Defending People after the Worst Day of Their Life
Tom Kline -- Bringing it All Back Home
Criminal defense attorney Margaret Sind Raben of Gurewitz & Raben shares stories of incorrect paperwork, double jeopardy and the legal definition of a dating relationship.
Q: Did you do criminal defense from the start?
A: When I first started practicing, I did a small amount of family law-primarily divorce and some insurance defense work. The end of my family law practice occurred when I was representing a young man who was in the process of divorcing his wife, and they'd only been married a couple of years, no kids. They were dividing up their property, and neither one of them was willing to give up the microwave oven.I remember saying to my client, "This is absolutely stupid. You are paying me $100 an hour to fight about a kitchen appliance that you can buy at Kmart for $100." And he kept saying, "It's the principle of the thing," and I kept saying, "No. There's no principle here. We are going to end this. I will buy you a microwave oven."When we got done with it, I remember looking out the window and thinking, "I can't do this anymore. I just cannot be fighting over kitchen appliances."
Q: Do your clients often offend again?
A: Some do. Some don't. [Many] recognize that they are on very thin ice. People get charged with crimes often as a result of the worst day in their life. Here's a good example.My client was charged with assaulting her boyfriend with a knife during a fight. This is felonious assault. It's a four-year felony. My client has no criminal history, and frankly, if she gets convicted of a four-year felony, she's going to have a terrible time getting a job and getting into school.The case is being charged under one of Michigan's domestic violence laws. In order for her to be convicted under domestic violence assault, rather than simple assault, they have to prove that these two people are in a dating relationship. That doesn't require that you be married, but it requires that you be in a relationship characterized by affection and involvement.
Q: What's one of the challenges of your job?
A: Many times federal clients have prior state criminal histories, so I have to know what to look for in the documentation on that, which is sometimes wrong. It is not uncommon to find mistakes in the documentation of a case. In fact, in state criminal cases earlier than say 1980, the paperwork, I'd say, is probably wrong a third of the time: transcription errors, incorrect references to charging statutes. It was at a time when everything was done by hand.I've had judges say to me, "Well, how did this happen?" I feel like saying, "Look. It's your court, OK? You tell me."
By: Emily White Photo: Scott Stewart
Connect with Motivated Clients as the Expert in Your Field
Tom Kline has been our number one rated attorney in Pennsylvania every year since 2004, when we first started rating attorneys in the state. He was our first cover subject and is a founding and current member of the Super Lawyers national advisory board.
And now he'll have a law school named after him.
In September, after Kline made a $50 million donation to Drexel University, it announced it renamed its law school the Thomas R. Kline School of Law . Kline's donation includes a landmark building which will become the Thomas R. Kline Institute for Trial Advocacy.
Kline, originally from Hazleton, Pa. and a big Bob Dylan fan, has lifelong ties to both Philadelphia and the state. He has seven and eight figures jury verdicts and settlements spanning 35 years in catastrophic injury and mass tort cases. He was nationally known for his advocacy role for victims in the Sandusky/ Penn State civil claims, and was a prominent lawyer in the national Vioxx case which resulted in a $4.85 billion settlement . He is currently immersed in transvaginal mesh, Risperdal and many pending catastrophic injury and death cases.
Kline said of the law school now bearing his name: "It is a great honor to have my name on law school at a world class University in city with a long tradition of the finest lawyers in America. We will strive to build the strongest and best trial advocacy program in an inspiring, iconic building to train lawyers for generations to come."
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