Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyer John M. Castellano revealing some more truth behind the curtain of our criminal justice system; raw truth behind the scenes

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Too many prosecutors play messianic figure when “representing” the interests of “their” victim in a case, apparently forgetting that the victim is NOT their “client.” A Florida prosecutor’s true client is that nebulous intangible called “the people of the State of Florida,” and not the victim.

When I was a prosecutor here in South Florida, I experienced, like all prosecutors, victims who refused to cooperate with “my” case against the defendant. A few of the uncooperative victims, as I recall, were understandably afraid of the defendant, while most others apparently reconciled with the defendant, no longer wanting their lover or friend to be prosecuted; but:

Rather than allow the victim to dictate what the State of Florida did in a particular case, we would remind the victim that they were NOT the real client.

We would inform them that the State’s true client is — and always has been, “the people of the State of Florida,” meaning ALL Floridians, and THEY too need justice and protection; otherwise, and especially if there’s no consequence, what’s to prevent the defendant from doing this again, perhaps hurting others?

If the victim still refused to testify and cooperate with the prosecution, we as prosecutors would seek a contempt order essentially requiring the victim to testify “truthfully,” which was our way of essentially forcing the victim to testify to their original “story,” ie, the story we believes, the one that incriminated the defendant the most and helped us score that coveted conviction. (Never mind that the victim might then be saying, “I lied the first time when I said he did that to me, and now I’m telling the truth in letting you know he didn’t”)

We would threaten the victim with “perjury” if he or she persisted in testifying to a different story than the one originally told to the police — because again, WE as prosecutors tend to believe that the initial story as truthful, while we judge the changing story as the lie. (But who are we to judge and appoint ourselves as the ultimate arbiter of what is true and what is not?)

In our zeal to force the victim to testify to their initial story, we would get the Judge’s permission to treat the victim as a “hostile witness,” which then allowed us to “lead” the witness/victim on the stand, asking them all sorts of “leading questions” which are otherwise impermissible on “direct examination of your own witness. (“Leading” a witness essentially allows you to “put words in their mouth,” as the old saying goes)

Bottom line: We would never allow a victim to tell us what to do with our own case, never allowing “the tail to wag the dog.” Just as potentially dangerous is the reverse scenario, wherein the prosecutor is too close to “their” victim, too much “in bed with the victim” to be discerning. As an example:

Can you imagine a scenario involving a prosecutor who literally goes to bed with the victim-wife, the wife who is then estranged from her abusive husband, the targeted husband-defendant who is alleged to have hit her? Should one thing have to do with the other? Maybe she’s telling the truth when she testifies that her husband beats her … but then again, maybe she’s stretching the truth or lying outright, for reasons relating to divorce, support and visitation. Is it ever OK for the involved prosecutor to end up in bed with this “victim” while the case is still pending? If this horizontal bop happens, could it conceivably color her testimony on the stand, or the prosecutor’s “position” on plea offers or sentencing? Whichever your answer:

The involved prosecutor and victim-wife would both be wise to recall these words written over 2000 years ago:

“For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light.” — Luke 8:17, repeated 4 chapters later:

“For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the ear in inner rooms will be shouted from the rooftops.” — Luke 12: 2,3

We should all be aware of these truths, right? Telling it like it is,

John M. Castellano


About the Author:

John M. Castellano is a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney who has helped thousands of clients throughout Florida. While building a reputation as a premiere Fort Lauderdale DUI attorney, Mr. Castellano has worked tirelessly to develop strategies to best protect the rights of those arrested for DUI in Broward, Dade and West Palm. However, Mr. Castellano is not just a drunk driving lawyer. He has been a successful domestic violence attorney, drug trafficking attorney, as well as all other Felony and Misdemeanor cases.

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