The following is taken from an interview with Virginia defense attorney Mary Nerino as she discusses her personal process after recieving a case, and her litigation technique. To discuss your case or learn more about Ms. Nerino, call and schedule a consultation today.
The first thing I always do is speak with the client. That initial consultation usually involves the client giving me a quick summary of what happened, where it was, when it occurred and what he or she remembers from the incident. From there, I do my own initial research. I try to speak with any police officers who are involved if that’s a possibility. I’ll try to identify any witnesses. I’ll also initiate the discovery process so that we can get into discovery as soon as possible.
Additionally, I’ll reach out by myself and try to find whether or not there are any third parties that perhaps the government doesn’t know about, or videos or other recordings that might shed some light on how the events occurred. From there, I go back to the client with what I found and discuss my initial thoughts about the case. Then we talk about the next steps that the client should take and what steps I will take on his or her behalf.
Something that I always do during the initial process is make sure that I’m very clear about what steps I am taking. That way, the client is never wondering whether or not I’m working on his or her case or what needs to happen next. I always keep the client in the loop and I’m always coming back with new information. I am committed to making sure that clients are informed because I know that they’re anxious to hear what’s happening. So I try to be extremely clear and easy to reach throughout the process.
When I’m doing an investigation, some of the first things that I look for are the details about the case that I want to clarify. These give me a sense of what issues we can challenge and what issues are going to be really important should we go to trial. These can include factors like witnesses, whether or not there are videos and whether or not there is any independent evidence that I can get from somebody other than my client in order to bolster our defense.
As I’m looking through the evidence, I’m making notes and tagging items for legal research in order to prepare any motions or legal arguments that might arise from these details. From there, I look at what which aspects of the evidence the prosecution is going to try to use to convict my client. Then I build my case to defend my client based on the prosecution’s evidence.
In the courtroom, my litigation technique is a combination of passion and levelheadedness. I know when to really appeal passionately for my client in the strongest possible terms in front of the judge, and alternatively, when I need to use a more reserved approach or save my argument for a more appropriate moment. I think that’s what sets me apart from some other individuals in the courtroom.
Also, I’m not easily shaken by unexpected turns of events in court. It’s very difficult to surprise me because I prepare for so many different outcomes before I even enter the courtroom. On top of that, I really know which arguments will hit home with the judge, based on the charge and on the purpose of the hearing. I know what’s important and needs to be said as well as how it needs to be said, and I think that sets me apart.
A lot of people ask me what type of case I find the most interesting to defend, and my answer is, “every case!” That’s because I have found that every case has something extremely interesting about it. Even cases that some people consider less serious will involve some fact or bit of evidence that piques my interest. So I’ll really go after that fact and explore the possibilities that come out of it.
There’s really no topic that I find uninteresting in criminal law. Sometimes it’s just about the way the laws are written and sometimes it’s about making holes in the prosecution’s case, , but in every single case I find something to get excited about.