We recently had the honor of sharing our work and perspectives to a powerful group of social scientists, public defenders, and academics from across the country who came together through the National Science Foundation and the New York State Indigent Legal Services to discuss a profoundly important question for anyone concerned with justice: What is quality representation?
So to bring something to the table, we just asked people who come to our meetings for families who’s loved ones are facing the court system that basic question. Some respondents have had various experiences with defense attorneys, some are family members, some are organizers who work regularly with families. We showed this video at the convening. If you have an answer to the question, send it in to us!
We recently had the honor to share our participatory defense model at PopTech Hybrid — a convening in Maine of scientists, social innovators, and international thoughts leaders. It was a tremendous opportunity for us to learn about how people from around the world have moved from bold ideas to society changing movements. Much gratitude to the PopTech faculty who spent time lending their wisdom to help imagine a road map for participatory defense to become the “new norm”, and the incredible Poptech Social Innovation and Science Fellows who are well on their way in changing the world as we know it — saving lives, the earth, and our collective future. From Kenya to Karnatika — we see you! Check out this visual graphic of our PopTech talk on participatory defense by the talented Peter Durand. Video to come soon! (Click on image to see more graphic interpretations of other PopTech talks!)
Do More Than Hope for a “Not Guilty”
The following participatory defense activities are for families, organizations, and communities who’s loved ones are going to trial, and they want to do more than simply wait and hope for a not guilty verdict. While participatory defense is most effective if the model is used as early as possible in a case, even if first initiating engagement at the trial level, families and communities can have an impact on the outcome. The tactics described below is not an exhaustive list, but are just a few ways to ensure the best trial outcome for your loved one. For example, there is plenty of work to do previous to the actual start of trial, as well as ways to impact a sentencing if the trial results in a conviction.
So while these steps can be employed at the start of the trial, it is best if the family or support community has been already working with the defense attorney in a participatory defense framework. As such:
— The person facing trial should make sure they communicate their consent to the attorney that he or she can speak to the family regarding the case.
— The family and community should already have a collaborative working relationship with the attorney.
— The person facing trial and their supporters should have reviewed all the relevant materials and discovery in the case.
— The person facing trial and their supporters knows as much as possible about what the defense lawyer is planning to do to win the case.
(If these prerequisites have not been met, they would be the “homework” for the family and community before trial begins.) Continue reading