Passing out one
page copies of your complaint and demands on the court house
steps at lunchtime is a highly effective way to put pressure
on any part of the system that is failing you. Best of all,
it's likely to get a very fast response to your needs.
The reason this
works so well is that in a very brief period of time passing
out your story on the courthouse steps you'll reach a captive
audience of all the players in the system. In just a couple
hours at lunchtime, you'll reach judges, police officers,
probation officers, defense attorneys, prosecutors, social
workers, victims, clerks, court reporters, and more; the
whole cast of characters in a tightly interlocking system.
And each in turn will take your handout back to their office
and start talking about it.
In no time, your
complaint you will be the buzz of the day throughout the
entire local criminal justice system as officials pass the
story back and forth from one to another.
The very last
thing any individual official wants is to have one of their
cases blow up in front of all their peers, and become the
subject of critique, discussion, and jokes. Applying this
kind of social pressure is especially effective for use
on criminal justice officials because they pride themselves
more than most on always having everything under control.
More often than not, the official that you're criticizing,
or the official's superior, will react very quickly to try
and make you happy by giving you what you want.
So make three
or four hundred copies of your letter, or of a one page
flyer of your complaint and demands. Then go with a friend,
advocate, or client, stand on the courthouse steps at lunchtime,
pass it out, and watch your problem get solved.
One of the nice
features of this strategy is that once you've done this,
it works even better the second or third time around if
you have to do it again. Once people know the first chapter
of a story, they want to find out what happens next. They're
more likely to pay attention to the second or third chapter.
So if the official who mishandled your case in the first
place goes on to make more mistakes, it's a perfectly good
idea to write up an updated statement and go back to the
court house steps and do it again.
If you want to
protect your confidentiality as you do this, just withhold
or black out identifying information from your handout.