There is no handbook (yet) about how to be a successful defendant (whether or not you can afford decent representation) and to say that the justice system is complex is the understatement of the century. There is not usually only one way to be effective and there are nearly always dozens if not hundreds of points that could be made or excluded not to mention actions to be taken. Even if a defendant is able to be represented competently, there is no accounting for understanding the case, communication, and best possible practice.
Most of us have similar priorities, food, shelter, mobility, companionship etc… then the raid happens and everything comes to a screeching halt.” The defendant (or loved one) is in jail, house has been ransacked and assets seized. This is as traumatic as a major injury or disease or even death in the family. Everything stops and must regroup. A tremendous sorting takes place. Those that really care come forward while many others take a step back. The defendant must come to grips with this new reality quickly because time doesn’t stop and waiting can cause even more issues i.e.: utilities shut off etc. “The case” become priority 1 and court dates and calls from attorneys come before most if not all other activities. This over time has proved to be a huge burden on loved ones.
In my case the attorneys have changed from the first trial to the second. Not only has there been the monumental task of choosing council (with no budget) but the need to be available almost constantly. So many calls and meetings are interrupted by the Lawyer’s call that is always priority 1. This is actually kind of the best case scenario. At least these lawyers are keeping in contact. Often, it is very difficult to reach them or in the case of the public defender’s office, often they don’t really care enough to participate in a meaningful way. Although this is rare, I am currently interviewing law students, paralegals and lawyers to help in a “Dream team” to take on this monster. This has proven to be a monumental task as scores of prospects reply to ads often thinking I am hiring a paying job. Reading resumes, interviewing and ultimately coordinating these folks not to mention the constant flood of calls and emails from new people asking to help or just wanting updates has taken resources from everything else including volunteers and loved ones that would otherwise have gotten the time. Defendants willing to stand and fight must be willing to sacrifice many if not most of life are other details including business, social life, and any type of recreation. That is, if they are to stand a chance at being effective. If you are supporting a defendant please be patient if they don’t always get back to you or acknowledge every act. If they are at all like me, they are very appreciative but overwhelmed and physically unable to respond to everything.