DARRYL STALLWORTH ON LOVE THY LAWYER PODCAST
May 4, 2021
Darryl Stallworth – Cal
Louis Goodman: Hello and welcome to Love Thy Lawyer. We’ll talk to real lawyers about their lives in and out of the practice of law, how they got to be lawyers and what their experience has been. I’m Louis Goodman, the host of the show, and yes, I’m a lawyer. Nobody’s perfect. He is a veteran of the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.
He has tried over 60 cases to jury verdict, including numerous felony murders and a special circumstances death case. He has taught and lectured internationally on effective case resolution in Brazil, Malaysia, India, and Turkey. He is a member and former president of the Charles Houston Bar Association.
He was recognized by the Alameda County Bar Association as Distinguished Lawyer [00:01:00] of the Year. And he’s a published author, Darryl Stallworth. Welcome.
Darryl Stallworth: Thank you, Louis. My pleasure to be here.
Louis Goodman: Darryl. Where’s your office right now?
Darryl Stallworth: On the corner of 24th and Broadway.
Louis Goodman: Are you able to get down there now or do you have to work mainly from home.
Darryl Stallworth: It’s a little of both. Ten years ago, I was looking for a smaller place to set up my own practice and I found these lofts right on this corner next to this bakery, I built a loft into an office space and it’s been great because I spent a lot of time here. I haven’t had any problem getting in and out because of COVID-19 has been pretty stable. Great.
Louis Goodman: That’s good. And what kind of practice do you have?
Darryl Stallworth: 90% criminal defense, a little bit of civil. Barely 10%. That’s what it is.
Louis Goodman: How long have you been practicing law?
Darryl Stallworth: It’ll be almost 30 years.
Louis Goodman: Wow.
Darryl Stallworth: I’m in my 14th year as a criminal defense attorney. [00:02:00]
Louis Goodman: Where are you from originally?
Darryl Stallworth: I grew up in Compton, California. I tell my kids that I’m straight outta Compton, but my daughter doesn’t think that I have the competence swag and I’ve lost my accent, but that’s where I was born and raised Compton, California.
Louis Goodman: Where did you go to high school? Did you go to high school in Compton?
Darryl Stallworth: I went to high school in Watts that far from Compton and they small all boys, private Catholic School called Bergum Day, which is Latin for the word of God.
Louis Goodman: How was that experience?
Darryl Stallworth: It was amazing. My older brothers had gone there and I had done K through eight at St. Albert Elementary School, my family and my parents are from the South and they moved to California. They converted from Baptist to Catholic and we were always in the Catholic church. Going into Bergum Day from out of state operas was a good transition for me and my brothers.
Louis Goodman: What was it like growing up in [00:03:00] Compton as a really bright kid and academically interested. You know, you hear things, and I’m just wondering what that experience was like for you?
Darryl Stallworth: I was fortunate to be in Compton in the sixties and the seventies where a lot of people like my parents and migrated from the South and started building their own businesses. My father owned and managed his own auto repair business. My mom worked for ——–, my uncles owned their own TV repair shops. And there were a lot of entrepreneurs in the sixties and seventies and they bought homes and we were doing and having the best life that you can imagine.
Unfortunately, in the eighties, when I was finishing up high school, a crack epidemic took place in what rival gangs that were fighting for territory and tried to make their money and their hustle. They also acquired all of these assault weapons. So the content started to get the reputation that a lot [00:04:00] of people see regarding gang warfare drive by shootings at all the things that they were depicted for.
But truth be told, 85% of the people that were income that were there because it was a good place to transition out of the South. Good families, great sports. I played baseball, basketball, football, top one or charity league. Pretty good time up until we ran into the crack epidemic and the drive by shootings.
Louis Goodman: After you got out of Bergum Day, you went to a college, did you go directly to college or do anything in between?
Darryl Stallworth: I did. I left in 1983 and I headed to the University of California out of Compton. And I tell this story and it’s true. I grew up in a community in a city that was primarily, African-American, probably 10% Hispanic. The most I saw of white people was when I went to Knott’s Berry [00:05:00] Farm or Disneyland. It just be that there was a whole large population of people out there that didn’t look like me was under the naive presumption that, you know, we had more African Americans out there and then decided to go to UC Berkeley versus some of the other schools that were interested in me, and it was eye opening because I walked on a campus with 30,000 students and they were very few that looked like me.
And I realized that this isn’t Compton anymore. And I had to understand and appreciate all of the different cultures, all of the different races, all of the different languages. So with an eye opening experience for me, but one that was really important for me to have.
Darryl Stallworth: The initial transition from Compton to Berkeley was a little scary, but once I got settled in and started to develop my friendships and my relationships, [00:06:00] I also tried out for the Cal Football team.
And after two years of being a walk on and I was awarded a scholarship. That was able to beat out some of the scholarship players in my position. That was the first actual negotiation that I ever entered into. At 19 years old, I went to the head coach and told him that, look, I’m not on scholarship, but I’m playing better than the people that are on scholarship. I matched the now first team safety and I believe I should get a scholarship. And Joe Capp at the time famous Cal Alum and NFL and Canadian football star. I said, give me a week. Let me think about it. He came back a week later and said, you know what, Darryl, you’re right, you are deserving of the scholarship.
And that’s what happened. I lined up getting a scholarship started for three years, captain of the team, which made the experience at college all the better. I was that only a student there, but I was able to play.
Louis Goodman: Okay. On a purchase of football team at the time, did you ever think of [00:07:00] going to the NFL?
I thought about it all the time, jumped up and was hoping I would go, but two things kept me from going to the NFL. I had no speed, not very big. So I tried and I thought about doing a free agent thing. I had an actual agent who sort of shot me around for that. I was six foot, 190, and I needed to be faster to play that position.
The jump that you go. To from high school to college is a pretty big chunk is faster, bigger, but the jump from college to NFL is like warp speed. If you aren’t fast enough to keep up with the speed and the size of the people in the NFL, then you’re not going to last very long. So I decided to change my and use my time and my resources to get into the work field and think about what I wanted to do regarding graduate school.
Louis Goodman: What did you study when you were at Cal?
Darryl Stallworth: Political science, Major. my poly side major. I [00:08:00] call it the auto their death, therefore, but major because that’s what I wrote in most of my essays though.
No communist politics are defending what they used to be. They’re still having problems with dealing with Eastern Europe and all of the different things to take place. I develop a pretty good niche of being able to write, analyze, and use logic to get my point across, but what I’ve learned as many people who are veteran science majors is when you finish college, you know, typically you have to have something more than just a degree in political science to make a living.
When I finished at Cal, I decided I needed to get into graduate school in order to elevate and get into a place where I could do more, find me a career.
Louis Goodman: Is that when you started thinking about going to law school?
Darryl Stallworth: Yeah, I actually was, and I had applied to become a Highway Patrol Officer. I was thinking about going into the [00:09:00] Oakland Police Department.
My older brother finished by older Vermont with the business degree, but he was excited about being a Police Officer. It’s like he signed up for LAPD and had talked to me about doing that. And I had gone through the background check. It was getting ready to make my way to one of those academies. But while I was doing that, I was working for a law firm car hauling party cook.
You can go and Burgess really good people. A lot of the columns in that law firm and they say, Hey, have you thought about law school? Did you think about whether or not you want it to do that? And it’d been in the back of my mind. I had internship at the LA DA’s office. The summer before my senior year of high school, I watched the Hillside strangler trial.
I really excited about trial work, but I didn’t know a lot of people who were lawyers, nobody in my family had gone to law school. So it wasn’t something that was very tangible for me, but sometimes so to have to graduate and working in that law firm, I said, you know, let me give it a [00:10:00] shot. Let me apply.
Let me see if I can get in, let me see if I can afford it. So I started to develop an interest in going to law school and before I knew it, I had signed up to start at UC Davis.
Louis Goodman: Did you take any time off between the time he graduated from Cal and the time he went to Davis?
Darryl Stallworth: I should have, but I didn’t, I finished Cal in the fall of 1987.
I started working in the January of 1990. 88. I worked for a year before I started law school in 1989. So when I say take time off, I wish I had taken a year off and spent it in Europe or some foreign country to sort of learning more about the world, but I worked right through it right.
Went right into law school in the fall of 89.
Louis Goodman: So when you got to law school, I assume that you were like really pretty clear that you wanted to be a lawyer, that this was the profession you wanted to go into.
Darryl Stallworth: I did, but my thoughts were that I was going to [00:11:00] go to law school and get a job as some big law firm and make a lot of money and go back to LA and tribal a up and down the one that like those lawyers on LA Law.
I did that, you know, rich, famous lawyer, it wasn’t until I got to law school, when I realized that the areas of law that you need to practice in order to do those things, aren’t very interesting to me, I became really interested in evidence, criminal procedure, criminal law. And when I got a taste of Luke court and being on the mock trial team, I just fell in love with trial work.
My whole idea of why I was going to law school changed after being there for about a year.
Louis Goodman: You’ve been practicing law for quite a while now, as we’ve already established. And what is it that you really enjoy about practicing law? Because you know, you’re a bright guy. He could do whatever you wanted really.
Darryl Stallworth: I enjoy learning something new [00:12:00] almost on a daily basis. I enjoy being able to help people to serve whether it was when I was a prosecutor, helping witnesses get ready for trial, helping victims and surviving victims of crimes, understand what we were about to do and why we were doing it. And then for the last 14 years, as a defense attorney, helping people get through one of the most difficult times in their lives. Being able to provide some calm in the face of the storm, being open to help put out some of the fires that are going on in people’s lives. I believe that I have been fortunate to have the ability to stay calm in the midst of all of these challenges and all of these tragedies, and then being open to help people who are going through it and unfamiliar with the Criminal Justice system gives me a sense of peace and purpose.
That is [00:13:00] hard to describe. It’s been more than I ever imagined. It exceeded all my expectations. It’s been a good career.
Louis Goodman: Well, you know, that makes me think of two things. One is that one of the things that I’ve always admired about you is that you are a picture of calm, amidst the storm. You know, I mean, when I see you in court, you know, you’re calm. You seem to have everything under control. Certainly you project that image and it’s something that I’ve always admired about you.
Darryl Stallworth: It’s a blessing that my DNA is sort of made that way. I practice making sure that what I do is purposeful and intentional. I do a lot of yoga. I do a lot of running, try to make sure I get enough sleep.
I believe in order to be in that place of calmness and peace, you have to make sure that you nurture your [00:14:00] mind, your body and your soul. And if you can do that, then that can help your clients that can help witnesses, that could help the environment, that can help people just tend to find a way to get closer to those common things that we have versus all of the stuff that we have. And there’s enough of that going on. I’d rather try to find the peaceful path.
Louis Goodman: Yeah. I agree with you so much on that. In my own life and in my own practice, I really work on health and taking care of myself, you know, exercise and diet as best I can. I’m not fanatic, but I do think those things are really, really important in terms of centering oneself when we go into the arena of practicing law for all of them.
Darryl Stallworth: Yeah. I have to recognize that in [00:15:00] you as well, there was, I’ve known you for years and I don’t think I’ve ever seen you angry or they got that for seeing you upset. Always predicted yourself as someone that understands what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
You’ve always been purposeful and intentional and that’s something I’m sure you’ve worked on it your whole life to develop got some of the natural talent for it, but it takes a really patient person to sometimes be okay with just listening. I tell people often that sometimes the smartest person in the room is the one that’s not saying anything. Yeah.
Louis Goodman: Exercising our right to remain silent is often a very good strategy in lots of circumstances. Isn’t it? Very true. The other thing that you just brought up that, it’s always interested me. And, you know, since both of us have been on both the prosecution and the defense side of the criminal world is this notion of helping people through the system and how that [00:16:00] is just such an important role for both the prosecutor and defense attorney, even though you’re on opposite sides of the case. You’re not on opposite sides of the people.
Darryl Stallworth: That’s very true. It is a place that a lot of people struggle with because inherently we have an ego that says, um, right, which means you must be wrong. And until we can step out of our ego and realize that I have a particular position and thought you have a particular position in thought it’s different than mine, but we can find a place where there’s some common ground.
Louis Goodman: Would you recommend the law to a young person who was thinking about a career choice?
Darryl Stallworth: I would. But it would have to be someone that wants to challenge themselves in being able to be open to all possibilities.
That’s what the law does. We all remember from the [00:17:00] first day of law school, where you’re reading the case and you read the statute, but what’s, the most important is the facts. And how are they applied to the statute? They applied to the case and understanding the facts means you’ve got to understand the people that are involved in the case.
Louis Goodman: What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out?
Darryl Stallworth: Be purposeful, understand and appreciate the ride spectrum of people in their lives. Be passionate about it. Be diligent, you know, and be willing to put the work in time and that this isn’t the type of work or profession that you can just get away by showing up.
Louis Goodman: Yeah. I think that’s true. Something to think about. What about the business of practicing law? You know, we’re lawyers, we’re trained in evidence and we’re trained in going to court and cross-examination and all those sorts of things, but ultimately for those of us in private practice, we’re running a business.
How’s that gone for you?
Darryl Stallworth: That’s been [00:18:00] very informative and educational as well. It’s one of those things that you don’t work for yourself. You never know what it’s like to put together a payroll, what it’s like to have overhead, what it’s like to know what your profit and your loss, being able to hire people and being able to have a staff, all those things before to me, because all I did was really show up as a prosecutor for 15 years. And my paycheck came to me no matter what I did. I did an awful lot of work. So learning and understanding what it’s like to have a business privately.
Louis Goodman: What’s the best advice that you’ve ever gotten?
Darryl Stallworth: It comes from a lot of different places. A lot of books read stuff that I’ve learned from my family, for my friends.
It all boils down to me is you can only control what you can control and you can let yourself get consumed by [00:19:00] worrying about what other people are doing, what other people are thinking.
Louis Goodman: Yeah. I think that’s really important. I sort of always think in my own life about what I call the line. You know, like there’s what I can do on my side of the line is what I can do on my side of the line.
But I can’t do anything on your side of the line.
Darryl Stallworth: Yeah. It’s important to understand that it’ll at least allow you to have a healthier mind and a healthcare spirit. I see so many people battling.
Louis Goodman: What aspect of practicing law do you think is your strong suit?
Darryl Stallworth: To calm this by clients and their families always tell me because they call me a lot.
I just want to hear your voice. I just want to hear you tell me that it’s going to be okay. Or hear you say my favorite closing remark in a conversation or in an email or text messages. Hang in there. No, we’ve got to get through this. Just hang in there.
Louis Goodman: Do you think the legal system is fair?
Darryl Stallworth: Fair is [00:20:00] subject to interpretation.
I believe that in any particular case, there’s some fairness has taken place, but I’ve seen this and things that have taken place, things that are happening that aren’t fair.
Louis Goodman: Now I know that you’ve written a book and I’m wondering if you could tell us a little bit about the book that you wrote and what prompted you to do that and what it’s about
Darryl Stallworth: Sure, years ago in 1992, when I started practicing as the prosecutor in Berkeley, I would read cases and files. Some of which were coming out of the campus. And I thought, wow, a lot of people who are being investigated and charged with these crimes. I don’t know if they would have been in this position if they had a little information or knowledge, one about whether or not this was really a crime and two, if they understood and appreciated what some of these consequences were.
Louis Goodman: Yeah. The book that you have published is called A Guide To Understanding The Criminal Justice System, Sex Crimes. [00:21:00] And if someone wanted it, they could find it on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Where else?
Darryl Stallworth: If you went to my website, you can click a box and it’ll take you right to Amazon. And our website is www.your-defense.com,
and they can find the book there.
Louis Goodman:. We’ll put a link to that in the show notes. Shifting gears here a little bit. What’s your family life like and how has practicing law affected being part of your family?
Darryl Stallworth: It takes a lot of work and time to have been a prosecutor.
I’ve been in trial and the same with being a defense attorney and running your own practice. I like to believe that I’ve been pretty good at keeping a pretty decent balance. I coach my son’s baseball and basketball and [00:22:00] football teams and have attended and helped my daughter with all of her extracurricular activities.
Louis Goodman: You’ve done quite a bit of traveling. And some of that has been law related. What’s that about?
Darryl Stallworth: Yeah. I was fortunate years ago to be a part of a group of lawyers and judges who went to different countries to help them understand the power of bargaining.
Louis Goodman: Was there any place that you particularly enjoyed that you really liked being there?
Darryl Stallworth: I love Brazil. I thought it was such an incredible mixture of cultures and races.
Louis Goodman: Let’s say you came into some real money, a few billion dollars. What, if anything, would you do differently in your life?
Darryl Stallworth: Would been more time working with our young people? When I say young people, I mean, Three/ four year olds, from preschool, kindergarten, all the way [00:23:00] through.
I believe if we’re going to have a healthier country, we have to create healthier kids, healthier in the schools, healthier and their nutrition healthier in their peer groups, healthier in their social groups, healthier in their community.
Louis Goodman: So you had a magic wand, you could change one thing in the world, legal world or otherwise?
Darryl Stallworth: I would change the way we see people.
I would change our caste system. I would change our hearts. Our beliefs that a person is less than another person because of their biological features. And I would, if I had a magic wand is wipe away all of that nonsense and this horrible history, half of how we have seen people and how we treated people and have everybody just look at each other as humans and be judged and evaluated on your [00:24:00] character.
And your integrity and your purpose rather than any physical feature in the racial feature, in a cultural feature, any particular preference, just to see us who we are.
Louis Goodman: Darryl Stallworth, thank you so much for joining me this afternoon on Love Thy Lawyer. It’s been a privilege to talk to you.
Darryl Stallworth: Thank you.
Louis Goodman: That’s it for today’s episode of Love Thy Lawyer. If you enjoyed listening, please share it with a friend and subscribe to the podcast. If you have comments or suggestions, send me an email. I promise I’ll respond.
Take a look at our website at lovethylawyer.com, where you can find in all of our episodes, transcripts, photographs, and information.
Thanks as always to my guests who share their wisdom and to Joel Katz for music, Brian Matheson, for technical support and Tracey Harvey, I’m Louis Goodman.
[00:25:00] Darryl Stallworth: It’s not always what you see is what you perceive. And if you understand just that fundamental thing, that perception and background plays a big role with.