Best Defense Lawyer (2010)

Brian N. Gurwitz

As an Orange County prosecutor, Brian Gurwitz rose through the ranks by constantly displaying a razor-sharp intellect and a tireless work habit. Going against the county's top, high-priced defense lawyers on occasion, Gurwitz more than held his own in the contentious courtroom dramas we witnessed. A few years back, he decided to leave government service and become a defense lawyer. For some, that transition isn't smooth. But it was for Gurwitz, who nowadays honors his time as a deputy DA but can't hide the exuberance he feels owning his own private law practice. His enthusiasm shows for his clients. If most local defense lawyers pray for hung juries, Gurwitz has outright won multiple felony cases by exposing sloppy and unethical police work. Take the case of Michael Wesley Baker, who was arrested for allegedly committing residential burglary because he was standing near an open garage. He told the homeowner he was trying to find a friend's home because his car had broken down nearby. Early this year, two deputies testified they hadn't bothered to check out Baker's claim. After Gurwitz discovered the officers had indeed confirmed Baker's car problems—a fact eventually revealed by a patrol-car video-camera recording—prosectors swiftly dropped all charges.

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