From the Vault -- Murderous Spouses, Media Frenzies and a Client Named Snake

The 2008 edition of Mid-South Super Lawyers magazine featured a deep dive into the world of criminal law, as we took a close look at Leslie Ballin's intense, high-stakes, high-profile and sometimes even hilarious defense practice at Ballin, Ballin & Fishman in Memphis. When we spoke with him, Ballin had already handled more than 150 murder cases, involving everything from abused spouses to tough guys named Snake. An excerpt:

TASLRS08_SM_Cover.jpgBallin's first jury trial involved an alleged gas station burglary and a client named Snake. "Snake's record was so bad that if he had gotten convicted his sentence would have been life. I was so nervous I could hardly catch my breath. I can remember Snake telling me, 'Mr. Ballin, calm down, it's gonna be all right. Whatever's gonna be is gonna be,'" he says, mimicking the defendant's raspy, Mob-style voice. "And lo and behold, it was OK. He was acquitted."

In 1991, when FedEx pilot Michael Mullins allegedly murdered his wife shortly before the couple's divorce hearing, Ballin teamed up with Steve Farese for the first time. The defense team argued that Mullins' ex-lover killed the victim in a jealous rage.

"During the early motion period of the trial I was wondering exactly where [Ballin] was going and it ended up he was going the same place I would have gone, except he went by a different route," says Farese. "I could tell he had an excellent grasp of the law. He had a good presentation, a good demeanor, very calm, very direct. ... He had an almost matter-of-fact way about getting to the issues during cross-examination. The way he crafts his questions, the only thing you can do is agree with them."

The trial lasted eight days and the jury deliberated for less than an hour. The verdict: not guilty. "If Court TV would have been available then, that would have been the trial of the century," says Ballin. "It had sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll, everything that sells news. That was a wild, wild case."

Read the rest of the article here on SuperLawyers.com. And be sure to check out the most recent issue of Mid-South Super Lawyers Magazine here.