There are times when you are tested, when circumstances reveal your integrity or the lack thereof.
That came last week for noted Death Penalty Defense Attorney Terence Lenamon, as his son Jude Lenamon was among the students attending Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on the Valentine’s Day Shooting.
Death Penalty Defense When Your Son Is Threatened in Active Shooter Tragedy
When your sons — not only Jude, but his brothers Gabriel and Jonah — are under an active shooter threat, does your stance concerning the death penalty change?
When your son Jude, a freshman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, deals with the aftermath alongside the rest of his family and friends, do you question your life’s work involved in defending those accused of the most heinous acts where capital punishment is sought?
Jude Lenamon’s Eyewitness Account
For details on Jude Lenamon’s story, read his uncle’s article in the Palm Beach Post entitled, "Suburban safety shattered: What my nephews learned in the face of evil," written by Nick Moschella and published on February 16, 2018.
Terry’s take on things is included in this story — no surprise for those who know him.
For capital lawyers, you might be interested in hearing Terence Lenamon speak at this year’s Bob Chaloupka Kick Ass Trial Skills Seminar, proceeds of which are donated to NATA, NCDAA and Trial Lawyers College. The program begins at noon on Thursday, November 2, 2017, and ends at 12:30 on Friday, Nov. 3rd.
Bob Chaloupka Kick Ass Trial Skills Seminar
The Bob Chaloupka Kick Ass Trial Skills Seminar is designed to teach, motivate and honor brave service to clients in the courtroom – whether in personal injury, criminal, family law, property law or other areas of practice that summon lawyers’ courage in court. And, in true homage to Bob Chaloupka, the Seminar gives lawyers who care about serving their clients an opportunity for fellowship and togetherness, setting aside differences to learn from one another (and to raise a glass together at the cocktail hour).
Our speakers have come from around Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado and South Dakota; but also from Alaska to Miami. Our speakers have included three federal judges as well as an innocent man, exonerated after 24 years in prison on a wrongful conviction. Both civil defense and civil plaintiffs’ lawyers have presented at the Bob Chaloupka Seminar, alongside some of the bravest criminal lawyers in the United States. The common theme is what ties speakers to Bob’s legacy: hope; vision; creativity, bravery even when one is afraid, and service to the client above all else.
Just click here to register online via Paypal. Approved for CLE credit in Nebraska, Iowa, Wyoming and Colorado.
From the Seminar Materials:
Come to Scottsbluff, and hear from a true hero in the world of death penalty defense, Terry Lenamon.
Terry is a death penalty specialist: he handles the most challenging, grisly and emotionally trying death penalty cases throughout the State of Florida.
His work has helped to shape the law and the structure of death penalty litigation in Florida, and he has trained and taught other lawyers how to serve clients on appointment of the court in this uniquely difficult area of practice.
His trials have been featured on Dateline, Snapped and 20/20, in part because the cases are sensational but also, and more importantly, because of how Terry has developed and innovated new ways to discovery and tell the story of his clients’ own trauma.
It is not to pretend his clients (who are by and large guilty) should “get off” – it is to make the case for Mercy, which is the topic of Terry’s presentation at our program.
Terry’s commitment to the ideals of loving the least of our brothers is his calling, and a challenge to those of us who are moved by his work.
Did you know that Terence Lenamon was on the faculty of the Trial Lawyer’s College founded by renowned trial lawyer Gerry Spence?
What is the Trial Lawyer’s College?
Here’s the mission statement from the site:
The Trial Lawyer’s College is dedicated to training and educating lawyers and judges who are committed to the jury system and to representing and obtaining justice for individuals; the poor, the injured, the forgotten, the voiceless, the defenseless and the damned, and to protecting the rights of such people from corporate and government oppression.
In all of its activities, the Trial Lawyer’s College will foster and nourish an open atmosphere of caring for people regardless of their race, age, creed, religion, national origin, physical abilities, gender or sexual orientation.
TLC Kudos to Terry for Recent Result in Joshua Fulgham case
And here is the TLC post announcing Terry’s victory against the death penalty earlier this summer in the Fulgham case, written by Maren Chaloupka TLC Faculty & 99 Grad
Terry Lenamon (TLC ’11 7-Step Grad), death penalty warrior in Florida, saved the life of his client Josh this week – – after a lengthy, graphic and heartwrenching trial on both guilt and sentencing, Terry’s jury returned a verdict of LIFE for the damaged, despised man whom Terry placed into the jury’s hands.
The prosecutor used some prosecutorial version of TLC methods in his final argument of the sentencing phase of trial, reenacting parts of the kidnapping and murder for which Josh stood trial. That Terry overcame that dramatic reenactment is a true testament to the power of love.
Folks, it doesn’t get any more real than this. This man would be damned to the needle if not for Terry. I am amazed and so proud to have him in our group.
Here is a link to a news write up about this case: Jury: Life for Fulgham
Here is a link to a TV story on this case: Joshua Fulgham Gets Life
The capital murder trial of James Bannister is set to go forward in a little over two weeks.
Bannister Jury Selection Set for August 14
Terence Lenamon’s motion for a continuance of the August 2017 trial date was denied by the judge after a hearing earlier this month. It was not his first continuance motion. The judge appears firm on the Bannister trial beginning with jury selection on August 14th.
For details on that July 2017 hearing read the coverage by Katie Pohlman, "Attorney denied more time for quadruple murder case," published in the Ocala Star Banner.
Now, here’s the thing. Terry Lenamon isn’t going to comment here in this blog post about this situation, you can read what he has to say in the Ocala news coverage of the case (quoting his arguments to the bench).
Why not? For one thing, it’s a pending case. For another, he’s busy doing the work of getting ready for this trial as well as juggling his other cases and running a busy law practice. (That’s why he has a co-author.)
Things to Consider
But there are things to share about this situation. Answers to some questions that might be asked about what’s going on here.
Here are some things I can share, from my perspective as a lawyer setting over in Texas:
Time and Money
All trials, civil or criminal, boil down to time and money. It takes time to prepare a case for trial before a jury, no matter what’s in controversy. And it takes money to do the job.
Nowhere are these two things more critical than in a death penalty case. Capital cases are by definition going to involve the (1) guilt phase and (2) sentencing phase.
Two Phases of a Capital Case
If the accused in a death penalty case is found guilty, there’s not a delay before sentencing is considered (which is the case in other jurisdictions). In Florida, the jury trial will enter the sentencing phase if a guilty verdict is rendered. Same jury, same courtroom, same trial.
So the capital defense team has to get ready for both phases in its trial preparation. Gathering and assembling authenticated, admissible evidence that deals with (1) the facts of the crimes themselves (here, multiple homicides and arson) as well as with (2) the mitigating circumstances that impact upon whether or not capital punishment should be considered for this defendant. This may include psychological expert testimony, evidence of childhood trauma, etc.
The evidence in the guilt phase and the evidence in the sentencing phase do not overlap. So, preparation for the death penalty trial is complex. It’s a huge undertaking. And it takes time and money to get it ready to go (along with preparation of opening statements, cross-examination questions, closing arguments, etc.).
Death penalty cases, therefore, will take longer to get to trial than smaller, simpler criminal matters. That’s the nature of this kind of case.
In capital cases, the defendants usually do not have the financial wherewithal to pay for their defense lawyer and his team. The federal constitution’s right to counsel comes into play. They have court-appointed lawyers, like Terence Lenamon, that are appointed to defend them.
Court-appointed attorneys don’t get paid the same hourly rate that private practice lawyers demand (and get). They get paid by a set government schedule. And they don’t have the client retainers to cover expenses for things like investigators, research costs, etc. They have to cover those litigation costs from state funds, too.
Indigent defense in a death penalty case is a cost balancing act. The representation has to be effective and zealous, but every penny has to be carefully spent.
Death On the Table
Add to all this the sobering reality that someone’s life is on the line here. The capital defense lawyer must always have in focus that if there is a guilty verdict, then his (or her) job will be to try and stop an execution from being part of the sentencing. That’s a huge factor in these cases that simply does not exist in other trials, civil or criminal.
For More Information
Hopefully this provides some background information for our readers on what’s happening here in this particular Florida death penalty trial that’s beginning next month.
For more details, check out
- the e-book that Terry and I wrote several years back,The Death Penalty Indigent Defense Crisis: Representing the Poor when the State wants to Kill Them and it’s Paying Your Bill;
- and read Terry’s letter to a blogger, published here as "Terence Lenamon’s Position on Capital Punishment."
Terence Lenamon and Florida Assistant State Attorney Robin Arnold have announced to the court that things are on schedule for the murder trial of James Bannister to begin on August 14, 2017.
For details, see the Ocala Star Banner coverage written by Katie Pohlman and published April 26, 2017 in "Quadruple-murder trial set to start in August."
There’s still talk that Terence Lenamon may participate in the defense of Markeith Loyd even after the judge declined the defendant’s request that Terry Lenamon be appointed as his defense counsel.
Terence Lenamon Profile
Once again, Terence Lenamon is not issuing any news release here, but is sharing the following media profile and interview from the Orlando Sentinel published earlier this week regarding the Markeith Loyd case, written by Rene Stutzman:
Terence Lenamon Memoir
For those interested in learning more about Terence Lenamon’s attitude toward representing death penalty defendants as well as his past case experience, they can always check out the short memoir he published a few years back. It’s also available in paperback at Amazon.com.