Criminal

Fee Setting and Plea Bargaining

They really are most of, not most of the times. Many of them are people that you wouldn’t associate with, that you don’t particularly like, you are not, you’re certainly not proud of what they may have done. But they came in to get you to help them, not get you to ragging around. And, and if you, if you respect them as your client then they’re going to respect you. But if you’re on their ass then, well if, you need to take this plea, you dumb son of a bitch. Or I mean, I mean I’m exaggerating, but sometimes in our, I’ve walked down the halls of the court house as you have too when people, when lawyers are trying to get their client to accept the plea bargain. That’s probably very logical, and should, a plea bargain that should be accepted, but they’re just ragging their ass, I mean that’s just; offends me personally. It makes lawyers look bad and guess what! It’s stupid, because you’re pissing them off and what kind of person is going to file agreement. Somebody that’s pissed off! [Speaker laughs] So, I want to hear, I am back to where I started. This is all just common sense. How do you do it Mark?
Mark: how I do what?
Male1: How do you set fees? [Continues laughing] Mark: God, I totally doubt that he’s privates [inaudible]. He died about 3 years ago! I actually, I said,[inaudible] he said all of it!
Male 1: [speaker laughs] exactly right!
Mark: it’s all a common sense approach [inaudible]. You treat them right they treat you right! I didn’t come here to preterm your talk. I promise
Male: I’m in bad form; I’m running out of gas anyway. [Speaker laughs] Mark: well, I’ll make it certain, what I keep practiced at a point! And you give these folks some tips. You have people coming in [inaudible] is Mexican. What can lawyer avoid to being the victim, someday from somebody in their office was handling money and handling papers?
Male 1: yeah! I don’t know. [Speaker laughs] Mark: [inaudible] Male 1: Yes, Sir!
Audience: this tension and the problem is that; the distinction between what plea is and how you determine it I one issue, the next issue is how you handle the money, once you get it. It doesn’t matter how you get it, whether it’s, at one time or it’s many. And that’s where the state of Florida comes in and [inaudible] duties. First of all the issue of setting the fee! The Betty has brought here list of factors to be considered. Look at that [inaudible] and think about it and you can justify if the jurors have been prepared. Probably, it’s going to work out for you, if anybody ever accused you of; [inaudible] says its fee. You can just show how my fee met these things.
Male 1: Absolutely!
Audience: That’s where it’s an extensive fee and if you being [inaudible] you can charge [inaudible] fee. It doesn’t have to be what you can do! What [inaudible] tells you about is what always [inaudible]. Now let’s go through the second part about handling it. What the state of Florida says, this is where all of disputes come in that you can’t just take your money on the first day and pocket it. You got to put it in trust. Just in case something goes wrong, if something happens! And where there it’s got to be a negotiation about the current part of the deed. And you can agree that a earned one pay. You and the client can agree to that. We agree that you’re not going to pay anymore or any less than this amount. And that’s what’s not in practice. The [inaudible] to protect the client, you got to take care of that money. So that it’s available if something goes wrong. And if there’s any [inaudible]; no, you agreed contractually to a fixed fee. But what if something happens? I don’t know and in the list serve exchange I said… I am 74 and have eight real federal regulations. What happens if I take that money of $10k or $15k and drop them a hear attack you know, a few does. Then obviously,…
Male 1: [Laughs] Audience: the client needs to get, most of his money back. I mean he’s a contingency [inaudible] and when that happens practically home sitting; My God! [Laughs] Male 1: [laughs] I mean that is a contingency of like of, of me. The [inaudible] car wreck. What if you [inaudible] and you’re in a terrible car wreck and you lay up for 6 months or killed. You know there are circumstances when you might have to return all of that money. The state of Florida says because of that, legal in trust is that you have earned it and [inaudible] say; Oh my God I don’t get time and I don’t do this. Look at these criteria’s. You can earn a fee in 3 months in case that lasts 3 years! You can earn in 3 months because the way you [inaudible] or [inaudible] take a case. And then analyze it’s the value of their time upfront, is absolutely huge! Because they’re so experienced and have such good insights in what’s going to happen what [inaudible]. So if you duly think about it, you can just by take in the whole fields within a [inaudible]. But legal legislation helps I think, to understand you get all stripped off, of your fee. You can use all that, if you know what I’m saying!
Male 1: Here’s the list again. In section 1.04B of the state bar rules, whatever it’s called; Factors to be considered in the reasonableness of a fee art, time and labor involved. Novelty or difficulty of the matter, the skill required to perform the legal task. The fee customarily charged that would be in the area where you practice on the statement. The amount involved and the result obtained! Now, interestingly enough, the state bar says that the results obtained, enters into this, and it should! Then the experience, reputation and ability of the lawyer, you know when I have a start by. What you can mostly, you could use, if you needed to, most of the time. The preclusion of other, empowerment.
Now, how do you prove that you didn’t get hired by somebody? [Laughs] So, this is not a specific thing but it is a general observation and recognition by the state bar that you can’t take but so many cases. At the cliché, you’re supposed to do that! And that about taking a case it would and very well should preclude other employment. Let me finish this, what I got it from here I wouldn’t want to read these riddles to you but it’s, it goes on. A fixed fee versus a contingency fee! And the uncertainty of collections, [laughs] which you were talking about. When a lawyer is not regularly representing the client, the basis or rate the fee shall be communicated to the client; preferably in writing, before within a reasonable time after commencing the representation. That must deal with civil lawyers. I don’t know that really applies with us but I’m just reading the entire list. I think we’ve, you know we fully well, got it, figured out but well I’m, back to where before we were. Use your head! Any other questions this morning? Am back to where we were. Use your head! Any other questions this morning? Any other, hey I’m here just to hear from any of you folks who do this in a different way! Leme mention you one other thing I was going to say while I got. I try to, even if I don’t think I have t, I try to keep enough money in my account and I have this money market account that I put money in for various reasons. It’s not a specific [inaudible] account for a specific client usually. But in my mind it is. I put $80 k in this deal, on a case I was fortunate enough to get! And we all thought he’s going to be out of town, he going to be around two hundred miles away. It was going to be multiple defendants and the attorney general; the great state of Texas has become a prosecutor himself as he gets the law as he says. And they, I mean it was going to be a big deal!
And, so, I did that! But I left it over there and I’m glad I did. But, the case, all of sudden plead out. And I’ve forgotten how many defendants were in it but, let’s say 18. And everybody plead out and the AG’s office says, “they will sometimes, keep this in mind” they will, it’s a fact they’re going to get some bad press and maybe lose the case.
Then they will back off even though they huff and puff at the beginning. But, at anyway I’ve still got that money in that account. [Laughs] these people had the money it is not like—well one of their problems is; probably if I gave them money back, it’s going to get forfeited, so… [Laughs] [Audience laughs] Male 1: so, there is not much that they can do with it. But we haven’t had that discussion! But, in the event that some, some time, you know, somebody who wants that kind of money back, I kind of want to have to be able to pay them. I don’t want to have to go borrow the money to pay him back. So! To the extent that you can, keep some money in an account so, you can get rid, avoid agreements like,” hey Charlie! I’m sorry! Here’s your money” That’s the easiest way to do it. Are we about done? I don’t even know what time it is!
Audience: I think I have you be in trouble if you ever came up before state bar! They don’t want you call [inaudible] even if you have a billion dollars in your own accounts!
Male 1: that’s probably right!
Audience: it’s the client’s money and it needs to stay there until it is agreed between you and you have earned it
Male 1: Well
Audience: [inaudible] Male 1: well, not if it’s a…
Audience: nothing personal.
Male 1: I agree with you. Generally, in general but this is….
Audience: but put down your [inaudible] Male: ok…
Audience: what your hourly rate is…
Male 1: I don’t charge by the hour. You’re not paying attention. [Laughs] Male 2: I’d like to thank Tim for coming and him and other speakers that have come. What you’ve heard is consistent and what I’m greatly appreciative of is; when we called and asked to help, the only thing we heard is; where do we need to be and what do we need to bring and, so that’s greatly appreciative. Who in here is going to the trial college?

Dealing with your female clients: Kerri Anderson- Donica

Male 2: Issues that each of us has and Kerri’s out of East Texas in Corsicana. Practices since 1983 with Heather and Hunters teenage kids who spends majority of the time of course educating them and she has at least told us; the conclusion is that they’ve always learned to advise law enforcement and the school administrators. When they desire to talk to them that they will be glad to fully cooperate as soon as mom arrives and I’ll let her introduce our panel. Do we need another chair? Let me get you all.
Female 1: I think we’re good.
Female 2: I think we’re good.
Female 1: Thank you all for being here. I don’t need this microphone for you all to hear me obviously but I’ve been instructed by our videographer that we have to use it so that he can pick it up. Heather Barberry is going to help me do this. Heather is from Plena and Anna Odey and you’re from Fort Worth. And I asked, I met Anna yesterday and I ask her. She was telling me some things that they do in Terrence County that I think are wonderful, and some of them dealing specifically with female clients and interesting thing that I’ve learned when I’ve asked people about representing female clients and I’ve asked men primarily and ask them how they handle their female clients differently and most of them have advised that they really don’t!
And they had never really thought about it being different and then when we start discussing it, we realize that there are in fact different ways that we handle our female clients from how we handle our male clients and some of the things that actually started off, I was talking to Sarah, my friend Sarah Keithley here who is a lawyer and does primarily family law and she and I were discussing, do what, I googled this subject and when they decided this is what I’m going to talk about, there was absolutely nothing out there that I could find on Google that tells us; how do we deal with female clients and obviously as a female, I probably handle female clients differently from how a male attorney handles them and I want to talk with you all about that some when we got more into the discussion part of it.
First of all I think the way that we handle female clients, the way that female clients are handled by the prosecution, the way that female clients are handled by judges, and the way that female clients are handled or treated maybe a better way to describe it by juries and I think If you really start thinking about it, you will realize it that all of those, our female clients are treated differently! Not too long ago, I had a female client who, had a—she forged a prescription. And I got a probation recommendation. Well I asked the DA’s office. Told them I wanted to deferred recommendation and they said no! She couldn’t have a deferred recommendation because she had 2 prior felonies. Well, if I had been a male client, that would have recommended some number of years but because she was a female, I believe, they, offered her a 3rd probation. Well on top of that, on top of the 3rd probation recommendation—you all come on in. We’re doing this very casually guys so, make yourselves comfortable. Ok? And like I said the only reason this microphone is because of our videographer.
Anyway, while she—the charges were pending, she—as the lingo is; she picked up two more cases! And we still got probation. So I think in these cases sometimes we’re going to see that a prosecutor views a female client differently.
Another thing that we were talking about was, I think that the way that we treat them is different and the primary reason is; it seems to me that there are large of mental health issues with female clients. Now I’m not talking about a DWI case and it’s probably not even some much in drug cases but it virtually in every other case. When we’re dealing with female clients, in my opinion there are some kind of mental health issues. Heather, I want you; kind of want you to address that!
Heather: Well! I think that when it comes down to a lot of cases such as theft, we find that they’re acting out and then it goes a little bit deeper and so that where, that’s where all the talks with your clients need to come in to play.
I used to just have clients come in and we’d discuss the facts of their cases and that was pretty much it. And then I got interested in the TLC trial lawyers college stuff where you self-disclose a little bit and get more back from them and eventually, a lot of the clients will share so much information with you. Whether its sexual abuse, physical abuse whatever it is they’ve suffered through the years that lead to them stealing something that they have the money for. And so, what I like to do is to try to figure out a way taking that and selling that to the prosecutor and so—how many of you have had problems with the female clients? Ok! Brian Cahill. What was your main problem with the female client? The last one you can think of.
Brian Cahill: My biggest problem is in just the communicating and talking to them. When we’re talking to a male client from a juvenile to an older man and it’s example for sex offense cases. I’ve got juvenile now and I’ve got 77 year old man now but when you, when you… it’s a communication with the client and its example being; the sex offender cases. I’ve dealt with some female sex offender cases and it’s just, there’s a comfort level when…
Heather: female defendants?
Brian Cahill: female defendants. When you’re talking with them, so it’s a communication issue and it’s like in dope cases too. You just have to ask them well when did you put that in your… and what do you say? And it’s a problem in talking!
Heather: you mean just using the terminology.
Brian Cahill: yeah, it’s the same as when we have a panel and we have to say Mrs. Jones do you have a problem on my clients accuse of taking his penis and placing it in the rectum of 4 year old girl “Billy”
[Everyone laughs] Brian Cahill: we get still that same, it’s that same part you say well; where were you and how did that get in your vagina? You know
Heather: Okay. How many of you guys; male, if you don’t mind me asking have a difficult time talking about sexual body parts with their female clients? Anyone? Ok.
Audience: [Inaudible] Heather: oh, no you like to talk about it right?
[Audience laughs] Heather: I heard him saying, [inaudible]. So you don’t have a problem?
Audience: For some reason when I sat with some of my female clients, they have told me things that, you know I keep, like you’re saying “abuse” or, we were talking about… I had a female client that took a shotgun up to high schools. She’s 17 years old, found it in the—and she didn’t had the shotgun out. It was in the car, she took it up to the high school.
Well when I got to talk and I said, “why did you take the shotgun up there?” because she had made some comments to one of the boy’s friends about that,” there’s a shotgun in the car” and so I tried to explore you know; what were you thinking? You know is this a bipolar? Did he get you’re cheating on somebody you know; he cheated on her? What was the deal? Well, when we finally got down to it she said,
“well, I’ve got a gonorrhea” or “I’ve got you know sexually transmitted disease and I said, “well…” and a couple of weeks had gone by since the arrest I said,” well, have you seen a doctor?” you know and she said,” well now” I said,” young Female” I said, “Its, I’m going to tell you something that an old navy seaman told me about! You know when I was a young officer! He said,” it’s not a sin to get it, it’s a sin to keep it!”
So let’s get you to a doctor and get treated you know” [everyone laughs] and it was bizarre but I can understand you know. I guess I grew up, I’m a feminist too as a man and that sort of I have a partnership and my wife you know; its equal deal, I have never been sort of misogynistic kind of guy I guess but so—the word “vagina” doesn’t scare me you know…
[Everyone laughs] Audience: So, I’ve never for some reason never—there’s been other difficulties with the female clients and that’s one of the reason I’m here to kind of…
Heather: well, so I’m going to [inaudible] that. Are you Kelly?
Audience: yeah, Kelly, yeah! How many in the video have you ever represented these teachers who had sex with students?
Audience: Yes.
Audience: you know that’s, that’s another thing and I’ve got a female attorney and a lot of times. I mean some of these women, they’ll say things to you that, it almost seems like they’re trying to embarrass you and I’m hard to embarrass! But a lot of times I’ll try to get another female attorney in there with me. And it almost really, the client will come straightened out! And I don’t know if you all have noticed that; it’s almost telling to try and act out, the way you get another female in there, they’re really try to tell the line a little bit.
Heather: and it maybe because they’re trying to play the male little bit, where you can’t play another woman. You know, sometimes it’s good to equal that out altogether. I think that, and I’ll spend a little bit on the client’s part. How many of you ever had problems with the clients; wives or mamas?
Audience: oh yeah!
Heather: anyone?
Audience: [inaudible] Heather: the girlfriend and the wife.
[Audience laughs] Heather: And the second girlfriend, you didn’t know about the first girlfriend! Now, in dealing with that what, who has it in a recent case they had to deal with? Ok. I feel like I’m on a talk show in a way
Female 1: [laughs] Heather: [inaudible] Audience: well I, I do appointments. I don’t take private cases anymore. It’s not worth a hassle but, it seems like I get this attitude about, especially from cultures where the families are real close. “That’s my son! I need to know everything about that case!” well we have the attorney client privilege and I don’t, I don’t…
Female 1: I’m the one who paid you. Did you get something like that?
Audience: don’t forget for me, they don’t pay me!
Female 1: oh got you! Oh!
Audience: let’s get through that problem!
Female 1: I got you!
Audience: but still, I don’t even talk to these folks. I have a buffer. I have a legal assistant who screens all the calls and she knows that we do not give out advice, to family members. Just like if they call the DA’s office, they get the same thing. We cannot talk to families! However, if there’s something I need to know about my client that you could tell me. Like any kind of medical history or psychological problems. Please tell us! We you know and we can give you stuff that’s public information. Like next court dates, where’s the court located that kind of thing but we cannot discuss offers. We can’t tell you about offense reports. You could become a witness. So they’re informed about all of that. So we usually don’t end up having a permanent problem. But, it gets tensed at times. Sometimes I’ll even hang up on my assistant who is very polite. Unlike me, I’m not!
Heather: Well going back to what Kerry was saying also and thank you for that, about when they’re paying you. How many of you’ve had a client, that basically their parents believes that they should be able to have details about every aspect of the case based on the fact they paid for. You said that!
Audience: In the old days
Female 2: you stop that! [Laughs] Audience: oh! I was just agreeing but I would say that; that’s just sort of handling your clients. Right? I mean, particularly if you know, as a prosecutor you learn how to you got to handle your victims and I think if you at the initial meeting or very upfront about who you’re actually representing specially like in juvenile cases. I’ll make it real clear. You know at 95% of time we’re on the same side, we’re all working out to help the kid. But at the end of the day you’re representing interest of the kid, or the son, or whoever the defendant is and I pretty much make it clear that, that’s the way it is.
I think as long as you manage those expectations upfront then it’s not as difficult.
Heather: you know, and I agree with that, one other things that I didn’t do for the first ten years of practice but started to do is; have the expectations talk and that’s not all the way across but, it’s much more in depth and I find it a lot more from my female clients when we have that expectations talk.
Just the same what you would, in any relationship partnership that you’re starting on; what do you expect from us as your attorney? I keep writing the notes down and that you could always go back to those, if there’s a conflict later. Showing where we talked about this. Remember I can’t share this information with you. I appreciate you being here and being a supportive role model to your kid but, you can’t be a part of this and so, expectations talk if there’s anything you take away from this, at all from me, have the expectations talk. Take some extra five minutes but you know exactly where you stand!
Female 1: and I think something that this gentleman said is important too is, you know that I didn’t even really think of is that these people can become witnesses and you know then if, even though your client often times, you know we’re clear this individual for you to talk to, we still have to be very careful with that because, of the problem of them becoming witnesses, I mean having attorney client privileged information you know and often I explain it to them when they want to come in with Suzy and help me understand what happened with Suzy. I explain to them that the attorney client privileged is waived when we bring in other people. And I think that’s a critical thing to remember is; we can’t let them come in there without potentially waiving the attorney client privilege and so that’s a…
Audience: [inaudible] Female 1: David, would you talk into this for me? Just so that they can get it on the video! Thank you!
Audience: anybody that comes in and talks to my client, the DA’s going to find out exactly what was said. They record these things, sometimes with a video. And, so I, my staff says you know; don’t even discuss the case with your son. If you do, the DA’s going to know exactly what we’re thinking, and where we’re going and that’s not going to help. Could even be a, in form of a confession might come in.
So, you know you just going to have to have that “wall”. It is unpleasant; you just have to be polite and try to get them to explain about secrets, or kind of like the mafia! America! Silence! That’s really the best way to handle it I think.
Female 1: and that kind of Segway’s into I’ve attached to the papers, some things that I use. And some of you probably have even better ones but what I use; information sheets that I use for the clients and I’m not sure if they put them in a book or if you’re going to have to look on the jump drive to see them. You know as you know everyone attached to motion to every single paper at least one motion and I attached a motion and then I also attached what I used to send to my clients in the jail.
And also use it for informational purposes when they come in and I also attach the letter that I send with it immediately! So that the client get—and in the letter what made me think about that is; in the letter I advised the client in my initial contact with them that; every conversation in the jail is recorded so that they immediately know that if they’re talking to somebody, you know their witnesses, their cousins, their brother or whatever that they know that that conversation is being recorded and in a lot of cases the DA or someone on their behalf is listening to those conversations.
So I think it’s critical that we get that information out there to let them know, for the client that’s sitting in jail that those conversations are being recorded. Yeah?
Audience: and they may even listen to the attorney client conversation. They can’t use it. Suppose then how are you going to use it?
Female 1: right. I agree!
Audience: Segregate them. Somebody [inaudible] could say that. Is the habit to turn over the attorney’s client conversations to a prosecution?
Female 1: I wanted to [inaudible] when I met her and she and I started talking about the subject matter of this and I want her to tell you a couple of things that they’re doing in Tarrant County which I think are fabulous and I want to get copies of the things that they’re using to, that I think are instrumental in helping and there are things like Heather said that we can use as in talk to prosecutors about. But I think these are some programs that I am interested in talking to our judges about establishing. So Anna tell them little bit about some of the things you’re doing in Tarrant County please!
Anna: we have a wonderful judge in Tarrant County judge Brent Carr I don’t know if he’s here for this session I think he’s not because his father passed away a couple of weeks ago and he’s been out, I think for 2 weeks.
We do have some Tarrant County attorneys here and I hope that they will jump in and offer whatever insight or experiences they have had with these programs. One of the programs that we were talking about yesterday was deferred prosecution program but that’s actually for offenders that are 21 and younger at the time of the offense. It has expanded recently to include possession of marijuana.
There’s been, for me there’s been a wonderful synergy between that program and being able to help young girls and boys too. But generally it is girls that shoplift. Now, one of the things that I have admitted to when one of my colleagues in Tarrant County, he came up to me one day and he said,” do you specialize in representing the mentally ill?” and I said no. the first to when I went to college I had majored in psychology; I know crazy when I see it!
So, I do watch for physical excuse for my female clients in particular and it starts the first time I pick up the phone and I talk to them and I will say; do not be offended, I’m going to ask you a number of questions that you may find personal. I don’t mean to offend you, I don’t mean to embarrass you in anyway.” But we have a number of diversion programs in Tarrant County. We have the family violence intervention program. It is actually what I have found in researching for this paper for Carrie since she asked me yesterday, is it there two kinds of programs that are called rehabilitative programs. They are pre plea and post plea.
The family violence intervention program is actually post plea. They enter in plea of guilt. If they complete the program, the case is dismissed 3 years after their completion date; they’re eligible for an expunction.
The other thing that we have going in Tarrant County that would apply specifically to woman and some of the difficult woman that you’re dealing with is the “rise program”! And it is an intervention program for high risk female offenders. It is geared specifically for prostitutes and sometimes your prostitutes aren’t there on prostitutes, they’re there on drug cases
Now, I want to go back to the shoplifting here for a second. There is research out there but you are not going to find it in the legal research, you’re going to find it in psychological generals. People, who suffer from bipolar disorder, anxiety or depression, shoplift. Somehow it releases their anxiety and their depression. And my husband who was an officer in the navy has a just this wide range of knowledge, said,” well, that makes sense because it gives them a hope!” Well! I’m thinking jail [speaker laughs] And they’re thinking a cute outfit from colds or dog food for their dogs because they’re unemployed and cannot get the things that they need and I have some clients, the girls are going to go down to, the SA girls the ones under 21. They are going to go down to Massey’s or somewhere and get some cute little shorts and underwear’s, and you know some cologne and earrings. The women are going to be taking necessities usually and sometimes they do steal clothes and I call back to school shoplifting season because so many woman talk to their friends who’ve gone to Colds, or gone to Walmart and shoplifted $200 worth of school clothes and gone away with it. That has never occurred to me! But there are people out there obviously doing it and getting away with it because they are encouraging first time offenders.
So, we have the mental health pretrial diversion program. And that’s where I channel a lot of women into and I’ve had a variety of clients go in there. My very first client into that program was arrested for driving while intoxicated. She had a fender bender. She was not at fault that could figure out what was wrong with her. Because she staring at there, just looking around and they tried to give her field sobriety test and she said,” well if I do this, can I go home?” and the officer said,” well you just need to do these test because we need to make sure that you’re alright to drive” and then she just kind of wanders off and she goes into a store then she comes back. They know there’s something wrong they don’t know what. So they arrest her for driving while intoxicated! Ok. Well make a case later. Right?
We’ll prove our facts. We’ll get her in the custody and then we’ll figure out what’s wrong with her. She actually suffered from dissociative disorder. If you have seen three faces of Eve, that’s what Eve had. And she had d dissociative disorder where she had several different ego states.
My client had five identifiable ego states and the ego state that she went to in that stressful situation was that of 12 years old, which is why she was looking around and asking about bubble gum and going home because she wanted to go home.
I’ll never forget, we have another great judge in Tarrant County judge Mills, Billy Mills. He’s 82 still on the bench. Hope he never goes because he is just an encyclopedia of law. If you’re in trouble and you don’t know what to do, go see Judge Mill because he’ll tell you what the law is. But I was in his court one day and I had just gotten through with my dissociative disorder client and his coordinator—that was back when they can do just Adhoc appointments we didn’t have a wheel and a senate bill 7. She said I’ve got a guy who needs a lawyer. Can you take care of him for me? And I said,” Is he crazy?” and she said, “No it’s just a dumb or weak case.” And I said,” Ok” and I go out there and I said,” Hi! I am your court appointed attorney. My name’s Anna Oddey. He’s sitting there and he goes, I’ve started counting one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three and he goes, Oh my God! He’s crazy I know he is! [Speaker laughs] And his mother was with him and he was having difficulty answering questions and I said.
Finally I looked at the mom and I said,” Does he hear voices?” and she said,” well yes!” and I said,” Does he sometimes see things that you don’t see?” “Well yes!” [Speaker laughs] Oh my God! I went back there and I said,” look I’ve got to screen this guy!” he went in there a year later, he was a graduate. When I met him, he was skinny, he was dirty, he was just nobody you would even want to cross paths with on the sidewalk. And the day that he graduated, he was well groomed, he gained about 40 pounds, he’d stayed medicated because that’s the condition of the diversion program and his mother throw her arms around my neck and started sobbing because I had given her, her son back.
We also have the veteran’s court. The veteran’s court is a program for people who have served male or female, who have served in certified area combat. Who have a disease, disorder or illness that is directly attributable to services in an area of combat! I think one of the greatest things about that program is that they have on, in liaison I suppose, because she’s not actually on sight. A person with veteran’s administration! So, to get into this program we have to have DD214, and we have to have a diagnosis.
The veteran’s administration has that information on the file. If you go the regular route like we did with my dad when he was dying from cancer, incurred because of his service in the navy, it takes you about three years to get that information at least. They just tried out like out way you, out way you, out way you. The veteran’s administration court liaison with this program, I can get that information for you with in thirty days and then you can it, because the VA has the ability to treat them you can get the set up on a regular treatment protocol and solve some of these problems and then help them re-enter into the society.
Now there is a research on the department of justice website as it relates to these programs I will tell you later that I have a veteran who cannot pay my fees I will do it for whatever. Because they have given me so much more than I can ever give them!
Audience: [inaudible] is currently with the program?
Anna: I haven’t tried that, since you have to have served in an area of combat but I think that might be in argument that you could make. You know he has PTSD; he’s giving it to her because if you live with somebody who is violent, you could look back around into the mental health program.
Audience: do for support groups now, spouses of PTSD soldiers. They’re not, the VI doesn’t provide services for a spouse of the veteran
Anna: but there are programs!
Audience: but there are programs, I don’t for lack of a better term…
Anna: Inaudible [38.27] Audience: … like nonprofit and I can’t think of their names because we did the Veteran’s court deal recently but there are some spouses that get incredibly depressed and, from that whole experience. And there are groups out there for spouses that can also help.
Anna: the whole family suffers when they’re deployed.
Audience: absolutely!
Anna: Ok! We have the felony alcohol intervention program pushes for felony DWI offenders. I do not have any experience with that but I believe Samantha do you? It’s a post plea program right? Do they enter a plea or is it a pre plea?
Female 1: Sharon Wilson heads it up! [Inaudible 38.59] security’s right there!
[Everyone laughs] Samantha: In Tarrant County, typical felony DWI probation has 10 over 10 with, it’ll be about 4 months in county jail and I believe, this felony alcohol invention program is just a 4 year probation and that’s the selling point because; obviously it’s a lot shorter time on probation.
It’s very intensive and in the Tarrant County, I mean, it can work for some people but I’ve had hard time finding clients who can qualify because one of the things they need is like a sober companion basically. A partner who will be basically court ordered to take them to every meeting, every program, everywhere. It’s very intensive but they’re pretty proud of it because they think they’ve some good successes.
Anna: This is a good point to enter and check it. Some of these programs are similar to evidence driven probation. Are any of you all familiar with evidence driven probation? I wasn’t! [Speaker laughs]But it’s progressive sanctions. You get a client that screws up, they get punished and they do this and then they scrip again and they do something else so get a more severe punishment and it does become more progressive and at point, at some point if they persist then they will get kicked out of the programs and that’s why pre and post play distinction is important.
We also have tee cap which I had not much success in using it for people that–and in the lot of these programs, they do not any one with history and obviously history is part of it.
It’s people who have the history that can even have done time that we consider as long as they can have some mental illness and it is similar to but different from our mental health diversion program. Most importantly, in this program is in this context is what we call is rise program, R I S E! and it is for high risk female sex offenders that they prefers offenders over the felonies level. What can get your client would be, a drug, a prostitution case because it is actually after the prostitutes trying to get them off the streets, trying to get them rehabilitated. If you the client that can get into this program, that have a safe house so that they can go to immediately, they get job training, they get a car, they have a house to live and eventually permanent housing, they will help place them. So, that actually, in the federal male of diversion programs that have been recognized recently.
Most importantly we have the direct program and I think that direct program is one of the oldest programs in US, actually, it is a drug invention court specifically for drug offenses but this one actually charges an entrance fee and they said I don’t want money to be a problem but I last time I look at the cost of $1000 to get it in. The first drug invention program was in Florida, 1989. The next one was that I was able to find any information.
That was actually in Travis County in Austin and that was in 1993 and they have had 3% recidivism out of that 3000 people. The Obama administration released a report in 2011 that on every dollar spent in a drug intervention court, $2 in tax dollars were saved so they have found that is very effective in rehabilitating and in reducing recidivism.
Interestingly, the challenge is through these diversions problems, Diversion programs are not in Tarrant County but nation-wide have confirmed the spans bar and the probation departments. The probation organizations, the defense bars feels that defense by disposing their client to pre post programs we are giving us some constitutional rights and gauging miss conduct of the contracts are may be pushing out our clients in wrong directions and we giving a sellers addict and addict representation. My opinion is that if your client is guilty and you can get them into a program that can get out them out without a record that’s going to get them the help that they need and that there need to be and what we call attorneys and councils of law. When I was reading last night, one of the things that I’ve read was this that rehabilitations specially courts marry their principles of the problems solving their jurisprudence and their restore of justice to the judicial administration of criminal courts and I agree with that- and I think- I have had one person that didn’t complete their family violence diversion program, I have been over representing mineral health program because I go crazy when I see it. I think we had 35 seats, 35 slots in that program and at one time my clients have 20 but it starts at the beginning when you had one call and you start asking the questions. Especially in shop lifting cases, do you suffer from depression, do you suffer from a panic disorder. Have you been diagnosed with being bi- polar and you have to just go in a way that is objective almost clinical, this is in personal, this is in a bad use. I am trying to see if I can you out of this without a record. So! I don’t know if anybody has any questions. There is not a lot of. Questions are here to be asked.
Audience: Have you seen psychological data on stuff related because I’ve got sort of ray these shop lifting deals. Some of them involves teen age girls 17, there are charged, that I do not know and most often that type of those shop lift is kind of like friend’s challenge them like a prank to go and see if they can get something of the store and when I see middle age women where they have been kind of isolated and ignored and really not valid, they did is home maker and the children if moved out of the house then he just turned to a husband, there is like deep kind of depression and in those kind of cases I look at is a cry for help type of deal. But for kids its almost, I don’t know why, they always steal sexy type of laundry like a thong and its weird like it’s not like something what you can use, you know but with other situations it’s like for me like you said medication or baby formula are something sort of a different type of deal all together.
Anna: yes! There is a data what support what you are talking about and don’t forget that teenage girls are going through the hormones swing just like a middle aged women you are talking about and sometimes they will tell you that it was a prank that it was someone else’s idea, that they did it for fun. But when you start talking to them, they start crying, well my parents are going for the divorce, well my boyfriend just broke up with me and what you find –what I’ve found is that at the bottom of the shop lifting is a deep depression, that has any be gone on diagnose and because we have the other program, the different prosecution program, I am able to put them now when that they were having to them to the mental health thing but I always suggest to her or to her parents, if her parents who are there that they get her evaluated and treated because if not s, she’s going to be back on something else because the progression on the depression is to progressive them to self-medicating which is the street drugs and we really don’t want them to go there. Hang on just a second.
Audience: Yeah! I was going to say, I had some similar experiences with clients is that the shop lifting is the tip of the ice burg. A lot of times, what I would find would be rapes often by family members. Some very dramatic events in the person’s life and it’s not about what they stole. It can also be peer pressure. You can’t forget that. The peer pressure for someone who is particularly vulnerable who has just been some dramatic instances may be they have been singled in school or something and this is the one kid that will go with them. They going to shop lift, they going to do drugs, whatever to keep that friendship because they are so desperately lonely and so it goes back again to you know, something, something deeper, you know I’ve gone to store whatever with a client before and said, hey! We want to talk to you and sometimes they will be willing to drop it. If they going to see that their kid will going to get some help and have an understanding of what is all and also please to drop charges.
So, I – I mean it depends on your circumstances. I don’t just say flat out do that, or anything like that but it something to think about but what you should never do is to trivialize it. That is the one thing, never ever trivialize when some says I shop lifted, say okay, then started going into kind of why and don’t put- because second you do judgmental, it’s over. The client has claimed up, you will never know the truth, you will never know the why.
Audience: I’ve a question about judgment and that’s what I think. I’ve found that I have had trouble having my female clients open up to me or be as forth coming as male clients will and I feel like it’s coming from the place where they think that I am going to judge them. I get a lot of prostitutes those who the majority of my female client and I find that is more difficulty for me to get out of them both the actual details of the offense and also to get them to be willing to fight the case then I think a male attorney would – would be able to get from them and I wonder from the Female attorney’s what you found works to help them understand that you don’t need to a church Female , I am not going to judge you, I am here , I am on your side, just tell me what happened and then will make them prove that it’s not- we will find it.
Anna: I am sure you have runs practices differently but what I use to do at the beginning whether it’s male or female, when they came in, I give you the blank sheet of paper with lines on it. It’s label statement as fax and I would say okay! I am going to get state’s version when I get offense report but I want to get your version because my job is to defend you or to protect you and so I’ve it, write it down. No wonder. Mine or neither sometimes its real effort to- what she just said to was that my people are generally not literate, well most of us probably don’t have any the- are really well educated. If I get a statement that I can read, I just get really excited but what it does, it provides me a frame work and if they don’t want to talk, I’ve got to enough there even if they say I went to lot more got caught shop lifting. I said okay. Well! Who was with you? Where were you when this happen? Did you it have it on you? Did you- because, right now I am flying blind. I don’t know what happened. You know, how did you come to this? Have you done it before. Especially when I know that they are eligible for deferred prosecution programs. (Audience speaks)
Female 6: Do you not find that they lie to you on this because what I am saying is, I get the white wash, what am I going to tell my preacher version and I am trying to get—the on your lawyer version and I get that from men, I don’t get it from the women.
Female 1: Don’t you think that goes back—I mean I think some of that goes back to—let’s talk about when we dress, women—they always say that women only dress for women.
[Audio Ends]

Francisco Hernandez

Author Francisco Hernandez

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