How the Presidential Election is Like a Criminal Case - sometimes the underdog wins

If you're like most people in the United States you watched the election coverage in complete shock. No one saw a Trump victory coming - My guess is even the Donald didn't even think he had a chance. I went home intending to do other things, and had no plans on watching the coverage because I knew how it was going to turn out. I ended up glued to my TV until I couldn't stay awake any longer.

People will be analyzing this election for years, and trying to explain what happened. I suspect it's probably the result of a number of different things. That's not the purpose of this post. Instead, I want to share some of thoughts I had while watching the coverage on how the election is similar to a criminal trial. So here they are:

  • Trump was a huge underdog - no one expected  him to win. In a criminal case, you have the power of the State lined up against you, and few people give you a shot. The majority of people - even jurors - start off with the assumption that if you got arrested and charged, you must be guilty.
  • Trump kept plugging along, even though no one gave him a chance. That sums of the defense of a criminal case. You keep working, and you never know what you may find.
  • Trump overcame some blunders that looked that were going to knock him out of the race. That's a criminal charge. You made a mistake, but that doesn't mean you're future is over.
  • Trump went on the offensive. No matter what you think about the ethics of his tactics, almost every time something came up he went on the offensive. The sexcual accusations were the most prominent, but there were others. To successfully defend a criminal case, you have to go on the offensive. That means challenging and attacking the State's case at every turn.

I'll leave the implications and impact of a Trump presidency on the criminal justice system to others. I've been around long enough to not buy into the doom and gloom predictions. The same things were said (probably by me) when Ronald Reagan was elected, and more recently when George Bush was elected. The world kept turning, and we're all still here.

For me, I'm taking this as motivation to keep working, and keep plugging along, no matter how hopeless things may seem at the time.

Walter Reaves
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Criminal Defense Attorney Walter Reaves has been practicing law for over 30 years.
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