Level The Playing Field
Tipon: Well, I have a very unique practice. I started out after having served
10 years on active duty in the United States Marine Corps as a judge advocate.
After getting out, I entered private practice, and ever since then, I’ve
been defending both service members and people of the State of Hawaii,
both in military Courts Martial and in criminal state court.
Interviewer: So, how was it that you were able to have so much success?
Tipon: Well, I believe that we have a lot of success at Bilecki and Tipon because
we are dedicate to assembling the premier team of lawyers and experts
and investigators to make sure that no stone goes unturned. We try and
make sure that we have the best defense team possible because, look, at
the end of the day, your life is on the line. At the end of the day, you’ve
got one shot at the Court Martial—you don’t get a do-over,
you don’t get a make-up. What you have is this one chance, and I
want to make sure that when we go in to court, we are well-armed with
the best amount of resources possible so that we get your story of innocence
out there in front of the jury members.
We change their mindset so that they’re not just thinking about what
their training tells them, they’re not just thinking about what
their Command wants them to do. We have them thinking about what’s
the right thing to do because at the end of the day, when you’re
falsely accused of something and you go in there, and all you have is
us looking out for you, we find success in making sure that we go in there
more prepared than anybody else. Certainly, more prepared than the prosecution.
Interviewer: Why are you so selective in the cases you take?
Tipon: We’re selective about the types of cases that we take because while
I love to go out there and help everybody, we can’t help everybody.
We take cases where we think we can do some good. We take cases where
we believe that there is an injustice that needs to be righted. We believe
in taking cases where we can get a result that might not otherwise be
And so, when we take the cases, we make sure that we are very selective
about the kinds and matters that we take, and the kinds of clients that
Interviewer: I understand that you’re writing a book with Steve Forbes. Can you
give us a sneak-peek in to the focus of the book?
Tipon: I had a unique opportunity to write a book with Steve Forbes. Now, Steve
Forbes has one of those personalities that you either like them or you
don’t like them. But the fact of the matter is: he’s successful
in business, and he asked a select, few individuals who are leaders in
the industry across America to write a compilation book with him. And
my book (which the chapter is "Confidence is the Backbone of Success"),
it’s kind of a story about how I became a successful criminal defense
lawyer and a trial lawyer, and how I ended up partnering with one of the
premier criminal defense attorneys in the world, Tim Bilecki.
Interviewer I hear you also host a radio program on Honolulu. Tell me about that.
Tipon The Tipon Report is a radio program that I co-host with my father, and
it is a radio program that deals with contemporary legal issues facing
service members and locals in the State of Hawaii.
Interviewer: Who does the defense have on their side to uncover evidence for the defendant?
Tipon: If you go with the detail defense counsel, then you have the detail defense
counsel. That’s who the defense has.
Now, when you go out there and you’re deciding whether or not you’re
going to retain a civilian counsel, who does the defense have to uncover
the evidence for you and not against you? Who does the defense have? Well,
the defense should go out there and not just do it themselves, but they
should take the time to go hire a team of investigators and make sure
that they have the same number of resources that the government has in
Look, I’ll level with you. The government stacks the deck against
you. They typically have a special victim’s prosecutor. They have
a trial counsel that’s attached to the Battalion, or the Brigade.
They even bring in a special victim’s counsel for the alleged victim
in the case. They have a deputy SJA. They have an SJA for the Command.
They typically have upwards of five lawyers on their trial team trying
to put you in jail and convict you. Not to mention, they have an unlimited
budget to investigate these crimes.
I’ve had cases where they have sent investigators to three different
countries, four different states searching for the smallest piece of evidence.
They’ve searched people’s backgrounds looking for ex-girlfriends
from high school.
That’s the amount of resources that they’re willing to put
in to convict you.
So, when you rely on just the detail defense counsel, that’s the
fight that you’re up against. What you need to do is you need to
find a defense lawyer who’s willing to put together a team not just
of lawyers but investigators and experts and people who are knowledgeable
on the field that can put together a defense that will exonerate you.