Interview with Steve Hisker
What made you choose a career in criminal law?
I chose to practice
criminal law because I have always felt a strong desire to help the underdog.
The criminal defendant is hated in our society: the media railroads people
as soon as the government makes an arrest. Major newspapers proudly display
the mugshots of these people on their websites for the world to see, but
when the case is dismissed or a not guilty verdict is delivered, the media
is nowhere to be found. I have seen how easy it is for the police to arrest
someone on baseless allegations. These people are yanked from their homes
and dragged to jail before the government even completes an investigation.
The judges ignore the presumption of innocence and set monetary bonds
when some people have turned themselves in. The sole purpose of bond is
to assure a defendant will appear in court. If they turned themselves
in, why wouldn’t they come to court? If they were going to run,
they would have already done so. These defendants then have to hire bondsmen
just to get out of jail. It is up to the citizen to prove his or her innocence
when it should be the other way around. The government should have to
produce more than just allegations to make an arrest. My understanding
of how unjust this process can be only fuels my desire to defend the rights
of my clients.
What sets your firm apart from other firms in the area?
I started my career defending murder cases. When the government makes an
arrest for murder, they generally bring all the government resources to
investigate and prosecute the case. My mentor, Jack Swerling, is nicknamed
“Mr. Murder.” By the time I was 30 years old, I had defended
approximately 50 murder cases. There was a time when I managed 36 pending
murder cases at one time. Jack taught me to follow a strict protocol for
defending the most serious cases and I bring that protocol to every case
that I handle today.
What is a case that you are particularly proud of?
I am proud of many of the cases that I have handled. I have helped many
people who acted in self-defense but were charged with violent offenses
such as lynching, assault, murder, and
criminal domestic violence. I have helped many 18-20 year olds who were charged with drinking offenses
because the police violated their rights to be free from unreasonable
search and seizure.
What steps do you take to prepare for a difficult case?
I make sure that I have all of the evidence that the government intends
to use, and I review it thoroughly with every client. I explain all of
the evidence so that the client fully understands the strengths and weaknesses
in the case. I fully develop every possible defense.
How do you view your role in the attorney-client relationship?
I am their protector, fighter, and champion. The greatest feeling is when
they first meet with me and tell me how much better they feel just having
me in their corner. I want to make my clients feel as comfortable as possible
while they are going through the stress of a criminal case.
What sets you apart from other criminal defense attorneys?
Many old school lawyers don’t take the time to talk to their clients—they
don’t explain things. They might be great attorneys who get great
results for their clients, but they don’t tell their clients what
is going on. I’ve seen many clients who said that they hired X criminal
defense lawyer and the lawyer just said “pay me $___ and I will
take care of it.” No explanation of what penalties they faced or
what strategy the attorney would use. I explain everything to the client.
They need to know what the criminal justice process is and what steps
I take in every case to get them the best possible result.
How does having experience in the criminal field benefit your clients?
Experience gets better results. I recently had a criminal domestic violence
client who was nearly ready to throw in the towel and accept a deal that
was not appropriate for the case. The client was not prepared to deal
with the stress of court and the process sometimes takes a long time.
I convinced the client to follow my protocol and the case was eventually
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
The most rewarding aspect of my job is when a client or a client’s
family member thanks me. They thank me for making them feel confident
when they once felt vulnerable. They thank me for reuniting them with
their families. They thank me for helping them preserve their educations
and careers from a permanent criminal record.
What advice do you most often give your clients & why?
I advise clients to always speak with an attorney before talking about
their case with anyone. They might believe that they can talk the police
out of arresting them—they generally cannot. If the police are asking
questions, its usually going to result in an arrest talking to them is
only going to make it worse. Even denials will be twisted against them later.