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The post-trial phase of a federal criminal case is one of the most important aspects. In many cases, it was difficult to make lengthy objections at the trial and cite the proper standard of law. In addition, a trial may present opportunities to redevelop pre-trial issues that were already denied relief. If the judge did not think that showing certain photos was inflammatory before trial, he may change his mind when he reflects on how the jurors grimaced when they saw graphic injuries or sexually explicit conduct.
The failure to exclude hearsay witnesses may also become more apparent at trial when the prosecutor makes their case almost exclusively around unreliable evidence that confuses jurors. Although police are able to give hearsay testimony for course of conduct, they are not allowed to simply say that the defendant said this or that after their arrest.
There are so many esoteric factors to consider that require the expertise of a top-notch lawyer. Only the most dedicated federal criminal attorneys know how to pick apart a crudely hacked together prosecution. The fact is that most of the prosecutions are rather crude because the federal prosecutors handle a large volume of cases and use a lot of skullduggeries to make them stick in the absence of legitimate police work.
A skilled appellate attorney can move for reconsideration under several federal rules that allow the judge to reopen a previous order on the basis of new evidence or a ruling that was clearly erroneous. Although judicial staff like to rush through work and can be reluctant to agree with less respected attorneys, an attorney who has developed quite a reputation will put a little fear of repercussions in them and force them to cite the correct laws and facts in their opinions.
It is paramount for trial attorneys to preserve the errors for appeal. Post-trial motions are their final opportunity to present a claim with such force that the appellate courts will be forced to grant relief. Most errors are rooted in a constitutional right.
Although constitutional rights were once robust, they have been whittled down considerably by the so-called “pragmatic constructions” of the U.S. Supreme Court. The complexities in identifying constitutional claims and demonstrating serious errors in the proceedings requires a lot of talent, not just textbook skills. This only comes with decades of researching, living, and eating law.
If the trial attorney does not preserve errors properly, they will not be reviewable on appeal or will not be persuasive. Any issues raised that are not backed by an authority will be waived and unreviewable. An attorney can’t just use parlor talk and opinions for why the law should be a certain way. He needs to root his arguments in precedent and wisdom that has evolved in the case-law jurisprudence to be compelling.
Yet, there may be key recent decisions in the appellate courts that further define or broaden the rights of defendants. Only a skilled attorney keeps abreast of the latest cases and has the know-how to digest and apply them to the correct situations for relief. Because researching law is a lifetime experience that is both time-consuming and tedious, only attorneys with very high memory reading retention are capable of putting together award-winning work-products.
Post-trial procedures also must prepare for sentencing. In the federal courts, there are a lot of federal mandatory sentencing guidelines. This means that the judge will be forced to hand out a sentence even if he feels that it is unjust. There was a great deal of debate and injustice over the years of minimum mandatory sentencing schemes that increased the penalty for crack cocaine by 100 times that for powder cocaine by weight. This type of sentencing scheme was felt by many to be a subterfuge for racist laws that target inner-city black areas where crack cocaine is more popular.
Only a skilled attorney can raise constitutional issues related to the injustice of mandatory minimum sentences and produce sufficient mitigating evidence in any regards. A skilled federal criminal defense attorney can make a logical case to reduce the punishments for anyone. Because judges have broad discretion when it comes to the potential maximum sentences, a skilled defense attorney can mean the difference between a short stint and a lifetime in prison.