TV loves lawyers. From Perry Mason in the 1950’s to How To Get Away With Murder today, we’re fascinated by the inner workings of the legal system. For a peek inside that system, we sat down with a man, many in the Mid-South call a “dream team” defense attorney, Steve Farese, Sr.
Farese has been offering his clients legal service for forty (40) years.
He’s easy to spot. He’s the southern lawyer often seen chewing on a cigar. He’s calm yet deliberate as he works on a strong defense, something that exonerates his client or gets her a lesser charge as in the 2007 trial of Mary Winkler.
The preacher’s wife was charged with first degree murder, accused of shooting her husband in the back with a shotgun. Farese’s defense tactics returned a lesser verdict of voluntary manslaughter. He argued her husband often berated her and forced her to wear slutty costumes for sex. As proof, Winkler displayed a pair of high-heeled shoes and a wig during the trial. She claimed the shooting was an accident, that she never actually pulled the trigger.
“We have a system where you have to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Prosecutors have to do this job. It’s not my job to do their job,” said Attorney Steve Farese.
His critics and fans say Steve Farese is tough yet passionate as he tackles murder, theft, and rape cases.
He offended a number of men and women during the recent trial of a local businessman, Mark Giannini, accused of rape.
“Women are good liars,” Farese said during the trial. That comment earned him threats.
“Did I get a lot of hate mail and a lot of calls and threats? Yes, I did. Did I answer any of them? No,” said Farese. “This is the first time I’ve talked about it. Sometimes the truth is offensive. And sometimes, the truth does hurt. So, if you’re offended by the truth, I can’t help you.”
Katina asked, “Can you see how some women are offended?”
“Of course I can,” said Farese. “I should have said it in a better way. Okay, and for that I apologize.”
But, Farese is never afraid to stand up for his client.
“In the heat of the battle, if I offend someone or I offend a segment of the population, ah, I’m sorry. My allegiance is to my client.”
As he navigates complicated criminal cases, he remains unfazed by the criticism that comes with the turf. Mississippi Judge Andrew Howorth has seen Farese in a courtroom many times.
“A good lawyer knows when to try a case and to plead a case, and I would say he is among that group of people,” said Judge Howorth.
Farese defends those who many may find indefensible. But, he says, he’s just looking for one thing.
“I want justice for my client,” said Farese.