Wailes is a bilingual attorney with Wilson Law Group. She joined Wilson in 2016 after a Peace Corps stint in rural Panama, where she learned Spanish. She specializes in “crimmigration,” defending criminally charged noncitizen clients and advising them on the implications for their immigration status.
Wailes has racked up remarkable jury trial victories. In a recent case, Wailes defended a noncitizen in the U.S. legally who had been charged with second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a minor. Weeks before trial, the prosecutor added a first-degree charge, based on a forensic interview she said she had completed.
Wailes successfully moved to remove the prosecutor, arguing the interview made the prosecutor a witness in the case. She also won a rare judgment of acquittal on the first-degree charge, arguing there was no evidence to support it.
Thanks in part to colleague Eva Rodelius’ “scathing” cross-examination of an investigator, the jury found Wailes’ client not guilty of the remaining second-degree charge.
The charge may still affect Wailes’ client. “The next time he makes a visa application to become a permanent resident, he will still face a tough process, because he was charged,” Wailes explains.
Representing noncitizens poses a challenge, because many of these clients have little or no money. “I’m in private practice, I’m not a public defender,” Wailes says. “It’s a business, and I have to balance the needs of the business but also try to be realistic.”
Read more about Minnesota Lawyer’s superb class of Attorneys of the Year for 2019 here.
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