Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Position yourself

In chess, as in life, position is everything. 

Shelby Lyman notes that:
"Position is the irreducible bedrock of our lives. We spend our years positioning ourselves educationally, financially, socially and intimately."
We do the same thing when handling a case for a client - whether it be a DWI, a robbery, a divorce, a slip-and-fall or a speeding ticket. 

When someone walks through my door who's been arrested for DWI, the first thing we do is talk about the process. We talk about challenging the license suspension, we talk about the various options we have to resolve the case, we talk about the possible consequences 
of each. Then we talk about the arrest. Where did it happen? When did it happen? What are the driving facts? What did the officer do? What happened at the scene? What happened at the station?

When we go to court I get a copy of the video so that I can study it and so that, if necessary, I can have an expert study it as well. I then send my investigator to inspect the scene and speak to any witnesses listed in the offense report.
"From good positions good things flow, from bad ones continuous dismay and trouble."
I do this to set up our position on the case. Do we focus on the stop itself? The field sobriety tests? The breath test? The blood test? The attitude of the officer? Does the breath test result "agree" with the video? I want to be in the best possible position when it comes to fighting the state.

Lyman does note, however, that sometimes you can win from the lesser position:
"The fog of war allows miraculous victories with inferior resources and force. Both Napoleon and Robert E. Lee were geniuses at reading a battlefield configuration, marshaling lesser forces at vulnerable points and then routing the opposing army."
Incidentally, both Napoleon and Lee were chess enthusiasts who were often found playing the game in their tents. But Lyman also notes that, with the exception of time pressure, "chess generals" don't have to contend with the "fog of war" as the board is open for all to see.

The same holds true (in large measure) at the courthouse. Build your position early, don't allow yourself to be boxed into a corner.

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