Tag: netflix

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Expert WitnessOrganizational DevelopmentSexual Abuse

Boy Scouts: New Netflix Film Reveals Horrific Abuse Scandal

Introduction:

On September 6th, 2023, Netflix releases its latest documentary, Scouts Honor. It will depict how Boy Scouts of America (BSA) attempted to conceal a child sexual abuse scandal of immense proportion in American history. BSA has accumulated more than 1 million members since its inception in 1910 (Boy Scouts of America), similarly modeled to its British counterpart named the Boy Scout Association. Its mission to “prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetime by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law,” is the foundation for its seemingly esteemed reputation. Congress chartered BSA in 1916 under Title 36, recognizing it as a “patriotic and national organization” (TIME Magazine). Additionally, the Title permits Congress to investigate the organization, which it never has (Washington Post). It is astonishingly ironic that certain individuals responsible for upholding righteous principles also perpetuated antithetical actions for nearly a century. Further into the blog, insight from Domestic Violence Investigation Expert and current Pack Master, Rachael Frost, Master Inv. (ret.) will be highlighted. Until then, here is a historical timeline of the Boy Scouts of America scandal.

Timeline:

Boy Scouts of America Child Sexual Abuse Misconduct (Abuse in Scouting)

  • 1920: BSA began collecting reports of volunteers accused of child abuse called “Red Files” just ten years after it was founded.
  • 1971: Unbeknownst to most Scouting employees, executives disclosed eradicating thousands of outdated “Perversion Files,” accounts of known child molesters within BSA. Files were eradicated if the abuser was over eighty years old or deceased.
  • 2007: The Boy Scouts of America faced its first lawsuit. Six former Boy Scouts in Oregon sued the organization for child sexual abuse by a previous scoutmaster in the 1980s. The jury consumed thousands of internal reports and saw how severely BSA mishandled sexual misconduct claims. As a result, the organization paid the plaintiffs $19 million in damages.
  • 2012: The Oregon case documents were made public. From the records, investigators discovered that officials implored sexual abusers to relinquish their positions rather than report them to the police, covering for the abusers to the detriment of the Scouts.
  • 2020: The Boy Scouts of America filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after many sex abuse claims and listed assets totaling almost $10 billion.
  • March 28th, 2023: BSA settled a class action lawsuit. Reuters states, “The Coalition of Abused Scouts for Justice, a group of 18,000 sexual abuse survivors, said the agreement would bring ‘some justice to tens of thousands of survivors, men and woman, many of whom would have been waiting for decades for this day to arrive.” The youth organization reached a $2.4 billion settlement because of this class action and the decades of sexual abuse claims filed (CNN). Depending on the allowed amount of the claims, individual survivors are expected to receive between $3,500 to $2.7 million in damages per claim. BSA also implemented its Plan of Reorganization consisting of programs dedicated to preventing child abuse, from background checks to prohibiting adult and child one-on-one sessions.
Photo represents the Red and Perversion Files collected by Boy Scouts of America executives.

Expert Q & A Section:

Domestic Violence Investigation Expert, Rachael Frost, Master Inv. (ret.), explains common characteristics among abusers, how to identify grooming behaviors, and potential legal reforms for the future:

*Disclaimer* – This article does not discuss pedophilia. This is a psychiatric diagnosis defined as “over a period of at least 6 months, an equal or greater sexual arousal from prepubescent or early pubescent children than from physically mature persons, and manifested by fantasies, urges, or behaviors,” (Psychology Today).

Q #1: In your experience, are there common characteristics or behaviors of known or suspected child abusers? If so, what are they?

A #1: Let’s focus primarily on those who commit sexual abuse against children. Regardless of motivation – whether an intense sexual arousal towards children, or specifically young boys, or because of a sexual desire to manipulate, control, and have sex with children due to vulnerability or opportunity, yes, child molesters have very similar tactics.

The following statement is not to tarnish any fields or people within them with heart and dedication for our youth. There are certain jobs that give perpetrators more access to a child and their family’s trust. They provide chances for them to simultaneously praise and condemn a child’s actions and personality traits to get them to rely more upon the perpetrator’s positive interaction. It allows them to isolate a child without raising extreme suspicion. Overall, they generally choose jobs where they are around children. You do not become an accountant.

Common tactics include:

  • Choosing a Vulnerable Victim: Kids with poorer relationships with family/foster child/looking for sense of belonging/lonely/taking advantage of a friendly connection.
    • It is important to note that being a vulnerable victim is NOT the victim’s fault. None of this is their fault. It is the perpetrator’s fault and manipulation.
  • Providing Special Consideration: “Love Bombing”/special gifts or treatment.
  • Providing Access to Risky Behaviors: Alcohol/drugs/porn/parties/staying up all night/going to places parents would not approve/etc.
  • Personal Time: Extra time together/going to a gym/spending time at the perpetrator’s house.
  • Sharing Secrets
  • Sharing Touch: Gradually getting them used to touch to “accidentally” grazing more intimate places.
  • Projecting Guilt: “If you do not do this for me you do not think I am special, you do not care.”
  • Sexual Contact: Framing intercourse or sexual contact as a learning process and normal.
  • Denials, Promises, & Blame: The perpetrator relies on their good standing in the community. The abuser also blames the victim’s “bad behavior” if any possible disclosure is heard.
  • Power and Control: Promising Withholding [below]/promising to tarnish the person’s reputation if they say anything/using homosexuality as a manipulation tactic.
  • Withholding: Time/gifts/secrets/promises – when the victim pulls away or does not meet control requirements of the perpetrator.
  • Threats

Q #2: Do you think State and Federal legal reform is necessary to mitigate child sexual abuse?

A #2: Yes, reform should be considered in four areas –

  • Regulations for Access and How Adults Interact with Children: The Scouts have required safety courses, fingerprinting, and a safety video advising no single adult should ever be alone with a Scout. However, it must be greater to include a full background check by a trained background investigator…, and specific, defined interaction requirements that are subject to civil or criminal investigation if violated.
    • No adult/set of adult in a room away from other children and adults.
    • Rotating parent involvement.
    • Mandatory awareness training for all parents becoming involved in an organization for what behaviors are unacceptable.
    • Child education regarding what association representatives should and should not do.
  • Education for and Increased Types of Professions Who Are Mandated Reporters of Child Abuse or Neglect: Even those who are mandated reporters too often do not report, often because they either do not know they should report or are dissuaded by executive staff.
  • Increased Annual Education for Children and Safe Spaces for Children to Report Abuse and Neglect: Children should know who they can talk to. They can come to the front office, or talk to a teacher, officer, parent, or mentor they trust. Examples of what predators say to keep children from saying anything, and discussing grooming tactics openly, are all important.
  • Mandated Policies and Procedures to be followed in Child Abuse and Neglect Reports and Investigations and Consequences for Legal Failures: Addressing legal failures that prevent mandated reporters and investigators from letting incidents fall through the cracks is necessary. Including protections for mandated reporters begins with confidentiality and job protection. This should also include specific, supportive direction and significant consequences for the knowing failure to meet these legal requirements.

Additional solutions:

Emphasizing parent education about what grooming looks like can also mitigate child sexual abuse in organizations like the Boy Scouts of America. Parents are advised not to leave their children or a group of children alone with a single adult, no sleepovers, or traveling alone with adults. Finally, they should also pay attention to the amount of time an adult spends with their child and gifts being given to their specific child and not others.

Q #3: Will the Boy Scouts of America’s reorganization reforms successfully reduce abuse, and are there other processes it should institute to prevent abuse?

A #3: This is a start, and additional safety features may be put in place. However, like all programs, it cannot simply be an add-on program. It must become a mantra, a process, a part of what the Scouts are. It must be prevalent in how leaders conduct themselves, messaging from the association, from schools, parents, and participants.

Q #4: In my lifetime, I’ve seen massive organizational abuse and coverups in both the Catholic Church and now the Boy Scouts. Are there other organizations where similarly massive scandals are currently under investigation?

A #4: There are a few reasons why abuse in Scouting was prevalent for so long. While these could be argued as good things, it combined religion, youth mentorship, and regulated behaviors (uniforms, respect, pride, honor) with a leader responsible for teaching children lifelong and beneficial skills embodying the roles of God and righteousness. Parents and other community members saw these gregarious and friendly leaders as pinnacles of the community. They were held to a high standard, supposedly met the standard, and were above reproach. Still, underneath all that friendliness is a complicated, harmful monster. The difficult part is spotting the wolf among the overwhelming group of great pack and troop leaders.

I became a Pack Master because I believe in the mission of providing children a safe space to learn and create community. I wanted to establish an environment where I knew that kids were celebrated for who they were without judgment and mitigate misplaced patriarchy. Fostering the recognition of every culture, race, religion/non-religion, sexual orientation, and gender identification is important. Respect, community, and positive behaviors can develop without fear of Eric Cartman’s (South Park) “You will respect my authori-tay” mentality.

Specifically regarding organizational coverups, they occur in any system or association. Organizations need executive staff members who recognize the true issues of an ongoing problem are 1) wrong; and 2) have to be addressed effectively and transparently. The messages and processes for this leadership must be clear throughout the entire organization and community. Any entity has to inquire about its “Business Culture” during its strategic planning and must meet in all they do. It is crucial for organizations, especially those that serve children, to lead ethically. Lastly, ethics do not rest on a checklist, as true solutions are holistic and complete with redundancies and iteration.

Expert Parting Words:

Emphatically, no one should be above the law and of decency. Evidence-based investigation is vital. We cannot allow for anything otherwise or else we are just giving into cancel culture. There is often extreme corroborative evidence in these cases, especially when law enforcement can quickly get to them.

Wooden blocks spelling moral and ethical, the two qualities needed for leaders in the Boy Scouts of America and all other organizations.

Conclusion:

According to Rolling Stone Magazine and Brian Knappenberger (director of the upcoming Netflix documentary), “There are over 82,000 and counting survivors of sexual abuse in Scouting.” From the Scouts Honor trailer alone, the courage and fearlessness of the interviewees involved are highly commendable. Tomorrow’s release will provide a more detailed depiction of the severity of BSA’s abominable actions and the suffering it induced. From the current circulation of news, the Boy Scouts of America has undergone a three-year financial reconfiguration process. It also enacted a Plan of Reorganization, where a series of protection policies were implemented to ensure children’s safety. Examples include required youth protection training for employees and volunteers, criminal background checks for staff and leaders, and the ban on one-on-one interactions between adults and scouts. Hopefully, the youth organization and historic institution will clean up its act and keep its promises to survivors by breaking its cycle of criminal behavior.

A special thank you to our Domestic Violence Investigation expert and Pack Master, Rachael Frost, Master Inv. (ret.), for taking the time to provide her contributions.

If you know anyone in need of support, visit the RAINN website or call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s telephone hotline 800.THE.LOST (843-5678).

MarketingPsychology

Consumer Psychology and Streaming Services: The Rise of Disney+ and Netflix

Despite the daunting aspects of COVID-19, the pandemic provided millions of people around the world with an escape from reality: streaming service subscriptions. Netflix, Disney+, and others alike are dominating the entertainment industry. Within the first year after its inception, Disney+ accumulated 86.8 million users and predicts a trajectory of 260 million by 2024 (Variety). In 2020 alone, nearly 37 million people bought Netflix subscriptions, bringing the total number of subscribers to more than 200 million (BBC). On January 20th, 2021, its shares increased by 15% in its fourth quarter earnings (Business Insider). 

What is the catalyst for the success of these two streaming services? Insight from one of our very own Members at Experts.com will help answer these questions. Before delving into these insights, however, it is important to acknowledge the differences between the two streaming services.  

Disney+ is significantly cheaper than its rivals due to its slim library of around 600 movies and shows. However, the type of content it acquires is the gravitational element for its growing audience. Disney+ is the leading content provider for fans of Disney Original Movies, Marvel, Pixar, and “Star Wars” franchises. 

Netflix is known for its high-quality original shows and movies such as “Bridgerton,” “The Queen’s Gambit,” and “Marriage Story.” Its international content, like “Lupin” and “La Casa De Papel,” has increasingly appealed to audiences. Unlike Disney+, Netflix also allows consumers to stream movies with family and friends for free with Teleparty. This service may be more expensive, but its library of nearly 4,000 shows is worth the subscription. With these crucial differences in mind, let’s delve into our Experts’ contributions.  

Disney+ leads US brand awareness and subscriber race for new video  streaming services | The Drum

Dr. Brent Coker is an Online Consumer Psychologist with a PhD in Electronic Commerce. He is also a Digital Marketing and Digital Business Models professor at the University of Melbourne. Based on his extensive knowledge on consumer behavior, Dr. Coker believes the rise in streaming entertainment services is indirectly correlated to COVID-19 for a couple of reasons:  

The first is the unexpected lifestyle imposed onto the world by the pandemic. National emergency calls made by various world leaders have induced policies including stay-at-home orders, remote learning and work, as well as limited in-person interaction. This new reality forced consumers to alter purchasing habits from before the virus, like spending more on internet bandwidth for work (which varies by country as some lack unlimited speed plans) rather than tickets for movies or other live performances. “Consumers ‘rationalise’ the extra cost out of necessity (they convince themselves the extra cost is needed not just wanted),” a direct quote from Dr. Coker. This high quality and faster internet further justifies subscribing to streaming services. Disney+ and Netflix’s stellar financial performances are due to the millions of people adjusting to more confined circumstances. 

The second reason is the lack of entertainment options. Because of the new social-distancing guidelines, in-person music festivals, sporting events, and dining at restaurants without restrictions are limited. Coker states, “People divide their entertainment options according to gratification – live performances, stage shows, cinema, and TV.” He then explains the absence of in-person events leads people to search for substitutes. It appears Netflix and Disney+ were the perfect replacement for millions of people this past year.  

MUST-WATCH SHOWS AND MOVIES – THE WATCHDOG

Dr. Coker also alluded to a slight change in advertising and endorsements. Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are a few of many social media platforms people use to stay informed and connected. It is also the arena in which influencers use their online presence to promote trends and brands. Dr. Coker mentions Tiger King, one of the first Netflix Original shows to be released just before COVID-19, as a prime example of endorsement through social media. The documentary, especially its eccentric and bizarre main subject, Joe Exotic, became a meme used to draw more attention to audiences around the globe. Memes are “amusing or interesting items (such as captioned picture or video) or genre of items that are spread widely online especially through social media,” (Merriam-Webster). Dr. Coker finalizes his thoughts on social media connectedness by stating, “This is essential endorsement and word-of-mouth thus herding effects as people jump on board to experience what they perceive is the new norm.” 

The requirements of greater internet bandwidth for work, the loss of outdoor entertainment, and the implementation of stay-at-home policies have kindled the need for home entertainment. In 2020 alone, both companies have accrued millions of subscribers. Thanks to our Experts.com Member, Dr. Brent Coker, his insight on Consumer Behavior and Digital Marketing shed light on how the unanticipated lifestyle engendered by COVID-19 indirectly played a role in the purchasing decisions of people around the world and shapes how citizens perceive this new reality through social media. It remains to be seen whether Netflix and Disney+ will perform as well post-pandemic. 

Criminal JusticeCriminal LawExpert Witness

The Staircase on Netflix: Lawyer and Expert Witness Costs of a Homicide Trial

Netflix’s hottest new true crime show gives us an excellent view of the financial costs of criminal justice.

A little over half-way through the second episode, the defendant Michael Peterson, is having a conversation with his brother, Bill Peterson. They had just been pitched a $35-40,000 idea for conducting a survey instead of a mock trial. Thereafter, the brothers have an open and frank discussion about the costs of defending Michael Peterson for killing his wife.

They have a conversation in which they realize they’ll be over-budget by about $300,000. Initially, they thought the defense and trial might cost somewhere between $500-550,000. No small sum. Now, after speaking with the lead attorney and some trial consultants, they realize they’re looking at a $750-800,000 of legal spend. With that money spent, there’s no guarantee he’s staying out of prison.

  • SPOILER ALERT: He doesn’t stay out of prison, but he does get out of prison after many years.

Michael Peterson asks his brother, “Then again, what do people do, who don’t have any money?” It is an excellent question! Michael Peterson follows that up with “the rich get off because they can afford to defend themselves. The poor go to jail because they can’t afford to defend themselves… not in every case.” This appears to be a reasonable assumption. Michael goes on to state, “American justice is, very, very expensive.”

Regardless of what you think about Michael Peterson, or The Staircase, he has brought up some really prescient issues. In reality, cost is a major access to justice issue. I discussed this with my access to justice panel members, at the ABA GPSolo / GLSA conference in Louisiana, earlier this year. Cost often prevents people from seeking legal assistance. What if you seek legal assistance, but you don’t have $50,000, $100,000, $800,000 or more, to throw at a defense? That may put your freedom in a perilous position.

Considering the financial strain a criminal trial might cause, I thought now was a good time to provide an assessment of the costs. Remember, the costs discussed in episode two of The Staircase, were based on costs from the early 2000’s. It would be fair to assume those costs have increased. If you are innocent of a crime, you’d still have to spend the money to defend yourself.

I’m going use a hypothetical homicide case to assess attorney, trial consultant, and expert witness costs, for the purposes of this blog. For the fact pattern, assume similar facts to those in The Staircase (i.e. a victim is found at the base of a staircase. The police think the defendant killed the victim. The defendant argues the victim fell down the stairs). Our hypothetical criminal trial is going to include an appeal.

Legal Costs for a Homicide Trial:

To get some insights on the legal costs for defending a homicide prosecution, I’ve reached out to our friend Walter M. Reaves, Esq. Walter is a friend and colleague I’ve met through the LegalMinds Mastermind Group. He is a criminal defense attorney located in Waco, Texas. To find more about his practice, visit waco-criminal-attorney.com. The following text is the full analysis provided by Walter Reaves:

There are several lessons you can learn from the “Staircase”, one of which concerns the cost of a vigorous defense. In one of the episodes, while they are totaling how much they have spent so far, Michael Peterson wonders how someone who doesn’t have the financial resources he has can defend themselves. It’s a fair question, and one that is asked regularly.

He’s not alone in believing the criminal justice system favors the wealthy. You can’t argue with the fact that they can afford the best lawyers, and the best experts.  Some people also believe they can buy their way out of trouble.  While there are rare instances where that has happened, it’s the exception. The benefit of money is in the “extras” that most defendants are not able to take advantage of.

You probably wonder how expensive a murder case is to try. Cases like the Peterson one are the exception. Most cases are not nearly as complex or complicated. Where the facts are fairly well established, there may not be a lot you can do. Even in cases that are fairly complex, there may not be a lot of experts involved.

For those dying to know, here’s an estimate on the potential costs you could incur in defending a murder case:

Defense attorneys – this is probably the biggest range you will find, because criminal defense lawyers generally don’t work on an hourly basis; instead, they charge flat fees. That is based on a number of factors, including the lawyer’s experience, as well as the amount of time the lawyer anticipates the case will take. It also depends on the location.  For the defense of a major murder case, you would expect a good lawyer to charge at least $100,000, and maybe a lot more. In a case like the Peterson case, the lawyer is probably going to be working only on that case, and will utilize most of his office in doing so. That means they aren’t going to have any other money coming in, so the fee they charge needs to account for that.

Investigators – most investigators charge by the hour. In Texas, it can range from $50.00 an hour, to $100.00 plus. The amount of investigation that is necessary can vary widely, but for a complicated case like this one, an estimate would be 200-500 hours.

Fortunately, most other experts do not have to do the same amount of work. A pathologist is a must in a murder case. You can expect a retainer of $5,000 – $10,000 to review the case, provide an initial opinion. If they have to testify, most experts charge a fee based on the amount of time they are required to be in court, which can be $1,500- $3,500 a day, plus their expenses.

A biomechanical expert is a specialized expert, that might be involved in a murder case. Their fees would generally be in line with the pathologist, although they are more likely to be paid by the hour, with rates ranging from $150 – $500.00.

Blood spatter experts can be expensive, because they are looking at all the evidence. While a pathologist may only be looking at the autopsy, the blood spatter expert is reviewing all the autopsy, as well as all the photographs. They also may want to visit the scene, and take more detailed measurements than the police did. They also will review all of the reports and statements, to determine whether they are consistent with the physical evidence. Normal fees would be in the range of $10,000 – $15,000. They will also charge an additional fee for testifying, based on the number of days they are required to spend away from the office.

In addition to the above experts, you might also have a crime scene expert, or an expert in crime scene re-construction. Like the blood spatter experts, they will review all the evidence, and the photographs, and will probably visit the scene and take their own measurements.  Their fees would be consistent with blood spatter experts. They may also provide additional services, such as producing re-enactments of the crime scene.

If you don’t that kind of money, what are you supposed to do? Fortunately, you aren’t completely out of luck. The Supreme Court has held that a defendant must be provided with the tools necessary to mount a proper defense. What those tools are is open to debate. However, courts have generally held experts such as a pathologist should be provided. These experts can be paid for through the court, even if the defendant is paying for his own lawyer. Just because someone can afford to hire a lawyer, doesn’t mean they can afford to pay for a full defense. Of course, you aren’t going to get everything you might want, but at least you can have someone in your corner.

Legal Costs for a Homicide Appeal:

My experience with appeals is limited to academic. I interned at the California 3rd District Court of Appeals, while in law school. For this blog post, we really needed someone who could provide more detailed information about the practice of criminal appeals. As such, I reached out to friend and colleague, Ryan C. Locke, Esq.

Ryan Locke, founder of the Locke Law Firm, practices personal injury and criminal appeals in Atlanta, Georgia. He is an Adjunct Professor at Emory University School of Law in their trial techniques program. Previously, he worked in the Atlanta Public Defender’s office. To find out more about his practice visit: thelockefirm.com.

The following are some questions I posed to Ryan followed by the answers he provided regarding the costs of criminal appeal.

Nick: Can you tell our readers a little about post-conviction appeals (i.e. general information on what items may be appealed; how many appeals might a defendant have in the State of Georgia; anything else you think is relevant to summarize the appeal process)?

Ryan Locke: The strategy in an appeal case is to find errors that are serious and made a difference in the trial. Our two biggest obstacles in an appeal is the harmless error doctrine and appealing issues that are not preserved.

If we find an error but it doesn’t make a difference in the trial, then it is harmless error and we will lose. For example, if the defendant had a credible alibi defense and his lawyer never investigated it—serious and would have made a difference, and we’ll probably get a reversal of the conviction. But if the court let a witness testify to some pretty harmless hearsay—not serious and would not have made a difference, even if it was error.

Issues that are preserved—the defense objected to them at trial and the judge made a ruling—can be appealed directly. But often issues are not preserved because the trial lawyer didn’t object. In order to appeal those issues, we must ask for a hearing in front of the trial judge and bring the trial lawyer in to testify about his mistake. We do this by filing a motion for a new trial.

This hearing is our last chance to enter evidence into the record. For example, in The Staircase the government introduced evidence of Peterson’s neighbor in Germany dying under similar suspicious circumstances in order to prove that he knew how to fake his wife’s accident. If the trial attorney doesn’t object to this evidence then the issue is waived—unless we assert that the trial attorney was constitutionally ineffective for that failure by calling the lawyer as a witness and asking him or her about it.

If the trial judge denies the motion for new trial, we then appeal that denial. Most cases go to the Court of Appeals, while some go directly to the Supreme Court. In either court, the process is straightforward: each side files briefs, we go to the court and have oral argument if they grant our request, and then we wait for the opinion.

If we lose the direct appeal, then the defendant can file a civil case asking for a writ of habeas corpus. You have the right to a lawyer for the direct appeal, but not in the habeas case, and there are some additional hurdles for raising issues in a habeas, so the direct appeal is usually your best shot at getting a conviction reversed.

Nick: In your experience, what is a common cost of post-conviction appeals in Georgia?

Ryan Locke: The cost of an appeal can really vary based on the length of the trial, the complexity of the evidence, whether any experts testified, and the complexity of the issues raised on appeal. The cheapest appeal may be a trial that only lasted a few days, no scientific evidence was presented, and no experts testified. On the other end, I worked on appealing a federal trial that lasted three weeks and involved a complicated conspiracy—it took me 60 hours just to review the trial transcripts.

The cost also depends on if the work requires experts. In our Staircase example, one issue may involve hiring experts to review all the scientific and forensic evidence. If there was a way to attach the government’s scientific evidence that the defense didn’t raise at trial, then we’ve got to bring our own expert to court and have him testify, just like he would have testified at trial. This can add considerable expense to an appeal.

I would ballpark most appeals between $15,000 and $25,000, unless there’s a complicating factor. Price can also vary depending on who you hire. The best lawyers in Georgia handling high-profile cases will start at $75,000 to $100,000.

Nick: If there are multiple appeals, how much might a defendant expect to spend on multiple appeals?

Ryan Locke: The reality is that most defendants rely on the public defender for their direct appeal and will then be pro se for their habeas case. Because habeas cases have more procedural hurdles to jump through before the court will decide a case on the merits, I will usually charge one fee to review the case first to see what the strategy should be and then a second fee to execute on the strategy. For me, habeas cases end up being a bit more expensive because of this.

Nick: For an entire appeals process, can you provide us with a low to high range of costs?

Ryan Locke: From free to as much money as you have. Where money makes the biggest difference is in experts. If the prosecution relied on scientific evidence and expert testimony to secure the conviction, you need to have everything reviewed by independent experts—even if the defense had experts testify at trial. My most recent appellate win relied on having a psychologist review almost a thousand pages of medical records and evaluate my client in prison. The report we got was persuasive both to the prosecutor and the court and provided the evidence we needed to win.

You also need quality experts to give you bad news. I had a case where we hired an out-of-state medical examiner to review the autopsy. He told us that the government’s conclusions were sound and most experts would agree with them. This allowed us to focus on other aspects of the appeal and not waste time or money on a losing issue.

Conclusions:

A huge thank you to Walter Reaves and Ryan Locke for participating in this effort. We wanted to give readers a modest idea of the costs associated with mounting a significant criminal defense.

To wrap up, I’m going to take the lowest costs provided by my co-authors to give our readers a basic understanding of the expense involved in criminal defense.

Defense attorney – $100,000.

Investigator – $50/hour times 200 hours = $10,000.

Pathologist – $5,000 retainer; $1,500 1 day of trial testimony = $6,500.

Biomechanics expert – per Walter Reaves these costs would be in line with Pathologist, so = $6,500.

Blood spatter expert – $10,000. Plus a fee for testifying. I had to search some of our data to see what they charge for testifying and we’re going to ballpark one day at $2,400 for a total =  $12,400.

Crime scene expert – per Walter Reaves, these costs would be in line with the blood spatter experts so we ballpark it as = $12,400.

Criminal appeal – per Ryan Locke, the low end cost = $15,000.

Again, these numbers are based on the lowest costs provided by my co-authors. We also factored in one day of testimony for most of the experts. We come up with a low cost for a criminal trial and appeal of $162,800.

We did not use mounds of empirical data in this analysis. Many things could change the costs of a trial. One, for example, is if your lawyer decided to hire an expert through an expert witness broker, you could add another 40% onto the cost of each expert. I know, that’s a self-serving comment, but it is entirely accurate. You should be getting your experts through Experts.com.

Other items impacting the costs were our use of the same experts we saw used in The Staircase. Not every case is going to require all the experts mentioned in this hypothetical. However, you are already at $115,000 if you factor in your defense counsel and appeals counsel.

My best advice, stay out of trouble. It can be very expensive, even with available assistance described by Mr. Reaves and Mr. Locke.