Stephen G. Cobb - Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer

Fact Pattern Reports

Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

How to tell your story to your defense lawyer? As you recall earlier in my career, I had a client I met with fifteen times with lots of handholding. The reality is I did not know any better, because that is what most lawyers I knew did. They met with their clients. They asked a bunch of questions. They took notes, they met with them again, and they took more notes. Here is the truth. Do not tell your lawyer what happened. You write what happened in a very specific manner, do it twice. Let us discuss the proper way to get information to your lawyer. First, you are going to need to do a fact pattern report if you are the defendant. This is true whether you are in jail or not.

If you are in jail, it is much more difficult, because you have to do it by hand. You will have to order paper and very difficult to use a safe pen from the commissary. If you are out of jail on a bail bond, then it is much easier, and this is exactly what you do.

Day no. 1: Get up early, hit your computer, and begin typing. Tell your lawyer every single possible fact that might be useful. If you have to ask the question, should I include the answer, is always yes. I would rather have 500 pages of single spaced fact-pattern report than five lines scrolled on a piece of paper that do not really tell me anything. Better to have 499.5 page of gibberish that does not produce anything useful in order to find a paragraph, or two, that is extremely valuable. In one case, I had my client face a very serious drug charge with mandatory prison.

He insisted that he was not guilty, I believed him, and we went over how to do a fact-pattern report. He began doing his fact-pattern report rather reluctantly. After all, day number one is just a start. You type your report, print it out, and put it in the folder to protect your privacy, and then you keep it with you at all times. When I say “At all times”, I mean literally at all times. If you go to sleep, you put it on the nightstand. If something strikes you in the middle of the night, you turn the light on; you put a note in the margins.

If you go to lunch, it goes to lunch with you. My client reluctantly followed these rules, on day three of the four-day process, he was sitting in the car of a friend, and his friend just happened to drive by a McDonald’s. In and of itself, this is not unusual. They are everywhere. What was unusual in this case is my client looked at the golden arches, and it jogged a memory that he had not thought about before. There was a witness during the events that comprise the incident that wore a shirt that was golden arches yellow. Have you ever seen anybody in a golden arches yellow shirt? Of course not.

No one wants to look like a walking McDonald’s logo. Golden arches yellow is not exactly a popular color, but it registered, because something that triggered a memory that my client had long forgotten, and did not even pay attention to. Therefore, he put a note in the fact pattern report. He went through the four-day process, and at the end of the fourth day, he took all of his notes in the margin, and he re-wrote out his fact pattern report. His fact-pattern report was about seven pages long, and in those seven pages, there was not one thing that was useful except the witness with the McDonald yellow shirt.

Strange as it may sound, we have found this particular witness and sure enough, this witness resulted in a complete and total exoneration of a drug charge that would have resulted in a mandatory minimum prison sentence. So concisely, do not tell your lawyer what happened. There is a specific reason why we use fact-pattern reports. If you are working with the lawyer that is not using fact-pattern reports, I suggest that you, a) do one anyway, or b) fire them immediately. Fact pattern reports are scientifically designed to produce the most valuable information possible in a legal case. However, this is not the only fact pattern report you will do. You will do a second report after a discovery exhibit comes in.

A discovery exhibit contains several different elements as you can see in the diagram above. A discovery exhibit will have a large amount of information far beyond what is found in a mere arrest report’s probable cause statement. I expect every single client to go through his or her discovery exhibits thoroughly, and look at each piece of evidence. I then expect them to do a discovery review report and there are two basic parts of a discovery review report.

First, I want to know what books, and audio programs my clients are using. If they are not using books, and audio programs to cope with stress during criminal prosecution, then they are off-track, and potentially damaging their own case. Secondly, I want them to write in detail anything that they note in the discovery exhibit itself that is inaccurate. After all, I was not there, they were.

Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

For more information on Fact Pattern Reports In Criminal Cases, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (850) 423-0035 today.

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Stephen G. Cobb, Esq.

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