The rationale underscoring my choice of a profession is the lessons learned from my parents and their religious faith; both lapsed Roman Catholics they converted to Protestantism in their early years and it defined their role the rest of their lives. It also helped shaped mine and my two siblings. I became, as a result, a person, hopefully satiated, with a belief in the potential for human good no matter the roots of its frailty.
For that reason the practice of law seemed some 42 years ago was a perfect fit for my desire to put a law license to the test of social engineering as much as possible and to level the legal playing field. I learned a truism in my practice of criminal defense: when the truly guilty get a fair trial then the truly innocent receive justice. The concepts and obligations of due process, the right to a jury trial and the right to present a complete defense are existential aspects of my work as a jury advocate.
“Well sir, I’m not a potted plant. I’m here as the lawyer. That’s my job,” opined defense attorney Brandon Sullivan in July 1987, refusing to stand mute as his client, Lt. Col. Oliver North, was questioned inappropriately before a Joint Committee of the House and Senate Investigating Committee. That advocacy is as alive today as it was some thirty years ago. Our role as jury advocates is to possibly act as a quality control inspector, analyzing and evaluating every aspect of our opponent’s case.
In some ways, I began to evaluate that not only do we represent our client but we also work for the members of our desperate juries: we define adversarialness by use of logic, reason and the rule of the profession. Sometimes our adversarialness, however, is not appreciated or even enjoyed by our opposing colleagues or even the bench itself. I once had a federal judge glare down at me when I invoked Sullivan’s quote in a jury trial. Nonetheless, we owe it to the respective jurors before whom we appear to ask the tough, difficult questions required and to take the touch, difficult stands required by our clients.
As a result of the lessons taught me in the practice of law by countless other lawyers and judges, I feel an obligation to pass on any experience or foxhole education to the newer, younger members of the bar. As a result through the Continuing Legal Education Seminars at which I speak and serving as a faculty member for various trial advocacy colleges around the country, I have attempted to ‘play it forward’ for several thousand young lawyers and trial advocates.
South Carolina Bar
US District Court, District of South Carolina
US Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
US Supreme Court
Emory University, B.A. History, 1967
University of South Carolina School of Law, J.D., 1975
South Carolina Association of Criminal Lawyers, Founding Member and Past President
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Federal Bar Association
South Carolina Association for Justice
National Criminal Defense College at Mercer University –Faculty (Macon, GA)
Intensive Trial Advocacy Program at Cardozo Law School – Faculty (New York, NY)
Offices and Awards:
2016 Columbia White-Collar Criminal Defense Lawyer of the Year (Best Lawyers in America)
Best Lawyers in America® 2012-2016
Martindale-Hubbell, AV Preeminent
2010 Leadership in Law Award, South Carolina Lawyers Weekly
Greater Columbia Business Monthly Legal Elite
If you find yourself in need of an experienced lawyer in South Carolina and you want to speak with us about your case, please call the Law Office of Bill Nettles at 803-814-2826 for a free consultation.