When undergoing a federal trial by judge and jury, one may tend to feel alone and forsaken. You might have a lot to say; but don’t know to who, how or when to say it. You feel obliged to tell your version of the story, but in the midst of all the big legal minds and court officials; it seems as though you have no voice. The federal prosecutor lays multiple charges on you, some out-rightly untrue and others taken way off context.
During your federal trial, you may have to attend either a detention hearing or a status conference; lots of misconstrued happenings and demeaning lies will been used to describe your charges. There is no place your opinion in all that’s happening is being required and your legal counsel is not paying attention to some of the important details you have calling his attention to. There is an alarming breakdown of communication between you and your lawyer; who is making you start to believe that for him or her, this is just another job. But to you this is more than a casual affair; plus there is this little voice in your head asking,’when will you get a chance to talk?’
Due to the method of interrogation that followed your scandalous arrest and detention process; you gave some information that is now being used by the federal prosecution to defame you. The courtroom experience is going downhill for you; and a decision that is strategic in nature needs to be made. As you ponder whether there must is a way for you to have your say, keep in mind that there is a possibility your words might ruin your defense; incriminating yourself further. There is however cases that a person accused of a federal crime involving organized crime may need to talk to the judge or the jury concerning the safety of their own lives.
A motion to suppress is filed by defense; in many ways saying that the evidence presented was illegally extracted by enforced interrogation, search or seizure. The court therefore cannot admit that piece of evidence;or it nullifies statements which goes a long way in weakening the federal prosecutor’s case. If a defendant can prove that an evidence gathering method’s integrity is compromised and the agency is responsible for misconduct; a federal criminal case can easily crumble. There are therefore many reasons why you would break federal court protocol and ask when you will get a chance to talk. Only do this if you;
- Are intimidated by the court process and the legal conundrum
- Are prepared to face the resultant consequences
- A credibility issue needs your instant redress
- Wish to converse with judge or jury with immediacy
There are many ways that your voice can be heard in a federal trial and that what you say will not in any way harm your case. The target audience has to be the judge, jury and the entire courtroom; since that is the legal way for courtroom communication. If you are bypassing legal counsel and citing diminished representation; then file a written motion. This will be taken as regular court communication and all the other parties in the matter will be duly notified. Your lawyer, the prosecution however might move that the circumstances surrounding the proceedings warrant a private or otherwise secluded palaver. They may therefore allow for the judge or jury to talk with you either in session or in seclusion which is called; ex-parte, and is disallowed in federal courtrooms.
The first thing that you must look for is clarification; especially pertaining what a spoken statement construes to the direction of your defense. There are certain court rules that are set in stone and cannot be bent or broken. Exceptions occur where certain rights and privileges have been breached, some are;
- If the police or federal investigators used force or coercion to obtain statement or evidence,
- If Miranda rights were violated,
- If even after asking for legal counsel, you continued to be questioned; and
- If after pleading the Fifth Amendment you were still forced to comment.
Your family and friends may have been asking countlessly ‘when will you get a chance to talk?’, and defense attorney is not responding to those questions expediently. However if the chance to talk has been accorded either through written motion or other legal avenues; you may be called upon to address the judge or jury. If you are told to approach to the bench for instance; you should stand, make eye contact and take a reserved body posture. When asked to speak; talk in calm tones and use polite language to address the judge, jury or federal prosecution. Remember that in the course of your discourse, you may be required to use the correct form of address towards certain court officials.