High-profile Los Angeles trial attorneys told law students yesterday that lofty notions of jurisprudence, such as the presumption of innocence or burden of proof, are all well and good. In defending clients, it’s best to focus on how jurors actually think, they told a conference on celebrity justice at Loyola Law School, the Los Angeles Times reports. Richard Hutton, who specializes in cases of driving under the influence and was hired by Paris Hilton in her probation violation case, said that “you want to pick people in my little world  that drink and drive.,” Hutton watches potential jurors on their breaks and notes the ones who smoke. “How many people do you know who smoke but don’t drink, who are not going to” Alcoholics Anonymous?
The program – the Fidler Institute on Criminal Justice – aims to give students a look at the “inner workings of the criminal justice system.” It was named for Los Angeles County Judge Larry Paul Fidler, a Loyola alum who is hearing the Phil Spector murder trial and canceled the court proceedings to attend the event. Thomas A. Mesereau Jr., who represented Michael Jackson at his child-molestation trial, often ignores law school lessons. He called the “presumption of innocence” nonsense. “People don’t keep their minds open until the end of trial,” he said. “People make decisions in an instant.” He said defense attorneys need to open their cases with a strong, emotional statement. They shouldn’t repeat the standard refrain that what attorneys say is not evidence. “You’re undercutting yourself,” he said. “I hope they think what I say is evidence.”