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Kent Underwood on Being a Criminal Defense Lawyer

"Sometimes the accused really did not do it."

Why did you go to law school?

I thought it would pay better than being a philosopher musician.

When you went to law school, did you intend to become a criminal defense lawyer?

Yes.

What convinced you to become a criminal defense lawyer?

Speaking for those whose voices are often ignored. Bill of Rights. Strong distaste for abuse of authority. Sometimes the accused really did not do it.

Have you ever been a prosecutor?

No, but I interviewed once. One interviewing prosecutor said to the other, “Do you want to interview the defense guy first?” We could have stopped the interview right there.

Who are your mentors?  What have you learned from them?

Dave Trieweiler – Rules.

Les Tolzin – Bull doggedness.

Professor John Strait – Navigating through murky ethical issues.

Tell us about a case you've worked on that made you proud to be a defense lawyer.

Representing someone accused of rendering criminal assistance to Maurice Clemmons but who should have been regarded as a hostage.

Why do you do criminal defense?

Protect against erosion of personal rights and freedom from government oppression and intrusion into one’s personal life, and to protect against abuse of authority. More interesting than reality TV.

Briefly describe your practice.

90% criminal defense, both appointed and retained cases, 10% civil.

How has WACDL helped you in your practice?

The list serve is invaluable.

The CLE’s are very helpful.

The general brain-trust improves the legal community and enhances camaraderie.

What else would you like WACDL members (and others) to know about you/your practice?

I am proud and grateful to be part of this community.

 

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