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Federal General Prison Talk, Introductions & Chit Chat Topics & Discussions relating to the Federal Prison & the Criminal Justice System that do not fit into any other Federal sub-forum category. Please feel free to also introduce yourself to other members in the state and talk about whatever topics come to mind that may not have anything to do with prison.

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  #1  
Old 11-28-2005, 07:54 PM
wench wench is offline
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Default Ranking Criminal Defense Attorneys in MN?

Does anybody know a site that ranks the success rates of criminal defense attorneys (in this case, practicing in Minnesota)?

Thanks folks,

Donna
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Old 11-28-2005, 08:23 PM
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John B. Webster John B. Webster is offline
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No, and it is very hard to tell who is really good and who is living on an old reputation or who is winnign a popularity contest. Some city's magaizines often publish "Best XXXXX " in MN, etc. Not very scientifically done but these may help. Martindale-Hubbell (on-line) rates lawyers on 3 levels: AV, A or NOT RATED Again useful but not a complete picture. Good luck.
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Old 11-28-2005, 08:29 PM
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Thank you VERY much. ANY information is better than NO information. My old boss used to call me a FERRET (lol). I took offense until she told me it was because I could "ferret out information." I need a jumping off point sometimes and then I do my ferret thing. lol

Thanks again friend!!

Doni
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Old 11-29-2005, 10:50 AM
Zelda50 Zelda50 is offline
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The difficulty is in the varying definitions of "success." Is it winning at trial? But perhaps the attorney goes to trial a lot and loses some cases that could have been settled with a much better outcome. Is it client satisfaction? The attorney may return all phone calls and schmooze clients well but is lousy at legal research. Is it in the amount of income the attorney generates and whether they wear expensive suits? There are some public defenders who are awesome and dedicated attorneys. I would suggest that, if you want information about an attorney, then ask around. I've found that consulting with a law librarian sometimes brings some names to the forefront. If you locate a specific attorney, you might be able to contact the State Bar and see if there have been a lot of complaints filed. And then there's the old fashioned interview - talk to them and ask a lot of questions before retaining one. Zelda
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Old 11-29-2005, 11:54 AM
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Just a thought for PTO....... maybe there can be a section on where individuals and/or families put their experiences with particular attornys? Maybe by state, then name. It's simply a way to submit opinion and I think it would help.

As far as Jim...... as somebody (more than one) said already... he has a "sentencing hearing" so it's pretty much a sealed deal. I should have asked earlier on. His p.d. seemed overwhelmed. I bet he is burdened with a LOT of cases. He was short, but not overly abrupt. Factual...but I didn't care for the statement about the dealers all getting caught (or however he phrased it) one way or another.....and although Jim was VERY helpful...it really was no impact. This is losly paraphrased.

Thanks a lot!! :-)

Doni
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Old 11-29-2005, 12:31 PM
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If it's federal, it doesn't matter what state your attorney is in. They can get the form filed to participate as an attorney in any federal court. A lot of attorneys do that as the cases require them to in the different districts. We found that getting an attorney specialized in federal cases and NOT FROM the particular District we were in was very beneficial. Cut out the good ole boy networking between attorneys and prosecutors and let them know we were serious about our legal defense.
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Old 11-29-2005, 01:05 PM
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If you are in Minnesota, I suggest you contact Dan Scott, at Kelley and
Wolter Law Firm (Minneapolis) 612-371-9090. Dan is an ex-public defender who is a fantastic guy now in private practice. He was really helpful to me when I had questions and I bet could give you great referrals. He's respectful and really well-regarded. Good luck.
P.S.- This is real advice. I'm not trolling for a kickback by recommending him.
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Old 11-30-2005, 08:43 AM
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Saddlegait (love the name, I'd be wobblegait w/ my M.S., hehe)... what I meant is to set up a database by state. Folks could enter their info on the attorney used. A personal opinion. It doesn't matter if it's a PD or a for hire attoreny. For example Marlowe below has entered good info and says (she?) believes this man is a good attorney and why. She gave some background info. Sure it's subjective...but it is better than nothing. ~~~ Well it's just a thought. Thanks for your reply.

Marlowe...... thank you for your reply...... as I was told in a PM it's not gonna make a difference now that it's at the Sentencing Hearing. That's too bad. I should have asked this back in January when he was arrested. That's MY fault........but Jim doesn't think so. He says it's his responsibility, he did the crime. In case I have not said it a million times... I HATE DRUGS and what they can do to people (and 'make' them do).

Blessings Everybody,

Doni
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Old 11-30-2005, 08:51 AM
Saddlegait Saddlegait is offline
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I don't like advertising for anyone and didn't know how it would be accepted. We used Douglas C. McNabb out of Houston for our case or my husband's case. He is amazingly experienced and actually was more affordable than one would expect. His staff is respectful and professional and he never gives a blind answer to any question. He handled an out of control investigator and "buddy" prosecutor better than anyone would have or could have expected. He also walked us personally through each step of the process including gathering the letters for the judge, talking to the probation officer and meeting us one on one on more than one occasion. His knowledge and ability to apply that knowledge proved to be life-saving to us. That doesn't even account for the fact that he is intimidating and fearless when dealing with judges, prosecutors and investigators. I would recommend him to anyone who finds themself in a situation. His first consultation is free and the sooner you can get to him the better he can function as your attorney. His advice is never cushioned to soften the blow but forthright and direct which we greatly appreciated.

He ONLY handles federal cases and he handles them with an expertise that other defendants attorney's in our case could not even remotely match.
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Old 11-30-2005, 09:59 AM
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How much does Douglas Mcnabb cost i have heard good things about him too
How much did it cost you from start to finish?
I agree with creating a forum for people to enter info about their lawyer and their experience with them
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Old 11-30-2005, 02:26 PM
Saddlegait Saddlegait is offline
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He will want to talk to you first. He will quote you a fee at that time and he likes to be paid up front - DUH. But... this fee represents his ENTIRE fee so if you go to court and have a jury trial - no more charges. If you plea out and he has to attend a gazillion hearings and interviews - no more charges. You do have to pay his travel expense, but his fee is set and WILL NOT CHANGE. So, at first a lot of people think it sounds high, but I have to say, we got a great deal by comparison to a lot of other attorneys. We were somewhat shocked by how he made it affordable considering that he handles and is capable of handling really big things. His initial visit is free and he won't make you feel overwhelmed. He's a great listener and his advice is spot on. Tell him Robbi sent you.
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Old 12-28-2005, 07:20 PM
a_real_renegade a_real_renegade is offline
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Default Ranking Criminal Defense Attorneys

Because of the myriad variables inherent to our criminal justice system here in the United States, creating a data base to effectively rate an attorney's competence or lack thereof would be an exercise in futility.

To begin with, I note, the statutes applicable to criminal prosecutions, from the accusatory stage through sentencing, are very much different from state to state. For example, here in New York one is vested with the right to testify on his own behalf before the grand jury empowered to determine whether or not an indictment will be voted against him, whereas in Tennessee the accused does not enjoy that right. Similarly, under New York law, one who stands convicted of a felony offense who has been convicted of another felony offense within the preceding 10 years is mandatory subject to enhanced penalty as a predicate felony offender. In the State of Tennessee, however, courts retain the discretion to disregard prior felony convictions when determining the appropriate sentence to be levied against a defendant. And similarly, local policy too varies greatly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Indeed, here in New York, for example, prosecutors in heavily populated counties are quick to offer a defendant the opportunity to plead a felony down to a misdemeanor in effort to relieve congested court calendars, while in rural counties they insist on felony convictions in every instance where a felony crime has been charged. These things being then, a criminal defense attorney's ability to bring about a favorable disposition for a guilty client is necessarily dependent upon the jurisdiction in which the prosecution takes place.

Beyond statutorily created guideposts and arbitrary policy promulgation variables, also standing in the way of establishing reasonably objective criterion for the evaluation of a criminal attorney's win/loss record are the attitudes of the judges before whom they practice. Indeed, some judges of a liberal bent are cognizant of the societal ills that serve as catalysts for criminal behavior, and they are thus far more sympathetic toward the accused who appear before them than are those conservative judges who were themselves once district attorneys and who are therefore predisposed to rendering discretionary decisions favorable to the prosecution. Accordingly, a criminal defense attorney's effectiveness is also largely amplified or retarded by the judges assigned to his cases. Indeed this fact is borne out by researching the histories of the renown dispositionally-opposite Judges nicknamed "Cut-em-loose Bruce" and "Hang-em-high Harry" who both sat on the bench in the New York County State Supreme Court.

In civil torts litigation, for example, there exists a single universal tangible used to evaluate an attorney's competence; i.e., his or her past record at bringing about or defending against monetary damage awards. And the fact that this information can be gleaned with relative ease serves as the genesis for such statistical data bases as VerdictSearch. Because of the countless intangibles cohesive to criminal practice, however, the creation of a data base to effectively evaluate the effectiveness of an attorney practicing that body of law is an impossibility. But for those of you who are looking to minimize to the best of your ability the risk of hiring an incompetent lawyer motivated by self-serving interests who can easily bring about life-altering adverse consequences, my suggestions to you include:


1. When searching for a criminal defense attorney for representation in a small or rural county or parish, NEVER retain one who regularly practices there. Lawyers are understandably reluctant to alienate the judges before whom they regularly appear. Beyond that, similarly understandable is that most defense attorneys want to remain in the good graces of the prosecuting attorneys they are up against often for the fact that human horse-trading is commonplace in criminal courtrooms. It therefore makes little sense to hire a lawyer who, from the very outset, would consider his or her established professional and/or personal relationships with judges and/or prosecutors as impediments to unrestricted zealous representation of their client.

2. ALWAYSinsist on meeting with a prospective candidate attorney at his or her office before retaining them. Do not consider the expensive attire in which they dress or fancy desks and lavishly-decorated offices as evidence of their abilities to practice law. Instead, consider such things as nothing more than evidence of being able to masquerade. Clarence Darrow, considered by many of the best criminal lawyers as having been the demigod of them all, summed this theory up very well in a speech he gave to the inmates of a county jail in Chicago many years ago, in which he noted that the only real difference between a robber and a lawyer is that while the robber steals brazenly steals with a gun, the lawyer surreptitiously steals with a briefcase.

3. NEVER hire an attorney with less than 10 years courtroom experience. And be not fooled by age for the fact that many lawyers do not become admitted to the bar until later in life. Determine the prospective attorney’s length of time practicing law by querying him or her on a data base such as Martindale Hubbell where, among other things, one can ascertain the date of their admission to the bar. Also glean from Martindale Hubbell the name of the law school from which the attorney received his or her law degree – not because some law schools such as Harvard, Yale, Cornell, etc. are widely considered better than others, but instead for the purpose of ascertaining from the school the attorney’s GPA while attending. Many attorneys who graduate from Ivy League schools turn out to be bad practitioners, while many who receive earn their degrees from no-name schools go on to become brilliant litigators. Determine whether or not the attorney was a member of the school’s law review committee since only the best of a school’s law students are selected to be part of such.

4. ALWAYS challenge the prospective attorney’s mettle at your very first meeting with them. Challenge them in some way to assess their personality traits. Always remember that courtrooms are adversarial testing grounds where argumentativeness and assertiveness are keys to favorable outcomes. A good way to ascertain the attorney’s personal characteristics is to balk at the fee they request.

5. ALWAYS request from the prospective attorney the names, addresses and telephone numbers of other criminal defendants he or she has represented in similar cases. This information is not protected by the attorney-client privilege. Reluctance to reveal this information should suggest to you that the attorney fears his or her former clients will not speak favorably of them. Contact as many former clients as you can; their evaluations of an attorney’s representation will usually reveal to you the things other attorneys, court clerks and stenographers can not.

6. ALWAYS contact the attorney grievance committee having jurisdiction over the geographical area in which the attorney practices most. While bearing in mind that sometimes complaints filed against them by former clients are unwarranted, particularly those who were sent to prison following counsel’s representation, also remember that less complaints can be synonymous to more satisfaction.

7. When searching for legal counsel to perfect an appeal, ALWAYS query the prospective attorney’s name through Westlaw, Lexis or Loislaw to pull up each and every case in which he or she is reported as an attorney of record on appeal. Do not do this for the purpose of attempting to ascertain a win/loss record, since they cannot be considered objective evidence of success for the fact that rarely do any two cases on appeal before the same appellate tribunal present identical fact patterns or legal issues from which reliable comparatives can be drawn. Instead what you want to look for is the number of times the appellate court notes that counsel has raised an issue that has not been properly preserved for appellate review, which such determinations you should consider as evidence that the attorney is unfamiliar with the rules of appellate procedure, failed to thoroughly review the trial court record, or for whatever reason was negligent for failing to first file application to the trial court for relief by which to properly expand the record for appellate review. And in cases where the attorney you are contemplating retaining previously worked as a public defender or as assigned counsel, you will also want to determine the number of times he or she filed in any appellate court what is known as an Anders brief (Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738), which is basically a statement by the attorney to the appellate court that he or she is of the opinion that there are no non-frivolous issues to raise on appeal. Accessing Westlaw, Lexis or Loislaw can be cost-prohibitive for people of lesser means, so you may want to consider hiring a paralegal or other attorney to do that research for you.

8. And last but not least, regardless of the reason you are interested in hiring an attorney, NEVER remit them their full fee in advance. While such demands have become the norm for the legal profession, when you think about it, paying someone in full for services not yet performed dispenses with the incentive to perform those services. Ask the attorney whether he or she would pay a contractor the full cost of a new home before the hole was even dug for the basement and see the response you get. Point made.

Finally, if any of you readers ever do come up with a reasonably foolproof way to design a database to assess a criminal attorney’s effectiveness, I can think of a whole lot of men, myself included, who will be eager to have you also design an information system to teach us how to understand women.
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Old 12-28-2005, 07:52 PM
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Gee, when I made this post all I had in mind was a database where an attorney's name, state and maybe speciality could be plugged in by the good folks HERE and they could add comments. If they added pertinent info like s/he does his homework, fought hard, easily reachable..... or seemed not to care about my case, rushed, didn't file necessary paperwork for blah, blah... THAT type of thing. It would be based upon personal experience which of COURSE is subjective.

I'm still glad this question was asked.... a lot of great responses are here.

Blessings,

Doni
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Old 12-28-2005, 08:33 PM
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Renegade, thank you so much for this concise instruction on hiring an attorney. It is far, far too late in our case, but your advice is excellent and will hopefully save many others from a fate such as ours!
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