I just represented a witness in a criminal case. She was subpoenaed to testify against her husband who is charged with distributing drugs. She agreed to testify in spite of her right to invoke her spousal immunity. During our interviews and her interviews with the government in preparation for her testimony I was struck by how intelligent this woman is. She answered the questions posed to her perfectly. She had such clarity. On the stand, she was brilliant. She was honest, direct. She said everything she needed to say without crossing any lines. The prosecutor and I talked about how smart she was. His comment was, “Under any other circumstances, she would have been a doctor or a lawyer.” My response to him was, “That’s why I do what I do. Because but for the grace of god go I.”

This woman didn’t have a chance. Her mother was a heroin addict and her father was an alcoholic. They are both deceased as a result of their addictions. My client was a drug dealer for many years, went to prison and has now been clean for 6 years. I have had so many clients who have tragic life stories that led them to a life of drugs. I’ve heard story after story after story of lives you can’t imagine. I have argued at sentencing over and over to the judges sitting high up on their benches in their marbled courtrooms, “My client did not have the advantages you and I had. We had the benefits of great parents, good homes, an education. They weren’t given those things. They never had a chance and but for the grace of god go you and I.”

So when people ask me, “How do you defend people?” I say, “Because but for the grace of god go I.”