The Right to Remain Silent, perhaps the most sacred right a criminal defense attorney is charged with protecting for his/her client. Every client has the right, and like every right our clients have, we remain on constant guard to fight off any potential violation of those rights. If our guard ever drops, it is hard to argue that we are not dropping the ball and hurting our client in the process. However, when it comes to the decision to waive one of those rights, it is the client’s ultimate decision that controls, and all we can do is counsel them as best we can about making the correct decision.
I would never stand on the sideline and criticize a fellow attorney’s advice and counsel based purely on the client’s decision, so I certainly would not do that now in the case of Mr. Kelly’s counsel’s advice prior to this decision to conduct this interview. However, based upon the unforgettable image alone, of him standing in rage above Gayle King, there is no question that the decision was as regrettable as it possibly could be.
There are those rare cases where a pretrial interview with the press can be advantageous, but the risk of harm far outweighs the benefit in those very rare cases. The same is said by many when it comes to the decision to waive that same right and testify. However, despite the dangers inherent in having a client testify, a good defense attorney, can prepare a client for even the most rigorous cross examination. I have done in cases ranging from Murder to Aggravated Sexual Assault. It is never easy, but it can be successful.
Most of all, a good defense attorney knows when to say when. When is the right case and who is the right client. There is no magic formula. Even the most preparation in the world cannot deter some clients from heading off the rails, and in those cases, the best the attorney can do is do everything is his/her power to keep that client off the tracks completely. Perhaps R. Kelly’s attorney did everything in his power to do that, but either way, getting this train back on the tracks now might never happen.