Kalandra Wheeler
Texas Employment Lawyer Kalandra Wheeler

We often think of a fair trial in terms of having an impartial judge and jury, effective assistance of counsel, the opportunity to present evidence and witnesses, and the ability to cross-examine the adversary’s witnesses and present rebuttal evidence.  However, trials are much more complicated than the general expectations. 

Fair trials don’t just happen. Judges and attorneys exercise great care to ensure fairness in trials. In civil cases, attorneys engage in what we call the discovery process to gather evidence relevant to each individual case. Behind the scenes attorneys file pre-trial motions that judges must rule on before a trial. Those motions may be to exclude, include, or limit pieces of evidence or testimony. Attorneys and judges work on the jury charge that will be read to the jury at the close of all evidence. In other words, they work on the instructions that will be provided to jurors before they deliberate to ensure that they render a verdict based on evidence presented in court and the applicable law.  

There are a number of things that happen before a case is finally handed over to a jury. This is all just to say, that the things we generally expect to ensure a fair trial are not automatic.  

Ensuring a fair trial can be more difficult when a party or key witness suffers from an intellectual disability because they have difficulty thinking or communicating. It may also take them longer to speak or process information. This can make presenting information, whether at a deposition or during trial, more challenging.  But, it is important to remember that individuals with intellectual disabilities are entitled to the same justice system, and JUSTICE, as those suffer from physical disabilities or no disabilities at all.

When an intellectual disability creates difficulty for a client when testifying, it is crucial that the employee’s attorney take great care in preparing for their client’s testimony.  This includes preparing the client for not only direct examination, but also cross examination.  

Despite the care an attorney may exercise in talking to their client and communicating with them on a day-to-day basis. Those communications are nothing like the stress and pressure created by a deposition or trial.  This is particularly true, when the opposing side may not exercise the same care when cross examining your client or may even attempt to use the employee’s known disabilities to their advantage by attempting to confuse them or in some other way make the jury question the credibility of their testimony.  

Therefore, the employee’s attorney may need extensive preparation for not only for their client, but also themselves. This preparation may include finding and utilizing valuable resources to best prepare the attorney and the client. Preparation may require consultation and sessions with an expert. It may also require practice under simulated trial circumstances. It is important to learn the way your client should be addressed, what questions he or she should and should not be asked, and how to best frame questions for maximum comprehension. Aside from finding the right assistance, the attorney must be patient. This is as equally true when sitting with the client in the office as it is when questioning them as a witness in court.  

If you or someone you know suffers from an intellectual disability, and have faced discrimination or retaliation at work, our attorneys are available for consultation. Having the courage to fight for your rights will be stressful, but when employees are brave enough to do so, they need to know that they have a team that is supportive and on their side.  

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We asked Kalandra N. Wheeler, a Trial Attorney in the Houston office of Wiley Wheeler, P.C., to provide her sincere answers to a range of questions.  After reading, you will be more more abreast with the understanding and competency that Ms. Wheeler

We asked Kalandra N. Wheeler, a Trial Attorney in the Houston office of Wiley Wheeler, P.C., to provide her sincere answers to a range of questions.  After reading, you will be more more abreast with the understanding and competency that Ms. Wheeler brings.

1.Why did you start practicing labor and employment law?

I wanted to be able to help people that otherwise might not find help. Labor and employment laws affect most of society.  And – whether our results help one or many – our work and efforts as employment lawyers touch people in a real way in their every day lives.

2. Who is your favorite Supreme Court Justice?

Thurgood Marshall.

3. What do you think is the most important part of a good case?

The client. Good facts and evidence are definitely important. But good clients are a lawyers’ most valuable asset.  A good client: (1) is invested in their case; (2) works or worked hard for their employer; (3) can tell their story clearly and concisely; and (4) is someone that a jury will find sympathetic and relatable.

4. If you could write a new law, what would it do?

The Texas Workplace Anti-Bullying law.  I hear the stories, the ones told by employees looking for help. And in far too many of those stories the law offers no solution.  Every employee that goes to work and works hard to do the job they are hired to perform should be able to do so without abuse, harassment, and bullying. There is no justification for bullying, not in our schools, and not in our workplaces.

5. Besides Rob Wiley, P.C., what is the most interesting job that you have had?

For a year before law school, I worked as a lube tech for Jiffy Lube.  I spent hot summer days, working on hot cars, changing oil or flushing transmissions or radiators.  I never had a customer come back with a complaint.

6. How do you market yourself differently than others?

I tell clients what they need to hear, not necessarily what they want to hear. Before a client begins down any path toward resolving an employment dispute, they need thoughtful, honest advice. I am a believer in justice and everyday people deserve competent representation in an arena that is difficult for non-lawyers to navigate.

7. What do you do when you’re not practicing law?

I spend time with family and friends.  I read true crime books.  I sew and draw.

8. How would you describe the color yellow to someone who could not see?

It’s not the intense heat of the sun during the month of August, but instead the softness of the sun on your skin just as the seasons change from Summer to Fall.  It’s warm. And soft to the touch.  It’s fresh squeezed lemonade with a hint of sugar.  Slightly cool, inviting, and happy.

9. What’s your favorite legal TV show?

Law & Order: SVU

10. If you could argue any case in history, what would it be?

The Karen Silkwood case. But really, I think that would be more about arguing and trying a case alongside Gerry Spence for the learning experience.

Kalandra N. Wheeler is a Trial Attorney in the Houston office of Wiley Wheeler, P.C.  She graduated from The University of Houston with a bachelor’s degree in political science.  Ms. Wheeler went on and received her law degree from The University of Arkansas.