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When “He is a ‘Good Guy’” Doesn’t Work as a Defense

Posted by Mike G on June 13, 2017

In my early days after graduating law school, I served a stint with the Kankakee County States Attorney, where I was assigned to the low level courtrooms handling traffic, misdemeanors and Juvenile court cases.

Our mornings were filled with interactions with defense attorneys pleading their cases on behalf of the clients.

“There was no probable cause for the stop.”

“He clearly acted in self defense.”

“It was a case of mistaken identity.”

Yet, there was one lawyer – named Phil –who always offered the most unique defense on behalf of his client.

“C’mon Mike. Take it easy on him. He is really a good guy.”

As you can imagine, Phil did not have an outstanding reputation as a defense lawyer, as pleading “niceness” or “goodness” often carried little weight with us, especially if the defendant committed a list of prior offenses. Yet, Phil had a steady stream of paying clients – folks, perhaps, who liked having a lawyer who got to know them, and who could appreciate what is “good” about them.

So, though Phil was popular among certain clients, his continual reliance on the “good guy” defense caused most of us to consider him – as a defense lawyer – incompetent.

Clearly, when someone is under investigation, suspected or accused of doing wrong, a prosecutor or investigator ought not by unduly swayed by a request to take it easy on him because “he is a good guy.”

After nearly 30 years, I wonder what has made me think about good “ol Phil once again?

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About the Author

Mike G's photoMike Glasser

Mike has a long term relationship with Rogers Park, having lived here at various times in his life, most recently returning to the neighborhood in August, 2009. While living here as a third year law student, he remembers drunken nights at Biddy Mulligan’s and hosting a couple of memorable parties that he, hypocritically, now forbids his own tenants from having. Years later, after completing his stint as a lawyer, Mike started investing in apartment buildings in Rogers Park (and elsewhere), and soon after, did what many newly divorced real estate investors do: he moved into one of his buildings. In 1992 Mike was one of the founding members of the Rogers Park Builders Group, an organization that he eventually headed for six years, until yielding those reigns three years ago. Around a decade ago, on a whim, he reserved the web site “Rogerspark.com,” which he has been developing ever since, and which co-hosts RP BizArts networking events. Mike is the proud father of three wonderful children, Amy, Mitch and Ella.

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