New Office Phone Number

Please call us at our new office phone number – 585.270.4262

For those of you who have the old phone number, that still works so feel free to use that if you like.

Acquittal

I am pleased to report that I was able to obtain a not guilty verdict after a jury trial last Friday.  The name of the case was People v. Jechan Burnett, and the circumstances were unusual in that this was a re-trial of a case that was overturned on appeal by the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, in November of last year.

In 2008, Mr. Burnett was convicted of Assault in the First Degree and sentenced to 15 years in state prison.  He authored his appeal pro se – that is to say on his own and without assistance of counsel.  His conviction was reversed because the Court at the first trial declined to instruct the jury as to two lesser included offenses of Assault in the Second Degree.  By the time the case was returned to Supreme Court for re-trial, Mr. Burnett had served a little more than five years of his sentence.

Mr. Burnett always maintained that he had acted in self-defense on the day of the incident, which is known in New York as the defense of justification.  He further maintained that the injuries suffered by the complaining witness, while significant, were not as serious as had been presented to the jury at the first trial.

After a week long trial, Mr. Burnett was found not guilty of Assault in the First Degree, as well as the two lesser included offenses of Assault in the Second Degree.  I believe that Mr. Burnett’s decision to testify on his own behalf, after we had prepared at length, was critical to the outcome.

So a man who was facing the next decade of his life behind bars now has an opportunity for a much brighter future.  I credit him with having the confidence to proceed with a second trial, and I credit both of us with communicating effectively as attorney and client as well as being thoroughly prepared.  I will leave the last word for Mr. Burnett himself:

“Matt was a good listener.  He allowed me to participate actively in preparing my defense.  Matt was both a great lawyer to have represent me and a great person to work with.”

If you find yourself in need of representation, please contact me right away.

 

(Past results do not guarantee similar future outcomes.)

Office Closed 7/1-7/5

Hello all.  Please note that the office is closed for vacation this upcoming week of Monday, July 1st through Friday, July 5th.  The office will reopen on Monday, July 8th.

Should anything of an emergency nature arise, please contact my associate, Heidi Feinberg, Esq. at 585-270-4262.

“Nothing is More Expensive Than a Cheap Lawyer”

This one comes by way of Peter J. Gregory, one of the best follows on Twitter in terms of Rochester attorneys (other than yours truly, of course).

This article from Forbes is written by an entrepreneur and discusses some of the mistakes she has made over the years in terms of trying to hire the least expensive attorney over someone who may cost more but delivers better value.

While the article is primarily in the context of contract or business law, a lot of the points the author make hold true for any kind of attorney-client relationship in that trust, communication and an attorney’s capability to handle your matter are of primary importance when selecting counsel.  These factors certainly outweigh potential savings in the short term if you select an attorney who, although less expensive, may not be the right fit for you.

I’d certainly be honored to be considered to represent you.  Please contact me if I can be of assistance.

Passing of a Giant

I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of a fellow attorney who meant a great deal to me. Thomas Cocuzzi passed away on April 18th; his memorial service was this morning. St. Mary’s Church in downtown Rochester was packed with colleagues, friends and admirers of Tom. As his longtime partner, Mike Tallon, said during his remarks, Tom would have absolutely loved the gathering of people present to pay tribute to his life.

I cannot recall exactly when or where I first met Tom as a young ADA. Over the years, however, he came to represent to me the highest standards of my profession. The kindness he showed me over the years is too vast to describe in this space – suffice it to say I looked up to him a great deal as did so many of my colleagues.

Tom was the type of lawyer who made you proud to be part of the same profession as he was. Ask any criminal lawyer in Rochester, whether prosecutor, defense, law clerk or judge – everyone has a great “Cooz” story to share.

Tom fought a very courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. His battle began in earnest in 2010 right in the middle of the only felony case I ever tried against him. I’ll never forget his courage and strength – he went in for his first round of chemotherapy, and despite being given the option not to, came back the next day and continued on with the trial. That was his way – he approached the disease with grace and acceptance, never giving in to it while at the same time never letting it define his life or how he lived it.

I’m going to miss having coffee with him up in his office, I’ll miss breaking his chops about quitting smoking, and I’ll miss having him around as a guidepost on how to practice law with humanity and dignity. He was a giant, and I miss him already.

 

 

Matthew J. Rich

Matthew J. Rich is a Rochester, New York-based attorney focusing on criminal defense, DWI cases, traffic offenses, and family law. He brings nearly a decade of experience in private practice and the Monroe County District Attorney's office to assist each and every client.

If you're looking for an attorney, chances are it's because you're facing a problem of some sort. Matthew J. Rich's goal is to help you with your problem, be your informed advocate, and ultimately get you a fair and satisfactory outcome. Matthew J. Rich is on your side.