It was 11.13am. We had 19 days to trial. Barnaby Jones sat across the conference table in my office, and he was indignant.
“Mr. Leo, it wasn’t me! I swear They got the wrong guy!”
We’d been talking about this case for the last half-hour or so, and he was still giving me the same story. Every defense lawyer has heard it a million times. “It wasn’t me!” In defense circles we call this the SODDI defense — “some other dude did it” (it even has a Wikipedia entry). Mr Jones wasn’t the first client to give me this line nor would he be the last. Naturally, I was skeptical, especially in light of the Commonwealth’s discovery I’d reviewed since ADA Shea sent it to me yesterday.
“I understand what you’re saying, Mr. Jones, but you’ve reviewed that discovery I gave you, right? We have some big problems here. First, the police sat on your block for four days. They say they were 25 feet away, using binoculars, and saw you sell drugs on four separate occasions to a confidential informant. Additionally, they say that each time the confidential informant came back to them with crack cocaine they saw you sell to him. That’s bad. You get that, right?”
“Yes, Mr. Leo, I get it.” My client nodded.
“Then, to make it worse, the police got a warrant and raided the house where they said they saw you. In that house, they found over sixty grams of crack cocaine, 50 jars of PCP, and over one hundred grams of weed. They also found a picture of you and two other guys, which they bagged as evidence. That’s worse. You get that, right? They are putting you in that house!”
“They’re wrong though! I wasn’t selling drugs that day, Mr. Leo. I was USING drugs! The guy they saw wasn’t me. And I am not the guy in that picture!”
I looked across the table at my client, in silence, for a minute. He wasn’t getting it. I took off my glasses, folded them, and placed them to my right. I signed deeply and rubbed my face with my hands in frustration. “This guy”, I thought to myself, “straight up case of denial”.