Master Your Emotions
Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.
The most important thing you should do after finding the best lawyer you can possibly find is develop emotional mastering. Face it you have been through an abusive process with arrest and now prosecution. If you have not been either scared at some point along the way, then you do not get it, or something is wrong with you. The criminal justice system is brutal; prosecution is terrifying for every member of the family. We can tell this because back in the day, I remember having my very first jury trial. I started on July the two of 1990, by August, I had met with a particular client fifteen times over his case, and he had decided to go to trial. He had made this decision in part upon my advice. My advice was based upon multiple meetings, which I thought were actually useful.
I had taken several notes despite the fact that most of our meetings were filled with him ringing his hands, complaining about the system, and being upset. I actually felt like I was called upon to be a mental health counselor more than a lawyer. Trial was announced and the following Monday, we went to courtroom 301. Courtroom 301 is used for arraignment. However, the rest of the courtrooms were busy, so this is where we were going to do the trial. Arraignments had been moved. We went through the process with what has called a Vinyl panel of picking a jury. You get six people in a misdemeanor, or felony case, and the only time you get twelve is in a death penalty case. This case carried a maximum sentence of one year.
After selecting the jury, the judge announced that he had to do a shelter hearing. These things normally take about five minutes, and most of that time consists of getting the judge from one courtroom to another in order to make a thirty-second decision. Nevertheless, the jury stayed in the box, the state, and the defense left the courtroom. The prosecution went one way with his first witness, and I went in the other direction with my client. After a couple of minutes, the court security personnel contacted me, and the prosecutor, and said it is time. My client and I walked back to courtroom 301, and just as I placed my hand on the door to open it, he said, “Oh, Mr. Cobb, I forgot. I need to tell you that X”, and he did. Then he asked, “Is X important?” At this point, I was frozen to the door.
I literally did not feel like I could move my hand. I was so shocked. I looked over my shoulder and I said, “We’ve met 15 or 16 times in my office discussing your case. I have seven notepads filled with notes. Why did you not tell me about X?” He dipped his head a little bit and said, “Well, to tell you the truth, I didn’t know if it was important and I kept meaning to bring it up to you but I kept forgetting”. He was so lost in his emotions that he forgot to tell me a critical thing that almost damaged his case, and resulted in a year in jail. I undid the trial, he did not serve a day in jail, but I learned a valuable lesson. The mastery of your emotions is critical, and we have very specific systems for you to do so. I am not that system. You will find lawyers who are extremely good at handholding in the office. Whenever their clients are upset, they schedule an appointment and they offer comforting words.
The problem with that is very basic. Lawyers who are great hand holders in the office often have clients who are blown out of the courtroom, and receive massive sentences. Not too long ago, in Okaloosa County, a colleague of mine had a client who was charged with a felony sex offense. This particular defense attorney did a relatively good job in getting a fantastic plea bargain, four years of probation, and sex offender designation with registration. The client, however, was not using a system to control stress during prosecution. We call ours Coping with Stress during Criminal Prosecution. Instead, this particular client had apparently done many office visits, had received a lot of handholding, but did not have a successful system to master his emotions.
During the plea colloquy, when the judge asked him if he was satisfied with his attorney, instead of answering properly, “Yes, sir”, he responded, “Well, he could have tried harder”. The judge looked up and you could see in his eyes the mechanical workings inside of his head. He was looking at every part of his brain for a way to make sure that the plea went through successfully on this late Thursday morning, so that this man would not potentially harm himself. However, he concluded that if he accepted the plea, it would be subject to post-conviction attack, so he told his lawyer that he could not accept a plea, and announced that the case would remain for trial on Monday.
The prosecutor stood up and said, “Yes, sir”, and did not utter another word. However, she lost her weekend with the family. Her plan to run a triathlon with her husband had to be cancelled. She spent her entire weekend working on that trial, which is what lawyers do when they have a trial. You work on weekends. It is just how it is. Therefore, Monday morning, the same client came back to court, his lawyer re-tendered the plea of no contest, this time it was successfully entered, and accepted by the court. Nevertheless, the prosecutor added twenty-six counts, and the man was sentenced to thirty-five years in state prison. Think about this for a moment. He successfully snatched deceit from the jaws of a relative victory.
I am not making light of a four-year sex offender probationary sentence with sex offender registration to follow, not at all. In fact, it is horrendous. However, compared to thirty-five years in state prison, that is an absolute disaster. This is why mastering your emotions is absolutely critical at why we use a system known as Coping With Stress During Criminal Prosecution. Handholding lawyers look good, smell good, and have an air of authority, and their clients get the worse plea bargains, and outcomes. One note: If during the pendency of your case you keep researching the law and telling your lawyer what to do, you are off-track and helping the state of Florida prosecute you.
Not too long ago, I had a client who was facing a major felony charge, and concluded that my client needed to cut a plea bargain. We had done a lot of discovery and I was certain that if he went to trial, he was going to lose. However, he had large number of family members all across the state of Florida, who had spent various amounts of time working within the criminal justice system as probation, and law enforcement officers. Instead of following my suggestions and using Coping With Stress During Criminal Prosecution, he listened to everybody else, but me. He made an unwise decision to go to trial; he lost, and was sentenced to fifteen years in state prison.
Fortunately, I got lucky. A last minute objection, literally the last objection in the entire jury trial over many days resulted in a reversal on appeal, and the case was remanded for trial. I did not pick up that case a second time. If he was not going to listen to me the first time, he probably would not listen to me the second time. It is critically important that you and everyone you care about develops, and uses a system in order to attain emotional mastery during the criminal prosecution. If you fail to do so, and obsessed about various different aspects of your case instead, you will get blown out of court, and suffer far more than you should.
For more information on Mastering Emotions In a Criminal Case, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (850) 466-1522 today.
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