Ericka – Intake Specialists
We are a habeas document preparation firm. We help pro per clients throughout California.
We appreciate your patience as we move back to the Haberfelde Building. We will be running between the old and new offices during the transition.
New: 1706 Chester Ave., Suite 356
1508 18th Street, Suite 308C
Bakersfield, CA 93301
Think it is hard to get your habeas ready? We help with the paperwork to get you ready.
Dial ThinkReady (844-657-3239)
Frequently Asked Questions
Are you attorneys?
No. We are not attorneys, and we do not represent you in court.
What is a habeas paralegal?
A habeas paralegal is a legal professional who provides assistance to attorneys in preparing and filing petitions for writ of habeas corpus on behalf of clients. When working for an attorney, we are paralegals. However, we also assist defendants who represent themselves when preparing a petition for writ of habeas corpus. When acting on behalf of pro per clients, we are called Legal Document Assistants.
The duties of a habeas paralegal may include conducting legal research, reviewing case files and transcripts, interviewing clients and witnesses, drafting motions and pleadings, and maintaining case files and databases. They may also assist with hearing preparation, such as organizing exhibits and preparing witness lists. Habeas paralegals play an important role in the legal process by helping to ensure that the rights of the accused are protected and that justice is served.
It’s important to note that while habeas paralegals are an important part of the legal team in habeas corpus cases, they must work under the supervision of licensed attorneys. Only licensed attorneys are authorized to provide legal advice and represent clients in court. When working under the supervision of a pro per defendant, we are acting as Legal Document Assistants and are not allowed to represent you or to provide legal advice.
How well do you know the law?
Quite well. In addition to published articles, we have written ten books related to criminal defense, drafted thousands of criminal defense motions, and drafted several hundred petitions. Our motions in limine are now used as standard templates by many attorneys in private practice as well as many public defenders.
What research tools do you have?
We have a full library of criminal defense books, but our favorite tool is Westlaw and our favorite book is California Criminal Defense Motions in Limine.
Is the preparation of habeas corpus petitions the practice of law?
No! The United States Supreme Court explained in Johnson v. Avery (1969) 393 U.S. 483 that “unless and until the State provides some reasonable alternative to assist inmates in the preparation of petitions for post-conviction relief, it may not validly enforce a regulation such as that here in issue, barring [non-attorneys] from furnishing such assistance to other prisoners… The power of the States to control the practice of law cannot be exercised so as to abrogate federally protected rights… preparation of petitions for post-conviction relief — though historically and traditionally one which may benefit from the services of a trained and dedicated lawyer, is a function often, perhaps generally, performed by laymen. Title 28 U.S.C. s 2242 apparently contemplates that in many situations petitions for federal habeas corpus relief will be prepared by laymen.”
Further, we only prepare petitions under your direction. We may find possible issues in your case, and we may find legal authority that could possibly be in your favor, but you represent yourself, so you control your case. We only prepare documents under your direction.
Do you have access to attorneys?
Yes, we write for multiple attorneys, and we regularly consult with attorneys, but these attorneys do not represent you unless you hire one of them. If your habeas petition demonstrates that you are entitled to relief, the court will generally appoint an attorney to represent you at no cost.
What is the difference between an appeal and a petition for writ of habeas corpus?
An appeal and a petition for writ of habeas corpus are both legal actions that can be taken to challenge a court’s decision, but they serve different purposes. An appeal is a request for a higher court to review the decision of a lower court. An appeal is typically filed after a trial has concluded and a verdict has been reached. The purpose of an appeal is to determine whether the lower court made errors in applying the law or in its factual findings. If the higher court agrees that a significant error was made, it may reverse the decision of the lower court or send the case back for a new trial. An appeal is limited to the record of proceedings in the trial court.
A petition for writ of habeas corpus, on the other hand, is a legal action that challenges a person’s detention or imprisonment. It is typically used when a person believes they are being held unlawfully or when they believe their constitutional rights have been violated. The writ of habeas corpus requires that the person detaining the individual, usually the prison warden, must justify the detention and show why it is legal under the law. As a practical matter, the District Attorney or the Attorney General, not the warden, opposes the petition. The petition may contain matters not found in the record, such as newly discovered evidence, evidence the attorney failed to present in court, or a discussion of bad advice the attorney gave the defendant. If the court determines that the detention is unlawful, it may order the release of the person. A habeas petition may also be used to challenge the conditions of confinement, such as arguing that the inmate is not receiving proper medical care.
What arguments should be in a petition for writ of habeas corpus?
The arguments made are individual to the case, but it is generally best to find errors described as “structural errors” or “reversible errors” in other criminal cases. Examples of such errors include:
- Jury misconduct: If a member of the jury engages in misconduct, such as conducting their own investigation, discussing the case with outside parties, or failing to deliberate properly, it can result in a reversible error.
- Incorrect jury instructions: If the judge gives the jury incorrect instructions on the law or fails to properly instruct the jury on an important legal issue, it can result in a reversible error.
- Evidentiary errors: If the judge allows the introduction of evidence that should have been excluded or excludes evidence that should have been allowed, it can result in a reversible error, but generally only if the improper ruling on evidence deprived the defendant of a fair trial.
- Prosecutorial misconduct: If the prosecutor engages in misconduct, such as withholding exculpatory evidence or making improper statements during closing arguments, it can result in a reversible error.
- Ineffective assistance of counsel: If the defendant’s attorney provides ineffective representation, such as failing to investigate the case properly, failing to object to improper evidence, or failing to call witnesses who could have helped the defense, it can result in a reversible error.
- Sentencing errors: If the judge imposes a sentence that is not authorized by law or that is based on incorrect information, it can result in a reversible error.
- Denial of the right to counsel: If the defendant is denied their right to counsel at a critical stage of the trial process, such as during arraignment, plea bargaining, or sentencing, it can be considered a structural error.
- Bias in the jury selection process: If the jury selection process is biased or discriminatory, it can be considered a structural error. For example, if potential jurors are excluded on the basis of their race or ethnicity or if the prosecutor engages in intentional discrimination during jury selection.
- Defective indictment or information: If the indictment or information charging the defendant with a crime is defective, such as failing to allege all of the elements of the crime, it can be considered a structural error.
- Complete denial of a fair trial: If the trial is conducted in such a way that the defendant is completely denied a fair trial, such as through a biased judge, an unfair trial venue, or the denial of the opportunity to present a defense, it can be considered a reversible error.
- Actual innocence: If the defendant can prove their actual innocence, it can be considered a reversible error. This is because a conviction based on a complete lack of evidence of guilt is a fundamental error that undermines the reliability and integrity of the entire trial process.
It’s important to note that not all errors made during trial are reversible errors. In order for an error to be reversible, it must have had a significant impact on the outcome of the case.
How soon do I have to file a California habeas corpus petition?
While most states set determinate time limits for collateral relief applications, in California, neither statute nor rule of court does so. Instead, California courts “appl[y] a general ‘reasonableness’ standard” to judge whether a habeas petition is timely filed. (Carey v. Saffold (2002) 536 U.S. 214, 222). The basic instruction provided by the California Supreme Court is simply that “a [habeas] petition should be filed as promptly as the circumstances allow ….” (In re Clark (1993) 5 Cal. 4th 750, 765, n. 5)
Three leading decisions describe California’s timeliness requirement: In re Clark, In re Robbins (1998) 18 Cal.4th 770, and In re Gallego (1998) 18 Cal.4th 825. A prisoner must seek habeas relief without “substantial delay,” Robbins at 317; Gallego at 833; Clark at 750, as “measured from the time the petitioner or counsel knew, or reasonably should have known, of the information offered in support of the claim and the legal basis for the claim,” Robbins at 787. Petitioners in noncapital cases have “the burden of establishing (i) absence of substantial delay, (ii) good cause for the delay, or (iii) that the claim falls within an exception to the bar of untimeliness.” Robbins at 780.
How much does it cost?
We charge about a third the amount an attorney would charge for the same work, even though we often do the work for attorneys. The cost of hiring us or a habeas corpus attorney can vary depending on several factors, including the complexity of the case, the attorney’s experience and reputation, and the location of the attorney. Here are some factors that can impact the cost of a habeas corpus attorney:
- Hourly rate: Many attorneys charge an hourly rate for their services, ranging from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars per hour, depending on the attorney’s experience and reputation. The habeas attorney we work with the most charges $350 per hour.
- Flat fee: Some attorneys may charge a flat fee for their services, which can range from several thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the complexity of the case. The habeas attorney we work with sometimes charges a flat fee of no less than $10,000.
- Contingency fee: In some cases, an attorney may agree to work on a contingency fee basis, which means that they will only receive payment if they are successful in obtaining relief for the client. Contingency fees are typically a percentage of any monetary damages or settlement obtained. We do not work on contingency, but we will accept a lien against a pending case that is expected to result in a monetary settlement.
- Costs and expenses: In addition to our fee or the attorney’s fee, there may be additional costs and expenses associated with filing a habeas corpus petition, such as court fees, expert witness fees, and travel expenses.
How do I get started?
When you Think you are Ready, call: