Suzanne Crouts

Suzanne CroutsUndergrad: University of California at Berkeley 1996 BA Sociology

Law School and Other Degrees/Certificates: University of California, Hastings College of Law 1999

Admitted to Bar When/What States: State Bar CA admission 2002

Other Certifications: NHTSA DWI Detection and SFST Training

Hobbies: Spending time with my husband and 3 children, art, beach, swimming, sports, youth mentor

Why I Love What I Do/Why This Matters Story:

I always knew that I wanted to be a criminal defense attorney. However, even with that knowledge, there came a day in my career when I knew it was my calling. Half way through my 13-year journey in this field, I received a call from an elderly woman. She had been given my cell phone number from the mother of one of my client’s, as she sat in the hallway awaiting her son’s fate one day. She had a sadness and desperation in her voice when she called. Unable to come see me, I didn’t hesitate in going to her home, almost 2 hours from where I was. I sat at her dining room table for hours as she told me the story of her son. Her son had been in trouble with the law most of his life. His adult life was filled with long periods of incarceration. He had multiple strikes and upon release from prison he decided he was going to live life for his children and not get into any more trouble. He got a job and was rebuilding his life with his fiancée and children, until the one night that he crossed paths with law enforcement. The night that put him back in jail facing his 3rd strike. The day she received my number his public defender had told him about his 18-year offer. She couldn’t believe that the life he was rebuilding was now over. I promised her that I was going to fight for him. I left her home and went to the jail to meet my new client. In walked a huge man, 6’7”, 300 lbs. As I smiled, he scowled at me. I introduced myself and we talked for hours about what had occurred and what my plan was to defend him. I could feel the skepticism in his heart. I could tell that he had been let down by so many attorneys in the past that probably just turned the other way as he was taken back to prison. I told him, “I don’t promise anything but I care and I work hard”. I told him that I was going to fight for him, to try to get him home to his mother, back to his children, back to the life he was building”. However, he didn’t seem impressed.

The next time we saw each other we were sitting next to each other in the courtroom. It was his felony hearing to see if there was enough to hold him for a trial. I looked at the audience and saw his mother sitting there, she looked scared yet hopeful. I handed him a piece of paper along with the deputy’s pencil and told him, “please take notes as the officer testifies”. He shook his head “no”. I said “don’t be stubborn, don’t give up. This is a fight for your freedom, your future. You were there that night, I’m fighting here, but you were there. Please if there is anything that is missing, anything I don’t know or that you think or feel, write it down”. He just shrugged. As I finished my cross examination of the officer, I glanced over and he had written nothing.   At the conclusion of the long hearing and intense argument, the Judge granted my motion to reduce the felony to a misdemeanor and to credit my client with the time he had already served, releasing him on the case. I looked at him and told him it was over, he was going home. He was looking down crying and writing something. As the Judge ordered him released he handed me back the notepaper I had given him. It only had 3 words on it. It read, “I love you”. I keep that paper framed in my home as my constant reminder that this isn’t just a job. I am called to be a criminal defense attorney and for that I am grateful.