Stephen G. Cobb - Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer

Human Systems For Human Beings Undergoing Criminal Prosecution


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.

Now, in our last video, I discussed the three basic types of systems that we have to defend you or someone you love. Now, I am going to go into a little more detail about each one of those systems because as you may recall, I stated that each one of these systems has multiple subsystems. So, let’s go through that.

First of all, one key component of our system is we use live people instead of auto attendant. Have you ever made a call to a company and gotten one of those “For this person, press this; for that person, press that”, and you go through this menu and they tell you, “Listen carefully because our options have changed”. I mean I don’t know about you but I know a lot of people who would rather break their phone than sit through all of that. And it is pretty stressful when you are going through one of the most stressful times in life and you cannot get a live person without going through some automated robot for 15 minutes. Personally, I find that very frustrating and so do a lot of other people. So, we made a quality of life decision for you so that we have live people. So, when you call, you are going to speak to a live person.

Now, secondly, one of the things we do is we constantly provide information to you. When we represent you, there will be long dead spaces because we are waiting for things to occur. For example, if we file a notice of taking deposition testimony, pretrial testimony before the trial of the case that may lead to defenses or not, we never know. We do not do it in every case but to use it as an example, when we have these pretrial depositions, we keep you notified about when the depositions are scheduled, how much they will cost for the court reporter to appear or for a subpoena to be served. We will discuss the need for depositions. If there is a change in the court date due to a motion to continue, we send you copies of the notice. We send you copies of everything, and this includes your entire file. Now, I totally understand that a lot of my colleagues do not like their clients to have a copy of their file. Why would they not want you to have a copy of your file? Well, that is because you will ask questions.

I think questions are the answer and if someone is trained, and part of what we do is train you about criminal defense law because most of the time, even if someone has been through the system before, they have never really had it explained. And educating you is critical. So, we are going to send you all of this information when we get a document, you get a copy, we are going to want to know how you feel about it and we are also going to keep you constantly informed.

Now, this, of course, is our customer relationship management system that I am talking about because we want to have a system to where we are not relying on a person to remember everything. Remember when you could remember phone numbers if you are old enough to remember the time before cell phones. Many of you cannot. But I remember keeping over a 100 phone numbers in my head for the criminal justice system so that I could call people. Now, everybody saves numbers in their phone, they do not keep that kind of information. Now, imagine trying to keep 100 different phone numbers in your head, tie them to an individual but instead of phone numbers, you are trying to keep track of, say, 100 different clients and remember what stage their case is in, what the charge is, remember everything about the case without writing anything down or keeping a physical record in digital storage. That is not even realistic. So, we do not even try. Yet there are some law firms who prefer not to use systems.

We use a system because we do not want to drop the ball on you. We want you to be kept informed. We want you to have a protocol such as coping with stress during the criminal prosecution and keep this in mind. If you or someone you love calls up especially if they are not happy, first question I am going to ask is “What book from coping with stress during the criminal prosecution are you reading now? What did you read today? What audio program are you listening to in order to deal with stress? Are you seeing a mental health counselor?” Now, these are pretty pointed, direct and almost in your face questions but they are absolutely critical because we have to help you cope with stress. In an earlier video, you heard me explain how somebody did not have a system such as coping with stress during the criminal prosecution and traded 4-year of probation for 35 years in prison. That is not going to happen to you or someone you love provided you use the system. So, for everything we do, the system is the secret.

Now, in addition to everything that I have already laid out for you, we are going to have meetings and there are many different types of meetings. One of the types of meetings has grown in popularity over the years especially since Hurricane Ivan in 2004 – it is hard to believe it has been that long – but that is the rise of the phone appointment. People are busy, driving commutes have not gotten any shorter and it is very frustrating for someone to be accused of a crime, they need to sign a document. And imagine if there is no way to get that document to the person digitally and they have to drive 40 minutes in heavy traffic, sit in the waiting room for 30 minutes, meet for 60 seconds, sign a document and then leave and drive 40 minutes while explaining to the boss why you had to take off work and go visit the criminal defense lawyer. That is inefficient, ineffective and it is frankly grandpa’s law firm of 1989. And we do not do things as they did in the old days because, in the modern world, it will not succeed. If you do not believe me, here is a question that is the ASA test. When is the last time you looked up a phone number or searched for a business in a physical phonebook? Have you ever? Odds are if you are under 30, probably not ever. The only people who use phone books in today’s day and age, generally speaking, are over 60 years of age and that is the fastest growing group of mobile phone users for searching things with a search engine. So, we have taken all of these technological changes and social changes and we keep them in mind and so our customer relationship system is designed to make sure that you, as a client or family member, have the information you need.

Now, there is a caveat I do need to make about one very important thing. A lot of times when somebody has paid a legal fee for someone else, they feel entitled to call up the lawyer and ask what is going on in the case. There are many times when we simply cannot tell you because of attorney-client privilege. And most lawyers just simply will not speak to family and friends, which frustrates the daylights out of family and friends, frustrates the client. The next thing you know, the client has got all these voices in their ears, these voices are telling them, “Well, my friend’s brother who was a police officer in Baltimore has a dog who is friends with the dog next door and the owner of that dog said”, and the next thing you know is somebody is bringing me a case from another state that has no application.

So, we are very mindful of the psychological element of criminal prosecution, stressful. And many times, what people do is exactly the wrong thing. What is the number one wrong thing people do? They research the law incessantly and tell their legal team what to do. This is a serious problem because every moment that your legal team is not focused on defending your case or preparing mitigation in the case of a sentencing or for plea bargaining, then what happens is your legal fee money has been set on fire. So, we have an entire system to keep you informed. That includes all the different components I mentioned including meetings. And as I stated a few moments ago, telephone meetings have rapidly increased in popularity but there are sometimes when we are just going to have to have a face-to-face meeting. We might be able to use video chat in certain circumstances; in other cases, unfortunately it is going to require sitting down in the conference room and going over things. We will be respectful of your schedule as best that we possibly can and will make things as convenient as possible and we will give you information as it becomes available understanding that there are often long dead spots where if you were to ask the question, “What is going on in my case”, the answer would be nothing. And this is very frustrating if you are hearing that. So, why would a lawyer tell you nothing is going on? Aren’t they working furiously to defend you? Well, yes and no.

The reason I say yes and no is imagine that someone on the legal team has spent a lot of time preparing legal pleading such as a motion to suppress. They need to take depositions so the motion is not ready for filing, so what happens is they prepare a draft, they schedule the depositions because of scheduling conflicts and things of that nature. The depositions are scheduled three weeks out and somebody calls us on day 1 of that 3-week period and says, “What is going on in my case?” We are waiting for depositions. They call the next week, “What is happening in my case”, same answer. They call the third week, “Same answer”. This is why coping with stress during criminal prosecution is essential because for example, just to give you another one, we file a notice of discovery, the state has 15 days under the rule. You factor in weekends and the next thing you know, it is 21 days before we get a discovery exhibit. So, quite often, people are wondering what is going on in my case.

Well, if the answer is nothing, it is usually because we are waiting for something to occur at a specific date and a specific time, or we are waiting for the state to respond to a legal pleading, the judge to finalize an order if it is a more complicated case requiring a written order. And as soon as we have that information, we will make sure that you have it.

And then, finally, as part of our system, we have these educational videos, which as time has gone on, I am increasingly convinced that they are very important for keeping you informed. For example, in another series, we are going to cover standard conditions of probation. What we can tell you; what we cannot tell you. We also will cover specific conditions of sex offender probation. We are going to give you a copy of a written plea agreement because they are increasingly required in not just felony cases but also misdemeanor cases, so we want you to see what a blank form looks like. It does not mean we are telling you that you have to take a deal; we just want you informed. We often send jury instructions. So, basically, we have an entire system to keep you informed throughout the process. And if you have questions, we are more than happy to answer them.

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.

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Stephen G. Cobb, Esq.

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