As I write this blog, I am on a flight from London, where I met with two clients – in two different matters – one involving a case in the United States and one involving a matter between France and the U.S. I had the pleasure of working with fine lawyers from Great Britain, from France and from Israel, as we worked together on these two separate cases.
I have been to London several times through the years representing clients in international cases. I am always impressed with the English barristers and solicitors with whom I work. It is the same with criminal defense lawyers in Canada, many European countries including Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Latvia, Croatia, in Singapore, South Korea, China, South Africa, Israel, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Argentina and several Caribbean countries. It is so interesting for me to practice international criminal law, as well as to represent people in Florida and throughout the United States in domestic criminal cases. I am so fortunate to have represented good people in international cases all over the world, since 1974. It is incredibly interesting to learn about the differences in the criminal justice systems in the various countries.
Each of the defenders with whom I have worked cared about our clients who are under investigation for possibly committing crimes or charged with committing crimes.
The similarities in each of the criminal justice systems are striking. Although procedures differ, the essence of the criminal justice systems in the countries where I have represented clients are very much like here in the United States. In speaking with my international colleagues, I find that rules and procedures in foreign countries are changing to make them more uniform and similar to United States’ criminal justice.
For example, I was recently talking with good friends and colleagues from Mexico. They told me that more criminal trials will be conducted with witnesses being confronted in court, as opposed to have simply submitted written declarations which are not subject to cross examination.
You may be wondering why an American criminal defense lawyer is retained to represent so many clients in foreign countries. Let me explain. Very often, American citizens or legal residents are arrested abroad. They and their families want a criminal defense lawyer who they know and trust to supervise the foreign case by working with competent and honest foreign defense counsel.
Sometimes, American citizens or legal residents are held in a foreign country for extradition to a third country or to the United States, a foreign citizen is arrested abroad and held in custody pending international extradition hearings because the person is wanted in the United States to face criminal charges which have been brought either by our Federal government or by a state in the United States which has charged him or her with a felony.
And, on occasion, a person is a fugitive from justice from the United States (or a state) and seeks United States counsel to represent him or her often to arrange a return to the United States on the most favorable terms and for representation here before and after his or her return to the United States.
Handling international criminal cases for forty years has been a very interesting and rewarding aspect of my criminal defense law practice. I am honored each time I am retained to help people who are facing the overwhelming power of a government looking to prosecute them. Can you imagine what it is like to be that person’s lawyer – their defender, their protector, their champion? It is an enormous responsibility and an opportunity in each case to use my experience and expertise to help someone who really needs help.
I love being a criminal defense attorney. I could not have chosen a better profession for me. It has been rewarding – every day, as I meet new people and am involved in new cases. It has sometimes been difficult and frustrating, but well worth the effort.