The idea is to determine what must be done immediately, at the earliest possible opportunity (before discovery, before charges if possible). Guide investigations, public records requests, and client/family participation.
Interim Review: Discovery and Investigative Review
After charges, the initial discovery process begins. In this step we review status of defense investigation and provide insight into what specific discovery to request (scientific) beyond the basic response. Don’t settle for “what they always give you.”
This is where layout all the information we have so far and begin to identify theories and themes for the trial. We help resist the urge to settle on any final decisions. That comes later. Here we only identify possible themes, strategies, and theories that may be viable at trial. Like the scientific method, we formulate a hypothesis (or a series of them) that we will test in the next step. All we know is “what we don’t know for sure.”
This is where it all starts to make sense. The confusion unravels as we test all the theories and hypotheses developed so far. But be prepared to check your ego at the door. The Focus Group is unforgiving. It lays bare all our biases and shows us the path to victory.
The Focus Group may have confirmed what we thought, it may have taken us in a whole new direction, or it may be something in between. This is where we make sense of the results and finalize our trial strategy.
Now it’s time to implement everything we have learned in the previous steps. Watch with amazement as the pieces of voir dire, open, cross-examinations, direct-examinations fall into place. We know the trial attorney has the experience and ability. Now it’s time to focus and channel the years of experience. We are not done until the verdict is in. Not Guilty.
While I have extensive trial and litigation experience in cases ranging from drugs to homicides both as an assistant prosecutor and as a defense criminal practitioner, I never in twenty-five years litigated a so-called “shaken baby case” until recently. Through the NACDL list-serve, I became acquainted with Mark Satawa a few years back and knew him to be a highly experienced and accomplished practitioner in this area. Knowing that I would be re-inventing the wheel, so to speak, if I began my case from scratch, I reached out to Mark to see if he was available for retention as a trial consultant to review the record and to coach me up on issue identification, fruitful avenues of defense, and potential pitfalls in my case. Happily, he was, and we met for a day at his office in Michigan and did just that. Afterwards, I knew absolutely that I had made an intelligent choice. Having reviewed the discovery prior to out meeting, Mark provided me with an entire blueprint for litigating an SBS case. He honed right in on infirmities in the prosecution’s case, warned me where we would be attacked, and showed me the path to a not guilty verdict. Mark freely shared contact information from his stable of highly qualified expert witnesses and generously made himself available for follow up questions. The fact of the matter is that he took a genuine interest in my case and wanted me to succeed. I enthusiastically recommend Mark Satawa as a trial consultant for any lawyer venturing out into SBS waters. He is an extraordinary resource and a good man.
I have had the opportunity to work with Steve Palmer for many years. I routinely refer clients who are facing a criminal investigation or charges in state or federal court to Mr. Palmer for representation. I have always been impressed by Mr. Palmer’s responsiveness, preparedness and knowledge of the law. I regularly hear from clients that he listens to their concerns, answers their questions and treats his clients with respect. Mr. Palmer brings a no-nonsense approach to problem solving and has the experience to know when to enter into settlement negotiations or when to take a case to trial. I have had the opportunity to be a participant in a focus group organized by Mr. Palmer. The purpose of a focus group is to review the facts in a particular case with a mock jury to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the defense. This level of detail and preparation is highly effective and sets Mr. Palmer far ahead of others in the field. In my practice, I regularly represent professionals (physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dentists) who are subjected to a criminal investigation or criminal charges for the first time. Mr. Palmer takes the time to explain the criminal court process and to make sure that his clients make informed decisions after reviewing all the allegations, charges or evidence presented by the State. I highly recommend Mr. Palmer to any client facing criminal charges without reservation.
I have worked with Steve Palmer for more than a decade. In that time, I have participated in numerous focus group and consultation sessions with Steve and Mark Satawa. I cannot stress enough the value of the process. I have first-hand experience of the results. The insight of the focus group never ceases to amaze me. I don’t have a crystal ball. But I’m certain that the Focus Group and consultation process is responsible for successes at trial. Steve and Mark have a great dynamic. Both are phenomenal attorneys individually. But combined, the result seems bigger than the sum of two. They complement each other perfectly. In a perfect world, I would work with this team on all my cases.
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Criminal Defense Consultants provides winning courtroom strategies for attorneys through case consultation and analysis, custom consultation packages, and focus groups.
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