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TRUMBULL COUNTY Defense attorneys create group to share information



Published: Sun, April 14, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Attorneys from the surrounding area are invited to the group's first meeting.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- Defense lawyers feeling left out of the club have started their own to boost their clout.

Attys. John Fowler and John Large say the Western Reserve Defense Association will give criminal defense lawyers a chance to work together to better help their clients.

"Odds are already stacked against the defense when you walk in the courtroom," said Fowler. "We want to be able to share information and brainstorm."

Large also noted that defense attorneys believe the Trumbull County Prosecutor's Office should be more open with information it has on criminal cases.

"In other areas, the prosecutor's office is very open," Large said. "I've worked in areas where the prosecutors will tell you just to come and look at their files. This can benefit the prosecutor, too, because if we find out that they have 12 witnesses that saw our client take something, chances are we are going to try and work out a deal."

Response: Prosecutor Dennis Watkins said he doesn't mind that the attorneys are starting the organization.

"It's a free country. They can do what they want," he said, noting his office does give open discovery in some cases.

Open discovery means the prosecutor's office gives all the information it has on a case to the defense.

"I would agree to open discovery on all cases if the defense would do the same," Watkins said. He said local defense attorneys don't want to return the courtesy.

Large said that is an issue to be discussed at the first meeting of the association at 4:30 p.m. April 25 in the Saratoga Restaurant in Warren.

Defense attorneys from the surrounding area are invited.

"We are not going to charge any fees or anything like that," Large said. He added that a local municipal court judge asked to attend but was told no.

"This isn't for judges or prosecutors," Large said. "They have their own groups."

Large said he hopes the organization will get local attorneys to help one another.

"There are several of us who are in our own practice, and if we go to trial on a case, we don't have anyone else to call to stand in on another hearing for us," Large said. "Maybe with this organization we can set something up where we can call on each other for help."

Fowler noted that attorneys can also help with strategies.

"Chances are someone has had a case similar and may be able to help," Large said.

"We want to be able to give the best service we can to our clients."

sinkovich@vindy.com




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