Best Defense Attorneys

Schertler & Onorato LLP
It’s amazing what some good lawyering can do. This year, in almost every big criminal case, the defense firm Schertler & Onorato LLP was there, scoring major victories. Though prosecutors spent years preparing a conspiracy case against Joseph Price, Victor Zaborsky, and Dylan Ward—three gay men accused of covering up the 2006 stabbing death of Washington D.C. lawyer Robert Wone at their million-dollar Dupont Circle townhouse—the firm successfully argued that the prosecution’s case shouldn’t amount to a conviction, calling it “assumptions, speculation, and innuendo.” The ugly saga of a young man who died outside the nightclub DC9 after being chased by five of the club’s employees in October landed in the firm’s lap when Danny Onorato took on one of the employees as a client. Though the chief of police referred to them as vigilantes, all charges were eventually dropped. The firm was also involved in the case of two college students who were busted in November for manufacturing the illegal hallucinogen DMT in a Georgetown University dorm room. While plenty of drug dealers will do time this year, GU’s DMT dealers got a sweet plea deal that lets them stay on the streets. Going back a little further, the firm got a Blackwater guard off the hook after he was accused of participating in a 2007 shooting that left a large group of Iraqis wounded and in some cases, dead. Asked about their tendency to come out on top, Schertler says that although they do negotiate deals for clients, the firm is particularly strong in front of a jury: “The bread and butter of our practice is going to trial.” The lawyers say they have a rep that brings in cases likely to wind up before a jury. Schertler and Onorato are both former prosecutors, and believe that background gives them an advantage by helping them see a case from both sides. But for the small firm, it’s not just about the victory, Onorato contends: “You’re trying to get [the client] through the most difficult time in their lives.”
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