Jeff Crowder, New York City, Wells discussed on The Tightrope with Dan Smolen
Give another lawyer who Who is covering your your case? The information and here. She knows what to do pretty easily without a lot of background now. I mentioned the Labor that exists. It's not that hard and expertise to become proficient in so within a relatively short time you can be an expert. So there's a lot of benefits a traffic law that I saw I could scale a business and Be Successful and profitable so I kinda used that entrepreneurial spirit that I had from my lemonade stand in the law and scaled scaled up and built a business that basically runs itself at this point. I spent a fair amount of time. Just overseeing important things but you know the bread bread and butter work of fighting the tickets and crossing information from beginning ten is handled by my staff and attorneys from nothing. You built a formidable business to rise to become one of the if not the largest traffic law practices in New York City. But let's talk about the meaning of this aspect which is as good as it is collecting business that way and generating business that way. It must feel really good to win a case for somebody somebody who is otherwise powerless to go before a court. You know with a traffic violation or something. I mean you represented cabbies. He's who you know. They were running their own businesses to. What does that feel like to help? Somebody who otherwise couldn't help themselves before the eyes of the law. That's a really astute question because in New York City. It's very hard to win. Any traffic ticket is very different from the rest of the state of New York because in New York City for one. They don't plea bargain. They don't make any deals social. Fight your ticket. You plead not guilty. Then the only thing that the court can do is give. Have you hearing date and that that hearing you either win or lose. You can't get a six point ticket reduced to a two point ticket and pay a lesser fine or the same fine. They don't care by your driving record. All they care about is. Did you commit this offence or not and if so you getting the guilty you're getting the points and then we'll determine a fine within a range so having only nothing court makes it very daunting for most motorists who who rarely get a ticket or don't go to this court rare regularly and aren't and trained in the law and then they show up and they're asked to basically represent themselves in an office in a position where they don't have cross examined and they don't know that how to ask questions shins or or look Present their case and present their evidence so we certainly feel like we're providing great service for people that I don't know what to do or even if they have a competency they might be emotional about it. They might be mad. They might be scared. There's a lot of emotions that run with getting a ticket getting being charged often most of our clients this is their first and only time with Interaction with a police officer. So there's a lot of emotions that run through it and certainly really. We provide a great service because we can the objective about it we can be And formed experience and help them through the system. And you've couple that that On the fact that the city of New York has created a system. That's very I guess pro-police is the best way to put it. There's all types of rules and make it very hard for the motorist and easy for the cops specifically for instance the officer does not have to have any discovery doesn't have to show you anything before the hearing so I'm hearing you get whatever discovery there is the documents or records and you have to analyze it and look at it on the spot and come up with your arguments without any preparation which is very different from most legal settings where you have full disclosure full discovery and another rule that exists is that the judge can ask questions that essentially help the officer so now you have. The judge is allowed to be active and advocate for the police to help the COP present his or her case and that makes it very very difficult for motorists and so we clearly feel like we're providing a great service people for all the reasons I mentioned because it is a very tough venue because They're usually emotional about it. And and if not certainly not experienced in most of our clients actually they've such confidence in those you know they don't even come to court. They're happy to let us appealed it and fight it for them so they don't have to waste their time and they trust us that the you know. We're going to do our very best to see if we can get him get him out of what is a difficult situation ratio of course one of the biggest challenges that we have is letting clients know and explaining upfront before they give us any money that it's a very difficult difficult court. It's uphill battle. There's a good chance they'll lose because the last thing we want is someone to hire us and then be disappointed because they were still found guilty which is a reasonable outcome and likely outcome for many people so a point of personal privilege. Many years ago I got jammed up in a situation which I they called you about an ad to do with a moving violation at national airport. Where suddenly the speed limit went from like fifty five down to like twenty and I got nailed I got nailed and there were extenuating circumstances? There was rain on the road and stuff like that. Anyway I I knew I was over my head and I remember calling you and you were very you said listen. I can't be in the courtroom with you. I can't represent you but what I will tell. You was be respectful. Answer only what you're asked I don't I don't freelance and kind of keep your head down and I followed it to the T.. I got whatever happened to me. Pled down and cost me a lot of money. But you know it in the end I was okay. I live to see another day. I remember there was somebody in the courtroom who had come in from like wheeling West Virginia and I guess she was going to the airport and she got nailed doing twenty over the speed limit and she got in a lot of trouble and this woman was so upset that she kept cutting the judge off. Well make the long story short. He was not having any part of it and he revoked her license and she said how much does it get home and she basically said that's your problem and so again. I I give you props. Because we mortal beings go into that courtroom totally unprepared for the experience and it sounds to me like over many many years. You've done right by your clients. Well of course if you know we we WanNa do our best and we want them to get the best result we can and most people have pride in their work doc and they and they WANNA win no one likes to lose. It's never fun to lose. And certainly we. Do you need thick skin. Because you'RE GONNA lose a lot of patients you know. It's almost like tree is in a war zone right. You do your best to save as many Much life and limb as you can but you know you're not going to so help with everyone and you just keep going onto the next one and so we do that and and if you lose well you're supposed to lose keep in mind. Most of the people that get a ticket are probably guilty. You know cops generally are not out there to just make up stuff right so when we do represents send someone we do win we Kinda beat the system for them and that's why they're so elated when we went 'cause they kinda know they were guilty. You know the kind of know that you know th they did something wrong you know and the ones that moves. They kind of know that they should have got the ticket. They should've lost so things have gone very very well for. Are you at your law firm. And you're in court one day and yet another chance encounter at the courthouse. You suddenly meet a gentleman by the name of Jeff crowder. The father of the late wills crowder. Who happened to be a hero of nine eleven? Tell us about that chance meeting so actually I met met him not adding a traffic court. Believe it or not. I met him at a C. L. E. Program so his law firm specialized in assuming he jeff. Jeff crowder is a banker and his bank specialize in helping lawyers with their accounts and so they have these cle which is continuing legal education. That lawyers in New York needs to do twenty four hours every two years. So hit this free program which I tend to I got to meet him and one thing led to another and I decided to hire his bank link to do the banking for my law firm and in sign of appreciation. Jeff invited me the lunch To like seal the deal and I had no expectations nations for the lunch other than a nice meal to get to know Jeff and his partner better and over lunch she told me the story about the sun and I was just blown away his son as you mentioned as well as crowder and he's known as the man in the Red Bandanna and specifically what I said to myself in quick succession is what. What an amazing story? Everyone needs to hear this story. I want to share the story with everyone. Now keep in mind. I never read a book on filmmaking. I never took a class and filmmaking but I had the passion to share a story and so I'd like to say that filmmakers look for stories. This was a story that found the filmmaker because I wanted to many people here this story and learn about wells and learn about his selflessness and sacrifice and courage and hopefully by hearing ring and watching wells' story it makes them better people because I know knowing about wells and thinking about him regularly makes me a better person and I got Jeffs permission and I started the six year process of researching writing and ultimately making and releasing a documentary film film about his son. Wells called man in red bend at all right. So let's talk about that. You WanNa tell the story and you've never before four even considered a pit into filmmaking. I mean you're an attorney your fulltime attorney so take us through the process that you went through to become a filmmaker you know it really was a passion to share this story and so The first thing I did once once I got permission from the family was to start researching so I started watching new segments about wells that were NBC. ABC CNN ESPN. I started pulling You know googling articles about wells and copy them and making a file and reading as much as I could about wells and from there. I started researching nine. Eleven and how wells' story fell within the much bigger disaster of that day and From there I started outlining and Coming up with a progression of you know chapters and then filling that in and and You know it was working progress. There's an interest process. It didn't happen with the first shot it took a while and then things would be moved around But Honestly League and surprisingly to me I felt really comfortable with the researching writing and storytelling. Because as an attorney for many years I had been telling stories stories in researching and writing for clients. You know for professionally. You know Even though we'd primarily traffic law I've also done a pellet work as As you heard when I was at the Court of Appeals and then even in private practice I did you know motions and litigation paperwork and So I've had a lot of experience in telling stories for clients and this was a different type of storytelling but I felt very comfortable with the research and writing. It was when we got to cameras and lighting and editing where I needed help and they needed to build a team and certainly my leadership skills. My hiring hiring ability to vet people came into play But also had to rely in large part on the experts. It's to do some of the work that needed to get done. So as the chief storyteller here briefly tell us well story.