The process of finding a defense attorney is awful. There are no reviews out there, and there’s so much I know now that I wish I knew back when I was choosing one. Let’s create a running thread to review our honest experiences with defense attorneys. For me, deciding on a defense attorney, and later, deciding to switch attorneys, was a monumental decision which changed my life. For me, it was a decision just as important as who I chose to marry.
Richard Owens and Christopher Clark of Latham & Watkins
When my white collar case began, I had no way of vetting attorneys. Half the attorneys I called were conflicted and one of them referred me to Richard Owens, a former federal prosecutor. What I know now, which I wish I knew back then, is that the world of high-end white collar defense attorneys is an exclusive club, where the lawyers actually care more about their own interconnected relationships than they do their clients.
Clients are just fodder for their ecosystem, to be sucked in, chewed up, and spit out.
Why did I pick Richard Owens? I was a mess. I was scared shitless. I thought a former prosecutor could ‘pull strings’ to help me. It was, in fact, the exact opposite. Richard Owens pulled my strings to help his former colleagues. Every time we went to meet with the prosecutors, he would disappear for the first half of the meeting, going around his old office to shake hands and back slap former colleagues.
Let me be crystal clear. You cannot trust Richard Owens or Chris Clark as defense attorneys. Their interests are not aligned with you. They had me plead guilty to a crime that I did not commit.
And were it not for my next defense attorney, I would be relegated to the junk heap of delusional felons who insist they didn’t do it.
Greg Morvillo of Morvillo PLLC
This man saved my life, which is no understatement. Greg Morvillo believed me, even after a guilty plea that seemed unretractable.
What do I know now that I didn’t know then? That the most important factor in picking a defense attorney is one who actually believes you.
I was a wreck, a discarded has-been whose guilty plea had rendered an untouchable. I would craft argument and PowerPoints listing out, point by point, why I had been railroaded and was actually innocent. But it was actually Greg who was willing to walk side by side with me, through the journey for me to understand that it was best for me and my family to finally surrender.
And in that process of surrender, we discovered new evidence which finally proved what I had insisted on all along, which is that I was actually factually innocent. Without a moment to spare, Greg leaped into action and crafted an argument that he prevailed on.
He cleared my name. My reputation is still in tatters, but through the grace of God he forever changed the forward trajectory of my life and of the narrative I not only can tell myself, but to my children.
If your case is up his alley, he is your best possible advocate.
If you want to guarantee you get prosecuted and end up with the worst possible outcome, then Kevin Keating is your man!
I hired Keating when my matter was a simple SEC investigation into a client’s business. Keating was recommended by another attorney who didn’t handle criminal defense matters. After reviewing my case, Keating advised me to turn over my entire file to the SEC except for a few documents that were privileged. He also counseled me to Take the Fifth during my testimony at the SEC, even though it seemed fairly clear from the SEC investigative memo that I was not a target of the investigation.
It was clear from the questions that the SEC asked (and I refused to answer) that I could have answered all of them without putting myself into too much jeopardy. Six months to the date after my appearance, I was sued by the SEC and had all of my assets frozen. In addition, my former client and two of his partners were arrested by the FBI.
Don’t worry; it gets worse. Keating ran into the AUSA on the case, Will Campos, in Brooklyn the day after the arrest. Campos and Keating had worked together at the NY DA’s office when they both were fresh out of law school. He told Campos that he “got it right” by suing me but not arresting me. At first, Campos had no idea who I was. When Keating explained, Campos told him that he would love to talk with me. Keating said he’d have to think about it. I was in favor of the idea, hoping to put this all behind me. Instead, Keating spent the next 6 months stonewalling the US Attorney. When Campos finally said that if I continued to refuse to talk, he would have me arrested, Keating told me he was just bluffing. On April 5, 2012, Campos proved he wasn’t and had a team of 8 FBI agents raid my home at 5:50 AM. I kept Keating on as my attorney for 6 more months, but when he wouldn’t press the US Attorney on turning over discovery materials and refused to serve discovery demands on my co-defendants, I fired him. Sadly, this was 18 months and $50,000 too late. He had figured out how to get me sued by the SEC, my assets frozen, and indicted on multiple white collar charges.
If Kevin Keating was an NFL QB, his passer rating would be ZERO.