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; (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); and, (4) extensive email communication with justice system personnel to advocate for medical care, time computation corrections, protective custody and other issues. 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.
Sometimes we are contacted about providing highly individalized services that only benefit one prisoner and requires extensive research. If this work is not something that Middle Ground can perform free of charge, then James Hamm or Donna Leone Hamm can be retained as expert witnesses or by attorneys for mitigation or other work. Call Donna's cellphone at 480-966-8116 to find out more specific information.
For example, Donna has been retained by private attorneys for work as a Mitigation Specialist 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 (state and federal courts). She also works with attorneys to present clients to the Board of Executive Clemency. James also works with attorneys on post-conviction relief matters, including direct appeal, Rule 32 petitions, habeas corpus petitions, etc. This work s entirely separate from Middle Ground and is only mentioned here because our advocacy work for Middle Ground causes prisoners to write to us who actually are seeking services that Middle Ground does not or cannot provide.
No walk-ins are permitted at our office. You must call to schedule an appointment in advance.
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 RARELY 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.