If charged with murder, Hernandez needs to hire the right lawyer

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Police continue to investigate the murder of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd, and Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez continues to get legal advice from a large, international, corporate firm with more than 1,000 lawyers.  If Hernandez ever ends up facing murder charges there’s one thing he needs more than anything else:  A lawyer who has tried many murder cases.

For now, Hernandez is represented by Michael Fee of Ropes & Gray.  Fee is the obvious choice from the firm’s broad corporate practice.  Basically, he’s the guy who represents the corporate muckety-mucks who get charged with “white collar” crimes.

Fee’s online bio, the carefully-crafted practice summary prepared for every lawyer at every large firm, makes it clear that Fee has plenty of experience in criminal cases, but says nothing about murder cases.

Plenty of white-collar criminal defense lawyers at major firms started as prosecutors.  So did Fee.  But his online bio indicates he enforced laws regarding corruption from public officials, not laws against murder or related crimes.

At some point, Hernandez will need to realize that he may need something other than a white-collar criminal defense lawyer.  If he’s charged with murder, Hernandez will need someone who has tried murder cases.  Preferably as both the prosecutor and as the defense attorney.  It’s critically important to have a lawyer who knows from experience how these cases get put together, and how they can be taken apart.

Also, Hernandez arguably would be far better off with a lone Vincent LaGuardia Gambini-style wolf than a prominent partner in a prominent firm.  Lawyers in large firms can be almost as worried about the questions they’ll face from their colleagues as they are about getting a successful result for the client.  Cases can easily be overlawyered by folks who dread the “Did you argue this?  Did you argue that?  Did you do this?  Did you do that?” inquiries they’ll face from jerk-store colleagues who like to point out in passive-aggressive fashion that they would have done a better job.

If Hernandez ever is charged with murder and if Fee ends up sitting at counsel table as the lead lawyer, he’ll possibly be out of his element — but he’ll never be able to admit it.  The best (or perhaps worst) example of this comes from the defense fashioned by the late Vincent Fuller on behalf of Mike Tyson in 1992.  Fuller, a powerful lawyer at a big D.C. firm who represented Don King on tax evasion charges and proved John Hinckley was insane when he shot Ronald Reagan, had no experience handling rape cases in Indiana.  And it showed.  Fuller, as explained by Sports Illustrated at the time, painted Tyson as sex-crazed animal in order to show that Tyson’s victim had to know what was going to happen when she went to his hotel room.

The picture painted by Tyson’s own lawyer likely made it easier for the jury to send him to jail.

If Hernandez faces murder charges in Bristol County, Massachusetts, he needs someone who has prosecuted murder cases in Bristol County, Massachusetts (preferably with the person who’ll be prosecuting Hernandez), who has defended murder cases in Bristol County, Massachusetts (preferably against the person who’ll be prosecuting Hernandez), and who has practiced before the Bristol County judge who’ll preside over the case.  Even if Fee has none of those qualities, it will be tempting for Fee to explain to Hernandez that Fee can do the job, since Hernandez has one thing most murder defendants don’t — a lot of money to pay the bill.

In the end, that money will be best spent on someone who knows the prosecutor well, knows the judge well, knows the courtroom well, and knows the ins and outs of crafting reasonable doubt in a Bristol County, Massachusetts murder case.

Actually, the smartest move could be to assume charges are coming and to hire that lawyer now.  It’s obvious that Hernandez being targeted for potential prosecution, at a minimum for obstruction of justice.  The sooner he’s getting advice from a uniquely-qualified person who’d handle a murder trial, the better.

For all anyone knows, Hernandez already is.

61 responses to “If charged with murder, Hernandez needs to hire the right lawyer

  1. “If charged with murder, Hernandez needs to hire the right lawyer”

    Why, so he can cheat the system and get off free like OJ, Jody Arias and tot mom?

    Who cares who his lawyer is? What matters is the puke is found guilty and locked up for 20+ years.

  2. Maybe the Pats better go after the part of the bonus to which they believe they are entitled.

  3. That’s some great legal commentary, but something tells me that Hernandez’s mind is made up with how he is going to handle business from here. He’s going to stick to his hand/style of this is going down his way or the highway, and he feels confident that he can step up and show he’s the boss. He has watched a lot of CSI and thinks he has his bases covered.

    But like most criminals, they usually forget about at least one base somewhere. And that’s when his hand will finally fold, but not until it is directly shoved in his face. Without any direct verifiable holes in his position he will just call any bluff and not take any unnecessary steps to indicate weakness or guilt.

  4. Your point is a good one, but not sure why you rag on his current attorneys and claim is law firm is full of high school gossip girls.

  5. Be glad he’s not in Louisiana. In La it wouldn’t matter if HE pulled the trigger. Leniency is 30 large in Angola. Hardball is the needle.

  6. Johnnie Cochran was very good at springing murderers. Although even if he were still alive, he probably wouldn’t take this case since there’s no race card to be played by the defense.

  7. If charged with anything, one needs to hire the right lawyer. C’mon, man!

    Hernandez needs more than a good lawyer. If the cops take ten paper bags out of your house after going in there with dogs, it’s going to be a bad outcome. I’d imagine because its a high-profile case, that these searches are probably being executed to the letter. I’m not expecting Hernandez to be trying on a bloody glove in court.

  8. I was immediately thinking about Tyson when I read the headline for this article. Fuller had no business trying the first real sexual assault case. Tyson got railroaded. Everyone knows he didn’t do it. That girl had previously cried wolf in similar fashion with a previous boyfriend.

  9. Surely there have to be some experienced former mob lawyers in the Boston area.

  10. He should check the bulletin board of the Baltimore Ravens locker room. I think there’s still a flyer from 2000 there.

  11. A Hernandez murder trial in Taunton would be the biggest even in years in that sad old town.

  12. The precise moment I read the headline for this story – it was an instantaneous association of the time Mike Tyson hired an out-of-juridiction TAX attorney to defend him on rape charges.

    If Tyson wasn’t surrounded by an entourage of yes-men, toolbags and bloodsucking leeches — someone might have had the sense to tell him to come to his senses and hire a qualified in-jurisdiction Criminal Defense attorney.

    The essence of that mistake inarguably cost Tyson tens of millions and his rocketship toward irreversible Palookaville went straight into warp speed at that moment.

  13. Where’s Phoenix Wright when you need him? ($10 to the person who knows what I mean)

  14. As a lawyer, I can tell you there is but one way in which justice prevails — there is one human institution that makes a rube the equal of a Vanderbilt, the witless man the equal of a Mozart, and the unwashed the equal of a high priest. That institution, gentlemen, is a court.

    Ok, I lied. I’m not a lawyer. I’m a dirty hobo who lifted (and slightly retooled) the above quote from the movie To Kill a Mockingbird.

    And I sincerely hope it makes every last one of you virtuosos of imputed righteousness happy as a clam knowing that you are better than me, with your smarty-pants comments concerning legal retribution, your overstated opinions on the subject of constitutional law, and your flippant lines about dropping soap in the shower.

    It must be nice being perfect.

  15. I find it ironic that when drafted, the concern with Gronkowski was he could not stay healthy and the concern with Hernandez was off field behavior. For the first three years it was Gronkowski’s off field lifestyle scrutinized and Hernandez could not stay healthy. Today, it has flipped back to Gronkowski cannot stay healthy and Hernandez off field issues.

  16. Hollywood writers would say “Naw that’s too corny.” A corporate lawyer named Fee. Sometime truth is funnier than fiction.

  17. Dead on take on big firm lawyers. They are too specialized and often ruin cases by overanalysis. We call it paralysis by overanalysis. Maybe he can coax Alan Dershowitz out of retirement. Who knows Massachusetts crim law better than mr Harvard crim law professor himself?

  18. So you’re saying it’s important for Hernandez to get a good lawyer? Before I read this article, I was thinking that Hernandez needed a really bad lawyer. Thanks for turning me around on this one.

  19. “If Hernandez is charged with murder, he’ll need a lawyer that specializes in murder.” Thanks Mike. Really cleared that one up for us. Close the laptop already, and make sweet love to your wife for crying out loud.

  20. I don’t get the big deal, it’s not like he got caught speeding. It’s only murder for god sakes!!

  21. Too bad Johnny Cochran is dead.

    “If the glove fits you must acquit.”

    Marcia Clark and Chris Darden put the “quit” in acquit because that’s what it took to get OJ off the hook.

  22. Having a the proper lawyer(s) is a major factor. There’s another factor that people tend to overlook. It’s the jurors. If you have a strong case you’d want people with good critical thinking skills. If you have a weak case then you would the typical PFT commentator with poor critical thinking skills.

  23. what is the evidence against Hernandez other than the fact he knew the decedent and they were spotted in Club Desire together? Club Desire does not equal Homicide or does it?

  24. Not sure I agree on the solo v. large firm thing. I’ve worked at both.

    Of course people will second guess. But for any decent trial lawyer, he’s more worried about living up to his own standards than those of anybody else.

    Even when you win, you keep going over what you did wrong. Get a not guilty but don’t think you handled the expert well? That will bother you much longer than you will feel good about the win.

    Fear of losing, rather than joy in winning, drives most good trial lawyers that I know. We hate losing with a passion and we constantly think we are on the verge of getting our behinds kicked.

    I’m not as much worried about the idiot down the hall offering his critique as I am about me waking up at 2:00 a.m. thinking about how I failed to control a witness on a question or two.

    There are some good attorneys at big firms and some good solos. The key is somebody who gets results. What we see is a lot of guys who can spin a loss. The “I was up against it and the jury hated my client but yet we still almost . . . ” Some guys like that can make a good living in the business. This guy needs a lawyer who can “I went into this venue with guys facing similar charges and I won.”

  25. To be clear, since Hernandez hasn’t even been arrested and he may never be, no one has been charged with a crime yet in the connection to Lloyd’s death and there is only sketchy information available to the public, I have no idea if Hernandez is guilty of crime at all. Like all sensible people, I’ll wait to see if Hernandez is arrested and more information comes out before making any personal judgments about what happened because I have no clue beyond a few news reports as to what happened.

  26. Damn, Hernandez hasn’t been charged with anything, isn’t a suspect, isn’t even a person of interest, and some of you people have him in jail for life!!

    Speaking of life, some of you people should get one!

  27. All Hernandez’s attorney’s have to do is cause the judge to lose control of the courtroom. It worked with the O.J. Simpson case. It worked with Casey Anthony. And I am positive it would happen to Hernandez. Quite a travesty in the justice system.

  28. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m not sure Hernandez is the victim here. Odin Lloyd was shot several times and his family has lost a loved one. Hernandez’s actions in the following days suggest he or someone close to him was directly involved. What legal advice for the Lloyd family then? I doubt that they have the resources that Hernandez has at his disposal. But they should hear the truth and have justice to have some peace of mind after losing a son.

  29. If Hernandez goes to jail it should pave the way for Tebow to start at TE now…

    That Bill Belicheat is a genius I tell ya LOL

  30. “If charged with murder, Hernandez needs to hire the right lawyer”

    In other news, if Hernandez gets sick, he should see a Doctor; and if he catches on fire, he should stop, drop and roll.

  31. One afternoon a lawyer was riding in his limousine when he saw two men along the road-side eating grass.

    Disturbed, he ordered his driver to stop and got out to investigate.

    He asked one man, “Why are you eating grass?”

    “We don’t have any money for food,” the poor man replied. “We have to eat grass.”

    “Well, then, you can come with me to my house and I’ll feed you, ” the lawyer said.

    “But sir, I have a wife and two children with me. They are over there, under that tree.”

    “Bring them along,” the lawyer replied.

    Turning to the other poor man he stated, “You may come with us, also.”

    The second man, in a pitiful voice, then said, “But sir, I also have a wife and SIX children with me!”

    “Bring them all as well,” the lawyer answered.

    They all entered the car, which was no easy task, even for a car as large as the limousine was.

    Once under way, one of the poor fellows turned to the lawyer and said, “Sir, you are too kind.”

    “Thank you for taking all of us with you.

    The lawyer replied, “Glad to do it. You’ll really love my place. The grass is almost a foot high.”

  32. Wow, very few Ray Lewis comparison comments! The media (Florio) has finally succeeded in cleansing the image of Lewis~!

  33. I don’t necessarily agree that hiring a new lawyer is the most important thing for Hernandez right now. A former prosecutor who handled corruption cases might be OK, criminal law is criminal law. But innocent or guilty there is one thing that is without a doubt the most important thing for him to remember. Keep your mouth shut on the matter. Don’t talk about it to your friends or family, the press, the cops or your cellmate if they arrest you. Perry Mason himself can’t help you if you run your mouth. If you are innocent, a careless word can make you look guilty. If you are guilty a word to the wrong person can fry you.

  34. Said my brother who also works for a Big Deal Boston law firm (“Mike” refers to Fee):

    I know Mike well. I doubt he’ll handle a murder case, but Florio’s arguments are greatly overstated, particularly about the need for someone with experience in Bristol County and the concern about what his colleagues would say.

  35. Let me be the first to say that I have zero sympathy for Aaron Hernandez, and I hope that a lawyer is not able to help him do an end around the justice system if he did it. Mr. Hernandez seems like an idiot. Here he is a guy with everything he could possibly want, yet gets himself involved in a murder case that was 100% preventable. If he is the shooter then he should fry!

  36. I would go a different way completely. What he should do is STOP INVOLVING HIMSELF WITH CRIMINALS AND MURDERS. See, this not only saves him money, but it also saves him from going to jail! It’s win win, I’m telling you.

  37. You won’t print this and that is ok. Your strength is football. Your weakness is an increased tendency to follow King with character assassinations and getting too full of yourself in non football subjects.

    On what basis do you think your career is advanced by declaring yourself an advisor on legal matters involving a player’s personal life? At some point more and more people are going to see you as just ‘hot air’ Florio.

    This is meant as an act of kindness. No need to print it.

  38. I’d add that regardless of what type of attorney he hires, he should realize that they are motivated primarily by profit, rather than his true best interest. If the client is inclined toward fighting the charges regardless of guilt or innocence then any attorney will see maximum fees in his future. None will tell him to simply tell the truth and bargain for the best deal because almost anybody could do that for very little money.

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