Is a plug still shameless if what the plugger is plugging is 100 percent free forever? If so, forgive the shameless plug, but this is too important to miss.
The purpose of Defense Map (www.defensemap.com) is to “uncover as much as possible about [your] clients’ game-changing backstories”.
The creator of Defense Map is Indiana lawyer and philanthropist Charlie Asher. Charlie understands that you cannot tell your client’s story without digging deep to understand who they are and how they arrived at this moment. Over his many years of criminal defense practice, he saw lawyers who either didn’t realize the value of mitigation, didn’t know how to uncover it, or didn’t have the time or resources to do it effectively. Thus, Defense Map was born.
Charlie developed an exhaustive and confidential online client questionnaire designed to uncover our clients’ often hidden and sensitive history and needs. Clients complete their Map on their own at their own pace. The responses are then screened with an algorithm that identifies issues, mitigation, and even defenses that may exist in the case. It’s useful for any stage of the proceeding.
When I first heard about Defense Map, I was admittedly skeptical. I decided to give it a try in a serious federal assault case. I had already spent considerable time with my client in several meetings and thought I knew him and his case extremely well. I was wrong.
On seeing my client’s Defense Map, I was astonished at how much more information my client was able to share when he could work online and on his own. And I was equally impressed at how the Map detected and flagged special issues. Not only did the Map better flesh out mitigating circumstances I knew about, but it uncovered essential matters that had gone undisclosed in the earlier interviews.
I was also able to use direct quotes from my client’s Map in later pleadings and presentations. Having the client tell his story in his own words gave it layers of depth and credibility that my own “lawyer language” never could.
In that case, I used the information obtained from the Map to craft an effective mitigation/plea letter to the prosecutor. It led to a fantastic diversion plea I’m quite sure the government originally had no thought of considering. I have since used defensemap.com in every case I can.
The one challenge I have found with Defense Map relates to our in-custody clients, particularly those without internet access. One work-around is for the lawyer or their representative to bring their own device into the jail to either assist with completion of the map, or sit while the client works on their own. However, there is not yet an offline version of the tool, so this is only a suitable option in facilities with internet access.
Mr. Asher informs me that this tool will remain as a free resource indefinitely. I am grateful for his passion, his innovation, and his generosity. I encourage everyone to give this tool a try, come back here, and post your thoughts about whether it was useful in your case!