And Justice for All

Pasadena Attorney Mark Khalaf lives the Constitution

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 | 12:03 am

“I believe in the notion that America’s most important law is the constitution…and I want to be a part of it.”

“In civil litigation, people fight over money, people want to protect their money, but in criminal defense, we fight over people’s lives, over people’s freedoms. That to me is much more valuable than fighting for money — which is important too, but the importance of fighting for monetary compensation versus fighting for freedom…. there’s no equivalent — it’s not even close.”

Thus, Pasadena attorney Mark Khalaf articulates not only his notion of justice, but what’s most cherished to us as Americans — freedom.

Khalaf, who practices as part of a two-attorney firm along with his brother Ted, specializes in criminal defense, particularly DUI defense. Together, the firm has a total of 25 years of experience in the practice of law. In fact, Khalaf himself is a former law enforcement officer.

“I’ve written DUI reports,” he told Pasadena Now. “I’ve investigated DUI cases. I’ve conducted field sobriety tests. So I know nuances, those details that are very important.”

And, he says, this type of specialization and experience is key to a client’s defense.

“When you’re involved in a case …whatever it is,” Khalaf explained, “it’s a very scary situation to know that the local government is after you, and they’re going to put their resources to ensure that you are arrested, confined, (and) imprisoned. It’s a very daunting situation that you’re in. So, the importance of hiring an attorney that truly knows what he’s doing, not because he markets the best, but truly because he knows what he’s doing, is imperative. “

The best defense boils down to not only an experienced attorney, but one who really understands not only the case, but his client as well.

Continued Khalaf, “The client is the most important part of any practice, (so you) make sure that the communication is there, that they feel that you’re on their side, that they understand that when they need to get a hold of you, they will get a hold of you, or you’ll get a hold of them as soon as you can.

“I know we’re a business and I know business is important. But if you cannot take care of your client both in a legal aspect, and a personal aspect, to make sure that they’re comforted, and to make sure that they have what they need from their attorney, then in my opinion, it’s a lost cause. It’s a given that you have to do great work in the court room, but outside of that you need to take care of your client. You have to be a great attorney and you have to be a great communicator.”

And then a good attorney has to be a good strategist.

“We had one case where I won’t get into all the nuances of the case but I’ll say it was a slam dunk, “Khalaf recalled. “They raided my client’s house, they found the contraband, and he admitted it.

“When I looked at the police report, I saw that we had, in my opinion, an illegal search, So, I did research, I put an extended amount of time into it, I prepared a motion and I filed the motion with the court. It’s called a 1538.5 motion to suppress the evidence. Then I handed it to the DA, I filed with the court and I said, “Look, this is my motion. I think it’s a good motion. If you’re willing to negotiate, I’ll be willing to work with you. Otherwise, we’re going to have the motion.”

The district attorney in the case saw the motion and refused to budge.

But the judge saw it differently. The motion won, the case was won.

“The importance of the constitution is just as important as the law that my client might break,” Khalaf explained. “If the police violate my constitutional right, they’re violating law. The constitution is the highest level of law that America has, and if the police violate the constitution, there’s no difference between the police violating the constitution versus my client violating a law as well So we filed a motion and in that particular case we won, and we win in a lot of these types of cases.

“You don’t win 100% of your cases but you try your best, you do your best, and you exhaust all options to make sure that your client gets the best possible defense.”

And as Khalaf understands, there is a difference between a criminal and someone who makes a violation.

“Life happens,” he says. “And so what I say is, don’t make another mistake, and make sure you get proper representation, otherwise that’s a big mistake as well. I’ve seen at this point maybe over a thousand clients, and good people make mistakes all the time, and I want to work with these individuals. I want to help them because this is what I do, and this is all I do.”

The law offices of Khalaf & Khalaf are at 33 South Catalina Avenue, Suite 202, Pasadena. (626) 486-0166.


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