The mid-1990s saw me working as a federal public defender in one of the busiest districts in the United States. In addition to being the senior lawyer on numerous appeals, I carried a heavy felony caseload in the trial-level district court. I fought the Government at every stage from bond to motions hearings to jury trials to sentencing; I defended against charges of alien smuggling, bank robbery, Social Security and mortgage fraud, drug importation and conspiracy, and a full menu of other crimes. It was an intense, eighty hour per week experience with a dedicated group of colleagues.
Today federal criminal defense remains a significant part of my practice. I manage — usually — not to work eighty hours per week anymore, but I am still engaged in defending persons accused of a wide variety of federal offenses. I serve on the Criminal Justice Act panel for the U.S. District Court in Atlanta, carrying three or four serious felony cases by appointment on a more or less continuous basis. From the beginning of a case, when energetic efforts may be required to win release on bond, until the end, when case is resolved by a dismissal, verdict, or sentence, I guide clients through a confusing and intimidating process. And I think strategically about motions, defenses, and arguments that can make a difference at trial or nudge the court toward leniency whether sentencing is arrived at by verdict or by plea.