Tocsin: How long have you practiced law?
Robert: I have been admitted to practice since October 1995.
Tocsin: What area(s) of law do you specialize in?
Robert: Criminal Defense
Tocsin: When did you know you wanted to become an attorney?
Robert: When I was in elementary school.
Tocsin: Do you remember your first case? If so, could you tell us about it?
Robert: Yes. My first jury trial was an assault with a deadly weapon case in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia located in Alexandria, Virginia.
Tocsin: Have you ever had a client whom you believed was innocent, but was found guilty? If so, how did you handle it?
Robert: Yes. It is extremely difficult. It caused me to second guess many of my trial decisions. It also shook my confidence in our judicial system.
Tocsin: If an inmate believes he/she is innocent, what steps should they take?
Robert: They should assert all of their constitutional rights. Most importantly, it is vital that they obtain the services of an attorney.
Tocsin: Once a person is incarcerated what legal rights do they have if they are being victimized by prison staff or other inmates?
Robert: There are civil as well as criminal statutes with respect to such matters. An inmate may bring a civil rights claim or file a complaint with the local prosecutor’s office in order to initiate a criminal investigation.
Tocsin: Do laws vary from state-to-state? If so, could you give us an example of how?
Robert: Laws do vary from state to state. For example, while the Commonwealth of Virginia does employ the use of mandatory minimum sentencing it is not as widespread in usage as it is in the state of New York.
Tocsin: If an inmate feels they were railroaded by their attorney, what should they do?
Robert: They should file a complaint with the proper state bar of jurisdiction.
Tocsin: Many inmates do not have the funds necessary to secure a QUALIFIED attorney, what other options do they have?
Robert: Unfortunately, the vast majority of inmates do not have the necessary funds to hire a qualified attorney. Such indigent inmates must rely on public defenders or court-appointed counsel.
Robert L. Jenkins, Jr., Esq.