Jackson, MS—In thirty years working as a criminal defense attorney, Merrida “Buddy” Coxwell has built exactly the reputation he wants.
“I have developed a reputation as a fierce critic of social and legal injustice,” Coxwell told laws.com in a recent interview. “This drive has compelled me to accept many criminal cases that other lawyers shunned or were afraid to accept. When a person has a legal problem and needs help, I believe it is my job to set aside personal views in order to provide quality and aggressive legal representation.”
Listed as a Super Lawyer in the Deep South as well as one of the Best Lawyers in America, Coxwell has achieved great success in representing clients in cases ranging from fraud to murder. His firm, Coxwell & Associates, PLLC, has been named one of the best law firms in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, and represents clients in serious personal injury matters as well as those accused of crimes.
Coxwell & Associates only takes personal injury cases that involve serious or permanent injury and criminal defense cases. Coxwell believes that this kind of specialization is necessary in order to give clients the best service possible: “With the complexity and magnitude of laws that exist today, we do not believe that it is reasonable to try and handle every type of law. Clients who are wise look for lawyers the same way they look for a medical specialist.”
The firm also doesn't handle what Coxwell calls “routine fender bender cases.” Those, he says, “can usually be handled by individuals with legal advice” and don't require the aggressive and specialized representation that his law firm can provide clients.
Today, Coxwell says that the challenges for criminal defense attorneys are numerous and changing all the time. “In the past, the greatest challenges have been the push to 'get tough on crime,' which was not based on reason,” he says. “That has started to change, but ever so slowly, in the South. I think that for most attorneys, the bad economy and the rise of public defender systems make the greatest challenge for criminal defense lawyers. I would say that all the marketing on the internet seriously dilutes the base of clients.”
Coxwell has represented a number of defendants who were charged with capital crimes, and working on these cases can sometimes mean representing clients accused of crimes committed decades ago. Currently, he is working on a death penalty case involving a crime that is 28 years old.
While many criminal defendants today take plea bargains, Coxwell says that it's critical for attorneys to avoid pushing plea deals on clients. “My advice would be to meet frequently with your client,” he says. “Get to know him or her as a person, not a defendant. Exhaustively research the law before you even begin to discuss a resolution. Don't let the first things out of your mouth be about a plea bargain, unless the client brings it up first.”
To learn more about Merrida Coxwell and his practice click here.