Oklahoma City Criminal Defense Lawyers
JDP: Everybody says, “Why does it take so long for the federal government to investigate things?” What you have to remember is these FBI agencies and all of these guys with the alphabet agencies have a specific US Attorney they are assigned to. A case begins with the US Attorney, and the federal agent has to sit down and say, “You need this and this and this, and you need this and this and this. Go out and do this and this and this.” It just takes time. I’ve seen it take as long as 3-4 years. The investigations where they come in and catch a bank teller with a twenty-dollar bill in their hand—that’s the extent of the investigation? No. For instance, on the Oklahoma City side, an Oklahoma City police officer stops someone for speeding, writes a ticket, sees a joint. That investigation is over right then. And then you go to court and it may take 2-3 years to get conclusion. This is just the opposite. The feds will take their time investigating that person. This could be a larger embezzlement than just twenty dollars. They will go to the casinos and see if this person has a player’s card. They have a player’s card? How active were they? You will be shocked that people use those player’s cards like they’re crazy. There’s just a complete history of their gambling history.
JF: And they’re just giving their evidence over to the government. Here it is in a nice little bow.
JDP: That might as well go straight to the agent. So they continue their investigation and do all those kinds of things, because they have to make sure. They have to come up with an exact amount of money that is missing, and believe me, every dime, dollar, hundred-dollar bill that is missing or has been misplaced, whether this person did it or not, is all going to get thrown on that person. So they may make a twenty-dollar bill, and it may turn into several hundred thousand. You never know. Anyway, then they back it up because they have all of these gambling records, but she’s only making ten dollars an hour. That kind of thing.
JF: So the feds didn’t get their act together early on, they get their case ready to present and when they indict or when they charge by complaint, they’re ready to go.
JDP: A complaint is usually charged, as I say, supported by affidavit, but it’s when something immediate is happening. So a person may flee the jurisdiction, or they feel he is going to commit more harm—something like that. They bring these people into court with an affidavit, and they will be arraigned. It’s really a strange thing, when you go in front of a magistrate in any federal court in the United States—and that’s one nice thing about it—it’s very easy to practice in Kansas, Texas, Nebraska, Minnesota, and New York—it’s all the same rules and procedures.
JF: And, by golly, they hold you to hose rules unlike state court. Isn’t that right?
JDP: Yes, continuances have to be completely written with an accompanying order.
JF: And it doesn’t come with that Good Ole’ Boy system: “I know this judge, and we go golfing together, and I had lunch with his secretary.” There’s none of that favoritism. There’s none of that relationship building. I mean, the relationships are important, but when you’re in front of a federal court judge in Oklahoma City, you’re held to a level of standard of anybody else who would walk in that courtroom.
JDP: To give you an example of how powerful a federal judge is—we have examples right here in Oklahoma City. A federal judge took over the Oklahoma City school system, and he segregated. A federal judge right here in Oklahoma City took over the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and ran the corrections department. A federal judge in Tulsa took over the Department of Human Services—their foster care unit and so forth—and ran it. Now think about it. One man—
JF: Or woman.
JDP: Or woman—and, by god, we’ve got some good judges that are women, I might add—
JF: Yes, we do. They’ve taken me to school a couple of times.
JDP: Well, you know, it’s a long schooling process, I might add.
JF: Yes, it is, and that’s okay.
JDP: –one man or woman has the authority to affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, whether they are people being served by that state agency or whatever. And that’s an awful lot of responsibility and power to invoke in one person. That’s why they go through an extremely hard and difficult vetting process. And for the United States Senate, they say in Washington, it’s all about politics. I’m sorry, I want somebody that I know a little bit about who we’re going to be standing in front of in court, and I want to know a little bit about them.
JDP: Those Senate hearings are public, and it’s all printed and things of that nature. Once you’re arrested and you come in front of a magistrate—the comparable thing in state court of a magistrate is a special judge. A magistrate is hired for a specific term. We used to have a magistrate in Lawton, Enid, and several other places, but we don’t have them here anymore. However, we still have bankruptcy courts in Lawton, Enid, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Muskogee—all over the state. Bankruptcy is another matter altogether. On a criminal level, you’re in front of the magistrate and the magistrate says, “Okay, I hereby find there is probably cause to have you arrested and to detain you.” A lot of people get caught in Oklahoma County, and they say, “What’s the jail bail? I’ll pay ten percent.” And they get out…
JF: All the bondsmen will help you get out of here.
JDP: Bondsmen don’t practice in federal court. Period. You get out on an O.R. or you don’t get out at all. And, if the government requests, they can ask for three days of detention.
JF: To get their ducks in a row.
JDP: Or to make a point. Because you know all of the jail calls are reported. And people like to talk.
JF: It’s the worst thing a criminal defense lawyer can ever do is pop open a discovery disc and hear, “This is a phone call from the Grady County Jail. These phone calls are recorded. Please press 1 to continue.” And the next voice is often our client saying or doing something they shouldn’t be saying.
JDP: “I didn’t do that deal!” and I’m going. “This is Jack Dempsey Pointer and Jacqueline Ford, and we have been on a conference call. This is an attorney-client conference, and it is therefore confidential. I had no choice but to speak to my client, other than to be forced to press button number one. I hereby revoke the right of the state to record my phone conversation. Do you agree, too, Mr. Jones?” “Yes, I do.”
JF: “Please press one, Mr. Jones.”
JDP: But anyway, they can hold you up to three days without bond. Then when you come back in, if you’re not indicted on complaint, then you have the right to a preliminary hearing, which means, one, that the alphabet agency guy gets up there and says what everybody else said. And the second thing is, are you a continuing threat to the community or a flight risk and need to be detained further without bond until this matter is over? Pretty high burdens on both of them. The nice thing is, the hearsay swings both ways. We can make proffers—and that by the way, Ms. Ford, is not a federally recognized word in criminal defense. It’s just whatever you’ve been told, that this man is not a flight risk or risk to the community or something like that.
JF: So our first step at defense, oftentimes, is in that first hearing. We’re defending his right to be released on an OR bond. We’re defending her right to go back home pending the outcome of this trial.
JDP: That’s correct. Now, let’s compare that to an indictment. An indictment is given by a jury of 16-23 citizens of Oklahoma who meet for six months at a time to hear evidence by a prosecutor all by the prosecutor—no cross-examination, no any type of spin, or anything like that.
JF: Nobody’s there to challenge the evidence that’s being presented.
JDP: That’s absolutely correct.
JF: Sounds fundamentally unfair.
JDP: Well, and it’s really kind of strange when you say it’s fundamentally unfair, because the unusual thing about it is that the founding fathers thought it would be our protection from the government. Now it’s being turned into being used as a club against our clients. Usually in that situation, somebody has received a target letter from the US Attorney’s office. “You are being targeted in an investigation.” That means you have a target on your back and you are who they’re coming after. “We hereby give you this opportunity to come in, spill your guts, and throw yourself at our mercy.”
JF: And let’s just stop right there. Maybe that’s the first time you meet an Oklahoma City Criminal Defense Attorney, when you open that target letter.
JDP: It’s probably after you get your first interview from the FBI, IRS, whatever, that comes out and says, “I’d like to talk to you about this little matter concerning money. Or this little matter concerning ownership.” And you go, “I didn’t even realize it, but I just talked to the FBI, and I wasn’t even Mirandized.” Voluntary conversations with the FBI?
JF: So I say again, when you receive that target letter, it’s time to call an Oklahoma City Criminal Defense Lawyer.
JDP: Actually, the time you need to all a criminal defense lawyer, Ms. Ford, is when they’re out there, “Can I just talk to you for a minute and let you explain this?”
JF: Stop talking to the alphabet agencies. You have the right to remain silent; exercise it. You have the right to a lawyer; exercise it.
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