The Blog Formerly Known As Practical Paralegalism
Jill Etchison Goldbach, a legal assistant and one of my co-workers at Elliot Pishko Morgan P.A., has been working with senior partner, David Pishko, this week on the Kalvin Smith wrongful conviction case, which has made state and national headlines. See “Smith Denied New Trial in Silk Plant Case” at MSNBC.com. Mr. Smith’s efforts to overturn his conviction for the 1995 severe beating of Jill Marker, a clerk at the Silk Plant Forest in Winston-Salem, have been handled by The Duke Innocence Project since 2003, with Dave appearing as lead counsel. This week, Mr. Smith’s request for a retrial was heard in Forsyth County Civil Superior Court but denied.
In her 9-year legal career, this was Jill’s first hearing on a motion for appropriate relief (based on theories of prosecutorial misconduct and ineffective assistance of defense counsel during the original trial that led to the conviction). Her duties included preparing and organizing hearing exhibits and assisting Dave at the hearing. Her biggest challenges were making sure that Dave had everything he needed for the hearing, including producing the correct exhibits for each witness, and anticipating Dave’s requests during the hearing.
Dave praised Jill’s work, stating, “Jill’s calm efficiency at the hearing reflected her detailed preparation. She understands that a well organized presentation enhances our credibility in court.”
Jill’s tip for other paralegals working on trials, especially those receiving a lot of media attention, is to “look as professional as the attorneys and make sure ahead of time that you have enough clean, pressed suits to last the length of the trial.” Jill also recommends making more exhibit copies than the attorney actually requests, in case extras are needed at trial. In addition, she suggests bringing a stapler, staple remover and liquid paper with the trial supplies.
Jill admits that her heart was pounding and she felt extremely anxious right before the judge denied the request. As far as the outcome, Jill says, “After all of the hard work, heart and emotion that go into a trial like this, it was very disappointing to hear the judge say that he was denying the defendant’s motion.”
Dave plans to appeal the ruling.