A lawyer recently called a new client to say, “You were right.” I admire his humility and honesty.

In 10 years of practicing law, this lawyer had NEVER submitted a client’s narrative to the probation officer. The defendant insisted it be sent to the Probation Officer and copied and pasted the final report.

Here’s how it happened:

The defendant wrote his personal narrative. To be transparent, he hired our team. If you can write it on your own, please do so. Following advice from Judges Bennett and Bough, the nine-page narrative offered extensive insights into his background, pressures and choices leading to breaking the law and creating victims, lessons learned and plans moving forward in prison, on probation, and for the rest of his life.

The key here is that he did not initially ask his lawyer, “Should I send this to the PO?”

First, he secured buy-in from the lawyer on the narrative itself. “Hey, I spent 100 hours on this personal narrative. Will you read it?”

The lawyer read it and loved it. He insisted it would influence the Judge and impact the sentence. He also told the defendant that the narrative provided helpful information for his sentencing memorandum.

Defendant: “Great, I plan to send it to Ms. Thompson, my Probation Officer, just after our interview on Friday.”

Lawyer: “Wait, what? No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. They did not ask for it. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no., no, no, no.”

Defendant: “Wait, you told me you loved the narrative. If it’s intended to influence the Judge, why shouldn’t we also send it to the PO, who makes a sentencing recommendation to the Judge? My case manager in prison will also have access to my probation report. Does it help or hurt me if they see this honest narrative in my report? I’ve also seen judges on YouTube discussing the value of narratives. Also, Former Chief of Probation, Chris Maloney said the first thing my PO will do on supervised release is look at my probation report. I need to influence these people.

Lawyer: “If you assume responsibility for it, I will do it.”

Defendant: “I assume responsibility.”

The report came back filled with praise from the probation officer. She discussed his narrative and mitigating factors about his life, like why he started working in his early teens to support his family and recommended a sentence well below the guidelines. The narrative was also copied and pasted into the report.

While there’s no guarantee you’ll achieve this outcome, try. Why not use your voice to influence all government stakeholders?

I admire this lawyer for calling his client to say, “You were right.” I will interview this client after his sentencing to share the whole story.

We can’t change the past, nor can we guarantee an outcome. However, we can share best practices with you. Whether you act on them is up to you.

Best,

Justin

P.S. Many people need clarification on the sentencing memo versus the narrative. You write the narrative; your lawyer writes the memo. This video explains it.

P.S.S. Our client watched EVERY interview with our subject matter experts. Have you? Schedule a call to get started.

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Justin Paperny