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President’s Message

Marty-eJournal column pix

What’s In
Your Wallet?

by Marty Hayes, J.D.

During the last month, two more Network members were involved in self-defense incidents. While I will not discuss the specifics of either incident, I will say that both members were arrested and later released on bond and personal recognizance. Neither incident bore any similarity to the other, except that both members encountered some difficulty arranging for legal representation while they were in jail. Why? Because neither had taken the steps in advance to secure an attorney to act as their legal representative, and so neither had an attorney’s number available to call.

While members are free to use any attorney they wish, the Network had affiliated attorneys in the locales of each of these incidents. Unfortunately, our members had not met with an affiliated attorney or other lawyer nor taken steps to obtain a lawyer’s after hours contact information so they or a family member could call an attorney. When the Network was finally notified of the members’ needs, we went to work to arrange legal representation, although we were not able to put an attorney immediately in touch with either member.

I have been thinking about solutions to this problem a lot. I am reflecting on the fact that in the Network’s five-year history, none of the six members who have needed legal services after using a gun, had an attorney’s phone number, despite there being Network affiliated attorneys nearby.

In one instance, we acted as conduit to put the member in contact with his attorney; in four cases, we connected the member with a Network affiliated attorney; and in one situation, the member declined to engage the Network affiliated attorney but eventually found an attorney he preferred. In the long run, the Network paid for the initial representation of each member. We only wish it could have been done more quickly.

When a member is in jail after a self-defense incident, it is impossible for us at the Network to speak directly to the member. We end up getting information from family members or friends, and then we go to work to engage the services of an attorney who can help the member. In all of our member’s incidents, attorneys were eventually found and a retainer paid for by the Network, but the process would have been much more efficient, cleaner and quicker if the member had met with an attorney ahead of time, and asked how to get their help outside of regular office hours.

Card BackIn working through this problem, I realized that in many instances, even I do not have the after hours contact information for many of our Network affiliated attorneys. I recognize this as a hole in our process, and am getting to work to plug that hole by personally contacting each affiliated attorney to ask that they entrust me with their private contact information so, if nothing else, I can place a call on behalf of an incarcerated member and get legal assistance to them. We have over 300 attorneys affiliated with the Network, and while I know I won’t be successful with all the attorneys, I think I can do some good on this. I wish I had thought of it sooner and will give you progress updates in my future columns.

Understanding that members need to know how to call their attorney is nothing new.