How much do you charge?
If a client is indigent, there is always a possibility - and I need to underscore "possibility" -- that a court can be persuaded to appoint me. In such case, my fees would be paid by the court. I will discuss this option with you and explain the pros and cons. If a reasonable appointment strategy exists, we will pursue it.
Otherwise, I will discuss with you the options of a flat fee or hourly rate.
There is no charge for an initial consultation of up to one hour, assuming that no travel is required.
Will you consider representing me if I cannot convince you that I am innocent?
Absolutely. I am not the fact finder. Nor are you an experienced, skilled investigator. Therefore, any decision about whether to represent you will not be based on my personal belief or your insistence that you are innocent. Our goal will be to obtain as much relief from the court as we possibly can, whether it is based on a claim of innocence or any other denial of due process.
As you already know, obtaining any relief in court is an uphill battle, and it gets even more difficult as we advance to each stage of appeals. The facts and the law will take us wherever they take us. Only after consultation, review of all relevant documents, and appropriate investigation, will we settle on a litigation strategy. Even then, strategy and goals will remain subject to modification based on new information and legal developments.
What do you expect of me?
Cooperation. Each client has his or her unique abilities to contribute to the goal. Some may be more engaged than others. I will hope that you share with me all of your thoughts about your trial proceedings. However, if for whatever reason you are unable to take an active role, I will still work diligently on your behalf.
I will expect you to provide me with any documents in your possession that might be relevant to your case. That will be my starting point.
In the event that I need to review confidential documents that are not in your possession (such as your medical records, files in the possession of a previous attorney, or the like), you will need to sign releases authorizing the holder of these documents to release them to me. It will be my obligation to protect the confidentiality of these documents which will be disclosed to the court only if it will advance your legal interests.
Will you communicate with me in person? By phone? Mail? How often?
I will meet with you as often as is reasonable and necessary to advance our goals. I have a strong preference for having a face-to-face meeting prior to accepting a case. Unfortunately, that is not always practical when a potential client is incarcerated in a remote location. In the event of a court appointment, the first consultation may take place after the appointment.
Communication by phone will be influenced by prison policies, scheduling, and the need for confidentiality. If phone communication will be helpful, I'll do what I can to make it happen.
I will answer any mail from you promptly. I will mail you a copy of every document filed in your case, unless you instruct otherwise.
You are a solo practitioner. My case is complex. How can you adequately represent me?
Appeals can be handled by solo lawyers without assistance, and typically are. I would not hesitate to accept an appeal without any additional support.
However, effective representation in state post-conviction and federal habeas corpus proceedings typically requires substantial investigation. I have worked exclusively on post-conviction and habeas litigation for over 20 years, and know that a good investigator and skilled co-counsel can be essential. I will engage investigators and others to join our team when necessary.