Since I began practicing law in Jefferson County in 2000, I have had the privilege of representing many people through the trial process.

A couple of weekends ago I was preparing for a trial that started on a Tuesday.  I spent the majority of the weekend going over arguments and doing some extensive preparation on each witness.  I had been preparing for many weeks, but in the days just prior to entering the courtroom, I always believe that I owe it to my clients to go over everything once again.  In many instances the future lives of my clients can rest in my hands and this responsibility to do all I can is the driving force behind why I practice law.

My wife dislikes when I am preparing for a trial or during a trial because she knows I always have it on my mind.  She has been put through this routine consistently through the ten years we have been married.  I can never express how much I appreciate her support during these times as her understanding makes me a better husband, father and attorney.

The particular case I was preparing for was an assault in the 1st degree.  My client was facing the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison.  This man had never been arrested for even littering in his entire life and now his life is hanging in the balance of the judicial system.

I knew this client and his family for almost two years.  He had entrusted me by putting his life in my hands.  Simply put, it was impossible for me not to care and lose sleep about the future of this person.

Defending people at trial would be a lot easier if I did not care about the people I defend. There would be much less pressure.  However, I have no desire to have a career where the people I am trying to help do not matter to me.  Every time I take on a case, I express to my clients how much I understand the importance of them placing their trust in me and the Thurman Law Firm.  If I did not care about this person, it would have been quite easy to put the file down, leave my office and spend the rest of the weekend with my wife and young daughter.

This case was to be tried against a very smart, determined prosecutor and like most trials there are many variables that you cannot plan for.  As a litigator, you have to be both quick on your feet and in your head.  If trials were easy, every attorney would be out there doing it.  The fact of the matter is that every case I try, benefits all of my clients as even though I have been practicing law for many years there is always something new to learn or to experience in the courtroom.

The smartest thing I have done in the last several years has been to enlist the help of a very talented and experienced criminal defense attorney in Linda Freeman.  The ability to have a second brain available at trial for quick problem solving session is an invaluable service that all our criminal defense clients receive.

Linda, myself and the Thurman Law Firm’s tremendous support staff all put a lot of work into this trial.  My client was found not guilty of the charge.  He was able to go home, and for the first time in years, he was able to have a good night of sleep.

As I get older, I have learned to appreciate these moments when hard work brings a tangible result.  After two days of trial I was emotionally drained.  Even though I was exhausted I spent the next day catching up with all the clients that had called and left messages during the trial.

The next weekend I made it a point to stay away from my phone and computer to spend time with my daughter.  After all, there is nothing more important than making popcorn and watching Madagascar for the 30th time with a three year old who calls me dad.

Stephen M. Vighi Attorney and partner - Thurman Law Firm

Stephen M. Vighi
Attorney and partner – Thurman Law Firm