April 2014 eJournal - Pg 2
This attorney needs to be well-versed in handling the immediate aftermath of a shooting, and most importantly, needs to have a private investigator ready to start talking with the witnesses, a necessity about which we will give more detail later.
Your primary attorney will be the one who meets you at the police station, or at the jail if the police have arrested you, or possibly at the shooting scene (although I think that would be rare). Your primary attorney should also be the one who calls the Network, explains the incident to me or another Network leader to give us an idea of your legal defense’s immediate funding needs. In a shooting case, we automatically send the attorney a deposit against fees of $10,000, while in non-shooting cases, we confer with the attorney to decide how much the initial representation should cost and send that amount.
If you are arrested and jailed, your primary attorney will be the one who goes with you to represent you at your first court appearance to argue the issue of release pending trial. One compelling reason for getting to know your attorney beforehand is so the attorney can say to the judge, “I have known my client for a number of years, and know him/her to be a good husband/wife/ father/ mother.” The attorney’s job at that moment is to plead your case for release on personal recognizance, so you don’t have to spend your hard-earned money on bail. Alternatively, if you are charged with a crime that usually results in bail, this argument may lead the judge to set a lower bail. In any event, it is ALWAYS better to have established a relationship with your primary attorney beforehand.
Depending on the nature of the case, your primary attorney may be your only attorney. In other cases, additional legal support may be required. For our hypothetical case, we would also want a heavy-hitter trial attorney. If your primary attorney has handled murder cases before, completely understands self-defense law and knows how to present your case to the jury, you are ahead of the game.
But in my experience, most attorneys will not have this experience, so at the Network, we are prepared to bring in outside counsel for you, if needed.
As our hypothetical defendant, you now have a double attorney team, but the legal team is far from being complete! Remember that private investigator? Yep, he or she will be part of the team, and a very important part, at that. The investigator serves two important purposes. One is to interview witnesses, hopefully recording those interviews, but if nothing else, the investigator can make a valuable contribution by documenting what your neighbors saw. With any luck, the witnesses’ viewpoints will jibe with yours and they will become a witness for the defense.
A neighbor may end up being a witness for the prosecution, though, and if that comes about, your investigator may become a rebuttal witness for the defense. Your investigator may be called to “rebut” the testimony of the witness, if he or she told your investigator a different story than that given on the witness stand. Depending on the jurisdiction, the investigator may be sitting at the defense table throughout the whole trial, just like the lead detective does for the police.