March 2013 - Pg 14-Attorney Question
Kevin E. J. Regan
The Regan Law Firm, L.L.C.
1821 Wyandotte St., Suite 200, Kansas City, MO 64108
I believe that anyone charged with a crime involving self defense requiring the use of a firearm needs an experienced practitioner with a long-term track record of victory in cases of this nature. The desired attorney should have several jury and/or court trial verdicts of not guilty or judgments of dismissal in cases of this nature before being asked to handle the Network member’s case.
I would not recommend a young lawyer riding in his first rodeo for these types of cases when a client’s life and future are on the line. The lawyer who did your will may not be your first round draft pick, either.
Years ago, I was asked by another attorney to help him represent a client who had shot a man numerous times with his pistol during an altercation. I agreed to take the case, thoroughly investigated it, and brought in local and national experts in the areas of ballistics and use of deadly force. The prosecutor’s initial plea offer was two (2) life sentences. We thoroughly prepared the case and gave it our best shot at trial.
After closing arguments, the jury went upstairs to the jury room and voted not guilty on the way to the jury room. The bailiff told the jury that they couldn’t vote so quickly, since the judge had ordered them pizza. The jury waited on the pizza, ate the pizza, voted not guilty again and the case was over. This type of result did not come easily, but was the product of years of training and experience of all involved. I would not have been competent to handle such a matter right out of law school or without the trial experience I received as a state and federal prosecutor and in private practice.
The relevant question, then, is how do you find this particular attorney?
In larger cities, there may be several practitioners who meet these qualifications. In a smaller community, there may not be such a practitioner and the member would need to look outside his/her jurisdictions for competent counsel.
In our community, there are several attorneys that have won these types of cases and their names are fairly well-known in the legal community. However, in smaller jurisdictions, that may not be the case.
When I try and find a good attorney to associate with in cases of this nature, I call the local prosecutor, sheriff, public defender in the jurisdiction where the new case is pending and ask for a referral of an attorney that is competent, honorable, ethical and experienced in the trials of self-defense cases involving the use of firearms. Sometimes, well-respected shooting instructors have knowledge of these individuals, as well.
I try to get a list of two or three attorneys to speak with and learn of their credentials, reputation in the legal community and results achieved in similar cases.
Often important to the client is price. I believe it is important to find out if an attorney works by the hour or charges a flat fee. Some attorneys charge way more than others. Some attorneys’ fees are way too high in my opinion. However you do not want to go with the bargain basement person that has no experience. Sometimes, attorneys will work with the referring attorney in reducing fees or reducing the retainer that is initially due.
I suggest you meet with the attorney in person before committing to them. Some people look better on paper than they actually are.
It is important to get all legal fee agreements in writing so that there are no unpleasant surprises when the case is over. Be careful of attorneys who promise you a positive outcome, as that is not ethical.