16 August 2004

Working With a Public Defender

Most everything in this article also applies to those of us who do court appointed work as well.

I particularly like these recommendations:
• Create a list of potential witnesses. Supply complete addresses, phone numbers, and background information about each individual, with good notes about what the witness can say on your behalf.
[comment] Get this list to your attorney at least three weeks prior to trial. If you get me the list the week of trial, or tell me about the people 15 minutes before trial, I'm not going to be able to get them subpoenaed. And, if they're not subpoenaed the judge isn't going to delay the trial because they aren't in court.
• Make a time-line of what happened, with dates and times of day, as appropriate.
[comment] If you do this step, don't lie. If you cannot do this step without lying, don't do it.
• Draw diagrams of the scene of the incident, with actual measurements, if possible.
[comment] This can be very helpful. When a lawyer has a large caseload he does not have time to actually visit many scenes. But use some common sense. If you are charged with reckless driving-speeding 20mph over the limit and you were the only car on I-95 at 4 am, a diagram of a straight road probably isn't going to be very helpful.
• Set up an appointment to sit down with your lawyer and go over the police report page by page, looking for contradictions and lies.
[comment] Well, in Virginia they don't have to give us the police report (though several do). I primarily want to meet with you to get the information in the first three bullets.

I would only add one more item: if you make an appointment to see your attorney move heaven and earth to get there. The percentage of court appointed clients who show up for their appointment is somewhere about 25-33% (at least for me). While I have become quite adept at trying cases after meeting my client for the first time out in the hall it's not my preferred way of doing business.

1 comment:

Blonde Justice said...

I really like this. I'd print in and give it to my clients.

Except that part about meet with your attorney and go over the police reports. Ha! That only serves to further my clients' crazy notions that they should know what they're accused with before trial. What is this, hippie court or something? You'll know what the cop's story is when he tells it to the judge and the jury.