The new wave of Racketeering and Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering (RICO) cases being filed by the government involve voluminous discovery that can be completely overwhelming to the criminal defense attorney and his staff. Attorneys are now receiving this discovery in digital format, and the sheer number of pages and media files included in this digital discovery can be more than the average practitioner can manage.
The criminal defense attorney has the dilemma of appropriately representing his client while not feeling helpless in the midst of an exorbitant amount of discovery from the government. The government has been collecting and organizing this discovery for months, and it may take months to organize, prioritize, and review this discovery by the attorney.
The most important thing to keep in mind is – don’t let this voluminous production intimidate or overwhelm you! This discovery can be organized in a fashion in which the attorney and his staff can properly review the documents and media so that the attorney can intelligently and confidently defend his client.
If the discovery the attorney receives is in hard copy format, accompanied by multiple CD’s and DVD’s, the job of organizing and reviewing this discovery is half done. If the discovery is all downloaded to digital format (CD’s and DVD’s), the first step is to review the CD’s/DVD’s containing the discovery and obtain an estimate of how many pages of documents are included. The recorded statements can be downloaded to separate DVD’s. The document files can be sent to a copy service to be printed. It is imperative that the attorney have hard copies of all documents to properly review the case. Since most of these cases are court appointed and the attorney is paid by the Justice Administrative Commission (JAC), filing a motion with the court to be reimbursed for these copy costs is recommended. You may also find copy services that are JAC vendors, and they can bill the JAC directly for the copy costs. The attorney is literally fighting “with one hand tied behind his back” without a complete copy of this discovery.
Organizing the documents is the next step and seems to be the most overwhelming. The following is an outline of steps to take to initiate and complete this process:
- Review the Information or Indictment and make an outline of the specific predicate acts, including the predicate act number, the charges, the co-defendants involved, and the victims. If these cases have previously been disposed, also include the court case number for each case so that court documents can be obtained from the Clerk’s Office.
- Most of the discovery will be police reports involving the underlying cases for the RICO charge. Sort these reports and other discovery, such as lineups and search warrants, by the law enforcement agency case number.
- Make a folder for each law enforcement agency case number, label with the date of the offense, the agency case number, the charges, and the defendants involved. Place documents for each agency case number in the corresponding folders.
- Put the folders in a box in chronological order. Mark the folders involving the attorney’s client with some type of distinguishing label, such as a red dot label.
- Prepare an Excel spreadsheet with the date, agency case number, charges, defendants, and victims. Highlight/bold the client’s name on the spreadsheet.
- With this spreadsheet, the attorney can then distinguish which recorded statements involve his client, since the CD/DVD’s are normally labeled with the law enforcement agency case number.
- Plan on spending a considerable amount of time organizing this discovery. The time and effort is well worth it because the attorney now has a complete, organized set of discovery to review and take with him to court and depositions. The attorney also has a clear understanding of the charges against his client.
- If the attorney’s staff does not have the time it takes to organize the discovery, a good investigator can perform this task for the attorney.
Contact the investigators and researchers at Complete Legal Investigations to assist you in handling the discovery in RICO cases. You can reach us by calling 561-687-8381, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.