely out of options. I mean they haven't, they have nothing. They have no alternatives. So in terms of like a higher hierarchy, you know, they're at the bottom of that. And, and it, has that been kind of your experience?

Speaker 2:

I experience definitely the, that question that you started with of how can you represent those people? Uh, I haven't heard that question in a long time. And I think it's because of social media and the media in general actually turning a light on the corruption that exists in the criminal justice system and how poor people in particularly minorities, and if you're the combination of poor in a minority, how you are, um, presumed guilty way faster by law enforcement, the public, the police, the prosecutors, the judges, everybody. And so I think, um, I don't that question as much anymore and frankly, it's easier to represent someone who's guilty. Yeah. The stress of representing someone who's innocent or someone he feels being railroaded it, that stress is so much bigger. It's easy to sleep at night when you're representing guilty people cause you're doing the best you can for a broken person potentially, or a person who maybe hurt someone else.

Speaker 2:

But children were not born into this world to become criminals. They're made, right? And they're usually made by some abuse in the system that did not. And no one protected them. Whether it be a teacher, a parent, the police, somehow we as a society failed them. And, and we put all these things in place to try to prevent that. But it happens. And then you have on top of it, the trauma that leads to substance abuse. If it wasn't for substance abuse and mental health issues, I had 90% of my practice would be gone. Right. Um, because there's so much substance abuse and mental health issues in this country and we don't have enough resources. The department of mental health and Missouri for example, their funding is horrific. Horrific. It's as bad if not worse than the public defender for helping those people in stress and in trouble. And so what happens is crimes, right? I'll never forget the time I had a schizophrenia client who broke into a house to take a bath and eat. Wow. That was a felony. He went to prison for that. That's, that's the way things are. Unfortunately, we don't take care of those who are lesser than us. And then when they do something to try to survive, which is the instinct we all have, then they get punished for it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. And exactly. And you use the word punish, you know, and you mentioned substance abuse and mental problems. And there's a, there's a phrase from a guy, I'm a part of his group that he says, you can't punish the pain out of people. You know, and people are, are oftentimes using substances because they're hurting. They've got trauma from their upbringing. They've got, uh, you know, abuse that they're dealing with. And so now they, you know, they're turning to other mechanisms to help them do all that pain. And then now they get in trouble. And now our solution is, well, we're just going to send you to jail. We're going to send you to prison. Even though that doesn't do anything to help that person and it doesn't address the underlying problem.

Speaker 2:

That's exactly right. We have a good movement throughout the country for things like drug court, mental health court, veterans court, but it's not enough. We what we do to our veterans and how we give them very little support is horrendous. The suicide rate among veterans is horrendous and frankly the, when you see mental illness and you see the, what we see in our profession, it is, it's just sickening that we don't help these people before they commit a crime. When you look at violent crimes and property crimes, almost all of them are from people that are broken and somehow broken by us not helping them along the way like we caused their trauma or we didn't prevent their trauma in some way, especially the veterans that's just on us as a country

Speaker 1:

completely. Yeah. You mentioned previously that there was a kind of a shift in, in the public perception of of what's going on in the criminal justice system and I was going to ask you about that and you brought it up and I was curious. You said you, you think that a lot of it has to do with with social media. Can you expand on that? Do you think it's just the fact that phones are everywhere and people are recording more?

Speaker 2:

There's that for sure. I mean, I cannot tell you how many times when I'm in a jury trial, I'm going to talk to the jury about things they've seen on Facebook 20 years ago. I remember I had a sex case where I couldn't ask those kinds of questions, but there was one famous case, the McMartin trial out of LA where a daycare center was maligned and destroyed by the social workers who thought they knew how to diagnose child molestation among children with toys and play games and just this horrific stuff. That psychologist, very good psychologists today are embarrassed by. There's some still what I call crackpots out there that think that's all legit, but you know, I remember talking to a jury about the McMartin trial and now it's like, well, let's talk about what you've seen on Facebook. Let's talk about the videos you've seen, whether it be, it stands out in my mind that there was an African American couple on the, I don't remember who was holding the camera, but I think it was the woman.

Speaker 2:

I think she was driving and she videoed the police shooting and killing her husband in the passenger seat. That's just, I've seen so many videos on Facebook alone and other places like that, that it's hard. You almost become numb to it because it seems to be commonplace. What I'm also loving are the investigative journalists, whether it be 48 hours that helped Ryan Ferguson in Missouri who was wrongfully convicted. The making a murderer documentary, the, the name of the docu, not docu-series, it's, it's a miniseries essentially on Netflix about the poor young men in the central park five or the Harlem five, I think they were called the young boys that were just treated horrifically. I am so grateful that there's those, that programming out there and that there's people out there putting, shedding a light on what's happening. And I just want the public to know that you think it's rare.

Speaker 2:

You think it doesn't happen. It happens. And it does happen in white suburbia and it does happen in your small town when it's not just happening in New York city, two young boys in Harlem. It's happening all over. Look at the Memphis three down in, um, I think it's technically Arkansas, but the, the three young boys that were wrongfully convicted because the young boy, uh, the, I remember the lead defendant, his name was Damien. He changed his name to Damien and they called them the three boys devil worshipers. And that was the furthest from the truth of what was going on in those boys lives. The tragedy is if the, if people want you or if they don't like you or you're somehow marginalized in society, you are a target. And that's what's sad. And thankfully social media and everybody having a cell phone and just people having a voice, it's not just us hoping that the local journalist in the newspapers writing an article on something we have, we have just people everyday people who are exposing corruption through the use of their cell phone. That's brilliant.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I, I couldn't agree more. I mean I think it's a great trend and I've thought a lot about it. I'm trying to diagnose, you know why? Because it does, it feels sort of like a, like a spring like this, this kind of has just started coming out maybe in the last decade. You know, we've got movements like black lives matter. We're starting to see, like you said, journalists actually cover these things. People are interested in it. And so it's not just that, you know, there's a platform like Facebook to post it, but people are rallying around these movements in these causes because of the injustices that they're seeing.

Speaker 2:

The other thing that I wish there'd be more of is I wish that police officers who, and they talk about the blue line, I think it's called the blue shield, the blue shield, where there are good police officers out there. This is not all police officers are bad. There are good prosecutors, there are good defense attorneys. They're actually bad criminal defense attorneys. It's human beings across the board. And how do we make people accountable to each other and not let people hurt each other. And there are people who are hurting others in all professions, whether it be judges, prosecutors, criminal defense lawyers, the police. But there's also good ones out there too. And to empower the police to be able to say, not on my watch, not in my precinct. And I in my agency, um, to speak out to whistle blow when they see something wrong.

Speaker 2:

I've actually had police officers approach me and ask for help before and they had recordings to give me for help. They didn't know what to do. Some quit, some say I'm done. I'm going to become a truck driver cause it's stress is so high. They're not paid very much and unfortunately in America, not only are they not paid very much, they have an extremely highly stressful job and like any given day they can get killed. I don't leave my house everyday thinking today I could die. I don't have family thinking today. My loved one might not come home. They do and they don't. They don't get enough mental health counseling and treatment for that. They don't get enough training for that and they certainly don't get enough pay for that. And I, and I wish there was a way that we as a society could empower them, educate them, train them, and build them up rather than constantly just tearing them down. Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

You're, you're very diplomatic about that, you know,

Speaker 2:

but there are bad ones out there too. I've, I've come across them, I've gotten a few of them fired. I've actually had a jury trial where I told the jury and void, dear, this is really hard for me to say, but during this trial, and they'd be calling this officer a liar, how are we going to deal with that? Because it's hard for me to say. It might be hard for you to hear that this officer is wanting to be doing in this trial and he did not stay an officer after that. 15 minute not guilty. That's great.

Speaker 1:

Great. And that's what people don't realize, you know, society kind of in general. And even before I got into this space, you know, you look at officers just like you do, you know, veterans and doctors and things, these like these people who are out there sacrificing their life to be these heroes.

Speaker 2:

We were raised to trust and love them and believe we are safe when we're with them. Right? It's called the police. They're going to come and make everything. And when I say we, I don't mean we as Americans because I don't believe that a young African American raised in any city and maybe even in the suburbs is raised that way. And that's sad. But it's for good reason. If I was an African American parent, I would be absolutely cautioning my children.

Speaker 1:

Right? And, and I, I agree with that and I'm not the first person to shout, you know, race when something bad happens. But I can tell you that, you know, it's kind of a like gallows humor and, and kind of, you know, jokey around the office that there are certain officers that we know if somebody got arrested, we, you could probably take a peek at what color that person was and you're going to know that it's not a white guy, you know, or it's not a, it's not a young blonde, you know, white, ASU girl. It's somebody, it's somebody who's not in that category and it's just one after the other. And so, you know, I, my question to you is, is, you know, you were saying that you want some more resources for these people, more mental health, more, you know, more awareness, more support, but what, but what's the answer? I mean, to me it kind of sounds like it's a, it's a cultural problem that exists all throughout law enforcement. This blue shield, this idea that, that uh, you know, if one cop screw something up, the rest of them are going to cover for him. So how do we change that? How do we,

Speaker 2:

can you solve our criminal justice problems right now on the podcast right now? Let's do it. You know what's interesting is in our legal profession, and I think the medical profession has this too, every state is different, right? Every state has a different bar license, different rules, different ethical rules, different statutes. However, nationwide they have some rules that are the same and one of those rules is we're required to turn each other in. If we see another lawyer do something unethical, we are required to turn them in. If we see a judge, prosecutor, anybody do something unethical, we're required to turn them in or we could get in trouble. And I think the medical profession is the same. However, it doesn't always happen. Yeah. And that's because we're human beings and we don't want to snitch out someone or we don't want to be the person who snitched someone out unless it was really, really bad.

Speaker 2:

Or nine times out of 10 it, it, you want to help the person as opposed to dismissing them out and getting them into trouble if you know them and like them. If you don't know them and don't like them, you might not care. But, um, we don't have a good system in place, I don't think for the police to feel safe to whistle blow. Yeah. I don't think we have, we certainly don't have a nationwide rule that allows them all to live under the same safety or the same kind of ethical rule like we as doctors or our legal profession might have. Even though every state's different, there's certain rules that are the same across the country and, and I don't think they have that. And so when you have what, 2000 police agencies, Sheriff's departments, highway patrols all across this country, 2000 or more probably, I don't even know the number.

Speaker 2:

It's outrageous. And they all have their own set of rules and they all have their own set of policies and procedures and they all have their own training manuals. You, it's really hard to make things consistent. I don't know, because they're, when you're, it's, it's kinda like anything. Just one person at a time. Yeah, we've seen, so if you look back over 30 years, you can see change some for the better. Some not for the better, but you can see change when you look back over time. And for the most part, the only thing I can think of that's really changed monumentally is just the fact that we have the internet. Everyone has a computer in their pocket. Everyone's an investigative journalist at that point. Those are the kinds of the big things that cause change. But other than that, I'm surprised I see a police officer ever on video doing anything stupid and I still see it. And you think they know better by now

Speaker 1:

you would. And they don't. And I don't know. I don't know why that is. I don't know if it's a, you know, there's, in Arizona, a lot of the police departments are unionized, you know, so they, they act sort of as that, that, uh, sort of, you know, bunker mentality, they're all gonna protect each other. And we've got, we've got one organization here that, you know, they have a Facebook page and they, they are just always trying to dunk on people and I mean, it's really inappropriate sort of us versus them mentality. And if that exists throughout the entire organization, it's really difficult. And good officers who are, you know, who are squeaking out, uh, like you said, you know, they, they leave, they say this is inappropriate. I'm just, I can't do anything here so I'm going to go be a truck driver. So it's really hard to change an organization when you have the good people abandoning ship.

Speaker 2:

It's leadership starts from the top, right. And if you have a bad Apple at the top, it's going to be really hard for anyone to exist other than people who are willing to work that way, you know?

Speaker 1:

Yeah. It's, it's, it's a complicated issue and it's, it's not one that I think is solvable overnight, but it is, I think trending in the right direction and we may be right in the midst of that change. You know, we may be seeing the public demanding some more accountability, some more transparency, maybe oversight.

Speaker 2:

Well, it's like anything you, you said earlier, you know, you don't punish the pain out of people. People make mistakes. If you can create an environment that doesn't throw the book at people, even officers who make mistakes. If it was easier for an officer to make a mistake and say, you know what, I shouldn't have done that. I am sorry. How can I make amends and then allow that process to work. The making amends, the things we talk about and you know, the AA world and a world, the things you talk about in, in a good church upbringing, you learn about apologizing, confronting the person you hurt in, in a positive way, not confronting in a negative way and, and making amends. And that, um, unfortunately that the older we get, we realize you can't just say you're sorry and make amends because someone's going to punish you the minute you make an admission to anything.

Speaker 2:

Right. Punishment, unfortunately is the rule. If you have a whole bunch of prosecutors or statutes that don't allow people to, um, do the restorative justice, there is a movement in this country, but it's very slow moving for restorative justice. And it's the ability for people to get together and say, you hurt me. And, and, and that person to say I'm sorry, and to help you get better. It's like going back to the old days when your kid stole something, you made them go back in a store, turn it in, apologize and ask the owner if you're allowed to come back. Right. That's what good parenting was. And you can't even do that anymore because your kid's going to get arrested and sent to juvie for you being a good parent. And a lot of parents don't do that anymore. They won't take their kid back. They don't trust.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Yeah. It's, you know, when I start thinking about all of the different moving parts, as you were speaking there, I was thinking about, you know, you've got, you've got the unions, you've got the culture in law enforcement agencies, you've got, you know, certain leaders who have political ambitions. So it's not even about justice anymore. It's about, this is a stepping stone into, you know, a governor or Senator or something and they got play that tough on crime mentality. You've got, you know, grants from the federal government, from the, the governor's office who are, you know, going to police departments, go get more DUIs, you have to go get more of these things. So you've got, you know, kind of, you know, quote quotas that aren't really quotas, but they kind of are, you know, it's a, it's a, it's a big moneymaking entity. You've got all sorts of financial incentives. Oh, the

Speaker 2:

moneymaking for the private, the private prisons, private prisons. And I think they're outlawed in California now, which they should be outlawed across the country. All it does is causes everybody to be locked up for a lot longer. I don't know. I, I don't know much about that issue. I don't even know how the tough on crime, political slogan sells anymore because it's, it's not tough on crime. It's tough on poor people and tough on minorities. That's what truth of that statement is. So any politician who voices that statement is immediately in my mind, not someone I'm going to want to support because it's not legit. You're creating laws that you and your little buddies at the country club, those laws don't apply to you. You're just creating laws that apply to the poor people or the minorities and it's just disgusting actually. It's like covert racism. Oh yeah,

Speaker 1:

yeah, yeah. It's, it's complicated. But like you said, you know, I, I think, I think it is trending in the right direction. I, I do, I do appreciate social media. Uh, have you ever had the experience where, you know, body cameras or a cell phone video, it completely exonerates your client,

Speaker 2:

not just once. Let's just put it that way. It's become so commonplace, you know, law enforcement pushed and did not want video cameras and some agencies quit doing them and then had to go back to them. And

Speaker 1:

we still have some agencies in Arizona who do not have them. They were in Missouri, they refused to put them in their cars.

Speaker 2:

They claim it's about money. And that's not the truth. The truth of the matter is, if I'm a good police officer, that camera protects me because I've also represented the police officer who's accused of a crime by someone they come into contact with in the public. And guess what could save their butt? That body cam, right. And sometimes the body cam does work to our favor as a criminal defense lawyer. But if I'm a good cop, I'm not afraid of cameras, just like I'm not afraid of cameras on me most of my time in my life. Other than your private moments where you don't want any camera on you, I'm there. Why would I be afraid of a camera? Because I have something to hide. So that is just awful to me. And I think that the public more and more when I go to jury trial, they expect video. And in fact that's how the, that one case where the officer didn't last very long in 15 minute not guilty, it was because he had dash cam video that DISA, it didn't totally disappear. It's the part of it where my client said something had happened. Conveniently disappeared.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, we've had cases too. What we're diving into, what, I talked to you a little bit about what's going on out of Scottsdale and basically the government not giving exculpatory evidence over over to us. But what we're seeing is they will give us body cameras, but they're clipped weird. Really? Yeah, they're clipped. So they'll, and, and for a while this was a problem out of Scottsdale, like we would get, we'd get like 10 or 11 clips from one DUI traffic stop. So in other words, the officer was just turning his camera on and off a bunch of times. There are, they turn them on. Oh, well, well, well why'd you turn it off? Well, we went back to my car and I was doing notes and I took a phone call, which didn't relate to the case. So I turned the camera off. You're like, wait a minute, you know what's [inaudible]?

Speaker 2:

That's what you're saying. That's what you're saying. You're looking a little suspicious dude. I'd rather your personal phone call be on that and we all get to listen to it and know that you're legit. It a good cop should not be doing that. Yeah, he's, he's hurting his own credibility. If I were a judge or a prosecutor, I'd be like, no, no, no. Don't do that. Even if you are innocent and didn't do anything wrong, it just looks bad. Don't do that.

Speaker 1:

So w when you're practicing in Missouri, are prosecutors proactively looking at these things or is this something that the defense looks at and has to and has to go bring to their attention? Like are they watching body cameras there?

Speaker 2:

No, no. Most prosecutors get a packet and it's paper and it has a probable cause statement, which means, um, it says like two or three pages of an affidavit signed by an officer. These are the facts that I've gathered. These are the crimes I think I've seen or not seen, but gathered the evidence for. And so that packet might be many, many pages with some videos underneath it, but they're not reviewing all of it before they file it. I have prosecutors that file drug charges before the testing comes back. Guess what? Sometimes it wasn't a drug, right? And you've been arrested and in jail and your life ruined and you lost your job and pounded the whole thing. The whole thing for something that wasn't even a drug. And now in the day of medicinal marijuana and then marijuana in some States legal and you got your CBD oil and cops, there's so much stuff out there that isn't even illegal. Um, it, anyway, it, it's sad, but that prosecutor's just reading the two or three pages they have in front of them and filing charges and then letting it all sort out. Maybe in the sixties and seventies that didn't destroy lives. But in the day of the internet where everything's public record and when your client says, can you keep this off my record? Well, I can't keep everything off the internet. No.

Speaker 1:

Well, we do mugshots here. So, so if you get arrested by the Maricopa County, uh, uh, Sheriff's office or any, any DPS agent, you go down to the fourth Avenue jail, they take your mugshot. And that goes on the Maricopa County Sheriff's office, uh, website almost immediately. So regardless of whether you're innocent or, or guilty, whether you did it or not, your mugshot is going to be there and people are going to talk and you're gonna lose your job. And, and we have all of these private, uh, you know, third party mugshot websites who come and scrape the data off of our, our government website. And then they put them on their website and they say, if you want to remove it, it's $350. And then they own it. They own 30 of them. So [inaudible] it's a cat and mouse game. You're just trying to go, you know, find where your next mugshot is and this is happening to innocent people all over the place

Speaker 2:

and the job background checks that pull up very wrong information from these companies that are unaccountable. They eat, they're not accountable to anybody. They can publish all this bad information. The employer bought for 35 bucks off the internet. I tell my clients all the time, there's, there's a lot of agencies out there, they're probably not even in this country and we can't stop them from publishing. We can't stop all of them one at a time, don't get a job. Great. Now I can send that person a letter. Guess what? You're losing money because you didn't get a job. Your family is suffering because you didn't get a job because of this lie and that's one lie. There's dozens of them out there and then you have to spend the money to hire an attorney to send them a letter and hope that they'll stop publishing this bad information. It's people or the internet is, it's got good things and it's got that thing.

Speaker 1:

It does. Yeah. The mugshot thing is, is especially disgusting. Arizona passed a law that says that they got to remove them or they face high fines, but there's still some companies, uh, there's one in Florida that that refuses to remove them. So you've got to go Sue them and that is expensive. Expensive people don't have the resources to do it. Damage is basically already done. It's already on the internet. Once it's on the internet, it's permanent there somebody got it somewhere. So

Speaker 2:

the only thing the legislature could do, in my opinion, is make all arrests and everything. Not public. Yeah. Everything has to not be public until a certain point. A conviction would be nice or at least a probable cause. Hearing at least a certain point in the process because there are plenty of people who are arrested. That is not a legit arrest. It happens all the time.

Speaker 1:

Happens all the time. Yeah. We were just talking about, uh, about that. It's funny, I was at the, at the gym this morning and I was talking to a guy and I forget how we got started on this topic. You know, my gym, gym conversations should be 30 seconds. This one turned into like 15 minutes. But you know, we were talking about uh, Oh, we're hiring lawyers here. And he said, wow, you guys are that busy or are people still getting DUIs? And I said, yeah, yeah, they're still getting DUIs. And he said, well,

Speaker 2:

day of Lyft and Uber, that's insane. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

How is that possible? And I said, well look, you know, a lot of these people, you know, they've got alcohol problems, they've got drug problems, they think you know that they're uh, five minutes from their home and they're not. And you know, it's, well, I'm not excusing it, but I'm trying to explain why this stuff has happened.

Speaker 2:

Group of people. But then there's also the machines malfunctioning and you were not intoxicated. The officer wanted you for another reason and you were not intoxicated. The blood test. I have a lot of blood test cases and the, I don't even trust the blood tests now that I know the science behind why you can't trust the blood tests and how they can be contaminated and fermentation can occur after a blood draw. Oh my gosh. I mean there are people, there's all of that. And then there's this whole group of people and I like to call them like the soccer moms in the country club crowds that think that I feel okay, there's a lot of people who say this, I shouldn't stereotype it. There are a lot of people who think I'm fine to drive cause they feel fine. Right. Well how you feel doesn't matter if your state has a statute that says it's a per se crime, right? At 0.0 8.08 is four bottles of beer, four bud lights. Right. It's nothing

Speaker 1:

if you're a bigger person, right. I mean, if you're a smaller person, you know, and you don't drink much and it,

Speaker 2:

the human body is so different and everybody's tolerance is different. Everybody's metabolism rate is so different. Yeah. There's averages and there's norms. But you, you don't have to feel alcohol at 0.08 some people don't. Right. Some people feel alcohol at 0.04 some people don't feel it until they're well above a one five right? And so the number point of weight is meaningless. They just is meaningless. And so when people say, I felt fine, I was fine to drive. I don't care how you feel. And I tell people all the time, you can spend five to $10,000 for a DWI problem or an arrest car towed, needing a lawyer, lots of classes potentially lose your license. Let's just talk about the plethora of problems. Or you can pay an Uber driver 30 bucks to get you home, right? And you'd have to go back and get your car. Okay, now the 30 bucks or a friend has to get you back to your car. Pick one. You know? But, but not everybody thinks that way. And, and in the moment, and we've all been in that moment, anybody who's ever drank has been in that moment where they have to make a judgment call. Yeah. You know? And, and you have to know your body and you have to know how much you've drank. And sometimes you don't know how much you've drank. Right.

Speaker 1:

Well, and that's the whole point of alcohol is to impair your judgment, right? I mean, that's why you do it. So you can, you can drink and you can say things you probably wish, you know, ordinarily wouldn't say, but it's okay because he's saying things that he wouldn't ordinarily say. And you're just kinda, you know, it's fun. It's the loosen you up. And so then you say, well, now it's time to make a critical decision. Do I drive or do I Uber home. And your, your, your ability to make that decision is in Paris. A

Speaker 2:

client who went to a bar as a sober driver. And to him that man, I'm just going to have a couple. And he did just have a couple, well, three beers, I think it was maybe four through the evening, which was a six hour evening. And ultimately when he's driving the very drunk person home, uh, he gets pulled over and he has been the good guy. It was a drunk person at the bar who had driven and was trying to drive home. He grabbed her keys, he said, we're going to get you home. He was with another buddy who had been with them and they're going to help this girl get home and he, the good Samaritan got pulled over and it was um, a 0.08 1.081 for anybody who knows alcohol and how the body absorbs alcohol and anybody who knows how these machines are off, not just a little but a lot often and anybody who knows that the, the amount of time that passed and the number of beers, this man was not intoxicated and that was his arrest, his cost, his life.

Speaker 2:

So sometimes you can not be truly not be intoxicated, but if the machine says you are done deal and if the officer smells beer, I tell people all the time, beer in particular, if the officer walks up to your car and smells beer, you're done. You might as well just, yeah, no, very few people get out of it. I've had four phone calls and the night, all of them I ask very detailed questions. All of them I've advised to actually blow into the PBT. I beat all four of those cases. Yeah. But, um, two of the people didn't listen to me and refused. I still beat those two cases. One of them blew under a 0.08 is that you're talking about the portable breath test? No, one at the station in Missouri, they have a right to um, call a lawyer. They have a 20 minute window of opportunity and all four of these people were friends of mine with my cell phone number who woke me up.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, those are phone calls I've had. Those are fun calls and sometimes, you know, sometimes if I'm groggy or if I've been drinking, they're in trouble and they're drinking too. And you've got somebody being woken up at two in the morning? I've had, I've had several of those calls. Yes. Okay. So they don't have to take the portable breath test on the side of the road or in Missouri. There is a portable breath test on the side of the road. The preliminary breath test, they call it and they don't have to take it. They don't have to take any tests. They could literally say, officer, am I free to go home? No you're not. Okay then what's next? I'm not doing any tests that could literally be done at that moment. No walk and turns. One laser can refuse all of that and um, and no consequences for their license.

Speaker 2:

There's always consequences for every choice we make. And in Missouri, the consequences, most cops are gonna arrest you anyway cause they're just gonna not know what to do with you and you've just shut down there. They have a protocol and they're supposed to follow it and they don't know what to do next. So they arrest you. Then you have, um, um, that you can refuse the preliminary breath test without consequence. But obviously anytime you refuse something, depending on where you are, certain judges are going to let that evidence in as maybe consciousness of guilt or you know, you get to explain to the jury why you refuse these tests. Right. So it's not always with no consequence. Um, but you are denying the ability for the government to get evidence against you of a potential crime. And we know as criminal defense lawyers in this country, we should never just give evidence away for free.

Speaker 2:

Um, and certainly Miranda was written for a reason, the Miranda decision, uh, because they were beating confessions out of people, right? Um, and denying people counsel that were begging for counsel. But, and that still happens in this country unfortunately. Um, but you know, the, the big thing with the driver's license, cause you asked about what happens to your driver's license, you're gonna lose your driver's license in Missouri. If you refuse the official test back at the station. That's how it is. And we have a statute, they're required to read the implied consent law to you to tell you that, um, you could lose your license. They do not have to tell you you have a right to a lawyer. So you have to know on your own, have the education or just have the wherewithal to say, can I talk to a lawyer to trigger that 20 minute opportunity I was telling you about earlier. Otherwise you make this decision on your own and could lose your license for a year in Missouri. And if you blow for a first time offender, it's a, in some others it's a lot of details. Our statutes are very poorly written, but 90 day suspension is your standard. If you blow above a 0.08 and if you refuse, it's a one year revocation. And both individuals have an opportunity for driving during that time with an ignition or lock device and the [inaudible] car insurance.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, we have something very similar here, little little, you know, detailed differences, but nothing, nothing dramatically different. How did you get into DUI law specifically? So I tell, I tell people all the time that DUI law is really probably, or do DUI defense is probably the most complicated type of crime that exists anywhere in the world. I mean, you can have really complicated, you know, money laundering cases, financial types of cases where there's a lot of [inaudible]

Speaker 2:

paperwork. I would not want to analyze those cases. I don't need a forensic CPA or whatever they're called. But those are

Speaker 1:

okay. But I mean the general kind of standard everyday really complicated crime is DUI because of the science. There's a lot that goes into blood testing and breath testing and you know, physiology of a person's body and all sorts of stuff. How did you get into that field? I know, I know a lot. I personally know a lot of criminal defense lawyers who hate DUI cases. They refused to take them because of that.

Speaker 2:

It's very difficult to be a good DWI defense lawyer. The sad part is because a lot of people get DWI as across the socioeconomic spectrum that you have good lawyers out there and bad lawyers as far as understanding the science and understanding the problems with the breath testing, understanding the problems with the blood testing, understanding the problems with the officer's not following their training and just haphazardly arresting people and really not having good solid proof that anybody was intoxicated. So how I got into it was, um, like I said, I was a public defender and, uh, I had lots of training on, you know, blood spatter evidence and, uh, the hair follicle or the hair testing and the bite marks and all this pseudoscience that the FBI was calling science. And then all of a sudden the experts are coming out and saying, well, the FBI has been wrong for many, many years and we've been lying about the validity of these tests.

Speaker 2:

And it just looks good on CSI type of stuff. Right? And the guns and the, you know, you hire your experts who teach you how to figure out what's going on in LA. There's a lot of science in some serious violent type cases, your murders and those kinds of cases. So I had all of that training, had all of that understanding and what I never really found was really good DWI defense training. And it wasn't easy to find. It was national organizations and scientists smattered across the country in different places that would come and help and teach lawyers what we do not know, which is the science, right. We, um, we have to learn it. And so I started getting some DWI cases when I went into private practice and that would, a client would come to me with just a DWI, whereas when I was a public defender, it felt like it was a DWI plus five other felonies.

Speaker 2:

And so the DVI didn't even matter at that point. Right. Um, and, and then I got frustrated that I didn't understand what I was doing and I would look on paper and say, well, you have a bad breath test number on paper. The cop knows how to write a report, you know, whether it's a cut and paste job or a legit good job, they know how to put it on paper, make you look guilty. I don't know what to do with this. And I got frustrated. So I started reaching out to people that I thought were really good. And I had two really good mentors, one in st Louis and one in Kansas city who I would reach out to and say help. And then I, and then they, one of them in st Louis started doing training and doing classes. And then I started going to the Missouri bar and Missouri association, criminal defense lawyers DWI seminar.

Speaker 2:

And that's the one I'm now the program chair for. It took, you know, you start baby steps, you start at the beginning, you say I know nothing. And you ask for help from a mentor and you start going to seminars. And then, then I was going to the national college of DUI defense, going to a class called metrology. These are science classes. I took rocks for jocks and college I, my last science classes, biology in high school. Like I did not. And I had to dig in and learn. Yeah. And then you, you know, you just constantly are asking the right questions and going to the right seminars. I've spent thousands and thousands of dollars not to mention hours learning this stuff and traveling the country. And now I'm teaching at the national college. Do I defense on, I'm on their faculty, I'm on the faculty at the Jerry Smith's trial lawyers college.

Speaker 2:

But that's specific to trial skills for all criminal defense and civil plaintiff's lawyers. Um, but knowing the science and digging in and learning and reading the books and buying some books that it's, uh, some of them are hard to read and sometimes the science is so tough that once you know what you don't know or you realize, I'm never gonna know this completely well experts, that's what experts are for, right? So an expert comes in and explains to the jury, cause I certainly can't testify and explain to the jury, I just need to have enough information to look at this case and say, we have a problem here. We potentially have an innocent person or we potentially have a cop who's messing up and I could win this case. And that's our job. Guilt or innocence isn't supposed to matter. We're supposed to do the best we can for our clients.

Speaker 2:

And that sometimes is fighting to win even if the person actually was technically guilty of the crime. And so, but oftentimes what I find is there are so many mistakes along the way that who knows if the person was guilty or not, who knows, because nobody do their job. Right. And that's my job. Say to put a light on that and say, you can't do this to people. You can't pluck people off the street and say they're guilty of a crime unless you do a good job investigating and improving it. So I just start a digging in books, classes. Yeah. Worked my way up the food chain until I at least had some amount of knowledge. And frankly, it's the ability to recognize problems, ability to articulate that we have a problem and figure out how do I put a team together because you can't, one lawyer can't do it all by themselves.

Speaker 2:

I can't testify. I can't necessarily cross-examine every expert with the same knowledge that that expert has. No matter how hard we try. You got to bring in experts. So I have an expert who I go to whenever there's a blood test because she's going to analyze. Um, in fact, she was on making the, making a murderer. She's out in New Mexico. She's the quality control inspector essentially. She's the one who, if I send everything from the lab to, she says what she's told me, that the Missouri state highway patrol crime lab was one of the worst she'd ever seen because of their inability to follow protocol and to make sure that there's good reliability with our blood testing, for alcohol and for drugs, and the integrity of those blood samples from the moment it's drawn out of the person's arm from that moment forward, the PR, the phlebotomist who pulls the blood out, who gives it to the officer, and then what the officer does with it, and if it's not refrigerated properly, and there are so many opportunities for that blood to be messed with to where it's fermenting or something's going wrong and fermenting obviously means it's growing alcohol in it because it doesn't, it takes blood or it takes a glucose and I'm, Oh my God, my mind just went blank.

Speaker 2:

The process.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, the idea. Yeah. The idea, just being that you've got, you've got basically the same process that you turn, you know, grapes into wine. It's happening in your blood in these vials because they're not putting in proper preservatives or anticoagulants or

Speaker 2:

we're the company that puts the preservatives in the, in the tubes had to publicly announced that, oops, we messed up our quality control messed up and we sent out tubes without the proper preservatives, right? How many thousands of blood tests across the country.

Speaker 1:

We got hit with that. Yeah, we started seeing all these recalls or you know, these, these batches are bad, these vials are bad and that's a pretty catastrophic problem. But I want to, you know, you made it sound actually fairly simple. All the work that you've put into this, you made it so well. You know, I've worked over, you know, hard for all these years and now I'm a faculty and all that stuff. I just want to kind of reiterate how, how impressive that is because you're balancing a number of different kinds of talents. Number one is the science, which is amazing. You know, the fact that it's saying I have the science all in my head. Well, no, but, but you've got enough of it that you're effective with it. Think too much science

Speaker 2:

can hurt a lawyer. I mean, you need to know the science, but then you also need to know how to share it. Have you ever put an expert on the stand who is so brilliant and they can write a brilliant book, write a brilliant paper. It's like going to college or going to high school and you have a teacher who's the smartest person in the building, but they can't teach because they can't speak at your level. Right? That to me is where I need to put my energy and my talents and teaching other lawyers learn all this stuff and then back up and talk to a jury or talk to a judge, like a human being at the level they're on. I would say talk to me like I'm a third grader because I don't know, like don't you don't even use the word fermentation without telling me what it means because, and I'm going to treat other people the same way.

Speaker 1:

Well, that was [inaudible] you beat me to it, but that was my segue. I mean, you were, you, you have that science, you have that skill set. You've got a lot of experience as a trial lawyer, meaning you're actually going into court and doing trials. Just because you're a criminal defense lawyer doesn't necessarily mean you're a litigator. I mean there's plenty of that. I've never gone to trial. I knew a guy who was a public defender for seven years. He had a contract with one of our local cities around here and he was bragging that he had never done a jury trial in those seven years. And I'm like thinking, how is that bragging? I would be embarrassed. I would be embarrassed to, and I, and I was to be a criminal defense lawyer who's never had a jury trial. I was thinking, dude, that almost sounds like, you know, close to mountain.

Speaker 1:

It's not technically technical malpractice, but maybe you could probably go through your cases over the last seven years. I can't believe you had a contract and stuff. But my point is, is that litigating, you know, having the courage and being able to go in and present in front of a jury, it's still, you know, it, it causes anxiety. It's a lot of work. You have to block out everything for a certain period of time. It's like preparing for a, like a boxing match or whole life is on hold. Yeah. And everything changed. You're sleeping, you're thinking about this in your dreams. You're waking up thinking about it, you're going to sleep thinking about it. Yes. Relationships are taxed. Everything's taxed because you're getting prepared to go into this battle to battle. Yeah. Like going into the Coliseum, like a Roman gladiator. So you've got that skillset.

Speaker 1:

You've got that, that uh, the, the ability to, you know, to, to at least interpret and understand the science. But the real kind of magic is when, when you combine those two, when you're able to translate it in a way that a jury understands, because that's what you were, you were talking about, you could have these experts, you could have a lawyer who knows the science and you, you too can have a conversation in a courtroom where you're talking to the expert. He's talking back to you, but the jury is just glazed over. They have no idea what the hell you're talking about.

Speaker 2:

My gift is that I don't have too much knowledge and I'm not trying to impress with my knowledge because the minute you get a lawyer who starts to impress with their knowledge and they have this, they're speaking at this level, everybody's eyes are glazing over, right? And you can't do that to a judge or a jury. And if you do, you're missing the boat. Like I'm, I'm looking at my jury and I'm looking at my judge and making sure everyone's understanding what's going on at all times. I'm testing the temperature of the room at all times, and if you don't know how to do that, get out of the courtroom and get to a class and learn how to talk to people, whether it be a Toastmasters or a public speaking. There's tons of stuff out there now all over social media coaches speaking from the stage, all that stuff, right? Learn because or get out of the courtroom and find your strength is the biggest gift I ever had from a very young age was, I don't even remember who told me this or how I learned this, but it was find your gift and go with it and quit fighting your weaknesses. Quit trying to make your weaknesses a strength. Why? Why,

Speaker 1:

or be somebody that you, you may want to look like are they, they look attractive to you and you go, Hey, I want to be that person, but you're not that person, right? You don't have that skill set. You have different skills. So use those.

Speaker 2:

Long time ago I figured out my skillset is not appellate work. My skill set is not to, I don't even want to write emotion or argue emotion for an ARG. I don't even like the work behind the legal stuff there I, I'm not the constitutional law expert. I know enough to know, okay, we have an issue here and we have an issue with the stock. We have an issue with the search. We have an issue with something I can issue spot. Like most lawyers who went to law school, we can issue spot. But if it's not your strength, hire, outsource it, hire someone else. That's what I do right now. Um, because there are people who that's their strength and they should not be taking on a case and doing the trial work. We work as teams because while one person's strength is in the courtroom, the other person's strengths behind the scenes, it's not my strength to read.

Speaker 2:

Like in civil cases, I've gotten involved in civil cases recently where there's thousands and thousands of pages and depositions. We get depositions and criminal cases too. But the depositions in civil cases are much longer. Um, and, and, and you have thousands of pages of paperwork to read and then you've got into rogatory. We don't have any criminal and you have requests for admissions and requests for documents and, and if you're suing a corporation, they dump a lot of paperwork on you. That's also not my strength. I want other people to sift through it, organize it. My strength is figuring out we need to have a chronology. We need to have a timeline. We need to understand the story, then we need to articulate the story in a way that people go, Oh, that's what happened here. Yeah. Oh my God, I see it now. Right. And, and, and it's the power of persuasion. The power of storytelling and figuring out the story is another strength that I have, but it's not from perusing thousands of pages of documents. That's not my strength. That takes a meticulous mind, like a CPA or an engineer type of mind and that's not my mind.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Yeah. And you've just recently kind of taken that skill set and you've, you've applied it to a civil case, right? So, yeah. I wanted to ask you about that, if you can kind of share what, what that involve, what that looks.

Speaker 2:

Many years ago a friend of mine, um, had a situation at where she felt she was being discriminated against and she came to my law firm, but it was not an area of law that I handled. So my law firm center to a colleague that did handle that, but she stayed. The case kind of stayed with the firm in the sense that I stayed with her and her six friends. She brought with her from work and we sued a T and T for all seven of those people. And I stayed involved along the way, but I did not do like the depositions. I did not read the thousands of pages of discovery and one of those cases went to trial in December and that was where I realized I love even civil jury trials, not just criminal defense trials. I had so much fun in that trial and my colleague that did it with me, his name is Kevin.

Speaker 2:

That's his area of expertise is that area of law, employment discrimination. It was an age discrimination, reverse race discrimination case and a retaliation was a part of it too. And, and that's his area of expertise. So I literally said to him, I want to do as much in this trial as you want to give me. I like to try cases. He didn't know. He knew I'm on the faculty, the Jerry Spence trial lawyers college and that I teach other lawyers how to try cases and how to talk to juries and how to win. He did not know. He had never seen me in court before. And so he trusted me and we practiced my opening before cause I wanted to not screw up because there are rules that I don't know in the civil context that I needed to make sure I was following. And so we practiced my opening and then I did several direct examinations.

Speaker 2:

I did several cross-examinations, including a psychiatrist, um, who was testifying for the defense. And at the end of it, and we were having so much fun. It was a two week trial. We were having so much fun. At the end of it, he said to me, you're one of the best jury trial lawyers I've ever seen in the employment discrimination world. I'm like, what? That such a boost to confidence boost in such a wonderful thing to hear from someone who does it for a living and is very good at it and has had the $20 million verdict, you know, and we got the biggest verdict in my County in that type of law that we'd ever had, that County had ever seen. And we're getting ready to go to jury trial again in April and now I've got the bug. Now it's not just criminal defense, it's I want to do more civil work.

Speaker 2:

I want to help other lawyers, like literally, I think my future is that I'm going to put myself out there as a consultant and let people hire me to help them put together their case and try their case. Whether it be pay me by the hour, pay me a percentage if it's a contingency case. Haven't figured all that out yet. But I love helping lawyers try cases. There are plenty of lawyers who don't know how, or they're too scared or they're new and they've never done it before. And as long as they know the law and they do all the paperwork, I'm willing to do the jury trial.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I love that. I mean I think it's great. You know, lawyers kind of have a tendency to not

Speaker 2:

what to ask for help in my experience. I mean sometimes they do, you know, there are listservs and things like that where they can be helpful but you know, a lot of attorneys like it's, it's an ego thing, you know, it has an ego. I should just go be able to plow through this trial, which is a stupid thing to do. I have been a mentor to so many lawyers who call me and ask for help all the time. I can't and I've asked for help. So it's always a pay it forward mentality and, and plus if you let your ego get in the way and you're afraid to admit you're not good at something, you know, shame on you and that poor client, that poor client, right? Quit selling what you don't have, admit your strengths and admit your weaknesses and put together a team and get a mentor somehow put it together and create just a force to be reckoned with once you do that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's not, it's not your life. It's somebody else's life. Right. And so your incompetencies are good because you're too afraid to go ask for help are going to impact that person, not you. I'm not the only lawyer out there who is willing to help others. I think especially the newer ones, if you're within 10 years of graduating law school or if you're about to go to a jury trial or you even have one a year from now and you've never had a jury trial immediately start getting some training and getting some help. It doesn't have to be you open your eyes to the opportunity that there are other lawyers out there that might do it for you. Right. And teach you along the way. Right? Yeah. I've had, I've had those experiences when I was a new lawyer. I was asking everybody for help and uh, you know, there are certain situations where you can just say, Hey, I have this issue.

Speaker 2:

I have no idea what to do. And the person just goes, Oh, obviously it's this case right here. I've done it 50 times and that's it. I wouldn't have learned DWI defense had I not reached out and people said I'm willing to help. That's how we all learn. Yeah. What about, what about this next kind of phase? So, you know, I know you're talking about, you know, being a consultant and that type of stuff. Um, is that in the, in the near future? In the far future? I hope it's in the near future cause I'm loving it so much. If I could go to jury trial six times a year on my own case, on someone else's case in the civil arena, not even to mention the criminal stuff. Um, I think that would actually, I think it's my joy. I think it's my purpose.

Speaker 2:

I think it's where I need to be because I enjoy it so much. It doesn't feel like we have these business coaches that I have business coach and they ask you what gets you up in the morning? It if you don't know the answer to that question or you're struggling with it, what gets you up in the morning? What gets you excited to go to work? And if you're having those days, you need to just open your eyes, take a moment, figure it out. And that's what happened to me recently because of this jury trial. I was hitting kind of that burnout. Yeah. Hitting the brick wall, the same thing over and over and over. It felt like, and all of a sudden I had this thing. Then I'm like, Oh my God, I love this. This could be my future. And so I, I feel like it's in my near future.

Speaker 2:

I've, um, I've already decided on a website name. It's going to be Kim Benjamin trial, lawyer.com. Love it. Um, got to get the website going, got to get my business plan in place so I know what it is I want to sell and how I want to sell it. As far as if I'm selling me and my time, I've got to figure that out on paper. How am I going to do that? Cause my time is valuable so I'm going to have to find other people to do other things for me. Uh, at the DWI that Missouri DDPR and criminal law center at the Benjamin law firm, that business, um, I have lawyers, I have support staff, so there's a lot of stuff that gets done already, but I might have to leave some of my roles there. Especially when it comes to like the management of the team. I like to try the cases. I like to be in the courtroom helping the clients like the action. I like the action and I don't like, you don't have to say going in front of a judge to say, judge, we need a continuance is like the thing that makes me go, I don't want to get up for that in the morning. I want to be the one that says, ready for trial, let's go. That's the day I love getting up for

Speaker 1:

court. Did you feel like the civil trial, you know, it's a totally different standard than criminal.

Speaker 2:

I was prosecuting the bad guy and that felt so good because a T and T in my eyes had done some things shady to these employees and they weren't owning up to it. And when you have someone you're going up against and you're saying shame on you, you didn't have to do that. And if because you did it, all you had to do is apologize and we wouldn't be here. And that felt good.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Cause it's different. It's like, you know, in criminal law, the jury and the judge and everybody just presumes your client's guilty. Even though that's not the standard. It's not how the law works. They just do, it's just, it's just, you kind of, Burt seared into their brains, but in a, in a civil case, it's up in the air. Right? I mean it's, it's,

Speaker 2:

I'm prosecuting the bad guys the way it feels and it feels good. And I have to say as a criminal defense lawyer, a good criminal defense lawyer is never defending good criminal defense lawyers on the [inaudible]. And I learned that many years ago at the Jerry Spence Tyler's college. Jerry specifically taught me that in, I remember, uh, and we're in the big barn and everybody's there and he's talking about criminal defense lawyers quit defending you or on the office. You are prosecuting a corrupt system. You're prosecuting bad investigation, you're prosecuting, um, uh, maybe a bad prosecutor or a bad cops, or maybe there's snitches and there's liars and maybe it's a false accusation, like you have to figure out what you're prosecuting as a defense attorney. And that's where I actually found some joy again, in the criminal defense. Cause when you're in just defending and you feel like the world's against you and the thousands of law enforcement and the prosecutors and the, even the judges against you, everybody's against him, the public's against you and everybody's against you. And there's not a good feeling and it's not a good place to be.

Speaker 1:

No. And I explained that to people too. You walk into that courtroom, you're, you're on your own completely. The only person who's on your side is the defense attorney. The jurors are typically against you. The bailiff doesn't like you. The judge doesn't like you. The team of prosecutors doesn't, the multiple police officers, the detective, you're, you're alone. You're flying solo, which is why you need somebody like you or like our office to, to, to stand there and act as a shield to protect them cause it's not a fair fight

Speaker 2:

and it's not just a shield. Yeah. Lady justice has a sword in her hand and we have to come out fighting. I love it. And if, like I said, if you're on the defense, you're losing, you've got to go on the offense.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's, that's a great, that's a great mindset shift that I think, uh, would serve a lot of defense attorneys if they just change the paradigm a little bit.

Speaker 2:

If I look at every case, of course it starts with paper and then you get the videos and you'd asked earlier about the videos and how they help. 90% of the time it's because the paper says this happened, but the video says this happened and somebody's lying and it's usually the officer in that situation. But um, or at least not reporting correctly. Right, right. Yeah. They're not always lying. Sometimes they're just,

Speaker 1:

yeah, there's, yeah. They make mistakes too. Like we said, we're not trying to rub their noses in, in simple mistakes. It's when, when it becomes, sometimes they're spinning it to, they're spinning it and they're fibbing it. And it's a simple mistake that turns into a cover up type of situation where there is snowballs, there being less dishonored, you know, more dishonest than honest. And that is where I really have a problem with it. Yeah. And uh, and there's a lot that a defense can do, can do with that. Yes. So. All right. Well anything else? We covered a lot. I know we did. Anything else? I know, I know you gave the website. Well, what about your current law firm? Where can people connect with you if, if they want to learn more, if they want to come hear you speak or teach or something like that. What are the best places for them to reach out?

Speaker 2:

The website is the DWI criminal law center.com. So that's the best way to find me and to find the firm. If anyone were looking for that. If they're looking for like, let's say it's a lawyer listening and they're wondering how do I get the training, like I want to get some of what Kim got and what Kim and Rob are talking about and that passion again, maybe they're burnt out. Maybe they're a new lawyer. I would start with the Jerry Spence trial or his college website. It's trial. Yeah. Jerry Spence is one of the famous trial lawyers in the, he is in my world, my mind, the best trial lawyer in the history of America. Wow. He has written amazing books. He's still alive. He's still writing. Um, but his, his trailer, his college he created for lawyers to train lawyers is in Wyoming. So just go to the website that we have regionals all across the country.

Speaker 2:

I'm actually in charge of the regional in Kansas city at the end of March. So if someone hears this soon enough, get on the website, sign up, we still have a few spots left, get to Kansas city and we'll show you a good time and we'll teach you how to be a trial lawyer. But I would, um, I would find, figure out what you want to do first. Don't just assume you want to be a trial lawyer. You know, really, really, you really do have to figure out what you want to do, what gets you up in the morning, what is your joy, what do you, what do you enjoy doing? And then go for that. And, and I would start with, for me anyway, it was the trialers college. I went in 2000 a long time ago at this point and I joined the faculty, I think it was 2008. Um, and it's what actually made me a better trial lawyer and a better person that we do a lot of, um, work at that program. That's not just for being a better lawyer, it's for being a better person.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Yeah. I actually will check that out cause that sounds pretty great. I'd love for you to come. Yeah. All right, well, awesome. Kim, Benjamin. So a couple quick places to connect. DWI, criminal law, center.com info at Benjamin law, casey.com your phone number is (816) 322-8008 you, of course, you're on everywhere else people need to find you. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Kim, Benjamin, thank you so much for coming on the show. I had a great time speaking.

Speaker 2:

Thank you, Rob. Me too.

Speaker 4:

The ruler nation podcast is brought to you by the R and R law group. Arizona's premier criminal defense and personal injury law firm available@wwwdotrrlawaz.com or give us a call, four eight zero four zero zero one three.