Tuesday, August 16, 2005

It's the Little Things

A few weeks ago, I was appointed to represent a young man charged with robbery. He had just been arrested, and, as I spoke with him, I discovered he was mentally retarded. Having been to seminars about the perils facing the mentally retarded in the criminal justice system, I decided to put my training into practice. I was very concerned that investigators would come to speak with my client, and by claiming they would help him and work things out for him, they would get him to make incriminating statements. So, I gave him my card, wrote, "I want my lawyer" on the back of it, and spent the next twenty minutes drilling him that he wasn't to say anything to anyone about his case except those words. I role-played the cop with him. I was a good cop. I was a bad cop. It took a while, but finally, I sent him off, hoping it had sunk in. Now, he has been indicted. I spoke with him in the jail and explained what happens in the process from this point. Before sending him back to his cell, I off-handedly asked him what he would say if a cop came to talk to him about his case. He thought for a second, then smiled, pretended he was holding a card in his hands, and said tentatively, "I want my lawyer." Victory! Another one of those little moments that can make your day in this business.

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