The why of "My Attorney Is" program.
The United States Constitution specifically states:
"Amendment 6 - In all criminal prosecutions . . . the accused [shall] have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense."
The Courts interpret the 6th Amendment to mean that if you have a lawyer, the government must not question you without your lawyer present irrespective of whether you are under arrest. Why? If the government is allowed to question you without regard to your lawyer's role, then the 6th Amendment means nothing.
Many persons confuse the 6th Amendment with the 5th Amendment which states:
"Amendment 5 - No person shall be . . . compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself ... ."
The confusion arises in terms of Miranda rights which were created by the Courts to give meaning to the 5th Amendment. However, the 5th Amendment applies if the interrogation by the government occurs when you are in custody, which means you are not free to leave. The 6th Amendment's right to counsel applies even if you are not in custody.
So, how can you and your rights be protected? Hire an attorney which is what "My Attorney Is" program accomplishes, inform the government you have an attorney and do not waive your rights to an attorney whether you are free to leave or not; just smile and say "My attorney is Leonard E. Cox" and don't say anything else except to identify yourself which you are required to do by Texas law. In order to assist you, when we accept your employment contract, we will send a signed copy of that contract to you, and provide a few stickers to you which you will place on your vehicle insurance cards and the windshield (inside) of your vehicle, if you so desire. Do not put the stickers on your driver's license or any other government issued item since the government will probably accuse you of defacing a governmental document. At present, the program cost $20.00 per year. If the price increases when you renew the contract, I doubt it will increase by much since this program is not a "money maker" for this law firm. There is no automatic renewal: you must renew the contract yearly and we must acknowledge acceptance of the funds and send a signed copy of the contract to you.
And that is what the "My Attorney Is" program does: you hire an attorney for a year at a time. The hiring must be renewed every year to be effective since the ATTORNEY MUST SAY HE IS YOUR ATTORNEY. It is not enough that you say you have an attorney unless the attorney says he has in fact been hired.
Here are some cases illustrating the issue. Remember, that the Courts are constantly interpreting the issue and, in my opinion, chipping away piece by piece at a fundamental right to counsel. So, the best thing to do if you are contacted by the government is tell them "My Attorney Is Leonard E. Cox." If you are informed of your Miranda rights, respond with "My Attorney Is Leonard E. Cox.
If you have paid the fee and I have acknowledged payment and acceptance of the employment contract, then I am your attorney for a three day period during a year no matter how many separate three day periods happen during that year. In other words, if the police contact you twenty times during that year, then I am your attorney on those twenty occasions for a maximum of three days of each occasion. Why three days? I believe this will give you enough time to hire an attorney of your choice and you can hire anyone, it does not have to be Leonard E. Cox.
To sum it up, I initiated this program to assist people in protecting their right to remain silent and to prevent the government from having a "free shot" at interrogating a person. The right to Counsel has more protection than Miranda rights since it goes beyond Miranda rights. Can I guarantee this program will work? No, but it is better than anything else I know of to protect your right to silence and your right to an attorney.