At Koffel Brininger Nesbitt, we are presented with many types of cases, every day. Each case, like each person, is different, no matter how similar the fact patterns may appear to be.
Building a criminal defense is not unlike building a house. While you have a goal in mind, there are many tools that will be needed to complete the job.
Where a contractor cannot build a house with only a tape measure as their only tool, criminal defense attorneys cannot build a case with only a client's denial of allegations.
In today's society, television has done a wonderful job of informing the general public of tools law enforcement uses to solve crimes. Before "CSI" hit the airwaves, many people knew about DNA, but did not know much about gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, blood spatter analysis, or epithelial cells.
If TV is to be believed, every crime scene has blood spatter, DNA, semen, and a weapon, found near the scene, to be tested; not to mention every crime can be solved in 46 minutes or less.
Television, however, is not reality. While law enforcement has the ability to test all of the items listed above, it could take months or longer to process, test, and report on the findings. Each of the above mentioned tests require adequately trained people to punch buttons, read results and report/testify to those results. These folks would be called to testify, as experts in their fields.
Thankfully, there are equally, if not more, qualified people working independently, who are able to run the same tests and come up with their own findings, often times faster than the State can do it.
State crime labs are currently besieged by a large amount of case work and have become back-logged with material waiting to be tested.
We see this as a problem because while the State is swamped with work and may not get to our client's case material for a very long time; our client is basically dangling by a string, wondering and worrying about what the State's determinations will be.
Getting an independent expert involved early in the case is preferable. These experts are knowledgeable about how to work with prosecutor's and law enforcement in order to be able to go in, review and test the actual evidence, and give a report; even before a prosecutor is poised to take the case to Grand Jury for indictment or act in any other way.
Having an independent review done, before the prosecutor is ready to act, is huge. This means the defense attorney can act proactively instead of reactively when it comes to negotiating a case or putting a full defense in place.
By Richard Mahan, Criminal Investigator