In defending criminal cases over the many years that I have, I realize that there are some cases where the judge's temperament can make a difference. Obviously, if you've decided that you're working out a deal with the prosecutors but you're going to let the judge decide what the sentence is going to be in a case, the judge's temperament is crucial. On the other hand, most of the cases in Los Angeles are worked out between the prosecutor and the defense attorney and they work out the sentence as well. So, in that circumstances, the judge's temperament doesn't really matter, because typically the judge is not going to have anything to say about the sentence at that point.
Judge Controls Sentencing
It's only if the person is put on probation and that probation is violated that the judge would control the sentence and certainly, will listen to both sides, but at that point, the judge's temperament would be crucial because the judge would have the ability to sentence to whatever they deemed appropriate under the circumstances of the case.
There are other times when the judge's temperament is important. Sometimes as a criminal defense attorney, I find myself negotiating with the prosecutors and have the believe that the prosecutors are not being fair in a particular case. In other words, the prosecutors are not offering a resolution that is fair under the circumstances of the case, and the only way that you can really gage something like that is to be able to look at other cases that you've handled in Los Angeles County and know what the value of those cases are.
If you know what the value of a criminal case is, then you can really get a feel for whether the prosecutors are being fair, or whether the judge is being fair. Another time a judge's disposition or their temperament is crucial is if you feel the prosecutors are not being fair and you are now going to ask the judge for an indicated sentence – which basically means you're saying to the judge, we just may plead guilty to you.
The prosecutors aren't being fair. If we ask you what your sentence is going to be, and you tell us and we think it's fair, then we'll just take a deal and be done with the case. Knowing the judge's temperament at that point is crucial.
Negotiating with Prosecutor
Some judges there's no way they're going to cross the prosecutor, so asking them for a resolution is a waste of time Other judges are much harsher than the prosecutors, and so it's a waste of time asking them for a better resolution. You might as well just do the preliminary hearing if it's a felony case, and then try to negotiate with the judge upstairs or try to go the DA's boss.
So, you really have to know what type of judge you're dealing with, especially if you are going to be relying on that judge to do anything related to the case – to hear the trial, to sentence the person, to deal with the person if they violate their probation, to deal with the bail if that's applicable in your case.
So, knowing the temperament of a judge in a criminal case in Los Angeles is just one of the tenants that is necessary to be a successful criminal defense attorney. I can tell you who the judge is in all of the courts in LA because I've practiced there for many years, and if I've appeared in front of the judge, I've talked to my colleagues, I've done cases in front of them, then I am going to know what their temperament is. I'm going to know what type of judge they are. I'm going to know how fair they are. I' gonna know harsh they are on certain crimes.
Some judges are harsh on certain crimes, and that's a problem. You need to know that as a criminal defense attorney because if you don't know which judges are harsh on which crimes, then you're going to be putting your client into a difficult situation in some cases because the judge will have power. The judge will have authority to do certain things related to your client and your client's case.
Retaining an Experienced lawyer
So, the judge's temperament in cases in Los Angeles is very important and it's very, very important that you, as a defendant, know what type of judge you're dealing with and the only way you're really going to get that information is through your attorney who has had experience in that courthouse, who has dealt with that judge before and knows what that judge does under certain circumstances so you can end up with the best possible result in your criminal matter.