Case Review Timeline
Many forms of post-conviction relief occur on a timeline. For example, a person only has 12 months after their conviction to file a Motion to Vacate under § 2255. Oftentimes, courts and attorneys don’t provide this information to defendants in detail. Additionally, court-appointed attorneys can’t help defendants with post-conviction relief. As such, many defendants go to prison without knowing that they still have options. Many people also don’t know that those options have a limited timeline. By the time they learn about their options, the time has elapsed. Even if they do know that they can file for post-conviction relief, many defendants don’t know if their claims are viable.
An inmate questioning the viability of their post-conviction claims can benefit from a case review. A case review can determine whether you or your loved one have non-frivolous claims that you can pursue in court. Even if you decide not to proceed with representation after a case review, a comprehensive understanding of your options can make all the difference.
What is a Case Review?
We use a case review to determine different types of relief that may apply to your case. These may include a direct appeal, a 2255 motion, a second or successive 2255 motion, a 2241 motion, a Rule 60(b) motion or any other type of relief that you or your loved one may be seeking.
To complete a case review, we start by working to schedule a legal call with you or your loved one inside prison. We do this by reaching out to the prison staff. The calls occur either in the counselor’s office or in a private room with a phone made just for this purpose. On the calls, we discuss what happened in the case, what you want the court to know and what other ways you have sought relief.
Next, we get the documents related to the case. We get these documents from PACER, the court’s online file system. Additionally, we get the transcripts from the court reporter and seek documents from the former attorney(s). We also look at the law and determine how it applies to the issues that we find. After conducting research on cases from the Supreme Court, Appellate Courts, and District Courts to determine what claims you may have, we research the issues that you discuss with us as well as the issues that we find on our own.
Once we determine the issues on your case, we will write a memorandum to you that explains our research. It outlines the issues that we found and whether those issues will help you in court. If we believe that we can help, then we will let you know what we believe we can file and how long we have. We will mail that case review memorandum to you and follow up with whatever loved ones outside of prison are involved with your case
Case Review vs. "Free Lookup"
Often times potential clients ask if we can engage in a “free lookup” of a federal criminal matter. A “free lookup,” in many cases, involves looking solely at the docket sheet and several documents on the case to make a guess about a particular issue. However, a free lookup only examines the documents on their face. It lacks conclusiveness, comprehensiveness, and depth.
We engage in case reviews so that we can look at the law and let you and your loved one know how it affects the case. Nobody can say definitively whether a person has an issue without researching all of the facts of a case and doing case-specific legal research. A seemingly small distinction in one case can make or break a claim in another.
What if No Issues Exist?
If we do not find anything on you or your loved one’s case that we can use to get them back into court we will let you and your loved one know. We will let them know what we looked up and why it turned out to lack viability in a memorandum. You or your loved one can keep the memorandum so that you may review it or seek a second opinion.
Even if your case presents no legal issues, other possibilities to reduce your sentence may still exist. Avenues such as clemency or a petition for a Reduction in Sentence under 3582 may apply to you.