The Champion

March 2009 , Page 47 

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By Todd Duncan

Character Letters

In the practice of criminal defense, counsel represents something more than just a “defendant.” Despite the reasons he is appearing before the court, the client is a flesh-and-blood person, an individual with a unique personality and background. In a typical situation, however, when the client appears for sentencing after pleading guilty, the judge has seen him briefly on two prior occasions: once at arraignment and once at the change-of-plea hearing. Prior to sentencing, the client is just another face in the seemingly unending parade of defendants passing before the judge to plead guilty. If the client went to trial, then the judge most likely has heard a stream of negative testimony regarding him and his offense. Either way, prior to receiving the Pre-Sentence Report (PSR), the sentencing judge knows little or nothing about the defendant on a personal basis. Moreover, for the most part, the PSR is usually sorely lacking this information or is so skewed against clien

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