In some jurisdictions like New Jersey, most child pornography prosecutions are the result of large sweeps where dozens of people are arrested at once. These sweeps usually have fancy names such as operation something or another. This presents a number of problems as well as opportunities. While the other defendants are not technically co-defendants, the case will usually function like a typical case with multiple co-defendants who cannot flip on each other. That is, the plea offers will largely be consistent across the board. This makes it difficult to negotiate your individual case as you may be stuck with the standard plea offer absent an extremely strong defense case.
However, this also gives you an opportunity to speak with fellow defense lawyers to coordinate defenses. In large child pornography operation, the defense attorneys set up an online forum to discuss the various defense issues. Unfortunately, this type of mutual cooperation is rare as it takes the right set of attorneys to fight for their clients instead of taking the lazy way out.
Regardless of the level of mutual cooperation, it pays to keep track of what your co-counsel is doing. What motions are they filing? What is the State’s response? How did the trial go? What games did the State try to play? What worked for the defense and what didn’t? As you can see, being the last to go to trial can put you at a huge advantage.
I have used this strategy to get a preview of the State’s trial techniques and was very successful in combating them. It appears that the prior attorney was caught off guard and as a result, he had no response to the State’s arguments.