The Dallas Law Office of Stephen P. Karns

Meeting the Client

Typically, Mr. Karns is hired by the family of the Client who is incarcerated. The next step in his representation is to always personally meet his Client and that means traveling to the TDCJ unit in which the Client is housed. Mr. Karns does not send an associate or paralegal. Of course, he works closely with the family to develop a solid an effective case for parole, but it is important to personally meet with the Client because he can often provide information about his case that the family may not know.

Through his years of experience, Mr. Karns knows that his interview with the Client provides him with the best opportunity to get the Client's side of the story regarding the offense for which he is incarcerated. Police reports, prosecution reports, and trial records can contain material and unfounded biases against the client and even plain errors and mistakes. Meeting personally with the Client gives the Client and Mr. Karns the opportunity to go over the facts of the case, the applicable law and procedure, and all the areas of possible question and concern to the Client and his family.

The interview with the Client also gives Mr. Karns and the Client the opportunity to form a personal connection which helps to insure from that point on that each knows “where the other is coming from.” This helps keep them “on the same page” throughout the representation, working as a team toward the same goal—getting the Client paroled!

In addition to the interview with Mr. Karns, the client will be given a thorough questionnaire which will assist Mr. Karns to compile a complete personal and social history of the client, including information regarding his family, educational background, employment history, and medical and psychological history. This information is critically important in order for Mr. Karns to provide the most comprehensive and effective representation possible. Mr. Karns' goal for his presentation to the Board is to present the Client as a whole person, a human being—not just a number or a criminal history. If the Board is able to see the Client not just as a number or an inmate, but as a whole person with a past and a future that they can relate to or understand, then the Client has a much better chance at receiving an affirmative vote for parole.

On the other hand, Mr. Karns must know the negative history of the Client and the negative aspects of the Client's case as well. Rest assured, the Board will know whatever negative information there is to know regarding the Client's criminal history, his case, and his prison record. It is imperative that Mr. Karns not be surprised by negative information the Board has about the Client or his case, but that he doesn't. For instance, it is important to know whether the Client has committed any major disciplinary offenses, which resulted in a loss of good conduct time or line class status. If the disciplinary offenses occurred within six months of the Client's parole review date, the Client may lose the opportunity to be paroled and receive a parole set-off of at least one year.

The Client interview can also help Mr. Karns overcome any objections the Board has to paroling the Client. For instance, the Board may think the Client has not sufficiently participated in his own rehabilitation by not completing his Individual Treatment Plan (ITP). A Client's plan may include programs such as GED classes, vocational studies, group counseling programs, and substance abuse or sex offender treatment programs. The Board may be mistaken, however, because prison records are sometimes wrong or misleading. The Client may have been willing but unable to fully participate in some programs due to factors that are out of his control, and the Board should know this so that they do not wrongfully hold it against the Client.

Mr. Karns' personal interview with the Client helps him to present a better case for parole to the Board. Furthermore, the Client's family and friends also help Mr. Karns develop the most comprehensive picture of the Client as possible—that of a whole person who has rehabilitated himself and is ready and deserving of being released back into society.