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Good lawyers never telegraph their case to the opponent

Your client has been indicted and the case is docketed for trial. At this point, you have some critical strategic thinking that needs to take place. Remember, strategy is top secret.

I have said for years that the worst lawyers in the criminal defense arena are the ones who want to argue their case to the prosecutor, rather than a jury.

When you play poker and you are dealt a good hand the last thing you do is blurt out what your cards are. If you’re holding three aces, you don’t jump up and down and say excitedly, “I have three aces! I have three aces!” If you do that, what are you opponents going to do?

Adjust their strategy? Yes. Fold their cards? You betcha. If you shout out how great your hand is, you don’t profit from the increase in the chips in the pot. Your opponents adjust their strategy and, while you may win the ante, you don’t win a big pot.

When you are playing poker and you’re dealt a good hand, you should be smart enough to keep a poker face, betraying no emotion. You’re trying to lure your opponent into putting as many chips into the pot as possible. If you jump up and down and exclaim that you have three aces, your opponent is going to stop betting and fold his cards, unless he’s got that fourth ace in a higher hand. You get only the ante. Nothing more.

When I was a young lawyer, I quickly realized that the practice of arguing the merits of my case to a prosecutor was akin to shouting that I had three aces. When you telegraph to your opponent what you have in your hand, your opponent will react and position himself to better advantage.

It’s the same thing if you’re in a fist fight. If you’re about to punch someone in the nose, you don’t announce that you’re about to punch that person in the nose and then swing your fist.

Why? Because your opponent will anticipate your move, react immediately and duck or block your blow. You opponent will adjust his strategy to beat you.

If you’re fighting a war, you don’t allow your opponent access to your intelligence and your battle plan, because your opponent will reposition his forces in anticipation of your attack and destroy you.

Trying a criminal case is logistically the same thing. When you’re preparing to try a case, the last thing that you want to do is give away your strategy.

(Required by Alabama law: No representation is made that the quality of legal services is better than other lawyers.)

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