is a non-profit advocacy organization which primarily engages in (1) public education on the need for a more effective, humane and cost-effective prison system; (2) legislative advocacy to protect and define the rights and responsibilities of those who are incarcerated in county jails and the state prison system, and of those who are family and visitors of such persons; and, (3) referral to or locating attorneys for litigation or pre-litigation activities in administrative, civil rights and constitutional law issues (does not include locating pro bono attorneys for criminal defense work) Please read the NOTE located at the end of this page! We can make referrals to criminal defense attorneys, but if you cannot afford to retain private counsel, the only realistic alternative is to accept the services of court-appointed counsel or to represent yourself. We do not recommend self-representation in criminal matters.
All of the above listed work is performed by volunteers. In fact, Middle Ground has no paid staff. All donations are from private sources, including from the families of prisoners or prisoners themselves, civic-minded attorneys and businesspersons, as well as from in-kind contributions. We also enjoy the support of various talented and community-minded persons and businesses who donate web site design, office supplies, and some equipment.
In the event that a prisoner or his family requests or requires extensive research, writing of letters, researching policy infractions, education and coaching for preparation for a release hearing before the Board of Executive Clemency, letter-writing advocacy on visitation suspension, medical care, and a myriad of issues, we are not able to provide any assistance as an organization for that type of activity beyond that which can be given over the telephone or by other appropriate means. Instead, if extensive work is required to assist you, James Hamm or Donna Leone Hamm can be retained to assist with obtaining protective custody classification for prisoners needing protection, challenges to security threat group validation, executive clemency (commutation of sentence -- including regular, 603 (L) and imminent danger of death types of commutation applications, pardon, parole, revocation hearings, and special hearings to modify conditions of supervision, family visitation, rehabilitation programming and treatment, public records issues and problems, jail/prison policies and procedures, time computation errors, and other topics.
Finally, we can be retained by private attorneys for work as Mitigation Specialists and to prepare Alternative Pre-Sentence Investigation Reports for presentation to prosecutors for use in negotiating plea agreements, or for presentation to the sentencing court prior to sentencing.
If you are interested in personalized advocacy or consulting work including, but not limited to:
Education/Training to prepare for hearings at Board of Executive Clemency
Assistance in obtaining Protective Custody/Segregation for a prisoner
Restoration of Civil Rights After Second Conviction/Referrals
Pardon/Absolute Discharge Application/ Training
Visitation Policies or Suspension Issues
Intervention to Obtain Medical Care for Serious Medical Needs
Education/Orientation for First-time prison inmates and families
Interstate Compact Transfer Information/Advocacy
Treaty Transfer Education/Advocacy/Referral
Notice of Claim Information or Forms
Criminal or Civil Case Referral to Attorneys (See NOTE at bottom of page)
Review of Plea Bargain Offers to Determine Juxtaposition With Prison Policies
Correction/Explanation of Time Computation/Correcting Time Comp Errors
Parole or Community Supervision Issues
Probation Supervision Issues/Case law research
Assistance in Locating and Working With Defense Attorneys (How to retain an effective attorney and maintain a constructive working relationship)
Preparation of Mitigation Reports
Preparation of Alternative Sentencing Proposals/Reports
Expert Witness evaluation/testimony on variety of issues including capital punishment, prison conditions, executive clemency, prison gangs, prison sub-culture, corrections, etc.
You may call the offices of James and Donna Leone Hamm (480) 966-8116 or send an e-mail to arrange for a consulting appointment. No walk-ins are permitted at our office. Most of the above services are fee-based services. All in-office consultations are billed at a rate of $150/hour. Fees are calculated based upon our education, experience, training, time spent reading and reviewing materials, research, development of mitigation issues or alternative PSI reports, as well as for expert witness preparation and testimony. Some advocacy for medical care, via emails sent to various DOC or medical provider administrators, is performed without charge.
Note: We reserve the right to refuse to refer you to an attorney and nothing on this site is intended to guarantee or imply that you will be paired with or referred to an attorney (either pro bono or retained) in a civil or criminal matter. It should be noted that, to the best of our knowledge, criminal defense attorneys do not accept pro bono cases, even if you believe your case is "special". The public defender system -- in both the federal and state court system --exists to serve those indigent defendants who are unable to afford to retain private counsel. Public defenders and appointed attorneys are "real" lawyers, and just like private attorneys, some are very good and others are not. In civil matters, many attorneys are not interested in contingency fee cases. In some cases, you may have a "winning" case, but no attorney will accept it on a contingency fee basis because of the low probability of a large settlement or final judgment award by a jury.
See a copy of PHOENIX MAGAZINE, November 2006 issue, in the advertising section for an example of the work we perform for attorneys!