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Throughout his criminal defense career, Joe has worked on a number of high profile cases, including the acquittal of Officer Kenneth Moreno, Senator Hiram Monserrate's case, the recent Kris Humphries matter, and the list goes on and on. For more information regarding Mr. Tacopina's notable cases please visit the firm's site at http://www.tacopinalaw.com. Regardless of whether Joe is working on a multi-millionaire's case or the everyday Jane case, every client is a top priority. Joe's professional path is defined by his elixir for success; “hard work and passion.”
Part of what makes Joe a great trial attorney is that he remembers his roots. Joe grew up in a one bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, not a mansion. In fact, Joe worked full-time in college and law school, and he makes it a point to remain connected to people. While many attorneys, based on their high education level, often lose touch with the men and women that make up a jury, Joe Tacopina speaks the “jury's language.”
Joe grew up in Brooklyn, New York, with his father, mother, and two older sisters. Joe's parents immigrated to the United States from Italy. Joe attributes his work ethic to his parents, who were both incredibly hard working Italian immigrants. Joe's mother worked as a bookkeeper for the New York City Fire Department, and his father was a salesman. Joe stays in touch with his roots, and he visits Italy as often as possible. Although Joe didn't grow up in a lavish upper-east side apartment, there was a lot of love in his home and Joe's parents taught him to work hard and appreciate all of his opportunities.
As a boy, Joe delivered newspapers and worked as toll collector at the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. These jobs set the foundation for Joe's success because he learned to be organized, dedicated, and work hard. For example, even though Joe was not a morning person, in rain or shine, he got up to deliver the paper each morning at 5:00 am before school. Joe believes in instilling the values of hard work in children, because spoiling a child could lead to a great injustice to a young man or woman.
Ever since Joe attended college, he knew he wanted to be a trial attorney. While attending college, Joe found himself reading Fatal Vision, a best-seller by Joe McGinniss. Joe was instantly captivated by the story and with each turn of the page the main suspect would change. Additionally, Joe loved the art of debate, and he was involved with all the campus debate programs. With the guidance and values instilled by his parents, Joe found his calling as a criminal defense trial attorney.
As a law student at the Quinnipiac University School of Law, Joe made it a point to gain as much experience as he could, as a student, or intern, no matter how much hard work he had to put in. He learned crucial legal lessons from the faculty, especially his early mentor Martin B. Margulies. Additionally, Joe worked full-time throughout his years as a student, and he interned for law firms for free. Fortunately, while doing so, he was able to experience great opportunities, sit in on enormous cases, and get schooled in court by great trial attorneys. All of this education and early experience set the stage for Joe's future as a trial attorney.
Joe's Professional Experience and Drive
After graduating from law school, Joe worked as a Prosecutor for four years. Initially, Joe started as an Assistant District Attorney (“DA”) in Brooklyn, and he remembers the first time he appeared in court. During this initial hearing, Joe was arguing so vigorously the Judge threatened to hold him in contempt and throw him in jail. After gaining experience with the DA's office, this power house of passion decided to go after his dream of becoming a criminal defense attorney. Immediately after leaving the DA's office, he hung his own shingle. At the time, Joe was working full-time, he had kids, and he began working on his cases all night while he was working as a coat check boy for extra money. While people were throwing coats in his direction, Joe was reviewing discovery materials. At the end of each day, Joe remembered that all his hard work was worth it for that moment.
Joe confesses that he loves one professional moment more than any other moment. Joe lives for hearing the words “not guilty.” When he is sitting next to his client, and he hears the words “not guilty,” it feels better than “a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth.” Immediately after hearing those two glorious words, the case is over, and he begins the work to attain the next “not guilty” verdict. The clients change but his caring, dedication, and drive remain the same in pursuit of the “not guilty verdict.”
An Amazing Man and a Painful Loss
Recently, Joe experienced a difficult loss. His father passed away in December of 2011. Although Joe's father lived a long and full life, Joe acknowledges the loss of his father was incredibly challenging and possibly one of the most difficult moments in his life. Even though Joe and his mother remain strong and move through the loss each day, he lost a great man in his life. Joe recalls that his father didn't have a mean bone in his body, and throughout his life, Joe never saw his father say an unkind word about anyone. It is likely that the compassion, caring, and dedication that Joe brings to his cases are, in large part, due to the kindness and hardworking nature of his father.
One of the characteristics that Joe admires both professionally and personally is loyalty. Some might believe that loyalty is an underappreciated quality today; however, for Joe, loyalty is number one on the desired characteristics list. Joe is attracted to good, kind, hard-working, loyal individuals, and he clashes with the opposite personality types. Nonetheless, Joe is not all honey, and he jokes that he may clash with “jerks” because of his own strong personality.
Joe's fierce competitive nature and his overwhelming drive to do the best for his clients combine with his loyal nature, and he gives his cases everything he has and then some. For instance, Joe finds himself drawn to the red flashing light on his Blackberry at all hours of the night to address client concerns. During a trial, Joe will wake up at all hours of the night to take notes and create bullets for the next day. He confesses that it is impossible to turn off the trial because a trial follows the attorney everywhere.
Professionally, Joe is known for his iron clad and vigorous cross-examination technique. Joe credits a large portion of his trial preparation system to the principals found in Cross-Examination: Science and Techniques by Larry Pozner and Roger Dodd. The book provided suggestions for handling a case from “A to Z.” The book provides a comprehensive method of preparation and execution. Through the techniques in the book, Joe is able to flush out every inconsistency and present his case in a way that is trustworthy and persuasive.
A historical figure that Joe admires professionally is Edward Bennet Williams. Edward was a great litigator of the 50s, 60s, and 70s, and Joe has read all of his books. Joe strives to emulate Williams through captivating a court room. Within the walls of the courtroom, Joe feels as though his IQ jumps, his awareness soars, and his attention to detail skyrockets. Outside of court, Joe may “wander” a bit, but inside a courtroom, he is a well-oiled litigator.
During jury selection, Joe looks for a juror who will come to the court room with a clean slate, free from any biases. Joe doesn't sell his case to a juror for reaction. He looks for people who are open and honest and not going to condemn a man based on a bias. Joe describes the perfect juror as a juror who “has no agendas, no preconceived notions, no biases, and will give their best effort to fulfill the duty and listen to the law and the facts.” Joe talks to the jury as he would talk to a friend. As a man that worked since he was 13 years old and put himself through school, he knows what resonates with a jury. Joe is direct, honest, and he doesn't pull the wool over a juror's eyes. Through his direct honesty, Joe maintains the jury's trust.
Joe never seriously considered quitting, but he came close to giving up on the law once. He had the case that all criminal defense attorneys will have at some point in their career. Joe believed without a doubt that his client was innocent. If his client was convicted the client would go to jail for the rest of his life, and Joe kept thinking that the client's son may grow up without a father. The jury didn't seem to be leaning in his direction, and Joe thought, “if this man gets convicted I will quit practicing law.” Today, Joe is incredibly grateful that the man was acquitted and so are Joe's clients.
Joe admits that the stress of being an attorney is unbelievable. When Joe takes on a case, he is fighting for an individual's freedom, the client's standard of living, and for justice. Joe works incredibly hard because he cares about each of his clients. He is the client's champion of liberty, a paid mouthpiece dedicated to fighting for justice, and he takes this responsibility very seriously. Joe transmutes the stress inherent in such a responsibility into fuel for each case. By making healthy decisions to exercise and eat right, Joe is able to funnel his stress into a competitive drive seeking the best result possible for his clients. In five years, Joe will still be working as a criminal defense attorney, and he will be growing his civil and corporate departments within the firm.
Outside of the office, Joe may be found enjoying the slopes because he is an avid skier. Additionally, Joe played semi-pro hockey after college, and today, he remains part of a competitive ice hockey league. Joe is a die-hard Italian soccer fan, and each Sunday he may be found enjoying a game. Go A.S. Roma!
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