Most of the murder cases that are filed and prosecuted in Los Angeles are tried at 210 West Temple – the downtown Los Angeles courthouse. This is the main courthouse in LA. This is where the District Attorney's office has their main office.
The head DA is there and pretty much their whole command center of the DA's office and probably most of the cases that are filed in Los Angeles – and definitely most of the murder cases – are filed there, and the way that the DA's office and the downtown court system handles these cases is, they put the best investigators on them.
They put the best prosecutors on them. They'll assign a prosecutor on a murder case in Los Angeles right from the beginning and that prosecutor will carry the case all the way through from beginning to end, so they get consistency on it and they're making decisions on it that makes sense.
Murder Cases Are Aggressively Prosecuted
So, you can expect they are going to treat these cases very harshly. They're going to put as many resources as necessary to try to get the conviction. That's one thing that people don't realize. They just think we're going to do this. We're going to do that.
They think that it's some sort of singular brain thinking about these murder cases in LA, but it's not. They have a system set-up — the District Attorney's office, the court system — they're almost set-up like corporations and big bureaucracies.
When these cases come in, they already have all of the resources ready. They have unlimited funds in order to prosecute these cases, deal with them and punish them. They have the legislature behind them. The public behind them.
Lawyer With Experience in the Criminal Courts Building
So, if you have a loved one or you are charged with a murder case, you absolutely have got to get an experienced criminal defense attorney who has handled cases there. I've been dealing with these cases for twenty-five years, so I know the ins-and-outs of that court system — how the case is going to be sent to Department 100 on the Fifth Floor when it's ready to be tried.
Then, they are going to find a judge for you and you have one opportunity to get rid of a judge in any murder case, and typically, you're going to have at least twenty peremptory challenges in any murder case — which basically means you can get rid of twenty jurors that you don't like as you sit there and try to pick them.
So, there are a lot of different nuances and things going on in these murder cases in Los Angeles. What I try to do is make sure that I do everything that I possibly can to challenge the prosecution at every turn, at every step of the way. Do the investigation that is necessary. Get the evidence that is going to support my client's theory of the murder case.
This is crucial when it comes to properly defending a murder case. Any attorney that is going to do one of these murder cases in Los Angeles has got to know that downtown system — know the judges you're dealing with; know their tendencies; know what motions to file — that's another critical thing.
Sometimes you want to try to block evidence from coming in which is very important because prosecutors will try to get any evidence they can in a murder case to try to dirty-up and make your client look bad and win the case. If you're not alert as a defense attorney and aren't ready to try to block some of that evidence, then you're not going to be in the best position to defend your case.
Evidence is going to be coming in that shouldn't be coming in and you're not going to get the result that you definitely need in order to be successful in a murder case in Los Angeles.
Planning is Critical in Defending a Murder Case
I think planning is key when it comes to these cases. The reason you have to plan this thing out and make the right moves is because, if you don't the system is set-up to try and get that criminal defendant. Everything is aligned against him.
They have a Ninth Floor in downtown Los Angeles. They call it the long-cause floor. So, if the case is going to take some time, if it's serious, if there's going to be a bunch of witnesses testify, what they're going to do is, get you on the Ninth Floor and you will be in a position where you must go in front of one of the judges that does a lot of these criminal cases.
As a defense attorney, you have to know who the judge is and know what type of strategies you can employ to counter this huge bureaucracy. Sometimes, that can work to their disadvantage in a murder case — this whole system related to murder cases — because, sometimes they're not set-up to get some of the nuances related to these cases and you can really take advantage of that as a defense attorney and be ready to discredit their witnesses and show a potential jury that their case is not reliable and they have not met their burden of proving the case beyond a reasonable doubt.