Client Stories

A trial lawyer’s secret to success:
First, listen.
Second, seek the path that will reveal the truth.
Third, walk that path beside the client and uncover the truth.

          After almost 30 years advocating for individuals and organizations, I have come to understand that we must replace the systems we use for addressing harm in our societies.  The current systems neither resolve the harm nor achieve justice in any sense of the word. Here are some of the stories.  

Organizations/Actions/Leaders

Water Protector Legal Collective (WPLC) and NoDapl (Dakota Access Pipeline) resistence Camps at Standing Rock

  • United States v. James White – Standing Rock Tribe Member, Sunjkawakanj Sica Mato Nunjpa, asked me to represent him. In the white world, he is known as James White.  His Native name translates to Bad Horse Two Bears. Two Bears is his family name and Bad Horse is the honorary name given to him because he is the one to whom the tribe turns to train unruly horses. He is also known as Angry Bird which is the honorary name given to him in the Standing Rock resistance camps because of his passionate voice to save Mother Earth and passionate his care for the activist guests from around the world.  I know him as Jimmy.  Jimmy was accused in federal court in North Dakota of two charges: (1) obstructing, impeding and interfering with law enforcment lawfully engaged in the lawful performance of official duties incident to the commission of a civil disorder and (2) using fired to commit civil disorder.     Indictment.  The only people charged in federal court out of the Standing Rock resistance camps were Native Americans, and our research suggests that this offense has only been used against Native Americans. 
  • I believe Jimmy is innocent, but when the prosecutor offered to allow Jimmy to avoid the risk of prison, both Jimmy and I thought it unwise to risk the consequences of facing what was likely to be an all white jury.  The prosecutor requested a year of house arrest.  The Judge sentenced Jimmy to time served (which was a couple of hours) and two years of post release supervision.   While the sentence is light in comparison to others charged in federal court and in this case especially, Jimmy is now labeled as a felon with a federal conviction.  This label will impact him for the rest of his life.  Within the framework of the current system, it was the right decision to plead guilty but within the framework of a just society, everything about the prosecutions at Standing Rock was wrong. No one who speaks in dissent to corporate and government actions should be charged with crimes.  No one who bravely risks their own physical safety to protect Mother Earth and preserve life on Earth should spend a second handcuffed or incarcerated in jail or prison. Nor should law enforcement agents use any violence on anyone who is speaking in dissent in order to save life on Mother Earth.  Yet, all of these things happened at Standing Rock. 

James “Bad Horse” is the great (x3) grandson of Chief Two Bears. Chief Two Bears was Chief of the Hunk pa ti -Yanktoni when they were slain at Whitestone by U.S. Army General Alfred Sully on January 2, 1863. General Sully either falsely believed (or ignored the truth) that the Hunk pa ti Indians were part of a tribe that had previously engaged the U.S. Army. Exhibit 2. White immigrants label this tragedy a “battle” and Whitestone a “battlefield.”  Alberta Two Bears, James “Bad Horse” White’s mother, will tell you it was a buffalo hunting party that was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Hunk pa ti Yanktoni Indians, not intending to go to a battle, were all slain.”

“When General Sully came upon the hunting party, Chief Two Bears likely stood in front of his people trying to save them to no avail.  His inability to protect the people likely broke his heart as he died, and the spirit of his suffering passed down to his descendants. Chief Two Bear’s suffering weighs heavily on James “Bad Horse” White.”

James “Bad Horse” White is first and foremost a simple man who lives for simple pleasures in search of simple honor. James “Bad Horse” White’s solution to the conflict within him was to join the US Army as a cavalry scout, see and explore the world, and seek to come to terms with his anger. 

“I feel James would not have been charged if it were not for the activist being there because he feels a strong responsibility to protect the People, American People, especially as a veteran who has taken the oath.” Maya Tsho Jamal, letter from water protector. Ms. Jamal speaks the truth. James “Bad Horse” White would not be charged but for the presence of the water protectors. He would have been home on the reservation running rodeos for children and helping people with handyman work. He was not engaged in the business of crime. James “Bad Horse” White was honored by Standing Rock Tribe with the role of Akicita for the Water protector camps and showed no fear when doing so. It was his responsibility to keep the peace, to maintain security, to keep people safe.

 

 

The water protectors arrived on Standing Rock in droves, drawn to the place because the tribe was standing alone against the corporate interests to protect Mother Earth. The tribe could not dishonor the motives of the people by sending them away. The tribe accepted responsibility for caring for these people who had come from around the world to stand with Standing Rock to try to stop the pipeline from destroying the clean water.

 

 

James “Bad Horse” White is waiving and giving up the defense of Defense of others. Throughout the conflict, law enforcement and corporate security became increasing violent. Rubber bullets were fired upon James “Bad Horse” White and others frequently. They were placed in gun sites marked with red dots as a threat. On at least one occasion dogs were directed to savagely attack water protectors. Water protectors were frequently pepper sprayed by corporate security and law enforcement. On the morning of October 27, shortly before the conduct subject of this indictment James “Bad Horse” White’s teenaged son, Jesse White, was shot off his horse with 4 shots from non-lethal weapons – three hitting Jesse, one hitting his horse. Jesse stood in the road on his horse, by himself bravely attempting to protect people praying in their tents.

  • Jimmy was sentenced to two years of probation. See the Judgment here
  • WPLC supported the federal defense with leadership, legal research, administrative assistance, and love. WPLC also provided legal representation for all state court charges with their lawyers and an army of volunteer lawyers.
  • WPLC:

provides legal support, advocacy, and knowledge sharing for Indigenous centered and guided environmental and climate justice movements.  

 

 

Born out of the NoDAPL protest movement, our founding mission has been to serve as the on-the-ground legal team for the Indigenous-led resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) at Standing Rock, North Dakota.  Since we first came at the request of tribal leadership and set up our office in a tent in Oceti Sakowin, WPLC has been providing legal defense and offense to the Water Protector Movement.

As an organization, we are guided by our shared Vision – grounded in our belief that Indigenous peoples have a unique and profoundly important role to play to stem the tide of the unfolding climate emergency we are living in. This vision is in part a result of the inspiration we draw from the transformative experiences that some of us glimpsed and others of us lived at the NoDAPL resistance camps at Standing Rock.

 

 

We envision a world where Indigenous peoples are centered and guiding the world to protect the environment for all.” https://waterprotectorlegal.org/

  • Standing Rock resistance camps changed the face of advocacy for Mother Earth and WPLC changed the face of legal representation for dissenters.  As long as WPLC continues its advocacy, we will support them in any manner they request.

Peaceful Streets Project and founder Antonio Buehler

  • Peacefulstreets.com (PCP)
    Before there was Standing Rocker, there was Antonio Buehler, by himself, who stepped around his own car and stood up to police brutality with only a cell phone as protection.  His initial act of bravery in the face of brutality by an officer who was armed with baton, taser, and gun is legendary.  His subsequent years of consistent documentation and confrontation of law enforcement on the streets of Austin inspired a movement.

About:  The Peaceful Streets Project is an all-volunteer, grassroots effort uniting people to end the institutional violence taking place on our streets and in our society. Through community organizing and direct action tactics, the Peaceful Streets Project seeks to support communities in understanding, exercising, and standing up for their rights, as well as creating viable alternatives to the violent institutions of social control.

Vision:
 A society free of state-sponsored institutionalized violence.

Mission: Through community organizing, engaging in non-political and non-violent direct action tactics, and utilizing new technologies, the Peaceful Streets Project seeks to bring about a cultural shift where individuals understand their rights and hold law enforcement officials accountable, and communitiess protect and serve each other. Peacefulstreets.com

  • The first officer Antonio confronted, as the officer assaulted an unarmed woman, turned on him. The officer then falsely accused Antonio of felony assault on a police officer claiming Antonio spit on him.  Antonio has been arrested at least 5 times.  In each case, he has been acquitted by a jury or the prosecutor has dismissed the case.
  • As a result of the repeated wrongful arrests, we have successfully litigated the right to film police but because of the common law doctrine of qualified immunity we have so far been unable to recover monetary damages for Antonio. We continue to try and have one case that survived because of the excessive force used by the officers.  The officers were so pleased to have Antonio in cuffs, they held him down on the ground,  and a very large supervising officer pounced upon him.  1st lawsuit, Judge Lane’s opinion 2nd lawsuit .
  • APD created a special training program on “How to Arrest Buehler.” The bulletin states the officers should tell him to move to an arbitrary location when he fails to do so then arrest him for failure to follow a lawful order. The bulletin misses the point that an order must be lawful which means it must have a policing purpose.  Training bulletin.   
  • Antonio bravely without any hesitation continues to pursue the vision and mission he and his supporters laid out when they created PCP. As long as Antonio remains in the street, we will continue to pursue APD for violating his rights. 

Society for Native Nations

  • “Protecting our Lifeways for future generations,” Societyofnativenations.org.  
  • As the Native Americans in Texas raise their voices to protect our water, ocassionally they need legal support to maintain their voice of dissent and stay out of jail.
  • For example, during the 2019 Texas legislative session, the Society for Native Nations stood with their people at the Capital raising their voices in favor of Mother Earth and mankind and in opposition to various pieces of capitalist legislation. From the power of their leadership and a little legal advice on occasion, none of their members were arrested. 
  • As long as the Native Americans in Texas continue to raise their voices, we will continue to answer their questions and engage in any advocacy they need.

Texas Campaign for the Environment

  • Texasenvironment.org.
  • “Empowering Texans to fight pollution, one door at a time.”
  • With no formal lobbyiest in Texas hired to oppose statutes criminalizing advocacy for the earth, the TCE director Robin Schneider found herself standing at the steps of the Texas state capital as the voice for dissenters. Robin needed a crash course in the existing criminal statutes and prompt answers to questions when she was confronted with new issues by the legislators while in their chambers.  We briefed the issues and answered her calls.
  • As long as Robin continues to lobby for legislation that favors the Earth and protects those who protect her, we will continue to take her calls anytime anywhere.

Stopcrush.org

    • Stopcrush.org is an initiative and major campaign of the Alliance for Earth, Life, Liberty & Advocacy(AELLA)
    • When Stopcrush.org contacted me and told me about the animal crush industry that they were fighting, I went into shock. In my work as a criminal defense attorney, I have seen some depraved conduct, but I have never seen anything as depraved as the crushing of animals for sexual pleasure.
    • The law is bad enough with regards to addressing harm to humans. The law is unimaginable when it comes to preventing harm to creatures. On this rare occasion, I came down on the side of the government because in this rare instance the government was fighting for the rights of the unprotected innocent.   Stopcrush sought to file an amicus brief in support of the government’s appeal of a District Court’s finding that the statute criminalizing crush was unconstitutional. Of course, I agreed without hesitation.  The only confused people, were the prosecutors who were not used to having my advocacy unleashed on their side.   Mind you, I was not pleased with the work of the trial level government prosecutor.  The trial prosecutor had failed to educate the trial Judge about the details of crush.  None of the crush industry information was in the record.   On appeal, parties cannot supplement the record but friends of the court can supplement the record with relevant information in their knowledge that can assist the court. Stopcrush.org became a friend of the court.
    • From the press release after the statutes was upheld:

In support of the United States’ brief, the Humane Society added some arguments on the law while the Animal Legal Defense Fund focused in detail on the legislative history of the law. What remained missing was empirical data which proves the prurient interest of these materials. This is where Stopcrush.org’s work became critical. As soon as I notified Stopcrush.org of the gap and the need for Stopcrush.org to fill that gap, data streamed into my computer. Years of time invested by Stopcrush.org into uncovering the videos, the mindset and intent of the depraved humans involved, told the story for these beautiful animals. 1000’s of screen shots were delivered. All of them proving our arguments. We selected about 80 of those screen shots representing the videos, the conversations showing sexual intent, and the profiles showing their origin. We filed a motion to file and seal these documents in support of our arguments. The clerk of the 5th circuit called to say there was no mechanism for receiving the data.  I described what was on the images and the need for the Court to be able to see what we were talking about.  The clerk said they would find a way.  The statute was upheld.   https://aella.org/2013/09/stopcrush-org-files-amicus-brief-in-landmark-federal-animal-crush-video-case/

  • So that any of you who are reading this will know and will oppose this industry if it comes into your life, here are the musings of the crush community from my briefing:

“mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
Mmmmmmmmmmmmm
Yes” Master Therion, Exhibit, p. 60.

“I love to torture animals. To trample them under my heels and as long as they are still alive to skinning.” Franzy Fuchs on I love Cruel Girls facebook site, Exhibit, p. 33.

“I love her crush, so sexyyy.” Dogy Bondman on Masha’s site, Exhibit, p. 18.

“Fuck the rabbit, but the noise to cracking the bones…… uhhhhhh love.” Selina Crush, Exhibit A, p. 64.

“Cruelty to animals excites me a lot.” Nebojsa Pavasovic, Exhibit, p. 65.

“Welcome to Killer Girls… Dare to play the game of death… George George advertisement, Exhibit, p. 21.

“Keep this group right and make sure its members are all of the same mindset, ie. loves animal cruelty.” Warning in crush facebook group, Exhibit, p. 66.

“Beatrice abuses a Baby, spanking. Could I just cum watch the pictures. If someone makes a real baby videos abuse can I pay them over 5,00000 dollars for one clip, a baby abused, tortured, spanked and finally killed by mom, sound like really awesome Fucking.” TheBeatrice Crush (Anonymous), Exhibit, p. 14.

Crush conversations are the same across the country, across the world, across race and culture, and across socio-economic status. Crush videos are created solely for sexual gratification, distributed solely for sexual gratification, and sought after solely for sexual gratification. The videos are an integral part of the sexual conduct of the participants in the crush fetish. There is no other purpose for crush videos whatsoever. Any discussion to the contrary is merely academic, has no basis in reality, and creates convoluted legal fallacies.  

  • United States v. Ashley Richards and  Brent Justice –The amicus brief can be read by clicking on the case name. If this statute is questioned again anywhere in the United States, we will again join Stopcruch.org and confirm its constitutionality. But more importantly, the existence of this industry highlights the need for new systems for addressing harm that allow us to address people who cause this type of harm in a manner that removes this desire from the people’s hearts and frees the animals from any risk. 

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. (Peta.org)

  • While we call out the names of Black people who have been killed at the hands of government officials, we need to also call out the names of animals who have been tortured and killed at the hands of government officials:

Aphrodite, Baguette, Barbara, Brioche, Cheddar, Demeter, Elvira, Eos, Garen Grinch, Jambi, Jigglypuff, Jumba, Juniper, Karbach, Kenickie, Lucillas, Lux, Maple, Melania, Mendel, Mertle, ned, PeeWee, Scrump, Selene, Sushi, Variania, and Waylon are trapped in a lab at Texas A&M where they were used for painful experiments of muscular dystrophy.  https://support.peta.org/page/22013/action/1

  • In 2019, the Texas A&M lab stopped performing experiments thanks to advocacy by PETA but the dogs are still there spending every day in barren metal cages.  Texas A&M Students and supporters advocated for the dogs tirelessly seeking to close the lab and free the dogs.  In order to effectively advocate for the dogs, advocates needed information.  Entities that receive government funding must provide information about their work even when the entity is a university.   Texas A&M tried to conceal information about the dogs. Litigation was necessary.  (Link to FOIA lawsuits) I was not the lawyer who filed the lawsuits but I took over the cases after they were filed and litigated until they were resolved and the activists had the data they needed.
  • This litigation along with the confrontation by advocates including one special advocate, Johnathon Byrne, who suffers from muscular dystrophy himself contributed to the University’s decision to stop the experiments.  
  • Johnathon’s speech to the President of Texas A&M:

“President Young, I have muscular dystrophy, and I’m here to talk to you about the debilitating research being done at A&M University. I would like to call upon you to stop the research on the animals, the dogs, at this university, where they are suffering in pain, they are unable to breathe, eat, and walk. I know firsthand how awful this is.” Johnathon Byrne to TAMU President Michael K. Young, September 5, 2018, at San Antonio, Texas.  (Link to Byrne Amended Complaint)

  • Byrne traveled from the UK to confront President Young. He was wrongfully stopped from speaking to Young, wrongfully harassed by police, wrongfully issued a trespass warning, and wrongfully labeled as some kind of terrible criminal in law enforcement databases.   I filed a lawsuit for Byrne and it is still pending.  Link to Byrne lawsuit.  Texas A&M has a history of using wrongful trespass warnings to limit advocacy for the dogs.  The Government should not be engaged in work that harms animals, should not be limiting the speech of opponents, and should not be hiding evidence of the harm it causes. As long as the activists who speak for the creatures need our help, we will continue to assist with any litigation needed to accomplish their vision of a world free from animal abuse. 

Houston Protestors Defense Team (HPDT)

  • Houstondefense.org
  • “Black Lives Matter”, “No justice No peace.” “Mama, I can’t breath.” “Am I next?” Reading the signs in the hands of the protestors on the HPDT website makes me cry every time. The time must come when we stop allowing police to harm anyone.  The time must be now.
  • In Houston, over 900 charges were filed against peaceful protestors. The protestors did nothing but amplify the pain of those who have died at the hands of police. Some of them were brutalized as they were arrested, corralled into spaces, pulled from crowds and thrown to the ground by thugs in police uniforms of full riot gear with batons drawn.
  • HPDT is a collaboration of Restoring Justice, the National Lawyers Guild and local lawyers, mostly Black female lawyers. I serve as the National Lawyers Guild representative.  I am honored to stand with my Black lawyer friends in opposition to the wrongful arrests.  A powerful force was mobilized and converged upon the District Attorneys’ office.   Most of the charges have been dismissed, but we will not rest until all charges are dismissed. 

Houston Abolitionist Coalition

  • https://houstondsa.org/abolition/defund-hpd-our-demands/
  • This coalition picks up where HPDT left off with the pursuit of reimagining public safety with policing and prisons removed from the vision.
  • I serve as the National Lawyers Guild volunteer on this group as well. The coalition is in the process of gathering the stories of those who have been brutalized both during the protests and every day on the streets of Houston.

FEDERAL COURT CRIMINAL CASES

    • United States v. S.B. – Western District of Texas (Austin Division).  B. was labeled a terrorist by law enforcement. What he really is –  is a person who suffers from severe epilepsy that affects his life functions.  As someone who is closer to death due the risk of seizure, he sees the world from a different lens, and communicates differently.  He was specifically charged with possession of firearms as a prohibited person. A prohibited person can include someone who is addicted to controlled substances or someone who is a “mental defective” or has been committed to a mental institution. Like many criminal laws, it’s a terrible one.   A person who has spent some time in a mental hospital for treatment should not forgo their right to bear arms.  A person who consumes marijuana to help their seizures should not forgo their right to bear arms.   It’s nonsense.   But right now, on the books, it’s the law.   A confidential source claimed that S.B. intended to commit a mass shooting but somehow was unable to document his claim.  The allegations were very serious and the case was treated very seriously.  The charge carried up to 10 years.   Ultimately, after working on the case, the guideline range became 18-24 months and in the end the prosecutor agreed to recommend probation.   The Judge sentenced S.B. to 5 years of probation.   Sometimes the work on the case is not reflected by the pleadings filed but rather results from things that happen out of court.  In this case, a friend captured all I had spent many months conveying in many different ways-   “In my experience, [S.B.] has always been a caring, loving man full of light and life. He has always inspired me to find joy and love in everything. His devotion to his children is a truly beautiful thing. He will never, ever be mistaken for average – but his departure from the norm is something bright and full of joy, not anything dark or deviant.”  Christina Hopson. See First Sentencing MemorandumSecond Sentencing MemorandumJudgment. Despite this lenient resolution as compared to the allegations and the charges, S.B. will now be prohibited from owning weapons, another example of the unfair impact of our criminal justice system. 
    • United States v. J.M. – Western District of Texas (Austin Division). J.M. grew marijuana in California.   Marijuana can be grown lawfully there, but federal law prevents shipping it to other states.  M. has a long criminal history which could have resulted in the weed he was shipping placing him in prison for a very long time, like probably the rest of his life.   But two judges in the Western District of Texas took the time to look directly at J.M. and the charge. The first judge was the Magistrate who evaluated bond.   Despite years of not being able to overcome addiction, this time an addiction to money, the Magistrate decided to give him a chance,  a carefully controlled chance.  The bond conditions started with inpatient rehab, long inpatient rehab, more than 90 days, the house arrest in Waco rather than home to California under the watchful eye of a outpatient counselors as well as a mentor.  Finally, after the Judge felt he had shook all of the bad stuff out of J.M., he let him go home to California.   All of this before we resolved the case.   Eventually, J.M. pled guilty and we prepared for sentencing.  At sentencing, the District Judge also looked closely at J.M. and at the charge.  While the offense is significant under current statutes and J.M.’s history guidelines him for a significant sentence, the Judge took a leap of faith.   He decided it was not rational to sentence someone to prison for a long time for conduct that although not lawful when J.M. committed it might be completely lawful the next year.
      • Excerpts from the sentencing memo:

        Law is founded in morality and Law changes as the morality of our society changes. The law on marijuana is in the process of changing.  The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NIH) reports on its website the present view of the science of marijuana as viewed by the national government… The public as well as state and national level legislators recognize these medical benefits, the lack of known detriments of marijuana, and the need for changing the law to reduce the barrier to scientific studies.  State and national laws are changing to reflect these facts. Sixty-five percent of Americans say that it is morally acceptable to smoke pot. …. Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia currently have passed laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form. The District of Columbia and 10 states — Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington — have adopted the most expansive laws legalizing marijuana for recreational use.”  Sentencing Memo and Sentencing Order.

    • United States v. B – Client charged with an import-export violation, exporting prohibited items to a prohibited country.  Client perceived by the government to be a “sleeper” espionage.  Advocacy involved overcoming this misperception.  Client sentenced to 5 years probation and a $200,000 fine.   
    • United States v. E.W. – Federal prison sentence reduced by 5 years pursuant to Rule 35. Speaking up about guard misconduct while serving time in prison is dangerous. Inmates are vulnerable because they are incarcerated unable to protect themselves guards, unable to protect themselves from other inmates, and unable to escape.  Guards often abuse this vulnerability.  Rarely does anyone report their crimes.   W. and T.E. spoke up.  The guard was fired and prosecuted.  The federal courts honored the ladies’ bravery in protecting other inmates from harm by this particular guard with reductions in their sentences. 

    • United States vs. L. H. – Defendant charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States by submitting false claims to the government. L.H. was not competent.  He was used by others to commit this crime. With the help of a good psychiatrist, we were able to prove this to the prosecutor’s satisfaction. All charges were dismissed. The ruling is available by clicking the case name.

    • United States v. T.E. – Federal prison sentence reduced by 36 months pursuant to Rule 35.

    • United States vs. M.C. – Ms. C and several others were charged in a conspiracy to harbor aliens who illegally entered the United States. One of the aliens died in Ms. C’s home, and Ms. C was accused of helping to dispose of the body. The government alleged that the death was related to the conspiracy and sought to hold the conspirators accountable for the death. These allegations carried the potential for the death penalty. Death penalty decisions in federal cases are made in Washington D. C. I immediately researched the medical facts surrounding the death securing an affidavit from the government’s own pathologist which supported the defense position. Then, I filed a Motion for Bill of Particulars in order to carefully define the issue. This motion was followed by a Motion to Dismiss the portion of the indictment that referenced the death of the alien. Copies of those pleadings are available by clicking the case name. Ultimately, the Judge found that the death was not connected to the conspiracy. Ms. C. plead guilty to harboring aliens without a death connection and was sentenced to 22 months in prison. This was an unheard of ruling on the death and an excellent sentencing result. Very few lawyers ever contest death connections in alien smuggling cases, and those who do generally lose the contest. Perseverance and attention to detail won justice for the day.  In addition, the sentence was incredibly light given several years of smuggling many aliens. Despite the lenient sentence, Ms. C will have a federal conviction on her record for hears when all that she did was try to help people to find a new life in America. This conviction reflects the punitive nature of the laws criminalizing simply crossing the border.

STATE COURT CRIMINAL CASES

  • R.J.N. v. The State of Texas – R.J.N. was initially represented by Kent Schaffer. Mr. Schaffer filed a Motion to Suppress. The trial court denied the motion.  R.J.N. went to prison. R.J.N.’s family asked me to appeal the conviction.  The appeal successfully yanked R.J.N. out of prison.  The appeals court found that, “In summary, even when the evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the trial court’s ruling, the officer did not reasonably suspect that criminal activity was afoot when he issued the warning citation.2 See id. …Therefore, the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution forbade the officer to extend the traffic stop in order to conduct a canine sniff on R.J.N.’s truck. See Rodriguez, 135 S. Ct. at 1614–16. We sustain R.J.N.’s sole issue.” Of course, it is well and good that the court of appeals did the right thing and overturned the conviction based upon unlawfully seized evidence.   But to get to that point, the family had to hire to lawyers, and R.J.N. spent a lot of time in jail away from his loved ones and unable to support them. 
  • State vs. C.C. and C.C. vs. City of Austin and Travis County– C. found not guilty of DWI in Travis County, Austin, Texas. C.C. was accused of DWI and taken to the Travis County jail for a blood draw. In a horrific tale from the dark ages, deputies with the Travis County Sheriff’s office and Austin Police Officers strapped C.C. to a restraint chair, put a hood over her head preventing her from seeing and making it difficult for her to breath, held her with their hands and a dirty boot. When all else failed, deputies choked her until she almost lost consciousness. I argued that the violence used should have made the test results inadmissible. The Judge allowed the test result into evidence, but the jury by finding C.C. not guilty must have found the results to be unreliable due to contamination of the sample that occurred while C.C. was being tortured by the police.  I sued the City of Austin and Travis County in order to change the draconian torture procedures used by law enforcement to draw blood and to recover damages for Caroline’s torture.
    Broadus Spivey agreed to try the civil case as lead counsel with me assisting him.   The jury could not overcome qualified immunity and therefore did not hold the city, county and officers financially liable for their horrible conduct.
  • State of Texas vs. A.M.– Williamson County – Charges dismissed. A.M. was accused of interfering with the public duties of a police officer by involving herself in a traffic stop. A.M. bravely confronted an officer regarding his racially biased conduct in traffic stops. The statute states that it is an absolute defense that the interference is merely speech. Case precedent interpreting this statute confirms that even if the interfering speech delays the performance of the officer’s duties the conduct is still not a crime. Despite the number of years that the first amendment has been the law, securing this dismissal was a long hard fight that required a trial setting, trial motions and trial subpoenas to secure dismissal.  This case reflects the racial bias infected in the entire system from the police officers to the prosecutors to the judges. 
  • State of Texas vs. M.A. – Muslim client M.A. and 2 other men had been arrested 3 years ago for charges of attempted sexual assault and aggravated kidnapping. Another attorney handled Mr. A’s case for a number of years and he was held with a high bond. The first lawyer representing Mr. A never took the case to trial, just let him languish in jail. A non-profit organization approached me due to lack of action on the case.  I hired an expert witness on diabetes and an investigator and using their reports, convinced the prosecutor to dismiss the attempted sexual assault charge and reduce the kidnapping charge to a misdemeanor of unlawful restraint. The expert witness was able to show that Mr. A’s untreated diabetes made him unaware of circumstances surrounding the incident. Further investigation also revealed that the complaining witness was a prostitute under contract at the time and there was a dispute over her fee.
  • State of Mississippi vs. T.L.M. – Directed Verdict in armed robbery. I hired Dr. Robert Shomer, an expert in eye witness identification to educate the Judge and Jury about the complications with the eye witness identification process and eye witness testimony which can lead to wrongful convictions. After hearing the testimony of the expert witness and analyzing it in relation to the facts of the case, the Judge found that there was not enough credible evidence to allow the jury to examine the facts of the case. This is even more remarkable than it sounds on first blush. I was court appointed on this case. I convinced one District Judge, the sole Black judge, to fund the foremost expert on eye witness testimony who resided all the way in California, which is definitely believed to be a different country to those in Mississippi.   When the case was set for trial, it drew a judge who suffered from standard Mississippi racial bias.  He had once told me in the back hallway that I better not ever file, “that motion” in his courtroom. He was referring to a Motion to Suppress due to the driving while Black.  I told him that I would file the motion in whatever case in whatever court it needed to be filed.   As a result, I was not expecting any love from him when T.L.M.’s case landed in his court for trial.  The case began with him furious that the county was paying for someone to testify about racial bias in eye witness identification.   He refused to allow the witness to testify.  I insisted on proferring the witnesses entire testimony to preserve the issue for appeal.   I took my time, slowing walking through the entire issue with no jury in the room but with the prosecutor and the Judge.   After the proffer, the Judge rocked back and forth for a few minutes.  Then he got up without a word and left for his chambers.   After, I don’t know how long, he came back in the courtroom.  He said he found the testimony so credible that he was reconsidering mid trial ruling on my motion to dismiss and granting that motion.  The client turned to me and asked what happened.  I told him we won he was free.  
  • State of Mississippi vs. S. G., Jr. – Mississippi has a terrible habit of allowing Black men to sit in jail rotting while they await the filing of charges.  The goal is to pressure the men to plead guilty by leaving them in jail. Four cocaine delivery cases dismissed due to violation of constitutional right to speedy trial. I filed motions to dismiss two drug delivery cases that had been indicted. A copy of one of the motions and the judgment are available by clicking the case name. The Judge heard evidence from the parties on the reasons for the delay and the prejudice to the defendant. After hearing argument on the evidence, the Judge granted the motion to dismiss for violation of the constitutional right to speedy trial. This ruling is virtually unheard of in today’s legal world where a case tried 20 years after the crime was held to be constitutionally permissible. I filed the same motion for 2 unindicted drug transfer cases, and the prosecutor elected not to pursue the unindicted cases.

  • State of Mississippi vs. D. C. G.– Capital Murder dismissed because the Court ruled that the statements made by Mr. G.to police were inadmissible at trial.  The Judge held that police coerced Mr. G. to confess by telling him that he would be sentenced to the death penalty if he did not confess. Mrs. Silverman filed a motion to suppress Mr. G.’s confession, hearings were held on the facts, and then to provide the Judge with detailed guidance for his ruling, Ms. Silverman submitted proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law. This document is available by clicking the case name. The Judge agreed with Ms. Silverman’s analysis. On August 16, 2002, the Judge convened all of the attorneys and defendants on the case in his courtroom. He was ready to make a ruling, but would not disclose it in advance. With all present and quite a few extra attorneys in the audience, the Judge read his ruling and shared his thoughts. The courtroom was completely silent. No one wanted to breathe. The Judge announced that the murder was brutal, but that the murder did not authorize the police to coerce confessions from the suspects. The coercion cast doubt on the validity of the confessions. He explained that this conduct violated the Constitution and that the Constitution was important. Mr. G. is an African American young man. Before this day, it was believed that no African American young man could be assured of justice in a courtroom in Mississippi. Everyone expected a hanging, but the Judge proved this fear wrong and overturned years of overwhelming prejudice. The Judge then turned to the shocked prosecutor and asked him if the prosecution had any other evidence. And here, again justice prevailed. The prosecutor said what was in his heart that there was other evidence, but that in his opinion it was insufficient for a verdict and he would dismiss all cases. This was also a monumental decision. So on August 16, 2002, justice was served and the United States Constitution honored with the granting of a Motion to Suppress and the release of young African Americans.

  • State of Mississippi vs. O.D.S.  – Capital Murder, jury verdict not guilty. Very few attorneys have one not guilty verdict on a capital murder.  I have two not guilty verdicts, and this is something that I will brag about because it helps people understand why they should listen to me when I say this: I believe most defense attorneys who handle capital cases focus on saving the defendant’s life by investigating mitigating evidence and researching the Constitutionality of the death penalty. I believe this is a misguided approach. I believe capital cases should be investigated and researched in the same fashion as other criminal cases, that is that the defense should start with guilt/innocence. No stone should be left unturned in investigating the actual facts of the allegation and the law applicable to the specific facts. Mr. S. was accused of killing a hotel maid after she saw the face of the defendants during a robbery. I tried the case with Donald Rafferty. Through attention to detail, the defense team was able to show that the State’s case had too many holes to support a conviction. My role in trial included opening statement, cross examining the lead detective and others, and half of the closing argument. 

  • State of Mississippi vs. C. S. – Capital Murder, jury verdict not guilty. A mother’s worst nightmare is looking into her baby’s crib to find her baby not breathing.  It is beyond imaginable to find your baby dead and then be charged with killing him and that you will be killed if you are convicted.  Mrs. Silverman gathered all medical evidence and secured the assistance of Alabama state pathologist Dr. LeRoy Riddick to show problems with the medical aspect of the case. Mrs. Silverman then uncovered numerous charges pending against the co-defendant which it appeared were being dismissed in exchange for his testimony. At the last minute the State announced a jail house snitch would testify to a confession, Mrs. Silverman went to the jail and interviewed everyone in the cell block including guards in order to prove the unreliability of the jail house snitch. Mrs. Silverman disclosed so much evidence to discredit the jail house snitch that the prosecutor decided not to call the witness. Mrs. Silverman then did what most defense attorneys refuse to do, she put the client on the stand and guided her through her story. The final cincher was a magical closing argument which transformed the jury to the night of the murder and showed them the truth. By the end of the closing statement, no one had dry eyes. The prosecutor attempted to recover starting his rebuttal with a statement that he could not cry on command like the defense attorney. At that point, he lost any remaining jurors, because it was obvious to all that the tears were real. Ms. S. sent a thank you note. All it said was “thank you for saving my life.

  • State of Texas v. I. G.  – Charges of Burglary of Habitation dismissed. Mr. G.’s charges were based primarily on a dog scent line-up which allegedly confirmed that his scent was found in the location where the home was burglarized. Local investigators had been using scent line-ups to convict for several years. We love our dogs in Texas. Mrs. Silverman researched this purported science and helped to expose that it is not founded upon strong scientific principles. The Memorandum in Support of Motion to Exclude the testimony of the dog handler which resulted in the dismissal of the case is available by clicking on the case name.

  • R.H. v. State of Texas – Mr. H. convicted of aggravated assault on a family and sentenced to 8 years in prison. Mrs. Silverman appealed the conviction. Mrs. Silverman convinced the court of appeals that Mr. H should be permitted to file a Motion for New Trial outside of the deadline. Then, she filed the Motion for New Trial and convinced the Judge to change the sentence to probation. The Order granting the Motion for New Trial and the judgment of probation as well as the Motion to Abate the Appeal are available by clicking the case name. This result took creativity and careful reading of the law to accomplish.

  • State of Texas v. W. F. – Mr. F was a true habitual accused of aggravated robbery. He faced 25 years to life in prison. I secured the appointment of an eye witness identification expert (Dr. Shomer again) who reviewed the evidence and prepared to testify to the flaws in the identification process in the case. With a jury on the way to the courtroom, the State decided to reduce the allegations to misdemeanor attempted deadly conduct with a recommended sentence of time served. The Memorandum of Law supporting the appointment of the expert is available for review by clicking the case name. This is the critical document that ultimately led to the outcome of this case.

  • State of Texas v. L. B. – Ms. B was a student at Rice University of Scandanavian descent.  She was the passenger in a car driven by her boyfriend who was Hispanic in appearance.  Border patrol performed a racially motivated stop of the car.  The agents claimed that young Scandanavian girls were being smuggled across the border by Hispanic men to be prostitutes.  They had no evidence that such conduct was occurring on this occasion.   They had lots of excuses which the State presented.  Ultimately, the motion to suppress was granted.  Link to brief on the motion. 

CIVIL COURT CASES

    • H. vs. City of Ocean Springs – I filed suit against the City of Ocean Springs on behalf of the first female fire fighter hired by Ocean Springs. The fire fighter suffered significant and dangerous acts of sexual harassment. The case was resolved by settlement.
    • Parents vs. Keesler Air Force Base day care– A little fellow walked out into a rock yard in part of the day care center.  Somehow he was on the other side of two fences from the day care worker.  He is too young to speak and so we do not know how he got there. Another fellow came out, a little bigger, a little angry, and pushed the first one to the ground and started pummeling him, like an adult in a boxing match.  The day care worked yelled, but he did not stop and she could not get there quickly. Rather than truthfully advise the parents of the cause of the injuries, the staff contacted the base equivalent of child protective services causing the parents to be accused of assaulting the child. Thorough investigation revealed the honest employee who witnessed the event and could not get to the child because of the design of the structure. The case was resolved by settlement.
    • Car accidents with State Farm and All State – in the 90’s, State Farm and All State developed a plan to try to curb the flow of attorneys accepting soft tissue injury car accidents. These two insurers decided to refuse to settle the cases so that lawyers would be forced to invest significant time and money trying to cases in front of juries.  I saw this as a game that allowed me to get valuable civil trial experience without as much risk as the more serious cases. I just tried the soft tissue cases – tried two against the same defense attorney winning verdicts higher than would have been received in settlement negotiations.  In opening I asked the jury to forgive me because this was the first car accident case I had tried and I would be learning with them.   The lawyer told me I better not give that charming speech again because now I had tried one.   So, when we tried the second one, I told the jury it was my second case to try against the same lawyer.   He faired equally poorly before that jury with that opening.  
    • Shiner Bock City of Austin –   Ruff, ruff, bang, whimper, whimper, and then you hear Juliean Reyes, Shiner Bock’s person saying noo…and begin to cry.       In my entire career, the audio of Shiner Bock’s murder is the most painful of all.  I cried and cried the first time I heard it.  I cry every time I think about Shiner Bock.  His murder changed my perspective on policing from possible reform to committed  abolition.   In an effort to attempt to get the City of Austin to establish policies to stop the needless shooting of animals by police and effectively trains the police officers on how to approach animals, I filed a claim against the city for shooting German Shepherd, Shiner Bock, for doing his job warning his owner about intruders. Watch Story on Keyetv.   The City of Austin did not make any changes based upon the claim whatsoever.  We took the story and a legislative proposal to various state legislators.  Nothing happened.  Instead, Julian Reyes has taken to the streets to document police brutality.  
    • License to do business – I assisted artisan, Sarah Stollak in securing a license to sell her work at the 23rd Street Renaissance Artists’ marke I believe all humanity have a right to live in peace including making a living without government interference.  The City of Austin had established guidelines about what was and was not art, and some bureaucrat decided Sarah’s work was not art.  More than likely in reality, Sarah’s loud advocacy for other artists and people who did not have the advantages of white male supremacy caused the conflict. But we mediated the circumstance and secured the license.  Sarah’s friends were very supportive. Here is a comment from one of Sarah’s friends on facebook: “Far out and can I have an amen to all of you. I make it a point to read the comments of Sarah’s friends… I find them uplifting every time. a) I think now is a good time for me to join the market -perhaps the best way to show one of the indirect impacts that Sarah’s public ordeal has had; and, b) I’m making note of the name Daphne Silverman and her role and kind words. I know people including myself who, on many occasions have chosen to acquiesce, to not stand up to the powers that be. Why? -for fear of losing?, -or being blacklisted or simply doing battle on too many fronts already. It’s nice to know we may have a champion out there. Thank you all”