Recently, I was retained by a young lady that was accused of renting a U-Haul truck and failing to return said truck in Orleans Parish. The rub was that the failure to return the truck allegedly took place in December of 2016. Furthermore, the young lady had had her license stolen earlier in 2016. Both my client and I suspected that the person who failed to return the U-Haul truck had used my client's license to rent the truck without consequence.
It was very important to the client that the charge be disposed of as quickly as possible. In Orleans Parish, after a person is arrested, the NOPD gathers all the information they have on the case and transmits the same to the district attorney's office for review. At the district attorney's office, a lawyer will “screen” the documentation and decide whether to file charges against the arrested party.
Many lawyers completely ignore the screening process. This is particularly true in Orleans Parish because the district attorney accepts the vast majority of cases for prosecution, even cases that are really bad. I never ignore the screening process. My opinion is, and always has been, that getting in touch with the screener and making a case as to why the district attorney's office should drop the matter is an important part of my job. This is particularly true in cases where, as is true here, the client wants to try and take care of the matter as quickly as possible.
In any event, I was resolved to convince the screener that my client was not the person that rented the U-Haul truck in question. I thought that the first prudent thing to do was to request any and all records U-Haul had in its possession regarding the rental and subsequent nonreturn of the truck. To accomplish this, I requested that a subpoena duces tecum issue to U-Haul. A subpoena duces tecum (or “SDT”) is not like a subpoena you get to appear in court or for jury service or something like that. It is a request, often of a corporation, to produce certain documents.
I requested any and all records in U-Haul's possession regarding the truck that was rented with my client's identification. In order to obtain this information, I had to convince a judge that the information I sought was not prevented from my acquisition by the Code of Criminal Procedure. Unfortunately, this turned out to be more difficult than I anticipated.
The state fought me on the SDT. They argued (correctly) that I was not entitled to pre-trial discovery and (wrongly, in my opinion) that the information I sought was governed by the discovery articles in the Code. I managed to convince the presiding judge that I was entitled to the information listed in the SDT, as there was no burden on the state nor was the information request strictly prohibited by the Code.
When I received the information, I noted that the person who had rented the U-Haul truck in question had provided other contact information to U-Haul, such as an email address, phone number, address, and the like. Unsurprisingly, none of that data matched my client's contact information. I then drafted a lengthy letter to the screener pointing out the various discrepancies to her. About a week later, the screener called me and told me that the office would not be prosecuting my client. It was a lot of work in a relatively short amount of time, but the result made it well worth it.
When you are looking for a lawyer, you need to hire one that is willing to get to work right away and that will not waste ANY opportunity to advocate on his or her client's behalf. You need the Law Office of Alex Kriksciun.