actorartathleteauthorbizcrimecrosspostcustomerservicedirectoredufoodgaminghealthjournalistmedicalmilmodpostmunimusicnewsworthynonprofitotherphilpolretailscispecialisedspecializedtechtourismtravelunique

Request[AMA Request] "Robert", the 9-year-old boy who robbed a bank in NYC with just a toy pistol back in 1981.

Aug 31st 2017 by Pixelcitizen98 • 57 Questions • 855 Points

Hi Reddit! I am New York defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman, the lawyer for alleged Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. Through my career, I have represented a number of other high-profile clients including John Gotti Jr. and rappers The Game and Fat Joe.

Here is my proof, my website, and a New York Times article.

Thank you all for spending two hours with me and asking such intelligent questions. If you have any more interest about what I do for a living, I have a pretty informative website as linked above which will give you an idea about the types of cases I have and my results -- and thoughts as contained in my blog.

Q:

What? The woman must have been a fucking moron. How do you even let that shit happen? I'm more interested in her AMA.

1) When did you "know" you were being "robbed"?

2) How did you mistake a capped gun for a real gun?

3) He was 9 years old and like 4ft tall. What?

4) Are you ever gonna live that down?

A:

Compared to how movies/TV portray huge criminal court cases, is there any part of your job that you feel needs more recognition that the general public doesn't realize?


Q:

Considering the conditions of Early 80's New York City, I'm gonna have to guess that the teller was robbed so many times that she pretty much barely cared anymore on who it was or what was in his/her hand.

That's just my guess on the situation, though.

A:

Good question. The public does not see how much work goes into these defenses and the pressure that the public and press can bear on us. I do tire of the "how can you represent him" questions, though.


Q:

Do any of your past celebrity clients (The Game, Fat Joe, John Gotti Jr., etc) keep in touch? Any holiday cards or party invites get sent your way?

A:

I speak to most of them regularly. John and I are very close as I am with Fat Joe. When you represent someone in a criminal case, you tend to get very close to them -- or if you suck as a lawyer, they tend to hate you very much. So far none of that (fingers crossed).


Q:

How did you end up representing El Chapo? I mean, seems like you like the guy as a person now, but how does a case like that come knocking at your door?

A:

I was recommended by his public defenders. He saw dozens of lawyers and ultimately we just clicked


Q:

Is bird law in this country governed by reason?

A:

Hell no.

What's bird law?


Q:

what are the most stupid things that high-profile clients do to screw up their case that low-profile clients generally don't do, and vice versa?

what are the most interesting consultants you've ever brought on (for example a hairdresser who specializes in coifs that appeal more to juries)?

A:

Speaking on recorded prison phone lines. Or blabbing to the press.

I don't use jury consultants at all. It's not sincere. If it's not from my heart inside the courtroom, I'm not interested.


Q:

has there ever been an instance where a client blabbing to the press (inadvertently) helped the case?

A:

Depends on what they blab.


Q:

What does a defense attorney do when a client confesses guilt to the charges against him/her?

A:

We aren't required to tell anyone-- the judge, jury, or prosecutor. However, we can't put the client on the stand and knowingly let him lie.


Q:

How would that work? Someone would ask your client that, right?

A:

I would do his direct examination. I would ensure that he not lie based on my own knowledge. Hasn't happened yet.


Q:

So what if he's being cross-examined and lies and you know it's a lie? Are you required to inform the court of his perjury?

A:

There is a mechanism to handle that with the judge. Never has happened to me.


Q:

So is that a yes or a no? Are you required to inform the court if you know your client is committing perjury?

A:

It's not as simple as that but yes, we cannot allow perjury to occur. We have to take some remedial step.


Q:

Did you watch the tv series El Chapo? What do you think about it, and can you say more about how Chapo is?

A:

I have never watched it. I watch zero TV other than sports.

He's engaging, he's curious, he's funny, he's strong as hell mentally and he laughs at my shitty Spanish.


Q:

The series shows a lot of brutality commited by, or in name of El Chapo, also the corruption of government and other drug dealers.

One more question, what can you tell about this case?

A:

I can tell you that he's picked a great lawyer to defend him.


Q:

What was one of the biggest mistakes you ever made in the courtroom and what did you learn from it?

A:

I don't mean to sound like an arrogant jerk, but I have never made a big mistake during a trial. Lesson learned: work hard and overprepare and you can eliminate surprises.


Q:

Have you ever turned down a case where a client was ready to hire? Are there any criminal cases you won't take?

A:

Yes, if there just isn't a good fit between me and a client. I'm not the easiest person to deal with. Cough. And I won't do cases involving animal cruelty. Never.


Q:

What is your general strategy in drawing publicity prior to high profile trials? As an example, you're conducting this AMA where you call your client an alleged "drug lord", but I feel like that could be a negative descriptor, especially at this point in time. How do you balance self-promotion with the best interests of your client?

A:

I don't. The best interests of my client is my self-promotion. Winning the case is my best self-promotion.


Q:

I definitely agree with the idea that winning is the best form of self-promotion, but could you expand on the idea that the best interests of your client are your self-promotion?

A:

His winning is my payoff too. So all I want to do is win the case. All the great publicity will come after a win. Lawyers who are only concerned about getting their names in the paper don't last long. Winning is all that matters.


Q:

I totally agree, which is why I said that winning the case if the best form of self-promotion. However, you chose to conduct this public AMA with an inherent focus on the case. To reframe my question, why do you feel that it's a good thing for your client to draw attention to yourself and the case at this point in time?

A:

Have I just spoken about myself?


Q:

I assume you get a lot of hate for representing him, even though you're just doing your job. Still, why did you chose him? If I remember correctly his assets were frozen so your payment wasn't guaranteed. Surely there must be a reasoning behind your choice that makes it worth the hate. Is it the publicity?

A:

His assets have not been frozen but the government has not promised not to seek to grab my fee should he be convicted.

As for the hate mail, sure, I get a lot on a lot of cases. But this is America and everyone deserves a defense and the constitution mandates it. Why should I give in to the mob? I won't and don't. As for why I agreed to represent him, the case is the ultimate challenge for a defense lawyer. If a lawyer told you they would run from that challenge, would you want him representing you?


Q:

I absolutely agree, everyone deserves a defense. But not everyone gets it, do they? Surely not everyone that contacts you gets this chance. I don't know if just the fact that it's a challenge is enough, as I would think what this would to to my career on long term. It's a very risky choice and I was curious about what motivates you so strongly. I can only believe there's something more than just a challenge.

A:

Every case is a puzzle to unravel. I like that challenge and I like to win. There's nothing like it. And the fear of losing is a hell of a motivator.


Q:

alleged? lol i'm sure the previous prison breakouts will help prove his innocence?

A:

In America those accused of a crime are not required to prove anything, let alone innocence.

And I sincerely doubt that any evidence alleging prison breakouts in Mexico will make it into the Brooklyn federal courtroom.


Q:

So what will his trial in america entail? drug trafficking?

A:

Allegations of that, yes.


Q:

sorry for bombardment of questions and i know you will answer this as a glass half full defense attorney but do you really think he stands a chance? isn't the evidence from the prosecution quite heavy?

A:

If I had a dollar for everytime I was asked that question -- and the client walked out of court a free man. He absolutely has a chance.


Q:

so.... assuming he walks a free man would he still be a wanted man in mexico?

A:

He has six cases to deal with here first.


Q:

oh. will you be representing him for each? or is that up to him ultimately to decide?

A:

One at a time. We aren't there yet.


Q:

How did you decide to go into private criminal defense? If you had to pick a different legal practice, what would it be?

A:

It was the only thing that hit me between the eyes -- and heart. My main skill is beating up bullies on the stand -- perhaps I would sue people for sexual harassment claims or other workplace abuses and civil rights issues. But criminal law is really my true love.


Q:

About the El Chapo case: what kinds of things are you allowed to say to the media/public regarding the case and what do you need to keep secret? How do you decided/strategize what you can say and when?

A:

I don't discuss trial strategy with the media unless I want the strategy to be released, obviously. I can discuss the case in general but there are various security measures put into place by the government and ordered by the judge that would prevent me from stating all that much.

As for my ultimate strategy, a lot depends on the evidence in the case. Not sure what I need to do -- until I see all that the government has.


Q:

Thanks for doing this. I got two questions:

  1. What are the dirtiest tactics you've seen prosecutors try to pull off (trying to win off really pedantic technicalities, ignore lots of stuff in literature, time bombing, judge-shopping, making things overly convoluted (especially when cross-examining witnesses), etc.)?

  2. How do you successfully fight against these types of things, especially when you feel the judge/jury is leaning towards them and not you?

A:

Putting on witnesses they knew were lying -- happened in Gotti non-stop.

Trying to disqualify me for no good, legal reason.

As for fighting it, you just have to not give in or up and crush their evidence. No matter how hard a judge tries to stop a defense lawyer, we don't give up and roll over. Never.


Q:

Yeah man, I had that happen to me and I kept appealing. The administrative judge knew she was wrong in what she let them do to me 100% -- I could see it in her eyes, she even didn't let me present my evidence or argue against it. :/

The beef got settled off the books, but it still makes me angry sometimes that the bullshit judge got away with with what she did no reprecussions.

A:

Very frustrating for anyone in the system who has to deal with that kind of garbage.


Q:

What is ur most proud moment in legal career?

A:

Hmm. Great question. When I walked outside to face the press after Gotti's verdict -- and after no one believing that I could win but me for over a year -- I had just finished crying inside the courthouse. I knew then that there was nothing I couldn't do in the courtroom. Knowing that I could call my father afterward and make HIM proud was an incredible moment for me.


Q:

At what point of legal career, a lawyer can say that, "YES I can stand in this world alone and take on this world head to head"(especially in a career like legal practice) When was ur moment of such feeling?

A:

In every single case I have I get that feeling. It's the government, the FBI, prosecutors, society and even the judge against us sometimes. We're all alone out there, the only thing between our client and doom. It's a pretty sobering feeling.


Q:

How often you come around honest prosecutors or wrongly convicted person?

A:

There are many honest prosecutors. One of the prosecutors in Chapo's case I have known for 25 years and I trust her completely.

Wrongly convicted people: define 'wrongly convicted.' Do you mean actually innocent or denied a fair trial? Less of the former, many of the latter.


Q:

Sorry should have been much more clear..i meant former

A:

It happens, no question. Those are the cases in which I feel the most pressure.


Q:

Your American Greed episode was fantastic. :) Where's Bill Mastro today, and has there been blow back by the baseball card insiders towards your exposing their fraud?

A:

Mastro got out of prison recently; based on his new-found religious zeal, I am guessing he is washing the feet of lepers and figuring out ways to pay back all the people he robbed. (as if)

Many people resented me years ago and now for exposing Mastro's fraud simply because they themselves were profiting from the fraud. The baseball card hobby is filled with degenerates, especially the self-described leaders of the hobby. Numerous auction house owners have criminal records and this is the last refuge for them in order to make -- and steal -- a buck. Fraudsters, drug dealers, you name it, those are the leaders of the hobby.


Q:

I have a good number of friends who tried to be defense attorneys, but the pressure got to all of them. The cases were long and complex and one of my buddies cracked.

I bet you have dealt with a good number of big cases, so how/what do you do to manage all the stress and pressure? (nothing incriminating of course, unless you want too vent then go ahead, let it all out)

A:

It's very simple. Do I want to succeed or fail? There's no cracking. Let's make them crack instead.


Q:

How you handle the hatred of people especially who claim to be victims of ur client?

A:

I don't. I ignore it. I obviously have empathy for an victim of a crime but I can't let it take my focus away from what I need to do for my client.


Q:

What was The Game like?

A:

Very laid back, very smart. Encyclopedic knowledge of college basketball.


Q:

Is your client guilty?

A:

How can he be guilty when he has yet to have his trial? Only a jury can render someone guilty.


Q:

Sure sure, but just between us, did he commit the crimes that he's been charged with?

A:

No.


Q:

Agreed. Someone should get this Chapo bloke a pardon

A:

Word.


Q:

Isn't it unethical to show up and discuss clients like that here (or any other media platform)?

A:

No. I'm not divulging privileged info or discussing improper subjects.


Q:

What famous case do you wish you would have been hired to handle?

A:

Hmmmm.....I know there have been a few because on occasion I get pissed off that I am not hired for a case which to me seems perfect for my style. Off the top of my head I'm not sure I can think of any. When Bernie Madoff got arrested I was glad I didn't get that one.


Q:

How long do you think Anthony Weiner will be sentenced for? How long do you WANT him sentenced for? :D

A:

A year or so.

Hmmm. That's a hard question to answer (excuse the pun). I want him to get what he deserves.


Q:

Are you ever afraid of what may happen to you if you don't win the trial?

A:

Never. I'm mostly afraid of how shitty I will feel if I lose.


Q:

Great song!

A:

Listen to Jimmy's solo. Is there anything better?


Q:

What made you and El Chapo "click"?

A:

Similar senses of humor :) And he saw how badly I want to win and fight for my clients. He listens to everything and is a great judge of character.


Q:

What's your opinion on Trump's legal team and the future of his Supreme Court picks, also, the courts in general. What hope do we have if the President does not get control of these courts?

A:

Hard to have an idea about Trump's legal team as it changes so frequently. President Trump needs to start filling judicial vacancies asap if he hopes to make true change in America.


Q:

If Trump asked you to be his lawyer or on his WH legal team, would you?

A:

Wait, will I get to ride on Air Force One?


Q:

El Chapo publicly put a bounty on President Trumps head and said some other threatening comments. Does his opinion of Trump still stand and do you think this will come out in the trial that he has threatened the POTUS?

A:

Whatever he is alleged to have said about Trump is most likely not going to see the inside of a courtroom.

As for his thoughts on Trump, I would say he's amused by American politics. Amused with a capital A.


Q:

What is El Chapo like?

A:

Remember, I only judge him by what I see personally, not what is in the media.

He's incredibly smart, great memory, very funny, very curious about the world. You'd like him (for real).


Q:

Are there any special precautions or protections offered to you for representing someone who allegedly is the new Pablo Escobar? Or is there any possible danger in the fact that he's connected to an historically extremely violent cartel?

A:

None offered. I don't feel any danger but I wouldn't necessarily know if I was in any I suppose.

I suspect my safety is last on the list of governmental concerns.


Q:

I find that kinda interesting. I suppose it makes sense, since your the defense. Conversely do you know if the prosecution has any protections?

Also, thank you for your time with the AMA!

A:

Thank you. Yes, I'm sure prosecutors get protection when required. They have tough jobs too (sometimes).


Q:

(sometimes)

Ha! I like your style

A:

Thank you :)


Q:

Sorry for asking this question..maybe asking for tricks of trade but

What is ur basic strategy whenever you decide to take a case?

Do you adapt yourself according to situation or have a general approach in all criminal cases

Has it ever happened with you that client missed a relevant detail and in later stages of trial it came out and blew up your case..how u handle such situations?

A:

Basic strategy: find out everything that is being alleged against my client and find all the impeachment material on those witnesses. Add some snark. Cross examine until tears start to flow.

Yes, every case is different. As I said, they're all puzzles and each one requires a different key to unlock.

Yes, clients have screwed up cases for me, big time. I handle it by getting pissed and then making the best of it. There's no time to brood inside a trial courtroom.


Q:

What's Chapo like as a person?

A:

Funny, smart, curious, warm (really) with a great memory. Very quick mind. And has a family who really loves him.


Q:

What technicality are you most likely going to use to get him off since it's beyond obvious he's a criminal?

A:

What admissible evidence have you seen with your own eyes that has convinced you his is guilty?


Q:

I'm not at liberty to discuss since there's impending legal action.

A:

So? Is there a court order in place preventing you from discussing evidence?