Handling the Pressure-Filled World of Criminal Defense
Criminal defense is not neat and tidy. Successful criminal defense lawyers must simply learn to coexist with a certain level of chaos and dysfunction. For this reason, most lawyers (in my experience) run away from criminal defense work. It is very difficult to find a lawyer dedicated to criminal defense, let alone a whole law firm. In addition to the complicated nature of criminal defense law, most attorneys also lack the courage it takes to properly defend a fellow human being accused of a crime. Defending a client who is facing the loss of their freedom and reputation is very daunting. It is nerve wracking. It is filled with complications and contradictions. It keeps you up at night. However, in spite of the chaos of criminal defense, I simply cannot fathom practicing any other area of law.
My entire career has been spent exclusively defending the accused, except for a 9 month period in 2014 when I briefly ventured into other areas of law. It was a miserable 9 months, but it helped me realize a very basic fact about myself: I am a criminal defense attorney. Period. Joining the Criminal Defense Team with our exciting style of aggressive, creative and strategic defense and dedication to the criminally accused was a perfect fit. For those who are dedicated to criminal defense, like all of the lawyers in our firm, dealing with the hectic pace and constant pressures of representing clients accused of committing a variety of crimes is simply a way of life. I realized very quickly upon joining the firm that my history as a criminal defense attorney mirrored the experiences of all of our firm’s lawyers.
On one particular stretch in my career I endured a trial gauntlet consisting of five jury trials in a row, representing five different clients accused of committing the following crimes: murder, rape, aggravated burglary, attempted murder and burglary. I was living on little sleep, lots of coffee and with the constant anguish of knowing that how well I performed in my job could be the difference between freedom for my clients or being locked up for most of the rest of their lives. That was chaos, pure and simple….. and I loved it. None of the five defendants in those cases was found guilty! Somehow, I had run through the trial gauntlet unscathed. Most importantly, each of my clients had another lease on life. It is strange reflecting upon that time period because the harsh reality of being a dedicated criminal defense attorney is that you don’t really have time to think about your victories. You have other clients that need your attention and therefore must jump right back into the fray. I have had many, many more victories both before that gauntlet and after, but the memory of those victories fade because there is always more work to do and more clients to aggressively defend. I am a huge sports fan and certainly believe in the adage that you can’t dwell too long on your victories because there is always a new challenge lying ahead. The same is true in criminal defense.
As strange as it sounds, I embrace the chaos of criminal defense. I grew up in the 1970’s and 1980’s and to say that I did not have a very typical childhood would be a vast understatement. However, I believe it is my own chaotic existence as a child that helped me gravitate toward criminal defense and gave me the tools, passion and skillset to give our clients the aggressive and compassionate representation we are known for providing. My parents divorced at a young age. They each had their own set of issues. I lived in Maine for the early part of my life before moving 3,000 miles away to the West Coast leaving everything I knew behind. By the time I graduated college, both of my parents had died. I had no siblings. Relatives were scattered all over the country. When a client tells me they feel alone, I understand what they mean. When a client refers to their anxiety and frustration, I can relate. I have been there. When they tell me that they are scared, angry or confused…I get it. I’ve lived it.
I have held on to a few remnants from my chaotic past. For example, I am a fervent Boston Red Sox fan because my father loved the Sox. I hold fondly the memories created with him at Fenway Park. However, I learned a long time ago that dwelling on the past does not solve problems. When we are hired, we need to understand the past (represented by the facts of our client’s case), but also need to focus on the future (developing a cohesive strategy that will put our client in the best position to attain the best practical outcome). Along the way, there may be chaos. Prosecutors may not see things the same way that we do. Judges may set difficult timetables and unexpected orders. Police may lie or cheat. Witnesses may exaggerate or fabricate or disappear. Any number of other pitfalls may arise during the course of representation. There will be difficult decisions to make. Many lawyers wilt in the face of the chaos and in making these difficult decisions.
At the Criminal Defense Team, we thrive in the chaos and in making those tough choices. We take on the challenge and figure out ways to succeed, sometimes when success doesn’t seem possible. Criminal defense work is not for the faint of heart. However, for those that can embrace the chaos and aggressively defend their clients in spite of it, defending the life and liberties of our clients is a rewarding challenge. Fortunately for our clients, my own personal journey prepared me for the challenge.
- “You will not find another lawyer anywhere that has more passion and compassion for their clients than Kathie Perry. She is also a highly experienced, skilled and gifted trial lawyer who has garnered the respect among her peers, prosecutors and judges and has been the lead lawyer in many jury trials that no one gave our client a chance to win – but we did. Within the office, KP (as we call her) is regarded as a go-to source when problems need to be solved for our clients. KP’s keen insight and breadth of knowledge during brainstorming sessions has absolutely been the catalyst on a number of difficult and complex cases that ultimately resulted in victory even though she may never have stepped foot in the courtroom during the trial.” – Mike Kyle, lawyer, The Criminal Defense Team of Baldwin Kyle & Kamish, PC
Maurer School of Law, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN - (Juris Doctorate, 2000)
- Merit Scholarship Award Winner
- University of Washington, Seattle, WA - (B.A. Sociology, 1996)
Criminal Defense Education:
- Trial Practice Institute (2002)
- National Criminal Defense College (2005)
- Active in good standing in Indiana
- Sagamore Inn of Courts Barrister - First Place National Award Winner for Continuing Legal Education presentation
Areas of Practice
- 100% focused on criminally related law
Primarily focused on all phases related to criminal defense
- Pre-arrest advocacy
- Appellate and post-conviction relief work