In the 2008 edition of New Jersey Super Lawyers Magazine, Joseph Hayden of Pashman Stein Walder Hayden took us inside his incredible life and career. From participating in the famous civil rights marches in Selma, Alabama, as a college student to serving as a prosecutor to building one of New Jersey’s most celebrated criminal defense practices, Hayden brings all his life experience to bear for his clients.
He quickly figured out that a big part of the defense attorney’s job is to emphasize the presumption of innocence. He doesn’t spend a lot of time trying to knock down the prosecution; he’d rather give the jury his interpretation of events. “I have the ability to argue facts, which are stubborn things,” he says.
He doesn’t try to go for a knockout early. “There’s danger in not seeing the forest for the trees, in getting caught up in minutiae,” he says. “You’ve got to get a sense of what is important and what’s not. If you fight for every point in the early going of a trial, you may not have as much credibility when you want to fight the big points later.”
One of his biggest battles early in his career was the 1983 “Body in the Barrel” case. A businessman was accused of murdering his lover’s husband. The body had been cut up and stuffed into a 55-gallon drum. Hayden put his client on the stand, and the client told a plausible tale of killing his lover’s husband in self-defense. The man testified that he panicked and then carved up and stashed the body in the barrel. The jury convicted him of the lesser charge of aggravated manslaughter.