Obtain copies of any relevant documents that are available, including copies of any charging documents, recommendations and reports made by pretrial services agencies concerning pretrial release, and law enforcement reports; and
If representing client with mental illness, obtain reports from jail staff on the client’s mental health status at the time of booking into the jail and the client’s current mental health status.
In addition, if the Client is incarcerated, counsel should:
Be familiar with the legal criteria for determining pretrial release and the procedures that will be followed in setting pretrial release conditions;
Be familiar with the different types of pretrial release conditions the court may set, any written pretrial release policies of the judicial district, and whether any pretrial service or other agency is available to act as a custodian for the client’s release;
Be familiar with any procedures available for reviewing the trial judge's setting of bail; and
Be familiar with Code of Criminal Procedure 17.032, which sets forth the procedure by which certain mentally ill defendants may be released on personal bond.
The purpose of the initial interview is both to acquire information from the client concerning pretrial release if the client is incarcerated, and also to provide the client with information concerning the case. At this and all successive interviews and proceedings, counsel should make every effort to overcome barriers to communication, such as differences in language or literacy, disability, or different cultural backgrounds. When appropriate, counsel should file a motion to have a foreign language or sign language interpreter appointed by the court and present at the initial interview.
In addition, counsel should obtain from the client all release forms necessary to obtain the client’s medical, psychological, education, military, prison, and other records as may be pertinent.
In some jurisdictions, videoconferencing or teleconferencing is available for meeting with the client from a remote location, rather than traveling to the jail. Videoconferencing or teleconferencing is not preferred for the initial interview. Videoconferencing or teleconferencing is never recommended for contact with mentally ill clients or clients who have a developmental disability.
While obtaining the information specified in item 5 below during the initial interview is important to preparation of the defense of the client’s case, if working with a mentally ill or developmentally disabled client, counsel should be aware of symptoms of the client’s mental impairment that may make it difficult to obtain some of the information. Counsel may need to make a few visits to the client to obtain the specified information or obtain