Renowned Attorney Jose Baez Humanizes Defense Law

Renowned Defense Attorney Jose Baez (Photo Credit: Andrew Fennell)

“When a person in our system of justice is charged with a crime, they cannot fight for themselves, they need a lawyer who will stand by them through thick and thin, not judge them and say, ‘Mister or Madam Prosecutor, in order for you to convict my client, you are going to be in for the fight of your life.”

-Jose Baez

Few trial lawyers have ascended to national prominence as quickly and spectacularly as Jose Baez. Known for his passion, hard work, and brilliant courtroom strategies, Jose Baez has brought a new hard-hitting style of trial work to the courtroom.

He is best known for winning acquittals in the 2017 double-murder trial of Aaron Hernandez, and for “shocking the world” in what TIME Magazine dubbed the “Social Media Trial of the Century,” for winning a not guilty verdict in the Casey Anthony murder trial. Mr. Baez has also had success in the area of white-collar crime.

In 2019, he won five acquittals for prominent hedge fund CIO, Mark Nordlicht, in what the Eastern District of New York dubbed “one of the largest and most brazen investment frauds perpetrated on the investing public.” And in 2018, Mr. Baez won not guilty verdicts for David Demos, a bond trader accused of securities fraud in the District of Connecticut.

In 2011, Mr. Baez flew to Aruba and helped free millionaire and businessman Gary Giordano from prison, a suspect in the disappearance of Robyn Gardner.

Mr. Baez is also well known for representing victims of negligence and serious crimes. He represented multiple victims in the “Dark Knight” shooting tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, and a rape victim in a high-profile negligent security case in Chicago. He also sought and achieved justice for Christopher Perez, an autistic child who was brutally attacked by police officers in Florida.

Mr. Baez’s practice has a particular emphasis on representing clients in complex and high-profile cases. However, many of Mr. Baez’s successes never make it into the spotlight as he has represented celebrities and athletes who prefer anonymity. This is where his knowledge and experience with the media help best serve his clients.

Few attorneys understand the importance of media relations and their inner workings. Mr. Baez has also gained extensive experience in successfully defending scientifically and medically intensive criminal and civil cases. He has worked on issues including shaken baby syndrome, pediatric head injuries, sexual assault cases with medical evidence, and cases involving DNA evidence.

Additionally, his experience extends to civil cases that involve suing some of the biggest insurance companies in the country.

Mr. Baez was named “Lawyer of the Year for 2011″ by LawyersUSA magazine and also named as one of the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers” for 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 by the National Trial Lawyers Association.

He was named Criminal Defense Lawyer of the Year in 2017 by the National Trial Lawyers Association, and one of the 50 Most Influential Trial Lawyers for 2017 and 2018. Once called “The Most Hated Lawyer in America”, Jose A. Baez wears that title like a badge of honor. Despite personal criticism, serving his clients is his highest priority.

Jose Baez (Photo Credit: Andrew Fennell)

Tammy Reese: How has your journey been so far as a Defense Attorney?

Jose Baez: It’s been nothing short of magic, to be honest with you. I never dreamed that I could be a lawyer, much less do it at this level. I am truly blessed to have the ability to practice law, be able to help people, and really feel like I am doing what I always wanted to do. It’s such a unique feeling.

I know so many people who don’t love what they do and it shows in the results and their performance. I love being a defense lawyer. It’s a very important part of our justice system.

There are great defense lawyers and it’s necessary to keep the balance in our system. As we have seen over history, the system can run amuck. If it wasn't for those who try to keep balance, I don’t know where we would be.

Tammy Reese: What inspired you to enter the law field?

Jose Baez: I wish there were a sexier story but the truth is, it was about a girl, my college sweetheart in law school. We both studied criminology at Florida State. She was attending and one day she turned to me and said, “why don’t you go to law school?”

I replied by saying, “I am not going because I am not smart enough to go to law school.” It was her belief in me and eventually the belief in myself that led me to actually build up the courage to go and not take no for an answer. I did incredibly poorly in the entrance exam. I applied to 25 different schools including Harvard, Stanford, and so many other great schools.

I figured three things will happen. 1) They’ll say no 2) They’ll say yes and 3) maybe they’ll put my application file in the wrong stack. I got rejected by all of them except one school. It was just the one I needed and here I am. Now I am a teacher at Harvard, so look at that.

Tammy Reese: What were some impactful cases that you’ve worked on?

Jose Baez: I’m all about trials, and right off the bat one that comes to mind is the story of Gabriel Brown. Gabe was a decorated Green Beret that has done multiple tours in the Middle East. After that, he went to go work for a private military security firm called Blackwater.

He developed an addiction to adrenaline. So much so that when he came home from the military and was cut loose, that adrenaline was gone. Gabe didn't know how to deal with that. His life just went into a spiral. Ultimately he ended up robbing ten banks in a series of two weeks. He immediately got caught and by the time he got to me he had already confessed and pleaded guilty.

We were able to show the judge through this unique federal sentencing case, a presentation not much so about PTSD but we got to present and discuss what we do to our military. The people who risk their lives to serve our country and we throw them away like trash and the most likely thing they could turn to is a life of crime without the proper support.

We were lucky to get Gabe three years. He did his time, he’s out of prison now and flourishing. I couldn’t be happier for him. That case was one of my proudest moments as a defense attorney to be able to help someone like Gabriel who has done so much for our country. I am so proud of him.

Jose Baez (Photo Credit: Andrew Fennell)

Tammy Reese: What are some other proud moments in your career so far?

Jose Baez: I’ve done a significant amount of civil rights work. The discrimination cases with autistic children, and the police brutality cases I’ve worked on I am proud of. I am also proud that I’ve been diverse as a lawyer and that the presentations keep their authenticity. Authenticity is something that is missing with lawyers today.

Tammy Reese: What are some misconceptions about being a defense attorney?

Jose Baez: One of the biggest misconceptions is that we’re in it for the money. There’s no lower-paying portion of law than practicing criminal defense. So that is by far not my motivating factor. Although I’ve done very well in this business and am not complaining in any way and never will. I think someone's financial success is in their own hands however they want to apply themselves.

Another misconception is that defense lawyers try to skirt the truth. I don’t know a profession that handcuffs and limits its members more than it does with lawyers, especially in criminal defense.

The system itself is always keeping a watchful eye on what criminal defense lawyers do. It’s with good reason, but at the same time, people don’t understand the idiosyncrasies of how closely guarded the regulations are. If they did, they wouldn’t make such blatant assumptions the way that they do.

Tammy Reese: Let’s talk about your expertise at creating reasonable doubt?

Jose Baez: The way I look at reasonable doubt is that you have to be self-aware. In doing so, I can’t assume that everyone is going to read the term reasonable doubt the same way. I’m genuinely trying to understand what the general consensus is about reasonable doubt. If given the chance that something is possible, jurors still do not.

You have to really focus and work hard to show jurors that it’s not only possible but probable as well. If the bar is already set high, I try to set it higher. I guess that is the theory of shooting for the stars and landing on the moon. In actuality, that may be where I see things differently.

I don’t think reasonable doubt is a low standard, I think it’s an incredibly high standard. In doing so, my entire practice really tries to show reasonable doubt by raising the bar and we’ve been very successful at it.

Tammy Reese: What impact do you intend to make going forward?

Jose Baez: I'm always on the lookout for opportunities to make a difference both personally and professionally. I have devoted a portion of my time to veterans' rights as well as for those who have been wrongfully accused. I touch on different public interests, but the best thing I can do is one case at a time.

With cases, you win the war one battle at a time. That is the approach I take. With being diverse, you have to still be fresh, evolve, and reinvent yourself so that you can really get better. The better you get will allow you to perform at a higher level. For that reason that is my mindset at this time.

I enjoy all things creative and strategic thinking. I also enjoy cooking and theater. One of my goals in life is to write a play one day because I am a storyteller by nature. I am always looking for different platforms to tell important stories that matter, inspire people, and bring about good change.

Tammy Reese: What advice would you have for anyone who desires to become a lawyer?

Jose Baez: Growing up, the financial position of my family dictated that lack of my academic success. So if I could do it, anyone could do it. I wasn't a special student I didn’t excel early or later on, but I had passion.

You need three things to be successful in life which are passion, the ability to work hard, and the key ingredient which is the patience to see it through.

We all want to be successful now and have immediate satisfaction. Even when we work hard we think that the results will come instantly or that they will soon follow.

The reality is for many of us, including myself, success didn't come after hard work and passion. It came after exercising a significant amount of patience.

My advice is to not forget the third ingredient which is patience and have a belief in yourself. Patience is about belief in yourself because if you don’t have belief in yourself you won’t be successful.

Tammy Reese: What do you want your legacy to look like?

Jose Baez: I was telling someone the other day how at one point I just wanted to be a good lawyer, then I wanted to be a great lawyer because I am always setting goals for myself. Then I wanted to be the best lawyer in the country. That to me wasn’t even great enough. I wanted to be the greatest trial lawyer of all time but that isn’t the most important thing to me.

The most important thing is my family. I want to be the greatest dad of all time. I got a lot of work to do in that department, but the rewards are far greater than anything that law can bring me.

I am passionate about the law, these cases, and being the greatest lawyer is something I wouldn't scoff at. However, in comparison to looking into your children's eyes and guiding them is the best thing we can do while we’re here on earth. So that we can push on a legacy that will last generations way past when we are gone.

For more info on Jose Baez’s law firm please visit www.baezlawfirm.com

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Tammyreesemedia

Tammyreesemedia

Tammy Reese is an award winning actress and writer. She currently serves on the Communications Committee for New York Women In Film and Television.