“Keeping an open mind to being vulnerable and in touch with your own emotions, as touchy-feely as that sounds, is the magic formula for awareness of your case, awareness of the truth of what’s really going on, and so many more things in life. I’m grateful to have discovered that at Trial Lawyers College. Before I’d gone to TLC, I saw no way to win some cases and was terrified of the consequences of taking them to trial.” – Regan Williams, TLC Sept ’15
Regan Williams is a Public Defender in Alaska and has won six trials this year because of his use of TLC methods from the courses and regionals he’s attended since his graduation in 2015. His most recent wins include representing an African American man who was accused of assault in a local Anchorage bar, and the other, successfully defending an intoxicated man on a fishing ship who was accused by a fellow woman co-worker of sexual assault. At the beginning, both of these cases were not in his clients’ favor.
Preparation Prior to Each Case
As Regan starts to form the sequence of events from a case, he invites his legal assistants, investigators, and others to a meeting room to ask questions and set up scenes for re-enactment. By going through this process, they learn what questions to ask during jury selection, what scenes to emphasize during opening statement, and how to cross-exam witnesses to get to the truth.
How Regan “Discovered the Story”
In the Anchorage bar assault case, Regan used a TLC technique called “setting the scene” to help discover the story of what really happened in the bar. When Regan and his client re-enacted the scene at the bar, Regan learned that his client was forced out of the bar by the owner because he wasn’t spending money. The charge, in this case, was that his client assaulted the owner, but during the re-enactment, Regan discovered that the owner had initially stricken Regan’s client prior to him walking out of the bar. Regan says he wouldn’t have gotten the jury to understand his client’s action if he had not re-enacted the scene during his preparation and then again in the courtroom before the jury during his opening statement.
In the sexual assault case, Regan’s highly intoxicated client boarded a fishing ship he had previously worked on to share pizza and beer with some friends. During the hour he was on board, a woman accused him of sexually assaulting her in her barrack for 15 to 30 minutes. During their investigation, Alaska Police set up a Glass Warrant, which is a secret phone conversation between the two parties involved. After his accuser told him everything he had supposedly done, he apologized and was arrested within minutes.
Although this man had no recollection of the events, police coerced him to admit his guilt and present a written confession. Before trial, Regan worked with him and others to re-enact the sequence of events on the given night and found a lot of missing facts. This allowed him to discover that the woman had a prescription drug addiction and actually was not completely clear herself about what did happen that night. While Regan knew he needed to be sensitive to the woman’s health, he also knew that his client was being accused of a very serious crime with very flimsy evidence. His task was to tell this to the jury in a way they could hear, appreciate and make a decision upon.
“Gerry Spence teaches that the most important relationship in a trial is between you and your jury. You have to open the jury to the idea, in this case, that someone could sign a written confession and still be innocent and idea that someone could actually make up something so traumatic or imagine something as traumatic as a sexual assault – without evidence. Being able to earn and maintain the jury’s trust is my number one goal in everything I work on and prepare for, before and during my trials.”
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Regan Williams is a Public Defender in Anchorage, Alaska. He graduated from Southern Methodist University, Dedman School of Law in Dallas, Texas and has been practicing law for 15 years. His first course with TLC was in September of 2015. He has also attended regionals in California, Washington, and In Defense of the Damned. He’s been a member of the Ranch Club since the beginning of 2017 and is planning on attending more TLC regionals this year. Interested in speaking to Regan about his recent wins? You can find him at the TLC Anchorage, Alaska Regional Seminar on January 19-21, 2018.