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Prominent Attorneys Discuss the Art & Science of Criminal Defense

October 27, 2010

Three prominent Philadelphia attorneys offered insights born of firsthand experience representing criminal defendants during a panel discussion at the law school on Oct. 26.

Scott DiClaudio, Michael Diamondstein and Chuck Peruto, Jr. who have collectively represented thousands of criminal defendants and secured countless acquittals discussed the delicate dance with clients, prosecutors, juries and judges during the event sponsored the law school’s Criminal Law Society.

A crucial component of every criminal case is evidence and how law enforcement officials obtain it, DiClaudio said, adding that police are known to “improvise” in investigations and as witnesses.

“Cops have figured out that we win cases if they testify truthfully. When they start improvising, we're trying to show there is a reasonable doubt,” added DiClaudio, a former prosecutor who has tried cases in federal and state courts.

Peruto discussed the case of, Gary Heidnik, a Philadelphia serial murderer who was convicted in 1988 and executed by lethal injection in 1999 after pursuing an insanity defense.

“My job representing Heidnik was difficult," said Peruto. "The case was extremely interesting because he did so many sick things, but also so many sane things.”

Not every attorney is well suited to representing criminal defendants, said Diamondstein, who said his previous work with the D.A.’s office provided invaluable experience.

“If confrontation makes you nervous, it's the wrong place to be because you're always starting behind the eight ball,” Diamondstein advised.