John Colette: Unparalleled Courtroom Experience

John Colette: Unparalleled Courtroom Experience

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John Colette: Unparalleled Courtroom Experience

Jackson, MS—When attorneys and even judges come under suspicion of criminal activity, they want to hire the best of the best.  In Mississippi and the surrounding states, that's often criminal defense attorney John Colette.

After working at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi, Colette went into private practice, specializing in defending complex cases involving white-collar crime and drugs.  As a defense attorney, he was nominated and inducted into the American Board of Criminal Lawyers after a selective process.

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When it comes to advising his clients, Colette says that going to trial often depends on whether the charges are state or federal, and what “real” evidence the government claims to have.

“The federal sentencing guidelines are so draconian that regardless of the plea, sometimes it is best to still take a case to trial, because there is not much to lose,” Colette told laws.com in a recent interview. “All it takes is one juror to decide that the defendant is not guilty of the crime to get a better outcome.”

In state courts, though, things are different: “If a defendant decides to go to trial, I often feel the judges tend to penalize them for exercising their Constitutional rights, which is not fair, when it comes time for sentencing.”

According to Colette, federal drug policy has not led to a reduction in drug distribution, but has instead ruined lives.  “The so-called 'War on Drugs' has led to an unbelievable amount of people being incarcerated who are small time dealers and consumers,” he says.  “The focus has been misdirected, and it should be pointed toward the big-time dealers.  But, of course, that would be a more difficult task for the government to do, so instead, they focus on picking on the little guys.”

Not every case turns out the way attorneys want it to, and Colette says that this can sometimes lead to soul-searching on the part of defense lawyers.  “You will have times when you fight a battle for weeks, and the jury comes back with a guilty verdict.  You will start to doubt yourself and wonder, why should I do this?  But it's always important to remember that when you do succeed, there is no greater feeling than knowing that your hard work has been paid back.”

For Colette, some of that payback has come through literally getting clients' lives back  During a case that took place five years ago, he was responsible for getting a woman acquitted who had been accuse of murdering her husband.  “This individual had lost the first trial and had gotten a life sentence,” he says.

While the situation looked grim, Colette was undeterred and eventually persevered, getting a not guilty verdict at a second trial.  “It was a pretty unique experience for me to have this young woman with two young children get exonerated from a lifetime in prison,” he recalls.  “She proved her innocence, and now she can move on with her life and raise her children.  This was a great success in my career as an attorney—it doesn't get any better than saving someone's life.”

To learn more about John Colette and his practice, click here.

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