Self - Advocacy Workbook


Chapter 1
Advocacy, Preparations & Strategies

1-1 Introduction
1-2 Police Contact
1-3 Arrest
1-4 Arraignment
1-5 PreTrial    
1-6 Trial


Chapter 2

2-1 Aiding & Abetting
2-2 Conspiracy
2-3 Delivery of Controlled Substance






The first court appearance after arrest is at the arraignment.  At arraignment the judge decides if there is enough information to move the case forward in the criminal justice system.  Usually the person being charged with a crime appears before a judge and pleads guilty, not guilty, no contest (nolo contendre) or chooses to stand mute.  If the person pleads not guilty or stands mute, this is the time to request a public defender or court appointed lawyer.

For persons with cognitive/communication disabilities, arraignment should not occur until a lawyer is in place.  This will not happen without advocacy from the person his/herself, an interested third party (friend, family, advocate, supports coordinator, teacher) or both.

A lawyer is particularly important at this level
for several reasons:

  1. A person with a cognitive/communication disability may feel so overwhelmed that s/he is tempted to plead guilty just to get things over with; or

  2. The person may be vulnerable to a prosecutor or police officer encouraging a plea; or

  3. The person may be asked to sign an acknowledgment of rights and may not read and write or may not be able to understand any of the rights listed.

Before the arraignment is done, the judge will schedule the next court date which is known as the Pre-Trial Hearing. Most arraignments occur quite quickly after there has been an arrest All of the court dates to follow may be scheduled weeks or months into the future, so be pre pared for a lengthy process.  The judge conducting the arraignment may not be the judge who is in charge of all the court dates held after the arraignment.

Written by: Melissa King, Attorney-at-Law,  King Law Offices; Karen Wolf-Branigin, Wayne State University, Developmental Disabilities Institute; Rachel Pinsky Law Graduate, Wayne State University; Robert Lasker, Belinda Land, Vendalia Collins, Cheryle Trommater, Marsha Katz,
The project staff extend our sincere appreciation to the over 50 people who generously donated their time, support and expertise to the Equal Justice initiative.  Though we cannot thank everyone individually, we particularly acknowledge the following groups and individuals.
The Curriculum Design Board who identified competencies, reviewed materials and curriculum drafts: Jeanice Dagher-Margosian, Michelle James-Mann, Florence Kozak, Gary Margosian, Mark Ptaszek, Penny Ryder, Donna Sabourin, Jim Soden, Bob Stein, Ted Wybrecht
The field test participants and field site coordinators who attended the training in the very earliest stages: Sarah Irvine. People First of Oakland Count

First Edition Spring 1998 --
Equal Justice is a collaborative partnership between Washtenaw Association for Community Advocacy and Wayne State University Developmental Disabilities Institute.  This material was developed and disseminated with funding from the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council Grant 96620