THE INDIGENT DEFENSE PROJECT
When the criminal justice sytem swallows up an innocent person who is indigent, the Public Defender carries the financial burden of representing that person for free. Unfortuately, our public defender system is underfunded which effects the amount of money the Public Defender can spend on any given case. Sometimes, extra money is the difference between an expert testifying at trial or not, or an investigator pursuing a certain lead. For years, politicians and lobbyists have fought to obtain more funding for Public Defenders. These efforts have fallen short and unfortunately, change needs to happen now.
The Shah Law Firm has decided to help in the finanical burden carried by the Public Defender. The Shah Law Firm believes that no criminal defendant's fate should be decided by how much money he or she has. We understand that the reality of this idea is not practical, but it is our duty to reduce the gap the criminal justice system has created between the haves and the have nots. Therefore, the Shah Law Firm will represent an indigent defendant who would be a financial burden on the public defender system in hopes that the money saved by the Public Defender will be used to help their other indigent clients.
The Shah Law Firm has opened an Indigent Account which will fund The Indigent Defense Project. This Indigent Account will be funded only by The Shah Law Firm through its personal injury cases. Every time The Shah Law Firm settles or gets a verdict in a personal injury case, the firm will take 2% of the contingency received and place it in the Indigent Account. The Shah Law Firm specifically did not create a non-profit and will not accept donations because The Shah Law Firm believes that each firm or attorney is responsible for alleviating the heavy financial burden the public defender carries by shouldering some of that burden on their own shoulders.
The Shah Law Firm will represent a criminal defendant pro bono by looking at the following factors:
1) The Defendant is "indigent" which for this program means that the person's annual income falls within the Federal Poverty Guidelines as outlined at www.aspe.hhs.gov/poverty.
2) The Defendant's case will be a financial burden on the Public Defender due to the amount of investigation and/or the number of experts required.
3) The Defendant is charged with a felony or a high level misdemeanor (e.g. vehicular homicide). Minor petty crimes and financial crimes will not be accepted for consideration.
4) The Defendant has no prior criminal history or limited to non-violent offenses
5) The Defendant's case requires some special attention due to some extraordinary circumstances surrounding the charges, the age or mental capacity of the Defendant, or societal issues.
There are two ways for The Shah Law Firm to represent an indigent criminal defendant pro bono:
1) Any Judge may contact The Shah Law Firm on behalf of a Defendant regarding a potential appointment. The Shah Law Firm will consider the appointment and meet with the Defendant. If the Defendant accepts our representation, then The Shah Law Firm will file an entry of appearance in that case; or
2) Any Defendant or anyone in the community on behalf of the Defendant may fill out the application below. The Shah Law Firm will review the application and make a decision regarding whether to meet the Defendant. If after The Shah Law Firm meets with the Defendant and both parties accept each other's representation, then The Shah Law Firm will file an entry of appearance in the case.