TRIAL UNIT

Attorneys in the Trial Unit represent persons charged with Federal crimes who are unable to afford representation.

Attorneys in the Trial Unit are part of a long legacy.  As members of the oldest Federal Public Defender Office in the nation, Trial Unit attorneys represent persons accused of committing federal crimes in Arizona who cannot afford to hire a lawyer.  They defend the Constitution by standing beside the accused during all pre-trial, trial, and sentencing proceedings.  They seek pre-trial release when available.  Additionally, they can be appointed to represent persons, pre-charge, that are under federal investigation. Assisted by well-trained investigators and experts, Trial Unit attorneys find witnesses and gather evidence to help prove innocence and develop mitigating facts.  They enforce the Constitutional guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures by moving to exclude unlawfully obtained evidence from use in court. 

The Trial Unit attorneys comprise a diverse group of litigators.  Many are graduates of top-rated law schools or have otherwise demonstrated an extraordinary ability to represent the accused.  All of the trial attorneys in our Tucson office are fluent Spanish-speakers.  These abilities enable them to represent people from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds. 

The Trial Unit accepts appointment in a broad range of cases, including crimes alleged to have been committed on Arizona’s Native American reservations, drug offenses, immigration crimes, crimes involving the U.S. mails, offenses on military bases, importation or exportation law violations, and any other offense committed on federal lands.  Our attorneys assist domestic and foreign nationals in navigating a complex system of criminal justice.  They do this through a team approach, engaging investigators, paralegals, experts, and family members of the accused to achieve the best result possible. 

In this capacity, Trial Unit attorneys help protect the public at large from unconstitutional police practices and other abuses of power by the executive branch of government.

The Attorney-Client Privilege and What to Expect From Our Attorneys

 

Under the 5th Amendment, everyone has the right to remain silent in the face of investigation or accusation, and law enforcement officials cannot question a person without his or her consent.  The only exception is if one is subject to a subpoena (a valid court order requiring one to appear in court to give testimony).  But even under a subpoena, one may still have the right to refuse to answer questions if the answers are self-incriminating. 

The attorney-client privilege protects this right.  Under the attorney client privilege all communications between a client and his or her attorney are confidential.  This rule is designed to protect the accused as well as the accused’s family members and other third parties.  Thus, if the accused speaks to an attorney, those communications remain confidential.  But if the accused speaks to a non-attorney about the facts of the case, that non-attorney could be called to court to testify to the conversation.  Therefore, all clients are advised NOT to talk about the facts of the case with family or others, as this could compromise the defense.  And family members should not try to learn about the facts of the case from the accused because it could make them witnesses in the case.   Additionally, all clients and family members should be aware that law enforcement officials record all calls to and from the jails and prisons, and the contents of calls will be used to condemn the accused.  So what is a family member to do?

Despite the attorney-client privilege, the people we represent often give consent for us to give certain information to certain people.  But without a client’s consent, attorneys may not reveal information about the defense to the charge.  Nonetheless, our Trial Unit attorneys and staff can provide helpful information to family about the charges and the possibility of bail or release.  They may also disclose information about the case that is available to the public.  Additionally, they can help de-mystify court proceedings by explaining the purpose and expected duration of certain court dates. 

 

If a family member wishes to attend a court proceeding, they are encouraged to call our office with the defendant’s name to confirm the date and time of the scheduled matter.  Court dates and times often change at the last minute, and calling in advance can avoid unnecessary lengthy travel and related expenses.

 

Additionally, if a family member is appearing at a release hearing, we encourage them to bring a full set of clothing and shoes to assist in the immediate release of the client from the courthouse.