Start with weeks of preparation, copying discovery, finding evidence stored all over the city, and speaking with witnesses. Mix in a string of days with little sleep as the trial moves into gear and a dash of evenings spent at the office analyzing paperwork and testimony. Increase blood pressure and knock years off your life due to the stress. Tie it all together in a ten second event when the foreperson of the jury announces a verdict to make either relief or frustration.
The cases I indict are carefully investigated before I even present them to the grand jury, with the majority of the investigation completed by then (There are always witnesses and paperwork that pop up as a case moves closer to trial). A quarter of the files I handle are dismissed prior to indictment because there is not enough evidence to prove the defendant committed the crime and another 50% are resolved through pre-indictment plea bargaining. Only a small percentage of cases progress to trial. I don't indict a case unless I am confident beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant committed the crime.
By the time trial rolls around, all the heavy lifting is done. The rest of the work is detail related, but it is the most time consuming. All the work, stress, worry, aggravation, and fear must be put aside in an effort to make the facts and case seem effortless in front of the jury. Crimes are, by their nature, messy and sordid affairs, which rarely follow a straightforward factual pattern. Look at many homicides, which are usually based on circumstantial evidence (because the only witness is deceased) and the motivation might be as simple as a misdirected insult. The job of a trial attorney is to make the convoluted facts move forward in a logical and understandable stream so the jury understands the importance and relevance of each witness and piece of evidence as they hear the testimony.
After closing arguments, the work is over and my mind begins to unwind. I feel myself losing the sharp edge that I had honed in the previous weeks and my thoughts begin to scatter, unable to focus on any task while I wait for the phone call announcing the verdict. Because I have investigated the case so thoroughly and put so much time into it, I am convinced of the defendant's guilt. It is difficult not to become emotionally invested after so much. The thought of an acquittal seems like the jury is personally insulting me.
I never speak to the jurors after a verdict. They are human, which means they are at times rational and irrational, stubborn and easily persuaded. They latch onto extraneous details that had no significance in the case. They declare one attorney better dressed or more likable. A person will drive himself crazy listening to twelve strangers critique and explain their decision.
The moment the closing arguments end, the attorney loses control over the case, which is a difficult moment for any lawyer. You spend so much time working and shaping a case to display its best features to a jury and then you have to leave it all and hope they make the decision you want. Speaking to the jurors after the verdict can only negatively affect me, whatever the verdict. There explanations for an acquittal usually center on saying there wasn’t enough evidence or some form of speculation that was completely irrelevant to the case. Why talk to them after a guilty verdict? I don’t need the positive reinforcement and all they can say is something like they searched on Google, visited the crime scene, or some other inappropriate conduct I’d have to report to the court that has the possibility to impair the conviction.
Deliberations are a secret process and I will respect that for as long as I am a trial attorney, mainly for my own sanity.