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Wisconsin Criminal Defense Attorney Ramon Valdez Talks Crime and Punishment

June 18, 2013 01:07pm  

Milwaukee, WI—Criminal defense attorney Ramon Valdez knows that just because someone's charged with a crime doesn't mean that the government can always—or even usually—gets the charge to stick.

At Brown Buffalo Law, where Valdez works, over 85 percent of all criminal cases the firm works on have been dismissed.  Valdez's experience as a public defender led him to starting to work as an attorney concentrating  in defense of domestic violence cases.

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“The more cases I handled, the more I developed a specialty in handling the complexities of the issues that are presented during domestic violence cases,” Valdez told in a recent interview.  “Over a long period of time, I found myself working on these types of cases exclusively.”

When it comes to trials, Valdez has an astonishing remarkable success rate.  Some of that, he says, is because the district attorney has a tendency to overcharge defendants.

“I've seen a big increase in overcharging on the part of district attorneys.  Today, I don't see as much negotiation occurring like it did in the past.  Since there is so much unwillingness by the prosecution to reduce charges, I am always ready to try cases,” says Valdez.

Overcharging as a prosecutorial strategy represents a major challenge to defendants and their attorneys, he says: “Literally, you can't even go for an hour without breaking some kind of law, whether it's a traffic law violation or some sort of disorderly conduct.”

The situation is made even worse, according to Valdez, by the fact that now, more than ever, police may be watching what people are doing when they are not aware.  “You can't walk anywhere without there being video surveillance,” he says.  “You can be observed by somebody with cameras and be subsequently charged for something that you didn't even know was illegal.”

While Valdez has seen a great deal of success in state courts, he says he has no desire to practice in a federal courtroom.  “I don't practice in federal court because I think there is way too much power in the hands of prosecutors with charging decisions and mandatory sentencing.  From the get-go there are always settlement discussions about what your client, the defendant, will take responsibility for.  I believe that is really an unfair advantage for any governmental power to have,” he says.

One thing Valdez says he hasn't seen a need for in his practice is advertising.  “I have developed a great reputation for myself and great name recognition,” he explains.  “I don't advertise, other than on my website.  The way I get clients is through word of mouth, or when they see me in court and ask for my card.”

In his time in the courtroom, Valdez has learned that it's important to be tenacious—but not too tenacious.  Once, after losing a trial he thought he was going to win, he was told by a juror what had happened during the deliberations: the jury had thought that Valdez was so good that they ended up feeling bad for the district attorney and deciding in his favor.

“The lesson I learned from that case is not to beat up on the D.A. too much, because the jurors become sympathetic to them,” Valdez says.  “There is a danger of being too aggressive in legal practice.”


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