You’ve shot and killed an assailant. The suspect’s family is suing you. You have an attorney to represent you and craft your defense. What should you expect from him or her?
Three things, according to police lawyer Lance LoRusso: access, communication, and advice.
He elaborates on these and numerous other ingredients for winning in the post-shooting legal arena in his instructive guidebook, When Cops Kill: The Aftermath of a Critical Incident.
1.) Access. “You should have access to the attorney when you have questions, when events occur that require action on your part, and whenever you feel like you need access,” LoRusso writes.
“You should never be required to go through your chain of command to contact the attorney.”
2.) Communication. You should be kept informed about the status of your case, its strengths and weaknesses, and all related events coming up. “You also should be clear about the strategy for handling the lawsuit,” LoRusso says.
3.) Advice. “At the essence of your relationship with a lawyer, you should receive advice,” LoRusso explains.
“What can you expect from the process? What are the risks and benefits of the strategies and available options? How long will the lawsuit take? What will happen at the end? These and many others are all reasonable questions for you to ask and have answered.”
While you should hold your attorney responsible for meeting these obligations, “you also have an obligation to be accessible,” LoRusso points out.
“Provide your cell, home, and work numbers, along with your email addresses. Make certain your lawyer is aware of any vacation, training, or other situations that will limit your accessibility.”
See to it that you spend quality time with your lawyer “at critical milestones in the case,” LoRusso emphasizes.
For example, he says, you should have an in-depth discussion prior to the filing of your answer to the suit, prior to your deposition, prior to any mediation, and prior to trial.
“In-depth means in-person, uninterrupted, and ending only when your questions have been answered and you feel fully informed and prepared.”
Remember, he stresses, preparing a winning defense is a two-way street.
LoRusso’s book is available in soft-cover and Kindle formats through Amazon.com. He also maintains a blog on legal issues for LEOs, accessible at www.bluelinelawyer.com.