What made you want to become a criminal defense attorney?
I began my legal career as a prosecutor, and had a successful 5-year career at the local State Attorney's Office. While gaining valuable experience working with local law enforcement, I became frustrated with a punishment-first culture within the criminal justice system. My heart has always been with helping people out by getting to know them and understand their situation and learning why they may have made a poor decision. Ultimately, fighting for that's person in the courtroom has been the most fulfilling career decision I've made. Whether it's holding the State to their burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt at trial, or convincing a judge or prosecutor to consider my client's individual situation when determining a sentence, my passion is for helping people out, and that's why I'm a criminal defense attorney.
In your opinion, what sets your firm apart from the rest?
We have three attorneys from very diverse backgrounds that work together on every case. I come from the prosecutor background; I understand how they are taught to evaluate cases, what expectations are placed on them, and the criteria they consider in determining how to file a case and what offers to make. Clyde, Jr., brings decades of experience from every courtroom you can think of. There's nothing that surprises him, and he's great at thinking on his feet under intense pressure. Clyde, III, is a former public defender who now focuses much of his practice on appeals and post-conviction issues. His ability to think through cases from the backend helps the trial lawyers make sure no issue slips through the cracks, and that our clients get the most well-rounded defense possible.
Why should someone choose to hire you over a public defender?
We have great public defenders, but they simply have too many cases on their plate to offer what Taylor and Taylor can offer to a client. For instance, much of the time the public defender has to play "wait and see" regarding the filing decision made by the prosecutor. As private attorneys, we make it a priority to get to the prosecutors as early as possible to provide them mitigation/witnesses/ etc in hopes to influence if and how they file charges on our clients. In my experience, the initial filing decision by the prosecutor is often the single-most important decision in determining the direction of the litigation. Public defenders simply do not have the time to step in and try to influence that critical decision; often, the decision is made before they ever get the case.
What is the first thing you do when you take on a new case?
The first thing I do when I take on a case is read the police report and any supporting documents the state thinks they have to prove the case. I prefer to see the state's case before getting the client's side of the story because it helps me better evaluate the strengths and weaknesses in the case.
How do you view your role in the attorney-client relationship?
My main goal is to make sure the client understands everything that is going on. Many of our clients have never been through the criminal justice system before and have no idea what to expect. I make every effort to make sure they understand what to expect every step of the way. I feel like removing the anxiety that comes from the unknown helps my clients tremendously. I make it a point to communicate with my clients every step of the way. Don't expect me to sugarcoat anything; I'll tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.
What advice do you most often give your clients & why?
Shut up and don't talk to anybody about the case. I can't tell you how many cases I've seen affected by defendants who talk too much.
Tell us about a case that you are particularly proud of:
My very first criminal defense client. He was on probation at the time, had a bad drug problem, and picked up a new theft charge. I was able to convince the prosecutor to file the lowest level crime possible, which reduced his exposure. He served some time, but more importantly got the drug treatment he needed. He's now been out of prison for almost two years, still sober, and I recently helped him get regular unsupervised visits with his 4 year old son. Seeing a client rise from the depths of drug addiction sober up and become a loving father is exactly why I wake up every day.
Some say that time is of the essence after an arrest – is this true?
Absolutely. The initial filing decision by the prosecutor is often the most important step in the process. The sooner we are hired and can get in there and try and influence the filing decision, the better it is for the client.
How long have you been representing the criminally accused?
Since graduating law school in 2006. I was a prosecutor for 5 years and I've been a criminal defense attorney ever since.
Why should a prospective client choose to work with your firm?
The three attorneys draw from diverse experiences and backgrounds to provide a well-rounded defense strategy. We are a small firm, accessible, and will energetically defend your case the best way we know how. I am proud of the work we do and it shows by the results we get in the courtroom.