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Steven Michael Cohen
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Steven Cohen’s Answers

5 total

  • Why is it so difficult to get free or inexpensive help from lawyers , or pro bono assistance ?

    I know that everyone says that he or she is not guilty . But there is a young man in New York State that has served his time , he has actually served longer than he should have , and should be serving . . He has worked so hard to go through a...

    Steven’s Answer

    Your frustration is well justified. This is precisely the kind of case that tends to fall through the cracks. It is a strain on the system to get pro-bono attorneys, public defenders, and assigned counsel involved with all of the arraigned criminal cases involving indigent defendants, just to assure a fair trial or plea disposition. The 6th Amendment to the Constitution and the cases that have flowed from that compel the government to provide attorneys at that stage. Most efforts by bar associations are geared toward assuring competent representation at the trial stage, and secondarily, for any appeals. After that, the next priority for the pro-bono bar is to exonerate people who have been wrongfully incarcerated. When someone has been incarcerated following a fair trial, but has remained in prison for longer than they were properly sentenced, such victims generally find themselves at the end of a long list of people looking for pro-bono assistance, and it can take a very long time before their case will be picked up - if ever. Private attorneys love wrongful incarceration cases, because they can be lucrative (in New York State, Court of Claims Act 8-b provides relief, and the Due Process claims can also find exprression under 42 USC 1983 with fees being provided for under 42 USC 1988). The trouble is, 8-b claims are predicated on actual innocence, and the constitutional claims find greater value in lengthy incarcerations when the wrongfully detained prisoner has lost revenues and been subjected to injury during the period of incarceration. Your friend's situation offers little financial incentive for attorneys who operate on a contingent fee basis, and is a lower priority for already over-burdened pro-bono attorneys. However, I will certainly be glad to speak with you to see if something can be done. Your friend is fortunate to have you to lend your credible voice. By far, the majority of victims of the system are voiceless. Feel free to call me at 716-636-7600.

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  • Pardon? Expongment? Restoration of civil rights? Specifically, gun rights

    Long story short. I was convicted of a felony in 2002. I assume that means I am unable to own a firearm. I live in west virginia and am now a 30 year old hard working chef, husband, and father. I would like the same bonding opportunity that huntin...

    Steven’s Answer

    There is a way, however improbable. Without knowing the details of your felony conviction, I must assume it does not fall within the statutory exemptions to the firearms ban (securities violations, etc.) The federal statute that controls, 18 USC 922(g)(1), is very broad and very absolute in its terms. Anyone convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year may not own, use, transport or possess a firearm. This includes long guns, shotguns, rifles, starter pistols, etc. in addition to handguns. However, 18 USC 921(a)(20) and 18 USC 921 (a)(33)(B)(ii) says that if your conviction has been paardoned or expunged, your right to own a gun may be restored. They look to the laws of the state in which the ex-convict resides. I do not practice in West Virginia and do not know the specific laws of that state. You should consult with a lawyer from that jurisdiction on that specific issue. Also, the statute specifically permists you to apply to ATFE for restoration of your gun rights. 18 USC 925(c). That process can be a long and frustrating one from what I hear, and I know of no applications personally that have been approved. Good luck.

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  • Can i legitimately file a lawsuit against my local sheriff's department? If so what would the ramifications be for doing so?

    My 2 year old daughter about 8 months ago was taken into the bathroom by a male relative and he locked the door. When it was realized he was told to open the door and he replied "hold on a minute". He was told if he didn't open the door it would b...

    Steven’s Answer

    First thing, make sure you have your daughter evaluated by a child psychologist experienced in sexual abuse cases. If they find indicia of abuse, their opinion could provide a law enforcement agency with the reasonable cause necessary to open an investigation or even the probable cause necessary to make an arrest. If the Sheriff's Dept. won't act, their are concurrent law enforcement agencies which might. The State Police and municipal police departments should be consulted, and, if they don't act, go right to the county prosecutor or State Attorney General, all of whom have arrest powers.

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  • Subpoena for me was servered to my mother at my old address, am I risking anything by not appearing?

    A process server showed at my mothers house, where I no longer reside and said he had a survey for me to complete with a check for $15 dollars made payable to me. I no longer and have not for many years, reside at my mothers address, nor do I reci...

    Steven’s Answer

    If it is a subpoena signed by a lawyer, you can be fined $50 for not showing up. If it is signed by a judge (judicial subpoena), you can be fined $150 for not showing up. Contempt is rare, but possible. This presupposes that you were properly served. Doesn't sound as though you were. Consult a lawyer.

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  • I need to obtain medical admittance records ftom a certain date for my hearing. The files are of a deceased non-relative. Can I

    Will they give me a copy? I need to prove my case in court & when the deceased weeny into the hospital helps my case. I'm not a relative. How do I get the records.

    Steven’s Answer

    Your attorney can issue a subpoena duces tecum for the records. If you are representing yourself ("Pro Se") the judge presiding over the case can issue one for you. By your question, it sounds as though the admission date is the information you need, rather than the medical particulars. If that is so, a hospital will be less concerned about the HIPAA (privacy) ramifications and less likely to move to quash the subpoena. You could reduce the chances of a motion to quash by specifying that you are willing to accept a heavily redacted medical record which contains only the patient's name and date of admission. If there is a motion to quash, the judge can review the records privately in chambers ("in camera") and work out a stipulation among the parties as to that date without disclosing the records.

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