How to Choose an Attorney
Perhaps, I should have titled this page Before You Choose Your Attorney, but after retaining six attorneys in my own 3-ring circus court case almost 30 years ago and working/winning with scores more since that time, both personally and professionally, I think I know what it takes to locate the right attorney for you. That said, in my professional judgment, before you throw darts at the yellow pages, or spend hours at www.lawyers.com searching for Mr. Super Lawyer, or act on a referral tip from a family member or friend, please consider the following:
- An attorney most likely will not afford you his/her CV or Resume to pour over before you hire their firm
- An attorney will not provide you his/her confidential client list to check references before you hire their firm
- An attorney may not “specialize” in litigating/trying false child sex abuse cases, but advertises online/offline that he/she has experience doing so
- An attorney is an expert in the law, only, and can file motions and petitions and argue your legal position in a court of law
- An attorney is NOT an expert in psychology, mental health, or the social sciences and cannot render an opinion to a reasonable degree of psychological and scientific certainty as an expert on the witness stand as I can do so
- Mr. Tong does not charge an additional fee for assisting you in your attorney search and routinely participates in three-way phone conferences with clients and attorneys before counsel is retained
So, let me give you a hypothetical. You’re involved in a protracted divorce and child custody battle and your 5 year-old daughter has purportedly stated to a Pre-K teacher you touched her pee pee. The teacher is mandated by both state and federal law to make a report of the child’s outcry to the authorities or Child Protective Services (CPS). The child is taken by a child protective investigator to the Child Advocacy Center where a forensic interview of the child will be conducted by a specialist. Said interview is recorded on DVD and is being viewed by a sex crimes detective who is in a separate room watching same by 1-way mirror.
You already have a family court attorney onboard, but now you’re under criminal investigation and it’s possible CPS, via their Assistant Attorney General (Counsel), files a Dependency Petition against you in Juvenile Court. And it’s also possible CPS decides your case is founded, indicated, or substantiated and places your name on your state’s child abuse registry black list.
You’re in a 911 situation. You appear desperate because you know your entire world may crumble in a New York Minute. You start to query attorneys ad nauseum and do so in a frenzy. Absolute wrong approach. Now is the time to take a deep breath and before you start calling/visiting attorneys, check your resources, and first know that if you’re going to be arrested, or you’ve been arrested, and/or CPS has filed a legal petition against you that could cause a juvenile court judge to adjudicate your child dependent where your parental rights are at-bar, you are entitled to a public defender and/or court appointed attorney at no cost. If you do not qualify for In Forma Pauperis, Indigency, or Insolvency status, know that you get as much justice as you can afford. There is no such thing as a Wal Mart attorney litigating successfully so a false child sex abuse case. Conduct a google search on the attorney(s) you’ve been told to query or desire to query to make sure they have no ethical or professional negligence complaints lodged against them. http://www.avvo.com/ is a web site that lists such complaints as well as attorney reviews.
Now, look to see if the attorney possesses the following qualifications:
- Is he/she a trial attorney or litigator, or mediator, because you want the former
- Does he/she have at least 10 years of experience in trying cases against The State (Criminal), and/or Government (CPS – Juvenile/Administrative), and/or in Family Court
- Has he/she done cross examination before of the states’ experts, and accusatory children, for impeachment purposes. If so, how many times, and successfully so
- Is he/she state bar board certified in criminal and/or family law relative to your specific needs
- What is his/her peer-review rating at Martindale Hubbell, if apropos
- Has the attorney written any law review articles, books, book chapters or other treatises relative to child abuse, allegations of child sexual abuse, taint hearings, false confessions, constitutionality of CPS’ child abuse registry, et al
- Does the attorney belong to any professional organizations such as NACDL (criminal), AAML (family), ATLA, et al
- Can the attorney show you any appellate decisions he/she has won
- Has the attorney taken any Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses for credit relative to unfounded/false child abuse allegations cases
- Can the attorney work Pro Hac Vice (out-of-state as foreign counsel), if necessary
- Does the attorney know and have a rapport with the judge(s) overseeing your case(s)
- Is the attorney versed in child suggestibility/memory issues, or has he/she worked with experts in the same area of cognitive child developmental psychology
- Has the attorney ever worked with a Trial Consultant or Trial Expert before
Please know that an attorney cannot guarantee you will receive equity-at-law in court.
Some of the information above has been culled from Dean Tong’s book Elusive Innocence: Survival Guide For The Falsely Accused. If you’re interested in purchasing the book please visit https://abuse-excuse.com/elusive-innocence-survival-guide-for-the-falsely-accused/ or http://www.amazon.com/Elusive-Innocence-Survival-Falsely-Accused/dp/1563841908/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1383998323&sr=1-1&keywords=elusive+innocence