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Old 02-23-2019, 12:10 PM
PamM PamM is offline
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Default How long does a PD have to respond to a letter from her client?

Communication from my son's PD has been non existent. He sent her a letter Feb. 1 and has not gotten a response. There has been no attempt by the PD's office to contact him in the almost 2 months he's been in Elmira CF reception. This is SOP for her office since the beginning. She never responds to our phone calls, so we don't even try anymore. She responds to emails selectively. We really haven't inundated her with questions, but the complete lack of contact is outside of the stands of professional conduct IMHO. We have our son's POA, but that doesn't seem to make any difference.

Does anyone have a link to anything that states the time frame for response to my son's letters to counsel or ideas on how to get counsel to let him know what's going on? The office is supposed to be assigning his appeal to pro bono counsel, but so far none has been assigned. I understand these things take time, but to leave him hanging with no contact is just wrong.
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Old 02-23-2019, 01:18 PM
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POA only gives you a voice for medical and financial issues, not legal criminal ones. Additionally, she is his attorney and does not have to speak to you at all. Even so, she needs his permission to talk with you but she cannot share anything in the line of attorney/client privilege.

If he's been final sentenced, his case is over at that point and the attorney of record is technically off the case as it is closed at the trials level. If he did have a trial or conditional plea, the time to file a Notice of Appeal is 30 days after sentencing. That attorney will file it but then the case goes on to another attorney, usually in a different office altogether. That said, it often takes the court several months to certified the record and send it to the appellate court. From start to finish, appeals often take several years from beginning to end.

Good luck. Hang in there.
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Old 02-23-2019, 01:31 PM
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Thanks Sass,

So I guess it's waiting game from here. Just wish he had some reassurance that things are moving forward. He's in a very bad place mentally a physically right now. Appreciate the info.
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Old 02-23-2019, 05:28 PM
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If your Son contacts the PD's appeals office, and asks why he hasn't been notified of the appointment of counsel, that might work. The court system sets time limits on how long he has to file a timely appeal, and if the PD misses the deadline, he is probably out of luck.

Your Son is the client, not you, so requests from him have a better chance of receiving a reply. Make sure he retains copies of every request, and "in writing" is preferable to phone discussions. If he has an appeal rejected because it was filed late, he will need to prove his attempts to have his lawyer do their job.
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Old 02-23-2019, 07:05 PM
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POA gives you the right to act for your son when he cannot act himself. Being in prison is not a sufficient enough disability for a POA to kick in, allowing you to make legal decisions or have legal communications in his stead. Basically, you really never want to be in the position where he is not competent to make legal decisions as then you would be filing for a guardianship because his mental acuity would be that of a small child.

A Notice of Appeal, if there was a trial, was probably filed fairly quickly. You can check his court case online to find out when it was filed. Assuming another finding of indigence was made about the time that the Notice appeared before the court, the State Appellate Defender (or whatever it is called in your state) gets appointed. The appointment goes to that office and a Notice of Appearance is entered once a conflicts check shows that they can take the case. If there was a co-defendant, then there is a chance that they will be conflicted out and private counsel will have to be found on the state dime to take the case. Assuming he gets the APD, the APD office will assign it to an attorney in that office. This can take more than a month.

At the same time, an official record of the trial is prepared. This takes forever. Absolutely nothing can be done until there is an official record. What is an official record? It is everything in the court file, every motion, every response, every ruling. It is the entire transcript of the entire trial, including sidebars and everything else. It is every exhibit presented to the jury, it is the jury instructions - every damned thing you can think of goes into the Official Record. A 1 day trial can have an official record that takes up the better part of 2 banker's boxes.

Lowly APD can do nothing until that official record lands on her desk. At that point, she starts shifting through it. She will call the trial attorney and ask what the trial attorney thinks are the legal issues that may have some bite. She will read every last page of everything and come up with her own list of issues based on her knowledge of what are hot button issues and settled misapplications of law that, had the ruling been different, would have affected the outcome of the trial.

Then, he begins researching those legal issues, and writing an appeal that is around 75 pages long, table of cases, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, and all very highly technical.

Usually, there is a 6 month deadline for the appellate brief. Usually, that is extended at least once because the recor takes so damned long to prepare. Usually there is another grant of extension because that appeal is just one of dozens of appeals that the attorney is working on. The more complicated, the more investigation that has to be done, the more 6 month extensions are granted.

Once filed, the State gets its bite at the apple. Expect another 6 month deadline to turn into a year or more. They then file.

Once that happens, the ball goes back to the APD who writes a rebuttal that is about half the size of the original brief (the limits are set in statute). Expect at least one 6 month extension there, too.

Then, the whole thing goes to the appellate court where it takes its place in the order of things.

In IL and other states, cases involving the custody of children/termination of parental rights are at the top of the list.

Emergency issues are right up there as well - family squabbling about pulling the plug on grams? That comes even before children.

States with the death penalty put their death penalty cases next.

After that are felonies where the person is incarcerated and like to be incarcerated throughout the appellate process

Then come felonies where the person is not incarcerated (out on bond awaiting appeal, or given a sentence that didn't involve incarceration of any substance)

Then come misdemeanors

Then come civil cases.
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Old 02-24-2019, 04:24 PM
PamM PamM is offline
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Thanks to all, this is really helpful information and will give us something to relay to our son so he knows that this will take time...lots of it. Your input is immensely appreciated!
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