Most of my blog posts explain aspects of the appellate and post-conviction process. Recently, I provided perspective about how one should evaluate potential appellate and post-conviction attorneys when looking to hire one for a family member or friend. But perhaps that puts the cart before the proverbial horse. What should one seek when hiring a trial attorney?
Of course, experience and results matter. Criminal litigation is an adversarial process, so just as in athletics, past performance can be a valuable factor in assessing whether a prospective lawyer can help achieve a desired future result. But unlike sports, which are won in large measure due to force and strength, lawsuits are won solely through application of intellectual skill and tactical nous. So, how does one go about choosing the best trial attorney? The myriad of factors to consider could actually take up several chapters of a book. But two things to ask when interviewing a lawyer to handle a criminal case may help ferret out those who litigate from those who may be doing "business by volume": First, ask the lawyer to show you 3-4 recently-filed "suppression motions" (which are written memos to a trial court asking for a specific ruling that part or all of a prosecutor's case evidence be deemed inadmissible in an upcoming trial). If the motions are less than 4 pages in length and do not cite to several published cases of other similarly situated accused citizens in that jurisdiction (i.e., "State of Kansas v. John Doe, 123 Kan. 123 (1900)"), then this is a bad sign. It signifies that the lawyer conducts little to no legal research before filing motions. Secondly, ask the lawyer for his or her views about objections during a jury trial. If the lawyer responds that he or she doesn't like making objections because "it'll make the jurors mad," then this also is a bad sign. It signifies that perhaps this lawyer doesn't research and prepare for legal challenges prior to trial, and is willing to let potential legal errors by the prosecutor or the judge pass without challenge. As mentioned in earlier blog posts, errors during trial which are not objected to, usually cannot later be appealed. In other words, winning arguments for reversal of convictions can be abandoned by the trial lawyer who is unprepared.
If you have a family member or friend fighting the battle against a wrongful conviction, or if you are a lawyer seeking assistance with an appeal or post-conviction matter, please call this office immediately. There are always time deadlines limiting when these claims can be raised. If you wish to learn more about the process, call now.
Jonathan Laurans wants you to be educated as to what you may be facing. If you or a loved one has been convicted of a crime in Missouri, Kansas or Texas, or in any federal court, contact him immediately. Visit his website at www.kansascitymoattorney.com and then call him at (816) 421-5200 for a FREE initial legal consultation.