Good grief. How I hope that headline is never about me.
Instead, it was referring to my old friend and colleague, Anne Bremner. She and I go waaaay back. When I was still a law student at Stanford, she worked in the campus coffee house, where I would go to study my contracts, torts, and other assorted boring non criminal law topics. Anne was an undergrad at Stanford. I vaguely remembered her when she approached me years later in the King County Courthouse in Seattle, me a young criminal defense attorney working for the public defenders office, Anne a hard charging prosecutor. The Stanford connection can be strong, but with one of us righteously defending the innocent, falsely accused of crimes which they did not commit, and the other locking up all the bad guys and throwing away the key, there was a tad bit of tension in the air when we first reconnected…
Shortly thereafter, we were in court, and Ms. Bremner was going after my client in the infamous Kentucky Fried Chicken Robbery Case. I was doing my thing, educating the jury about the presumption of innocence and the arbitrariness of the prosecutorial vindictiveness exemplified by the State, when falsely charging my client. Anne waited patiently until it was her turn.
I’ll never forget her response: “Well, members of the jury, you don’t think he was shot out of a cannon and landed in the courtroom by magic do you?”
Outraged, I jumped up screaming “Objection!” What happened next is the subject of some disagreement. Anne likes to tell this story whenever we get together, describing how I had her held in contempt, obtained a mistrial and won the day for my client. My memory is that the result was nowhere near this favorable, but it is hard to interrupt when someone is telling stories about you that make you look so good.
The point of all this is that lawyers are people too. In the recent posts we have been talking about how you need to remain silent. Period. In the KOMO News piece describing Anne’s ordeal over her DUI charge, they make much out of the fact that she initially told one version of events, and that this was ultimately contradicted by her decision to enter a guilty plea. I am not her lawyer, so it is not for me to say one way or the other. Except to point out that Anne Bremner, just like everyone else, should probably have remained entirely silent up to the point she entered the plea. And, ideally, even after.
What bothers me about the coverage of my friend is the mean spirited attacks on her from all corners. Even my buddies in the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys (WACDL), of which I am a proud card carrying member, were less than charitable, especially since Anne is seen as a cop loving former prosecutor. All I can say is that we should all do what we ask judges to do every day: Temper justice with mercy.
I get the irony of a lawyer who represents cops getting into trouble. But, I also get that fact that people make mistakes. The least we can do is give them some space to correct their mistakes and move on.
Anne Bremner drives me crazy when I hear her, sounding like the former prosecutor she is, on the Nancy Grace show, me sitting there working on briefs and files even as I try to relax in the evening; Anne, my former barista at Stanford, appearing on TV as a nationally recognized expert on criminal law. But, that doesn’t mean she should be treated any differently than any of the clients I fight so hard to defend. She deserves the benefit of the doubt, just like any other citizen. My friends and colleagues from both sides of the bar need to remember that. Anne is my friend and I support her. I am happy to defend her, even if she did once do everything in her power to lock up my clients. That is what the justice part of of criminal justice is all about. We all need to remember that.