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padnar
10-31-2008, 10:18 AM
Hi Friends,
I am once again back to you for info on American law schools . I would like to know the following . My character as she is wrongly confined in jail as a terrorist is released . She wants to plead her case for herself . This is her goal so what she should do .
where can she study ?
what subjects should she chose ?
what are the grade system there ? I want her to get high grades ?
How can she practice as a criminal lawyer ?
I know that any body cannot practise under anyone she should work under some one . After how many years can she practice alone from ?

And can she fight her case after her studies and job etc..Suppose it takes five years can she do at that time.
Sorry for asking so many questions and thank you so much? I would also like to know whether there are other sources for getting info

Horseshoes
10-31-2008, 12:04 PM
The scenario of being released because she was wrongly "confined" leaves me wondering if this is pre-arrest, prior-to-trial jailing. If, on the other hand, she's released from jail post conviction, it is because she has served her time, or has met release conditions (may have suspended time hanging over her head, work orders, a P.O., etc but will be clear in x amount of years) or her conviction was overturned and her release was ordered by an appellate court. If the situation is the latter, it makes no sense for her to be fighting her conviction, of course, so that must not be the situation you mean, although it is the situation I infer from your description.

At any rate, if this non-lawyer wants to argue before a court, she may be approved to do so without actually becoming a qualified lawyer. This is not particularyl common but it does occur. Usually when judges allow people to act as their own lawyer, they also appoint a court-ordered lawyer as co-counsel to prevent a future argument of the accused being denied a competent defense.
If her goal is to become a lawyer, then she takes the LSAT, gets into law school (usually with a four year degree already, but not necessarily) and goes to law school for 3 years. The courses there are prescribed depending upon her anticipated specialty: criminal or civil are the first two main divisions, then people tend to specoialize much more...and in criminal, the next divisions are defense or prosecution, tho in truth, great practitioners of either often start in the opposing side learning the ropes. Even within the specialty, one then tends to specialize, fed v. state, or types of crimes. For ex, there are crim def attys who simply specialize in DWI defense, in murder, in whatever.

Your gal charged w/ terrorism most likely faced a federal prosecution. If she is seeking to have a conviction set aside, her record expunged or perhaps is so early in her process she's wanting to act as her own defense atty from her recent arrest, then she is really going to be studying the letter of the law with which she is charged, ver likely focusing hard on the the requisite mental state, and she's going to be in tent on the police procedure of her arrest.

And sure, people go to law school part-time, taking 5-6 years or more to complete what would have been about 3 years full time. However, she does not have an unlimited amount of time to enter an appeal. Also, one cannot make an appeal simply because one didn't like the decision. She must have an argument of bad procedure, tampering, improper jury instructions, etc.

padnar
10-31-2008, 12:54 PM
Hi ,
Thanks for your prompt reply. The thing is she is wrongly arrested, as a terrorist as she is framed by a muslim girl who happens to be her classmate. After a year she in a e-mail informs the US how she frames my character and laughs at the US .
This girl gets six years for abetting a terrorist. The government release her saying that she is released for her good behaviour.
She than decides to be a lawyer and fight not only her case ,but also help others. This is why I want to know when she can appeal.
I also would like to know can she join a law school as she has just studied one year in college and than she got arrested and Thanks a lot
padma

siouxnyc
10-31-2008, 04:28 PM
She would not be allowed to attend a law school with one year of college. Entry into law school requires a bachelor degree. The courses one takes in law school are generally set for the first year and a half to two years, i.e., your heroine would not be able to take classes in her area of interest until she got the legal foundation courses out of the way (civil procedure, criminal law, torts, contracts, constitutional law, property, etc.). Also, from what you've described (with the heroine getting released on good behavior), it sounds like she wants to have her conviction somehow expunged from her record; if she were appealing her conviction, that procedural time limit on that would've run out during her incarceration. One last thing: she would have one heck of a hard time getting admitted to any bar (and becoming a lawyer) with that criminal record of hers, so it's doubtful she could ever become an attorney until her record is expunged.

jclarkdawe
10-31-2008, 05:18 PM
Although I've gotten criminal records expunged on the state level, I've never done one federally. But this is my guess as to what would happen.

The State of New Hampshire has a statute for this situation, the federal government does not. However, federal courts, in exceptional circumstances can expunge a record and there is also a federal office for pardons. In New Hampshire, the view was if you screwed up when you were young, turned your life around, then you shouldn't have that youthful mistake hanging over your head.

After your sentence is done, including parole, you need to stay out of trouble for a significant period of time (at least a couple of years going up depending upon the severity of the crime). The most I'd go with during this period of staying out of trouble is one (1) speeding ticket. (And that speeding ticket was hard to sell the judge.)

You would also need to be employed during this period. Pluses would be scored for improving your job skills or getting some education. Volunteer work and church involvement would also help.

In your scenario, I wouldn't try this until about ten years from the end of her sentence. Employment, finishing college would also be expected. No contact with any suspected terrorists. And unfortunately knowing the biases of most Americans, conversion to a Christian religion from Muslim (I realize this is wrong, but I have to deal with my perception of the bias of most Federal judges and prosecutors).

And I'd take cash up front, no guarantees, no refunds, and a letter saying I hoped we got lucky, but don't expect it.

Then she'd have to do 3 years of law school.

As far as learning the law, she could do that easily during prison, as all prisons have law libraries, where many inmates spend a lot of time.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

ajkjd01
10-31-2008, 07:10 PM
I agree with most of what was said...and I'm going to add another here...

If she does have such a conviction on her record, it may well stand in her way of getting admitted to law school, without strong letters of recommendation from community leaders.

If she did get into law school, then she's going to have to undergo a character and background investigation by the state bar or state supreme court before she can sit for the bar exam. That conviction may well keep her from being able to do so, again without strong letters of recommendation and significant time passing.

I'm not saying it's not possible. (I live in a state that allowed a man convicted in a case involving the killing of a police officer to sit for the bar exam. Public outcry was pretty loud, but he did take the bar and get licensed. But he also had letters from local judges and his parole officer after he had completed parole, and quite of bit of hoops to jump through before he could do it. And yes, he became a criminal lawyer.) It's just really really hard.

Can I ask if it's absolutely necessary for that character to represent herself? Why not introduce her lawyer as a secondary character?

ideagirl
11-01-2008, 03:48 AM
Hi ,
This girl gets six years for abetting a terrorist. The government release her saying that she is released for her good behaviour.
She than decides to be a lawyer and fight not only her case ,but also help others. This is why I want to know when she can appeal.


It takes about 4 years to get a bachelor's degree in the US, and another three to get a law degree.

If she was imprisoned and released for good behavior, you're saying she was convicted. Her time for appealing her conviction will be much, much shorter than the time she spends in jail, let alone the time it will take her to get a law degree. The length of time varies by jurisdiction, but it's not uncommon for it to be very short--like 60 days, or even less, after conviction. So what she's doing cannot be appealing her conviction. Instead, what she needs to do is something like seek a new trial on the grounds of newly-discovered evidence. Try googling that phrase ("new trial on grounds newly discovered evidence"--without the quotation marks) and see what you find.

But as others have noted, in the US she does not need to become a lawyer to plead her own case. To help others, however, yes, she would need to become a lawyer. The problem, however, is that with a serious conviction on her record, she might not be allowed to become a lawyer. She would probably be allowed to attend law school (although maybe not--law schools ask about your criminal background as part of the application, and often they will not let you in if they think your criminal background is such that you won't be allowed to pass the bar and become a lawyer). But even if she attends law school, she may not be allowed to become a lawyer. The only way I can see this being plausible is if she:
(1) Has a bachelor's degree already, and then goes to law school after her conviction;
(2) Is not allowed to become a lawyer due to her criminal conviction, but is allowed to represent herself, and represents herself skillfully because she went to law school;
(3) Requests and is granted a new trial, and is vindicated (found not guilty) in that trial; and then
(4) Applies for permission to pass the bar, now that her criminal record is clear; and then
(5) Becomes a lawyer and starts helping other people.

Linda Adams
11-01-2008, 04:26 AM
I'm not sure if this will help, but I have a lawyer friend who passed the Bar--without every attending law school. In Virginia, law school is not required to take the Bar. My friend just studied for two years and passed the Bar on the first try. If this sounds like a possibility, do check up on the law regarding this in case it has changed recently.

jclarkdawe
11-01-2008, 05:20 AM
I'm not sure if this will help, but I have a lawyer friend who passed the Bar--without every attending law school. In Virginia, law school is not required to take the Bar. My friend just studied for two years and passed the Bar on the first try. If this sounds like a possibility, do check up on the law regarding this in case it has changed recently.

Reading for the law is allowed in Vermont, New York, Washington, Virginia, California, Maine, and Wyoming according to the last list I've seen. You study under an attorney for a couple of years and take the test. Maybe 500 people a year nationwide past the Bar and become attorneys this way.

But the bigger problem is the criminal conviction for terrorism. And most attorneys won't hire people with a criminal conviction. Even a receptionist in a law office hears stuff, and you want to limit the chance of problems.

You could put together a scenario where after her conviction she finds an attorney that sympathizes with her and lets her read in his office, but my guess is you'd have an incredibly hard time selling that to a judge to expunge the record. The liberal American judiciary as it involves criminal law is a myth.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

ideagirl
11-03-2008, 05:14 AM
Reading for the law is allowed in Vermont, New York, Washington, Virginia, California, Maine, and Wyoming according to the last list I've seen. You study under an attorney for a couple of years and take the test. Maybe 500 people a year nationwide past the Bar and become attorneys this way.

That still doesn't change the problem of her conviction--in addition to the problem you mention, of lawyers not wanting to hire someone with a conviction, even in states where you don't have to go to law school, you still have to undergo a rigorous background check before you're allowed to take the bar exam. The board of bar examiners is very, very unlikely to let you take the bar exam if you've got a conviction like that on your record. The bar exam is nothing like, say, the SAT or LSAT exams--you can't just register and take the exam; you have to send in an incredibly long and detailed application months and months before the exam, and if they don't like what they see when they look at your background, they will not let you take the exam. Which means it's impossible to become a lawyer.

JoniBGoode
11-03-2008, 08:29 AM
Okay, I understand where everybody is coming from. The criminal record makes it extremely unlikely that your character would be admitted to law school, or be supervised by a lawyer. And even more unlikely that she would be permitted to sit for the bar exam.

But that doesn't help your plot, does it? So our problem is: How to make this happen. The character qualifies as a lawyer and passes the bar. (After all, fiction isn't about what usually happens. It's about what could happen, in this one particular story.)

There are a couple of alternatives, and I think they could make the plot even more interesting. She might have been tried as a juvenile, so her record would be sealed when she is of age. Yeah, there might be an attorney who believes in her and is willing to give her a second chance.

Or, maybe she bribes someone to "lose" her criminal record. (I know this is unlikely/impossible in the real world. But I think we can make it work.) Or maybe she blackmails the head of the admissions committee at law school. (He assumes that it's okay, since she will never be admitted to the bar, anyway.) Or maybe she hacks into the computer and erases her criminal record. Or falsifies a background check, creating one that is clean, and slips it into the law school or bar exam file. Or hacks into a law school computer and creates a fictitious academic record, complete with diploma. Or maybe a friend does this for her, and she doesn't even know it.

Or maybe she commits identity theft, and gets admitted to lawschool/ read law as someone else? (Her baby sister, who died when she was 3 months old. Her best friend from high school, who is a nun in Peru.)

Or a combination of the above.

So she passes the exam and is admitted to the bar, but she knows it is only a matter of time until she is caught. (Or is she living in a dream world?)

All of this would create a great climax, because you not only have her battling the bad guys in court to defend an innocent victim, you have the authorities investigating her to yank her license. And she's guilty! Maybe she wins the case seconds before they catch her and throw her in jail for fraud/hacking/identity theft/whatever. Maybe she is pardoned by the Governor an hour later.

There is also a moral dilemma. Is she justified in breaking the law, since she was wrongly convicted in the first place? Does it matter that she is using her fraudant law degree to defend the wrongly accused? (Maybe they are both cleared by next generation DNA evidence or genetic evidence.) Maybe the person she is defending is not only guilty, but he also committed the terrorist act she was convicted of.

I'm sure you can come up with many more fascinating scenarios for this story than I can.

When you get right down to it, fiction is the art of "how can I..." not "I can't because..."

padnar
11-05-2008, 10:44 AM
Thanks a lot . It is important for the plot that she be a lawyer as my heroine has to help stranded indian women in distress.
I will ask a second lawyer to file a case and she wins the case . Her innocence is proved than she can become a lawyer or what pl write . I am trying to write one crossover script and all help is very very appreciated.
padma