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Mildred K. O'Linn Discusses Police Defense "Battle of Perspective and Perception" in Daily Journal

May 7, 2015
A Daily Journal article entitled "Defense attorneys for cops face tough landscape," written by L.J. Williamson, quotes Los Angeles-based Manning & Kass partner Mildred K. O'Linn extensively about what Ms. O'Linn calls a "battle of perspective and perception."

"The members of my jury," she continues, "have all been through a prime-time police academy—they think they know how to do the police officer's job. It's very difficult to clear their minds of their expectations that may be completely out of whack with reality. Officers do not shoot guns out of people's hands, they do not wrestle knives and machetes away. They are not Wyatt Earp and trained ninjas. And that level of expectation is kind of frightening sometimes."

Media saturation—of both positive and negative, but unrealistic, portrayals of police work—can lead to expectations of super-human feats of heroism, on one hand, or an exaggerated sense of public mistrust and open hositility toward the authority of a badge, on the other. Regarding the latter, Ms. O'Linn explains, "We have seen, repeatedly in the recent past and particularly in Southern California, where the juries have told us that they have responded to the national question, the national climate. They had people on the jury that said, 'This has been going on too long— we're going to send a message.' That's completely improper. It can be very disconcerting."

During a trial, the police defense attorneys, such as Ms. O'Linn, present the jury with a nuanced yet factual picture that replaces their preconceived notions of "good cop, bad cop" stereotypes with human understanding. Which is why (Manning & Kass) has "done well in front of juries," according to the partner.

She is further quoted as saying, "We find that the majority of members of the community understand that officers have a hard job, and that they have to make decisions in split seconds. And when they follow the instructions that are given to them by the court, we have found that overwhelmingly, juries are willing to make rational decisions."

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