Articles Posted in About Micah Belden – Sherman Criminal Lawyer

player.jpgMy two oldest nephews and six of their friends came out and wanted to learn basketball, and drew me as their coach for better or worse. I felt bad when I was too hard on them at times (although I was too easy at others), but they all gave a ton of effort for three months and became one unit. Before our first game, only one had really experienced winning basketball to my knowledge, but by the end they had each taken part in a winning season and we had all advanced tremendously experience-wise. My defensive pride made me teach them man to man defense, which is particularly difficult at a young age due to its requirement of divided attention. In man to man, kids must master focusing on the ball and on their man, never losing sight of or position in relation to either. To see them play this defense very, very well for their age by the end of the year was a real blessing. Along with mastering other parts of the game, it showed how hard they worked and how serious they took basketball. I hope they continue to do so, as they have the foundation talent wise to be very special throughout their school years.
The thing I wish I could have done better this year was to relate more to the kids on their level. I took a “Hoosiers” approach to coaching, as that is the only style I have seen work well consistently in basketball. Sometimes I tried coaching them too much like high schoolers and not like the young kids they were, but for the most part they responded positively to what I was teaching and why I did what I did. Hopefully they learned as much as I did this season.

In life, what I learned on the basketball court has had a whole lot to do with becoming the lawyer and person I am today. I hope these kids learn the same lessons about success and overcoming adversity. The hours of basketball practice and the hard work in the weightroom made a huge difference on the court, so I learned the value of hard work early. I also learned the power of focusing on doing a couple things – defense and rebounding – really well, and that it would dramatically improve the team and my value to the team. We are all role players in our several stations in life. In my law practice, I still focus on doing the everyday, hustle plays, as well as I can. There is no substitute for hard work and preparation in any given career, especially preparing cases for trial. Also, in basketball anyone can win, especially if they give the effort, particularly when an opponent underestimates you, doesn’t prepare well for you, or doesn’t adjust to the things you do well. Victory is often just a little hard work and a few good decisions away.

basketball.jpgThis year I had the privilege of coaching eight young men in 5th and 6th grade basketball. I thought that I would descend from the clouds and teach them everything there is to know about basketball, but I believe that I learned a whole lot more about coaching, teaching and humanity through this experience than I was probably able to give back. It was very special to see eight kids learn how to play as one unit, play for each other, and overcome adversity and the ups and downs of a serious basketball season, eventually firing on all cylinders together up and down the basketball floor. This was a special group of kids and part of a special class group at their small town school, and they will achieve big things in the future.

Although I have strayed from the game, basketball was my passion in high school and going into college. I was fortunate to be a part of a special class group at Howe that included some very talented basketball players, and was blessed myself with the gift of height (although I would have appreciated some athletic skill to go along with it). I went from a very skinny 6′ 3″-6′ 5″ sophomore and junior (6′ 5″ 165 to be exact, kind of like a stick of spaghetti), to being a more rounded 6′ 8″ senior. What I lacked in weight and athleticism, I had to make up for in hard work and discipline, the latter always being toughest at that tough age. I focused on rebounding and defense, and went from being a bench player to getting a few (very, very few) college looks and having some potential to play at the next level. Fortunately, my academics were always well ahead of my athletics, and I did far better at A&M scholastically than expected. So, basketball became history as I pursued my law career.

I had forgotten much of my love of the game and the reasons I loved basketball so much. One thing I loved is that in basketball, effort is a force multiplier. My competitive nature means that effort is usually not in short supply. While effort can help some in baseball (my first love as a kid), mostly in preparation, baseball is a one-on-one, linear skill sport. You either have it or you don’t. I gave a lot of effort in baseball and did well at a young age, but I quickly grew too tall and skinny to play my beloved catcher position. In football, effort goes a longer way, but it is still very much eleven players playing one-on-one with the guy lined up to attack them. In basketball, five players must learn to move together in harmony as one unit, and it almost becomes like music to see true team basketball.

Fireworks.jpgLast week I had the pleasure of defending one of the finest young men I have ever represented. He was falsely accused of a horrible act and we were fortunate to have a wise jury who listened very attentively to our evidence and came to the correct conclusion. I am very glad this young man will forever have this accusation removed from his name and it never be spoken of again except by those who unlawfully attempted to do him a grave harm. He was very brave in insisting on his day in court in face of a very long potential sentence if convicted. Much thanks to all who helped me brainstorm our case.

1250281_wild_turkey.jpgI have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving in Sherman, Texas. I am most thankful that I have such a good family support network in all I do, and that my family understands what I do for a living. It is sacrifice to work all the time to be a better lawyer and do the best job possible in each case, but it puts strains and distance on your relationships. However, the relationships with those you work for and work with grow and improve and it makes a difference in the long run. I heard a lawyer the other day say how hard they work NOT to get close to their clients, and I believe this is the opposite of what it takes to win as a lawyer, especially with clients facing horrible accusations. If you truly care for your client, that caring can become contagious in the courtroom. Jurors and judges can tell when a lawyer believes in what he is talking about and when he is just going through the motions.

I am very thankful for those who have helped my practice become what it is, and helped me become the lawyer I am. I am better able to serve people because of those who gave their time and effort to improving me as a person and a lawyer, and I cannot say how thankful I am for that. As iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens another.

Jail.jpgIn the middle of this sea of injustice is the lonely, scared, powerless citizen branded “defendant” by the system. The citizen has been accused of a crime he hasn’t committed and knows nothing about crime or law or justice or defending himself. In our society, an accusation goes a long way. In people’s heart of hearts a person is guilty until proven innocent once a nasty (although false) allegation is made. Back that false accusation up with an officer with a badge and a gun, and we may have a conviction.

When a true criminal trial lawyer steps in, you can hear the wheels of injustice come to a screeching halt. The powerless citizen trapped in a game of accusation and conviction finally has a voice. The accused has someone trained to reason with jorors inflamed by accusations and arguments. Someone now will stand between him and months or years or a lifetime in a small steel cage at the taxpayer’s expense.

If you are accused of a crime, exercise your right to an attorney. Criminal defense attorneys are the only private profession mentioned in the Constitution of the United States for a reason. You deserve a fair fight, a fair trial, and your true shot at justice. There plenty of lawyers in your community who are proud to try criminal cases on a regular basis, which fight back and regularly win trials for those falsely or improperly accused of a crime. Call around town and ask around town about who is in the courthouse fighting and winning. Do not plead guilty simply because you are scared or don’t have the money to hire an attorney. Ask the court for an attorney if you cannot hire one. When the government comes after you, you can’t make it without one.

1261217_khmer_rouge_torture_cell.jpgOften I get asked how I can defend people accused of heinous crimes, or even small crimes. How can you defend criminals? How can you defend the guilty (as if everyone trapped in our justice system is guilty)? Normally this question comes from somebody looking down their nose and implying that it is morally questionable or ethically borderline to defend honest citizens accused of crime, whether they did it or not.

I do what I do not only because I love it, but because I am needed badly. Criminal defense lawyers and honest jurors and judges are the main obsticles to politically motivated laws and pressures to put you in jail if doing so is beneficial to those wearing the badge or controlling the government (or to run up a $10,000 bill against you for allegedly driving “intoxicated”). Court systems in America designed to “do justice” can easily evolve (or de-volve) into systems to protect those in power and maintain the status quo. There are plenty of ethical prosecutors and police officers out there, and this article isn’t a stab at them, but the political and professional system in which they must serve brings tremendous pressures on them to arrest and convict you.

If you think our criminal justice system as a whole is about “presumption of innocence” and “burden of proof,” you are sadly mistaken. Every week innocent individuals are herded like cattle into our courtrooms across our land like cattle and pressured into pleading guilty (often without a lawyer) to crimes they have no business pleading guilty to. Every week or month it seems that someone is freed from prison on DNA evidence proving their innocence of the crimes they were convicted of or to which they pled guilty.

MicahAndGerry.jpgOver the years, I have tried many jury trials and achieved real results for real people. I only represent human beings faced with loss of freedom and property, and I play to win. I am not a “settlement” lawyer who gets the best deal possible and talks the client into it. I get the best deal possible and give people the reasons in favor of taking it and the reasons to reject it and go to trial. It is 100% the accused’s decision, which I can help them make correctly.

In recognition of my work for real people, I was one of 55 trial lawyers in America selected to attend the July 2009 Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers College, an annual three-week-long trial training school in Wyoming. At the college, legendary trial lawyer Gerry Spence and many of the most successful trial lawyers in America taught us how to be ourselves and communicate better with everyday people. We also learned how to better listen to those we defend. We learned advanced techniques on how to understand our cases to the fullest, so we can truly speak to the judge or jury on a person’s behalf. I stay very active with Trial Lawyer’s College to keep becoming a better lawyer.

Also to become a better lawyer, in the last five years I have completed over 132.25 hours of Texas criminal law continuing legal education (only 15 annual hours in any subject area is required). This year alone, I have attended a postconviction remedy seminar in Austin, an advanced criminal defense course in San Antonio, and am scheduled to again take the State Bar’s Advanced Criminal Law seminar. Criminal defense is not an easy job if done right, so make sure that any lawyer you choose has a reputation both for knowing criminal law very well and has a reputation for being a trial lawyer. Ask them to show you their jury trial results for the last three years and you may be surprised.

texas_flag.jpgMy name is Micah Belden and I am a criminal defense lawyer in Sherman, Texas -the city in which I was born and will be buried. I was raised and currently live in Howe, Texas. My father was a farmer and my mom a housewife. We were forced to sell the farm early in life, and I watched my dad labor hard to feed our family. I try to bring his backbreaking work ethic to the practice of criminal law.

I was taken to the Baptist church week in and week out as a kid. Sometimes I went voluntarily. I learned small town values that gave me a moralistic view of the world, and see those morals jumping into my everyday decisions at a surprising rate. I do my best to treat people fairly and demand that others are treated fairly. This led me to be a criminal defense lawyer.

After graduating from Howe, I attended Texas A&M because the school fit my view of the world and was a comfortable place to learn. I love history, and after changing majors a couple times, ended up in the history department where I belonged. I attended virtually all the football games and was somewhat active in Bonfire, and was unfortunately on campus when it fell in 1999. I worked the next day moving logs, and learned to appreciate how fragile life and all we have truly is.

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