L. Lee Lockett has 20 years of experience including nearly 50 jury trials. He also is a regular presenter and co-chair of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ annual “Blood, Breath & Tears” training seminar for DUI practitioners.
Who or what inspired you to become a lawyer?
My grandfather (Bob Lockett). I looked up to him a great deal. He was inducted into the Florida High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame in 1980 and I thought he had to be coolest grandpa ever. He always called me “senator” growing up, before I knew what one was. He cautioned me, though, that I’d have to get a law degree first. I’m still working on the “senator” part.
One person (other than your spouse or partner) who inspires me:
Former Florida State University football coach Bobby Bowden. He’s a great coach, man, father, mentor and Samaritan all in one.
How did you decide your practice area? And why have you chosen that?
DUI defense was a no-brainer for me. I was introduced to the DUI world as a young prosecutor starting out in West Palm Beach. I was promoted to division chief and in charge of filing DUI cases. Although I enjoy taking on other cases as well, the DUI case is unique. It’s an opinion-based offense where lawyers get to compete over whether or not one’s normal faculties really are impaired. Then you have breath and blood cases that open up all sorts of issues. I was always told early on that if you can successfully try a DUI blood or breath case to verdict, you can try anything. Whoever told me that was spot on.
What do you think will be the next biggest change in your area of law?
In terms of criminal defense cases, we are entering into an era of better understanding about incarceration. For too long we have imprisoned more people than most countries in the world. Keeping company with the likes of China, North Korea and Iran when it comes to prison terms has to end and I see that coming in the near future.
If I could change anything in the legal system, I would:
I’d like to see more trials. The number of jury trials has been in decline for decades. I’m fearful that one day we won’t have “trial courts” any more, they’ll be called “settle courts.” Not good.
What community service have you pursued and why that?
Jacksonville Area Legal Aid. The Ask a Lawyer program allows attorneys to go into the inner city and sit for a few hours every so often and give back to people who need it most. It reminds you of the good work JALA does on a daily basis.
What’s your advice for new lawyers?
Prepare, prepare, prepare. You can’t always control how smart you are, but you can control how prepared you are. Knowing the case more than opposing counsel will draw the respect of judges and juries and then you become the credible “source” of information. That is critical. I truly believe the more prepared lawyer wins most of the time.