Many clients ask me about the case review. What is it? What does it involve? So, I thought I’d answer the four most common questions I get. What is the case review? That’s number one. Number two, what records are reviewed? Number three, how unique is each case review? And number four, is it necessary? Is it necessary before doing any appeal?
So, the first question is, what is a case review? Well, a case review is a review of a client’s case, to see what the issues are, what the possible avenues for appeal are. It’s in great part for me to get to know the person’s case so I can know what’s available. So that’s essentially what it is. It usually ends with a written report, but not always. So that’s what a case review is.
The second question is, what records are reviewed? Typically, I like to get as much as I can but usually, I can see very early which records will be relevant and I typically review the records that are relevant to the appeals options. For example, if someone was just convicted and just sentenced five days ago, then the transcripts from the court are going to be very, very important because the direct appeal is typically an option right after somebody is sentenced, after they are convicted. Whereas somebody who may have been convicted, let’s say 20 years ago, and they’ve tried all their normal appeals, and now they’re coming to me because a witness has recanted the testimony or there’s DNA evidence showing the person’s innocence or something that’s not really related to the transcripts, well then, I would review the other material. So, I review the material that’s relevant, not necessarily every document that was ever produced in a case.
The third question is, how unique is each case review? Each case review is unique. It shows what is available for that particular client, but there is also going to be material that might overlap with another client, for example, background material. If I’m explaining what is a certain type of appeal, what is a Writ of Habeas Corpus in this state, what is a direct appeal, I’ve had to the best of my ability formulated the best articulation of what that is, and that’s going to apply to multiple different people. But of course, then the application to a particular client; that would be unique. Another example might be, there could be multiple clients in similar circumstances who have the same general types of options available to them. For example, someone in a particular state out of a particular county who was convicted at a particular time, and their sentences craft in a certain way, they might have similarity to somebody else who has those exact same circumstances. But generally speaking, it is unique to that person. But also remember one other thing which is the case review is a little bit for the client, for them to know what’s available, but it’s also in great part for me to know about the person’s case. My goal for the case review is not just to share what’s available, but for me to become a little bit of a mini expert in the case. So, me reviewing the relevant records, reading about the case, communicating with the client, that helps me to get in a position where I can say, okay, I feel like I know, you know, level 1 on this case, ready to move on if that’s what the client would want.
The fourth question is, is a case review necessary? No, it’s not necessary. What I would do for a case review is what I would do when I would start any type of appeal anyway. I would get the relevant records, I would become familiar with the case, and that would help me to do whatever type of appeal is appropriate. So, the case review is usually a good first step, because I would be doing it anyway, doing some other appeal. And it’s also a good first step because sometimes an individual might think well, they’re really a great candidate for this new law, they’ve been hearing about it, they’re a great candidate for this thing the jailhouse lawyer has been talking about, but is that really true? So, I can do a review to tell a client, you know this might be a good option, this might not be a good option. I know you’ve come to me and you want to do XYZ type of appeal, but that’s not going to work. So, it’s helpful to do a review so I can share what is realistic, what actual options are. Some clients come to me and they say you know what, I know that I want this type of appeal, I know that I want, you know, a writ of habeas corpus, I was innocent, here is the evidence, and just, I don’t care about anything else. Fine, and I can do that. So, no, a case review is not necessary. I recommend it, but it’s definitely not necessary.