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Old 01-08-2018, 01:06 PM
Sirena_90 Sirena_90 is offline

Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: CA, United States
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Default Sirena - need attorney and other help

Hello yourself. I was wondering if we could talk. I'm sure you have a lot of people asking but I've seen some of your threads and posts and....well let's just say Idk where else to go right now =( please pm me. I would appreciate it so so much. Thanks

Originally Posted by yourself View Post
In the US, all states have some form of Legal Aid. Legal Aid is the civil side of the public defender's office. Unlike the PD, the funding for Legal Aid doesn't come from taxes, but from the state bar and other groups dedicated to providing services for indigents.

Just because a LO is in prison doesn't mean he doesn't qualify for Legal Aid. Anybody who has a civil case, who meets the income requirements qualifies. Examples of civil cases routinely taken by Legal Aid include:
* divorce/custody/support agreements
* landlord/tenant disputes (yes, an inmate can still have a dispute with a landlord, especially about security deposits and the like)
* credit matters
* bankruptcy
* wills/POAs/advanced directives
* psychiatric advanced directives (in states where they're relevant)

Civil cases that allow attorneys to recover upon the recovery of the Defendant generally are not Legal Aid cases. These include
* medical malpractice
* Social Security denials
* product liability
* 1983 actions

It should be noted that Legal Aid has taken some major financial hits over the last decade, reducing staff, hours, and locations of operations. As law firms and lawyers are hit by the economy, Legal Aid is hit, and attorneys are not able to cover as many clients as we'd like.

Generally, the PD is the indigent defense for all criminal cases and cases where your liberty is at risk. So, felonies, misdemeanors, civil commitments, direct appeals will usually get you the PD if you qualify financially. Ordinance violations do not entitle you to a PD because your liberty is not at stake.

When it comes to criminal post conviction relief beyond the direct appeal, you are extremely limited if you are indigent. If you're not facing a ton of time, you can pretty much forget about finding anybody who'll handle your matter for free. (Look at it this way - it's usually 2 years to get your direct appeal denied, then any subsequent appeal started immediately after the direct appeal will take an additional 2 years minimum. When time and resources are limited, an attorney taking a pro bono case would much rather offer relief to the person facing decades or more in prison than somebody who's getting out next week. Sorry, fact of life. Pro bono appeals are arduous affairs and produce no income. My mechanic could care less how many pro bono clients I have - he wants to be paid. So does the plumber, the doctor, the electrician, my paralegal, etc).

Innocence projects are a good source for indigent post conviction defenses based on claims of innocence. Some handle over-charging as well. You need to recognize that the volume of requests each Innocence Project gets is HUGE. You can't just write a letter saying, "I'm innocent! Defend me," and expect representation. You need to distinguish your case from all the other cases and make them want to defend you. Think of it as an advertisement or a presentation and support your claim of innocence. Oh, and don't say, "there was no evidence except a lying witness" because that's just an advertisement that you don't understand what actually led to the conviction. You need more than just somebody's word that a crime was committed to get a conviction (with the possible exception of some sex crimes).

Beyond Innocence claims and Innocence Projects, you're really stuck playing the lottery to get a pro bono post direct appeal attorney. Some large firms have pro bono offices (large, as in hundreds of attorneys in several states, not as in an association of 5-20 attorneys in one location). It is worth checking them out - searching for the firm name and "pro bono" to see if they have a pro bono office with a specific target clientele. Note, that specific target clientele can change year to year. I know of one Madison, WI/Milwaukee, WI/Chicago, IL firm that changed everything over to juvenile defense for a few years, then changed again to the cause du jure, and will change again to the next cause celebre when they get motivated. They did great work on the juvenile appeals they took, but once they changed over....).

This brings up another area - to get attorneys not associated with large firms interested, you need to have a hook. Sometimes, that hook is publicity. If you have a highly publicized case, it'll be easy to get an attorney. Might even get a pro bono attorney at the trial level, with donations of time from experts and the like as CourtTV is great advertisement of one's skills.

If you don't have a well publicized case, you need something else. Look for attorneys with specific causes. The best way to find these attorneys is through outreach groups that are general. Your local chapter of NAMI knows who'll pro bono/low bono cases where there's a significant mental health issue. Your tribe will know the attorneys who will pro/low bono members of your tribe. AARP, ARC, NAACP, your local domestic violence center - all will have affiliated pro/low bono attorneys interested in handling qualified cases where their issues are integral to the case. Immigration Outreach for Catholic Charities in some states (Iowa among them) will have associated attorneys, and you don't need to be Catholic, just an immigrant. These associations are also great for employment discrimination and have civil attorneys who may be able to help.

Low bono is also an option, as is doing a payment plan with an attorney. Low bono means that you are paying something, just not the normal hourly charges. Somebody who can't afford to take on a pro bono case may be able to take on a low bono case, so ask. Ask about payment options other than a huge retainer up front.

Anyway, remember, Legal Aid is the Civil side of indigent representation. Don't dis the PDs - most are very hard working, dedicated professionals who have more cases and less resources than their state prosecutor counterparts. Yes, there are assholes and incompetents in every profession, including yours. But this post is about finding pro bono representation.

Do not expect anybody to be willing to work pro bono at the trial level unless you have a massively popular case. The PD is there to work indigent defense at the trial and direct appeal level. The PD is your attorney at this level if you're indigent.
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