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Does A Jury Want To Hear The Defendant Testify? Should He Testify?

Does A Jury Want To Hear The Defendant Testify? Should He Testify?

Spencer Freeman – Criminal Defense Attorney – Pierce County, WA

“I think there’s a couple of other things that I am going to want to know what a jury thinks about. In a criminal case, a defendant does not have to testify. And commonly a defendant does not testify. And I want to know, from a jury panel, how they feel about that…are they going to be able to view the evidence fairly when we all want to hear the defendant’s story. Right? That’s human nature. If I don’t hear your story, how am I going to? But can you hold the State to the standard of ‘proving the case beyond a reasonable doubt’ if you don’t hear from the defendant. It’s something really important to cover in jury selection.”

Ray Hrdlicka – Host – Attorneys.Media

“Okay. You actually raised a point. The norm is not to have the defendant testify. Have you ever done that?”

Spencer Freeman – Criminal Defense Attorney – Pierce County, WA

“Have I ever had a defendant testify?”

Ray Hrdlicka – Host – Attorneys.Media

“Yes.”

Spencer Freeman – Criminal Defense Attorney – Pierce County, WA

“I have. For sure.”

Ray Hrdlicka – Host – Attorneys.Media

“What was the difference in that case?”

Spencer Freeman – Criminal Defense Attorney – Pierce County, WA

“It’s happened a number of times, actually. But percentage wise, maybe only ten percent of the time. Every case is case specific. In one of the cases that I handled, it was a pretty brutal assault case. My client insisted on testifying. But he testified well. So, in those decisions…the concern about having your client testify could be how do they hold up under cross examination by the prosecutor. These prosecutors are smart, they’re experienced in court. Right? They’re experienced in trying to ask questions to upset you, to confuse you, make you trip. It’s not even about ‘is the defendant lying?’ It’s can you make them portray like they’re trying to hide something or lying. And that’s hard to deal with. If your client isn’t confident that they can handle that, then it’s tough to have them testify. But sometimes, the only version of the events can come from the defendant. So, you have to balance it that way.”

Ray Hrdlicka – Host – Attorneys.Media

“Again, case specific…what you’re talking about.”

Spencer Freeman – Criminal Defense Attorney – Pierce County, WA

“It is case specific. And it is also one of issues that is solely within my client’s discretion. Like we talked earlier about how my client is the one who decides whether or not to take a deal…my client is the one who decides whether or not to testify. I can give him my advice, but under the constitution it’s my client’s decision.”


Born and raised in Colorado, Mr. Freeman stayed in the Pacific Northwest after graduating cum laude from Seattle University School of Law in 1995, at which time he was awarded the National Order of Barristers by the National Board of Governors. After gaining extensive trial experience as a prosecutor for the City of Tacoma, Mr. Freeman worked locally for several small law firms focused on personal injury and criminal defense. In 2000, he began to work at a downtown Seattle law firm, where he worked with some of the best lawyers in the nation. During the better part of the next six years, Mr. Freeman was blessed to do work for one of the largest national television providers litigating matters involving the theft of encrypted satellite signals. During this time, he worked closely with corporate counsel and assisted in developing and managing a national litigation campaign. He appeared in federal courts throughout the nation, gaining extensive experience in both federal court litigation and the pursuit of intellectual property thieves attempting to hide on the Internet.

In late 2005, Mr. Freeman decided to open a practice in Tacoma, where his family was growing. Mr. Freeman’s connections locally and nationally nourished his practice over time. He has served the local community as well as handling cases in federal courts across the country. Locally, Mr. Freeman has assisted local businesses in such matters as contentious shareholder disputes and individuals in matters ranging from catastrophic injuries to class A felonies as well as lawsuits against insurance companies for bad faith claims practices. He tried a Whatcom County Superior Court case for a bail bond company that resulted in the first appellate law in Washington truly outlining the rights of fugitive recovery agents. He has tried cases in many counties throughout the State of Washington, argued before the Court of Appeals Division I and Division II and the Washington State Supreme Court.

Mr. Freeman’s practice has taken him beyond Washington State, where he has handled cases for national Internet multi-media companies enforcing copyrights in states such as Florida, Nevada, Arizona, and California. In those cases, he has successfully argued for jurisdiction in the United States against individuals that reside in other countries. Mr. Freeman also represented a publisher against sheriffs regarding First Amendment Rights to distribute a magazine in county jails, resulting in arguments before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the first case law of its kind. He has argued before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals five times and submitted a briefing to the United States Supreme Court.

On more than several occasions, Mr. Freeman has been retained by parties on the near eve of a trial solely for purpose of being lead trial counsel. One such successful case was against the U.S. Department of Justice in their first trial attempting to enforce the CAN-SPAM Act for the actions of independent contractors.

Mr. Freeman’s passion and strength lay in front of a jury. He finds a beautiful balance between fact witnesses, statutes, case law, rules of evidence, and the different contexts of each jury. Most cases find a resolution before trial, but the best resolution occurs when counsel is prepared to try the case. And, when a case cannot find resolution, Mr. Freeman loves to go to work.

Contact Attorney:

Phone: 253-383-4500
Freeman Law Firm, Inc. is one of the most reputable and reliable attorney enterprises with two locations in Tacoma and Olympia, WA.

Industry Skills:

  • Litigation
  • Courts
  • Trials
  • Civil Litigation
  • Appeals
  • Criminal Law
  • Legal Research
  • Litigation Management
  • Depositions
  • Criminal Defense
  • Hearings
  • Negotiation
  • Legal Writing
  • Copyright Law
  • Licensing
  • Arbitration
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Legal Assistance

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