Attorney Ryan Friedman believes that every criminal defendant deserves top-notch legal help -- and that there is no better place to get that help than from someone who has been on the other side of the courtroom.
Friedman represents California clients accused of a range of felony and misdemeanor crimes. He has a special focus on domestic violence cases -- an area where overzealous police and a "zero tolerance" policy by law enforcement lead to a lot of people being prosecuted unfairly.
A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of California-Davis Law School, Friedman racked up over four years of intense experience as a Deputy District Attorney in northern California's Glenn County and Calaveras County. He ran over 20 jury trials as a prosecutor.
But it did not take long for Friedman to decide he would rather be sitting with the defendant. For Friedman, it is much more satisfying to represent an individual with big, life-changing problems, who really needs a lawyer's help. In his years as a prosecutor, he figured out quickly that the vast majority of criminal defendants are ordinary, hard-working people who have made a mistake -- and that the main difference between defendants and many other people is that the defendants got caught.
Friedman's years as a prosecutor taught him how police and prosecutors build their case -- and where the system tends to fail. The prosecution side will try to fit a case into broad legal categories and will not understand the details of where the defendant is coming from. To Friedman, it is a good defense lawyer's job to dig into those details and understand how every case is different. He knows that defending against criminal charges without a strong advocate can be a terrifying, lonely experience -- and he wants to be the advocate for people who find themselves in that situation.
One of Friedman's favorite illustrations of how the system can fail comes from the 1992 movie My Cousin Vinny. In that movie, Bill, a criminal defendant, is told that the police think he shot a clerk. His response is one of disbelief: "I shot the clerk?!" But when the transcript of the interview is read back in court, it is read as a straightforward confession: "I shot the clerk." To Friedman, this shows how important it is to understand the context and get the details right in any criminal case -- because what is on paper may not tell the whole story.
Friedman is a member of the California Public Defenders Association.
When he is not in the courtroom or with clients, Friedman enjoys taking advantage of life in northern California by skiing near Lake Tahoe, boating on the Sacramento River, and taking trips to California wine country.