TESTIFYING FOR YOUR CLIENT
A number of years ago I watched fabled Texas trial lawyer, Warren Burnett defend Delia Gonzales, a South Texas lawyer indicted for inducing illegal immigration. Delia was in practice with her husband and it was apparent to everyone familiar with the case that Delia would have to testify in her own behalf if she expected to avoid conviction. Because of her unfortunate familiarity with similar problems in the past, lawyer Burnett chose not to put his client on the stand. Instead Burnett successfully incorporated the following almost allegorical attorney-client conversation into his closing argument in order to give his client a voice and highlight the ludicrousness of the prosecution’s charges:
“Come with me. Be with me as a lawyer.
‘What have you done, Delia?’ ‘I have been doing a lot of immigration work there in the office.’
‘What do you mean, a lot of immigration work? I know nothing of it.’ ‘Well, there was a new law passed in 1977, took effect the 1st of the year, and under it for the first time we recognized really the broken families in this hemisphere, and for the first time sons, daughters, husband, wives, brothers, sisters are given a preference about getting together and a right to get together and live in this great nation.’
‘Well, my God, Delia, what did you do? What was your part? What is it they claim is your crime?’ ‘They claim that I induced them illegally?’
How could anyone of us induce someone? How can you persuade or encourage a husband to join a beloved wife?
How can you persuade a father to want to live with his child? How do you persuade a son to want to be with his father? ‘What have you done, woman?’
Do you understand that these men accused this woman of inducing children to want to be with their parents?
Do you understand that in this Court and before these people that this woman is accused in certain counts in this indictment of inducing a husband to want to live with his wife?
In other counts, of inducing a wife to want to live with a husband?
So with me when the story was told to me. I said, ‘Delia, what is the law? What were you telling those people? I was telling them what anyone would tell them that knows anything about the law.’ ‘Well, what is it, for God’s sake, tell me. I don’t know, I never practiced immigration law, tell me.’ ‘Well, under the new law if the alien father, son, brother, sister, husband, wife crosses the border on the MICA – ‘ ’What is a MICA?’ ‘– a document that permits them to cross and remain for 72 hours and go no farther into the interior than 25 miles.’ ‘All right. ‘They cross on the MICA and then I file the I-130 for them.’ ‘What’s the I-130?’. ‘It is a petition to have the government recognize that the wife is the wife, that the husband is the husband, that the son is the son and that the daughter is the daughter, and when I file that they are permitted to remain in the United States of America to travel where they wish to, work if they want to, and they all do, pending the adjudication of that petition.’ ‘Who adjudicates it?’ ‘Immigration adjudicates it.’
And I am told, months ago, that this case that I am going to end up trying. This is the case that I am going to end up defending.”