Finding a Lawyer


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dk-corriveau
June 22, 2005, 11:50 AM
I will soon be applying for my CCW in Virginia and I would like to locate a good defense lawyer in the unlikely event that I have to exercise my rights. Does anyone know of an organization that lists lawyers specializing in defending victims in self-defense cases?

Also, when I find one, what is the normal procedure? Do most of you have your lawyer on retainer or is it simply a case of meeting with the lawyer and letting him/her know that if anything happens they will be getting a call from you directly?

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Omni04
June 22, 2005, 11:53 AM
you know that is a really good question. I think id like to know the answer as well! :)

you always hear the term "my lawyer" but if i have never had to use one i don't really have one!

Pilgrim
June 22, 2005, 01:12 PM
Ask some of the peace officers you know and respect whom they would call if they get in a jam over a shooting.

Pilgrim

chink
June 22, 2005, 01:54 PM
I am not a lawyer and I don't play one anywhere, but the way I understand it from talking to lawyer friends if you pay the lawyer a retainer fee, which basically goes into an account so if you should need the lawyers services at a later date, they start taking money from your account

skidmark
June 22, 2005, 02:20 PM
I will soon be applying for my CCW in Virginia and I would like to locate a good defense lawyer in the unlikely event that I have to exercise my rights. Does anyone know of an organization that lists lawyers specializing in defending victims in self-defense cases?

Also, when I find one, what is the normal procedure? Do most of you have your lawyer on retainer or is it simply a case of meeting with the lawyer and letting him/her know that if anything happens they will be getting a call from you directly?

Go to www.vcdl.org and check the links on the right side - after clicking on the basic "links" you go to that page & about 1/2 way down is a link to a list of gun-friendly lawyers. YMMV, but I called up a Richmond-area attorney known for his stellar defense of criminals and arranged a retainer payment in exchange for the right to call him in the middle of the night and come tell me to shut up. I think my money was well spent even though I have never cashed in on the deal.

stay safe.

skidmark

JohnBT
June 22, 2005, 02:33 PM
Magic Mike or Murray? I wish I had that kind of money. :)

Just kidding. My buddy is a lawyer and he'll be in charge of organizing my defense team if I ever need one.

John

neoncowboy
June 22, 2005, 02:48 PM
I was told by a trainer who I respect a great deal (and who has used deadly force and stayed out of jail/poorhouse) that paying an attorney a retainer is not a good idea.

If you're ever in a shooting, the DA/civil suit atty could use that to portray you as looking to shoot someone. He said it gives the appearance of premeditation.

Personally, I have the number I'll call if I ever have to but am not going to have the 'can you defend me in the event I ever shoot someone' conversation (either with or without retainer fee).

El Tejon
June 22, 2005, 03:59 PM
You call, I haul. You can call me before, you can call me at 2 a.m. You can call whenever you wish, you're the boss.

Most of the time I get the call from the "trusted other"--spouse, family members children. I travel on down to the county jug or federal facility and do a meet and greet. You make arrangements to contact Mr. Green. Mr. Green arrives, I become your attorney.

Or, you know trouble is a-brewin'. We meet and greet, you pay me and I become your attorney.

You can pay me before hand even when nothing is brewing, but why tie up the money unless you have to?

Seems to me that keepin an "emergency fund" for Problem #2, that can be used for medical expenses, home repair, what have you, would be better (better return on interest rate anywho).

Fred Fuller
June 22, 2005, 04:58 PM
Initial appointments with most attorneys are free around here. It's a chance to briefly meet and establish a relationship in advance of need. I have not paid a retainer simply because the attorney didn't require it, for such an unlikely eventuality. I found a self- defense friendly attorney in criminal practice by talking to the firearms dealers I do business with, he is a customer of theirs also since he is a shooter.

I've also gotten good advice on locating successful criminal defense attorneys by talking to bail bondsmen...

lpl/nc

The Freeholder
June 23, 2005, 09:42 AM
The Shooter's Bar (http://www.building-tux.com/dsmjd/law/lawr_list.htm)

Erich
June 23, 2005, 10:12 AM
Covered in detail here:

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=122561

:)

I'm a lawyer, and 100% of my practice right now is in the criminal defense arena.

I don't know a single criminal defense lawyer who operates on a "retainer" basis. I know hundreds of criminal defense lawyers, and all (that are private) seem to operate on a fee-per-case basis. Certainly, you want to have a GOOD one that you can call if you get into trouble. But it's silly to pay a retainer to have the guy show up and agree to handle your case. Criminal defense attorneys leap into action AFTER there's a problem - I would be extremely distrustful of any criminal defense attorney who demanded payment in advance to handle a case that hopefully will never happen.

Here's what I'd do to find a good criminal defense lawyer in an area. If you know any cops, ask them who they'd want to defend their wives if their wives were to be prosecuted for a self-defense shooting. If you know any attorneys (never mind that they're not criminal defense attorneys - folks know who's good in specialties different from their own, or can find out), ask them the same thing.

Referrals like this are a good thing - folks who know a good professional from a hack generally want to help other folks get the right person for the job, and they're very happy to make these sorts of recommendations. Often, passing on the name of the person who recommended you will get you treated somewhat better because the attorney 1) has a personal relationship with that individual and wants to please them, and 2) knows that someone is keeping an eye on his handling of your case. I generally try to give folks three names of good people in a given specialty - that way they can pick one that they feel more comfortable with.

Failing this, I'd advise you to start watching the news and papers more carefully. You'll start to notice the same several lawyers defending high-profile cases. Write down the names of three to five of them, and then talk to a cop (go in to a station and ask for five minutes of the captain's time, or go up to a couple of street officers in a doughnut shop) and ask them the question about defending their wives. Get them to rank the names and to tell you if any should just be ruled out.

This should get you three names or so. Many defense attorneys are gun guys - you could call them up and ask if this is the sort of work they do, and if you could swing by to get some of their cards for you and your friends to keep in your wallets. In doing this, you should be able to tell if each one is the kind of guy you'd want to have representing you. No reputable defense lawyer that I know of would charge you for this sort of brief chat, and most will be glad to have their cards out in the world.

I've seen a lot of people advised to contact the Bar for referrals, and I would not recommend this. The Bar is staffed by nonlawyers and their referrals are generally to people who have no other qualification than they are in good standing and they have stated that they are willing to accept referrals in a given area of practice.

The Martindale-Hubble registry is also supposed to be a good way of finding lawyers. I have not found that to be the case with regard to the criminal defense bar. Many (if not most) good criminal defense lawyers don't bother to jump through the hoops that M-H requires (M-H is really a better guide to big firms - use M-H if you need to find someone to defend an insurance company).

You should remember that it's not that big a deal if you are involved in a shooting and do not have a lawyer's name already. Keep your mouth shut (except to explain that you were in fear for your life - I assume you wouldn't shoot anyone otherwise) and ask for a lawyer - you'll get one.

Again, typically, criminal defense lawyers do not work with the "retainer" system: generally they work on a flat fee basis to handle a case. You'll want to talk to the lawyer you decide to go with, but it would be most unusual for a criminal defense lawyer to ask you to put a retainer into his trust account against future representation. Probably he'll just tell you to call him when/if you need him. Essentially what you're doing at this point is just finding a person who would be competent to defend you in the (admittedly highly unlikely) event that something would ever come up.

As always, please feel free to PM me if you have any questions about how to find a lawyer.

Erich
June 23, 2005, 10:31 AM
Same information put a different way . . .

I'm a criminal defense lawyer. Like any other group, you'll find some good ones and some bad ones. Some expensive, some cheap. Remember, the one who graduated last in his class and passed the bar exam at the absolute bottom still has "Esq." after his name. You certainly want to make sure you get a good one.

First thing to remember is, DON'T PANIC!: the government will give you a lawyer if you don't have one. No one can point out in court the fact that you didn't make a statement until you talked to your lawyer - it's your RIGHT to talk to a lawyer - so there's nothing to lose by asking for one. I tell my friends and family that, if they should ever shoot in self-defense, they should tell the police nothing beyond their basic identity and willingness to cooperate ("My name is ______________. I'm an American citizen. I want to cooperate, but I need to talk to my lawyer first."), and then call me. And to then SHUT THEIR MOUTHS UNTIL I ARRIVE. But, if you don't have or know a criminal defense lawyer, tell the police you need one and one will be assigned. Then, SHUT YOUR MOUTH UNTIL YOU TALK TO HIM/HER. (You can do what you want, but this is what I tell my friends and family.)

The lawyer will help a person who just shot in self defense (who is certain to be distraught from such an horrific event) to be sure that he accurately relates what happened to the police. Once the shooter askes for the lawyer, the shooter should then shut his mouth until his lawyer arrives, regardless of how long that takes. You may wind up sitting around at the jail/copshop for a day, but that beats saying something inadvertently stupid and sitting around prison for the rest of your life.

Now that we've established how one should shut up and ask for a lawyer if one doesn't have one, let me see if I can quickly hit the high points of how to think about selecting a good criminal defense lawyer. All right, three easy steps:

1. Pay attention to the news and learn the names of lawyers representing folks in high-wattage criminal cases locally - make a list.

2. Ask cops or lawyers in other fields (wills & trusts, domestic relations, etc.) who they would want defending their wife or child (not them, they'll be more thoughtful if they're thinking of taking care of someone important to them) if she shot anyone in self-defense - make another list.

3. Get 3 names that appear on both lists, call them up & talk to them. See who you like. Many criminal defense lawyers are gun nuts. I don't know many who would not be happy to talk to you (for free!) for 15 minutes and give you their card to put in your pocket "just in case" (hey, chances are good that you'll call them with other business and refer friends and family members if you like them - it's worth 15 minutes of their time). (If you find one who's not willing to do this - he's obviously not your guy.) Find one you like - keep his/her number on your cell.

Folks should know that it will not cost anything to do this: one generally doesn't put a criminal defense lawyer "on retainer." All the criminal defense lawyers of whom I'm aware work on a case/fee basis, and would not require a retainer to simply give a guy a card for a "just in case" scenario. Personally, I'd be real leery of someone who came to me and seriously wanted to put me on a retainer for criminal work!

Also, I'm real leery of sending anyone to the Bar Association for referrals. Some Bar Associations will simply keep a list of folks who've agreed to take certain kinds of cases and refer the lawyer who's next on the list without ever having vetted that lawyer for competence. I can tell you that there are a LOT of lawyers in this state who do criminal defense work, but there are only a couple dozen that I would call to defend my wife. Ask cops and other lawyers who see them in action who THEY would want to defend their family members.

Remember, it's generally a good idea to NOT SAY ANYTHING UNTIL YOUR LAWYER IS PRESENT!

skidmark
June 23, 2005, 10:33 AM
Magic Mike or Murray? I wish I had that kind of money. :eek: Both good guys, as are a few more that keep just a tiny bit lower profile. Did "Fighting Joe" ever get his license restored?

$50 for reviewing a few forms, answering a couple of questions, and shooting the breeze about being called at zero-dark-thirty to tell somebody to keep their mouth shut and enjoy both the bed & breakfast they will provide at no cost to me is a pretty good investment. The forms review & answers to questions were part of the free initial consultation & had nothing to do with setting up a relationship with an attorney for a "what-if" situation.

I agree with Eric that there is no need to pay a retainer, but my personal feelings/values are in play here. I like to formalize things, and cash across the desk makes it formal. An attorney who understands those sorts of things is good to know.

BTW - nobody ever did come close to figuring out where the bail money is stashed (see old posts on not shooting a guy & the court outcome of the A&B charge).

stay safe.

skidmark

JohnBT
June 23, 2005, 12:57 PM
"Did "Fighting Joe" ever get his license restored?"

I don't know. The last I heard he was teaching in Ireland, but I haven't seen him since a St. Paddy's day party a good number of years ago.

John...my lawyer keeps borrowing money from me.

skidmark
June 23, 2005, 02:41 PM
First thing to remember is, DON'T PANIC!: the government will give you a lawyer if you don't have one.
But, if you don't have or know a criminal defense lawyer, tell the police you need one and one will be assigned.

:banghead: :cuss: :banghead: NOW is the time to panic. You get a lawyer appointed only if you cannot afford one, and that is usually determined by a chart sitting on the judge's desk.

Lawyers that misquote the law are a terrifying thing to contemplate. Or are you putting an ineffective representation appeal together?

Sorry if my abruptness chafes, but a bad paraphrase of the law has led many a client straight to prison.

stay safe.

skidmark

Erich
June 23, 2005, 03:38 PM
skidmark, perhaps the system is different where you live, but here . . . you'll get a lawyer to assist you in determining whether to make a statement and they'll work out the money later.

Please do not accuse me of misquoting the law, sirrah, particularly where you pull things out of their context. :mad: I certainly made it clear that one should speak to a lawyer before speaking to the police, and THAT is where the only danger lies.

pittspilot
June 24, 2005, 12:08 AM
Aren't you glad you gave out some free legal advice, Erich?

Skidmark, no judge is going to let you plead on a felony without talking to a lawyer, regardless of how rich you are. Erich's advice seemed sound to me, but maybe that's just us lawyers just itching for the appellate case.

CAS700850
June 25, 2005, 12:49 AM
Here I sit, a lonely prosecutor leading a sad life on the internet at 12:45 on a Friday night, reading about people arguing when you have the right to appointed counsel. tee-hee.

erich has good avice. Personally, I don't know of anyone who specializes in self-defense criminal defense work. For better or worse, that would be almost too specialized. Not enough work to pay the bills. At one point, during a bad stretch at work, i considered the option of specializing in self-defense criminal defense, then realized that I would end up even poorer.

Try Erich's advice. Ask some cops, some lawyers, and if nothing else, try to meet a lawyer before hand.

As for paying teh attorney before you need one, I'm not sure how I could get that into evidence as premeditation of anything, especially if the shoot was good to start with.

skidmark
June 25, 2005, 06:52 AM
the government will give you a lawyer if you don't have one.

Keep your mouth shut (except to explain that you were in fear for your life - I assume you wouldn't shoot anyone otherwise) and ask for a lawyer - you'll get one.

But, if you don't have or know a criminal defense lawyer, tell the police you need one and one will be assigned.

skidmark, perhaps the system is different where you live, but here . . . you'll get a lawyer to assist you in determining whether to make a statement and they'll work out the money later.

Please do not accuse me of misquoting the law, sirrah, particularly where you pull things out of their context. I certainly made it clear that one should speak to a lawyer before speaking to the police, and THAT is where the only danger lies.

The following is a minimal Miranda warning, as outlined in the Miranda v Arizona case:

You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to be speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense.

The following is a much more verbose Miranda warning, designed to cover all bases that a detainee might encounter while in police custody. A detainee may be asked to sign a statement acknowledging the following:

You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions. Do you understand?
Anything you do say may be used against you in a court of law. Do you understand?
You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future. Do you understand?
If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish. Do you understand?
If you decide to answer questions now without an attorney present you will still have the right to stop answering at any time until you talk to an attorney. Do you understand?
Knowing and understanding your rights as I have explained them to you, are you willing to answer my questions without an attorney present?

In both, the operative phrase is "if you cannot afford...." The government is not going to give you an attorney just because you do not have one, or just because you ask for one. Saying otherwise is misleading, if not misquoting, and certainly is out of context.

Most folks who own a car outright and a job paying above minimum wage do not qualify for a free, government-appointed attorney because the government says they have the resources ($$) to pay for their own attorney. If you do not know a criminal defense attorney and do not qualify for a public defender you may get a chance to look in the yellow pages and pick one.

If in fact perhaps the system is different where you live, but here . . . you'll get a lawyer to assist you in determining whether to make a statement and they'll work out the money later then it's another good reason to consider relocation. Please understand that I remain somewhat skeptical of this statement being accurate on its face. I do know from case law that it does not work that way in most jurisdictions, as they keep going back to that "afford" thing and telling most folks to go get their own lawyer because they do not qualify to have one appointed.

I agree that most criminal defense lawyers, even the ones you pick from out of the phone book at zero-dark-thirty AM while cuffed by one hand to a chair in the cop shop, will work out a payment deal with you. But they are working out that payment deal because you hired them, not because the government "assigned" them to represent you - as the context of the many quotes above suggested would take place.

stay safe.

skidmark

Erich
June 26, 2005, 10:39 AM
Skidmark, you've just had three lawyers who work in the system and know how it works tell you that you're wrong.

I feel I deserve an apology for your accusation that I mis-stated the law. Or else some explanation of how you're an expert on the various states' application of Miranda v. AZ and some demonstration that I in fact mis-stated the law.

garyk/nm
June 26, 2005, 04:54 PM
Skidmark,
A word of advice, if I may. Don't argue with attorneys; it's what they do for a living. And most are quite good at it. Your position reminds me of the one-legged man in a butt kicking contest. You are more likely to teach cats to whistle than to win this argument. :p
Guess whose business card is in my wallet? (hint: starts with "e" and ends in "rich").

skidmark
June 26, 2005, 06:21 PM
Skidmark, you've just had three lawyers who work in the system and know how it works tell you that you're wrong.

I feel I deserve an apology for your accusation that I mis-stated the law. Or else some explanation of how you're an expert on the various states' application of Miranda v. AZ and some demonstration that I in fact mis-stated the law.

See post #19 above.

I will concede to providing an apology for suggesting that you have misstated the law when you show me a court that has appointed an attorney to an accused who exceeds the indigent threshhold established by that court, with no other issues in play. The existence of the indigence threshhold indicates that not everybody is going to get a lawyer appointed just because they need one. Below is what I understand to be the law. I have been unable to find any substantive change to this decision.

U.S. Supreme Court
MIRANDA v. ARIZONA, 384 U.S. 436 (1966)
384 U.S. 436
MIRANDA v. ARIZONA.
CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF ARIZONA.
No. 759.
Argued February 28 - March 1, 1966.
Decided June 13, 1966. *

Held:

(d) In the absence of other effective measures the following procedures to safeguard the Fifth Amendment privilege must be observed: The person in custody must, prior to interrogation, be clearly informed that he has the right to remain silent, and that anything he says will be used against him in court; he must be clearly informed that he has the right to consult with a lawyer and to have the lawyer with him during interrogation, and that, if he is indigent, a lawyer will be appointed to represent him. Pp. 467-473.

If that is not the case, anyone could refuse to spend their own $$ and demand that the court appoint them an attorney on the argument that the government "must" give them an attorney. It's a great way to save thousands of $$ in criminal defense costs, but I do not see it happening in this or any future lifetime. Not for me, not for Joe Average, or for anybody else. The best-case scenario I can foresee is that the court will question the mental competency of anyone demanding an appointed attorney in spite of the court having determined they can afford to pay for one. In that case the accused may get an attorney based on being judged incompetent.

stay safe.

skidmark

MikeIsaj
June 26, 2005, 09:26 PM
I have a primary attorney and a back up attorney. They are both very effective criminal defense lawyers with proven track records. They are both in my cellphone and they know me already. I found them during my days as a corrections officer by watching the criminal cases go by and judging the results. These two lawyers names kept coming up as the attorney of record in successfully argued cases.

I strongly believe that doctors and lawyers are best found BEFORE you need them.

El Tejon
June 26, 2005, 09:39 PM
Hi, skid, happens where I am. Judges appoint attorneys for individuals who the court deems exceed, through just barely, the pauper status requirements, however, they make them reimburse the county (amount depends on case).

Have been appointed "stand by" counsel for a couple of guys who exceeded pauper status but wanted to do something pro se and it was heavy enough that the court wanted no right to counsel issues on appeal or PCR.

It depends; doesn't it always. :D

pittspilot
June 26, 2005, 10:25 PM
skidmark,

Since I spend my whole work week looking into legal issues, I don't really feel like running yours down.

I do know that your citing Miranda as the be all, end all, of your argument illustrates its weakness. Miranda deals with pre-indictment right to counsel. Miranda is much criticized for writing a right to counsel in the Constitution which does not exist.

Your right to counsel after indictment comes from a different line of cases. I forget the name of the originating case. One of the attorney's that deals with this stuff day in and day out will know.

I do know that if you are facing any jail time you have to be provided with counsel. The judge cannot get around that.

skidmark
June 27, 2005, 05:41 AM
I do know that if you are facing any jail time you have to be provided with counsel. The judge cannot get around that.

You are absolutely correct. To a point.

Once you are in court, and the charge carries jail time, you either get a lawyer or the case falls on appeal on 6th amendment grounds. If you refuse to hire an attorney and you cannot convince the judge to let you represent yourself, an attorney will be appointed in spite of your desire/insistence in self-representation.

But that is not the issue here.

The discussion was about an attorney advising you during police questioning.

While I do not know the specifics of the public defender system in every jurisdiction, I am familiar enough with the administrative cases coming out of DOJ funding issues to feel comfortable stating that income & resources are asked about either right before or right after they get your name straight. If you do not meet the income/expenses threshhold for indigence, you do not qualify for a free lawyer. If you "demand" a free lawyer, you can see a judge and get told you have the $$ and must spend them.

stay safe.

skidmark

Erich
June 27, 2005, 08:48 AM
Skidmark, I think enough lawyers have weighed in to demonstrate that you don't know what you're talking about.

I don't know how many times I need to tell you that that's how it's done here in NM. Where I'm general counsel for the Department of the Public Defender (gee, do you think I might know a bit more about our system than you do?).

I'm done with you. Keep yammering about how you're right, despite all us folks who work in the system telling you you're wrong. :rolleyes: You've demonstrated yourself to be stubborn and not worth listening to.

Let me see if I can figure out how the ignore feature works - it's only the second time I've had to use it since THR opened. :)

Edited: if anyone has further Qs on this topic - feel free to PM me. I'm done with this thread. Cheers! :D

pittspilot
June 27, 2005, 10:55 AM
DOJ Administrative cases != Criminal prosecution

And during police questioning, if you invoke your right to silence, the police may question again after some intervening period. They also may not badger you. If you request a lawyer, they may not question you again, in almost any fashion, until the person has been provided a lawyer.

skidmark
June 27, 2005, 03:22 PM
I don't know how many times I need to tell you that that's how it's done here in NM. Where I'm general counsel for the Department of the Public Defender (gee, do you think I might know a bit more about our system than you do?).

Gee, Erich, you are right about New Mexico, and maybe one or two other states. But you sure are not right about Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, West virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York or Massachusetts - the jurisdictions where I personally checked with the Attorney General's Offices.

As I'm not going to spend more of my $$ and none of my employer's $$ on checking, I guess we will agree that we disagree.

stay safe.

skidmark

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