One of the defining character-building moments of Netflix’s Daredevil series is the complete and utter failure of Matt Murdoch as a defense lawyer in the case of Frank Castle, a.k.a. The Punisher. While Murdoch and his legal partner, Foggy Nelson, always had the deck stacked against them in this trial (Frank Castle is a known mass murderer), their inept defense leaves the viewer to wonder if Castle ever stood a chance in the first place. But Mira Mesa violent crimes lawyer Peter M. Liss believes Castle could reasonably have expected a better defense than he received and that he might still be able to fight the charges further.
In the show, there is little doubt that Frank Castle did, in fact, kill all the people he has been accused of murdering. For this reason, Nelson and Murdoch believe their best defense is to show how corrupt the District Attorney is, presumably with the hopes that it will lead to a mistrial. The only problem? A mistrial may sometimes mean that a defendant walks free, but it can also mean that a new trial will be arranged. In the case of The Punisher, the DA may have acted in a very illegal manner, but that’s still no guarantee the case would be thrown out just because there is so much evidence against Castle and the murders he committed became so well publicized.
A defense lawyer in La Jolla would recognize that a much better strategy would probably be to argue that Castle was suffering not from insanity, but from PTSD. While Castle refuses to falsely claim that he got PTSD from fighting in the war, he could rightly claim that he fell victim to the condition when his family was slain -something Nelson and Murdoch never consider as though combat is the only way someone could experience PTSD.
Even if their strategy was the strongest one for the case though, Nelson and Murdoch’s performance is purely awful. Matthew has the excuse that he is moonlighting as a vigilante, but that doesn’t change the fact that he shows up late to the opening argument and completely bungles his examination during Castle’s testimony. Foggy tries to step in and does a decent job, but he still misses multiple opportunities to help his client. For example, when things go wrong with the medical examiner’s testimony, he fails to object when the judge strikes the testimony from the record -which means this decision can’t be fought on appeal. Additionally, when a person in the courtroom starts shouting at Castle, Foggy and Matthew miss the opportunity to request a mistrial based on the outburst -again, something that could have assisted them in the appeal. Finally, they push Frank into testifying against his wishes -something an attorney should never do, and inevitably the testimony ends up hurting their case further.
By the end of the trial, Frank may have been found guilty, but he may have actually benefited by Nelson and Murdoch’s poor performance as it would give him grounds to request a new trial based on his defense’s incompetence. Under the law, a person who feels they were denied their constitutional right to a fair trial may seek a new trial if they can show that they suffered as a result of deficient performance by counsel that resulted in prejudice that affected the outcome of their trial. Castle would have ample evidence for this claim between Matthew’s showing up late for his opening argument, the team’s failure to object to decisions that could have allowed for an appeal later on and more. Most Del Mar violent crime defense attorneys agree that Frank would have a pretty strong case for a retrial if he attempted this move and with a more competent team, he may have successfully fought the charges or at least receive a much lighter sentence than he would have though his first trial. Of course, this would go a lot better if he didn’t escape shortly after he was incarcerated, but that’s a different story.
The best time to search for a good criminal defense lawyer is at the beginning of your case, when an investigation or arrest occurs. Please call Solana Beach criminal attorney Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.
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