Post Conviction Legal Representation

Jodi ColeI am the descendent of a pioneer healer who lived in Blanco County, Texas during the 1800s. After being involved in a transformative experience, while handling a high profile post conviction habeas case, I realized that it would be wise to implement a more healing approach to post conviction legal representation. My past experience of being a survivor of childhood trauma and my own substance abuse recovery has given me insight as to the necessity of a different approach within the criminal justice system, if we want others to heal and grow as individuals.

Because of my decision, I have decided to focus my practice on state and federal post conviction legal representation for clients throughout Texas. My approach will pay special attention to restorative justice principals. I am going to regularly utilize Defense Initiated Victim Outreach Specialists (“VOS”) as a normal practice of my investigations.

What is Restorative Justice?

The Institute for Restorative Justice and Restorative Dialogue at the University of Texas School of Social Work in Austin, Texas, defines Restorative Justice as “a fast-growing state, national, and international victim-centered response to wrongdoing that gives individuals adversely affected by a criminal act the opportunity to be directly involved in responding to the harm caused by the crime.”  It is explained as viewing crime as a violation of people and interpersonal relationships that creates obligations and liabilities.  Its goals are to hear and put the right and wrongs through engaging victims, offenders, and community members in restorative dialogue and the creation of mutually beneficial solutions.

Learn more about general restorative justice concepts

What is Defense Initiated Victim Outreach (“DIVO”)?

“Defense Initiated Outreach,” (“DIVO”), is a process where the defense team reaches out to a complaining witness, victim, or surviving family member, in an effort to facilitate communication and healing. This effort may ultimately benefit the client, but it can not be the driving force behind the effort. The effort must come from an open heart and sincere wish to facilitate healing. Paradoxically though, without this effort, there is no opportunity to build a relationship with a complaining witness, victim, or surviving family member that could help a client legally.

There is nothing scarier than reaching out to a person who may have been harmed by one’s client, but a purely antagonistic relationship within the criminal justice system leaves no room for redemption or amends. Fortunately, there are specialists that can help the defense team reach out to victims. These professionals are called “Victim Outreach Specialists,” (“VOS”). The VOS helps determine if there are any needs that a crime victim may have that the defense team may be able to help address. The VOS contacts the crime victim in order to ascertain questions and concerns the crime victim may have that can be met most effectively by the defense.

When utilizing a VOS, the defense is showing a commitment to all parties in a criminal matter, and must follow through in helping a victim or surviving family members, whenever possible, in an effort to maintain credibility. This effort, in and of itself, has to be the only goal. However, in making this effort, I believe that a criminal defendant or movant is afforded the first steps of earning their integrity back, which is the ultimate goal of this process from the defense perspective.

Learn more about Defense Initiated Victim Outreach