Introduction to Trial and Pre-trial Services
I assist attorneys defending persons accused of child abuse during the investigative, pre-trial, and trial stages of their proceedings. Assistance varies according to the needs of each client and attorney and is constructed on a case-by-case basis.
If you are accused of child abuse, I can help you mentally prepare for the ordeal you are about to experience. I have found that clients who know what to expect are less confused and nervous about what’s going on around them. This can be misunderstood by juries as looking guilty or appearing worried. I can also assist clients with understanding plea bargains that may be presented to them as well as evaluating the potential consequences of accepting or not accepting the deal.
I cannot promise anything except that I will give your case a fair and thorough evaluation. If I am hired as your consultant, I will devote the time necessary to make sure that every avenue of defense in your case is explored. After all, your success is my success.
Introduction to Appeals Services by Todd James
No one is guaranteed a “perfect trial”, only one that is “fundamentally fair”. Errors occur before, during and even after trial in every legal case. The fact that errors occurred or that your attorney did not do certain things will not necessarily reverse a conviction.
Many times, the Appellate Courts will determine the errors were “harmless” or attorney action/non-action was “trial strategy” which will not be second-guessed by the Appellate Court. Only when errors or actions of the trial counsel were “prejudicial” to the Defendant to a degree that would undermine the verdict will the Appellate Court reverse a conviction. The critical thing is finding the proper issues/errors that could overturn a conviction and developing the issue(s) into a legal argument. That will show your trial was fundamentally unfair or that you were prejudiced by the error to such a degree that your conviction is not trustworthy.
Most appeals are not based on whether you are innocent or guilty. They are not the arena to argue “actual innocence” (few states allow that argument in post-conviction relief petitions). The issue in most appeals is whether you had a constitutionally “fair” trial according to the standards of the appellate judges. Since the “system” is geared towards upholding convictions and the fact that most of the persons who make the appellate decisions have a pro-prosecution mind-set—– only a small percentage of convictions are overturned and remanded for a new trial. That does not mean it is impossible, rather it is difficult and the odds are against you.
If you have exhausted your direct appeals and post-conviction relief avenues, your only recourse may be in a “Motion for New Trial Based Upon Newly Discovered Evidence”. This newly discovered evidence must have not been discoverable before by “due diligence” and must be of such a nature that a “reasonable” jury would not have convicted you. In most situations, a newly discovered evidence motion would be based upon one of the following:
- DNA that was/is available that excludes you as the perpetrator. Since most child sex abuse cases do not involve DNA evidence, DNA testing probably will not be of any benefit in most child sex cases.
- A recantation by the alleged victim(s) with supporting evidence to show why the recantation should be believed (is the truth) as opposed to what the alleged victim(s) testified to at trial (which the Prosecutor will argue is the “real truth”). Appellate Courts view recantations with the ‘utmost suspicion’.
- New medical/scientific testing or research that provides a medical explanation for injuries a child received or provides an explanation for the child’s illness. Understand, of course, that the prosecution may still fight the new explanation with it’s own medical experts (there are significant differences of opinions within the medical community as to causation of injuries and sicknesses).