Success in previous cases does not guarantee success in future cases, but it does reflect upon a lawyer’s knowledge, skill, and instinct.
U.S. Navy v. EOCN CS– Military member EOCN was charged with rape and sodomy of a child for crawling into the window of a 16 year old girl’s home, holding her down and forcing her to engage in sexual intercourse. EOCN advised that he was not guilty and requested a jury trial. The jury found the member not guilty in May 1993.
U.S. Air Force v. MSgt BW– Military member MSgt was charged in a summary court-martial with assault on a military officer. The military officer was a doctor who was drawing blood from the MSgt’s baby. The MSgt believed the baby was being needlessly harmed, that the officer did not know how to draw blood from a baby, and that the officer was committing medical malpractice repeatedly attempting to take blood from the baby when the officer did not know how to do so. The MSgt requested a trial before the summary court judge. The defense was able to show the judge that the doctor attempted to take blood from the baby unsuccessfully multiple times, that the MSgt believed the baby was being harmed and that the MSgt’s belief was reasonable. The Summary court-martial judge found the MSgt not guilty.
U.S. Navy v. SCPO – Military member SCPO was accused of theft when over a million dollars’ worth of materials disappeared from the DRMO facility run by the member. The SCPO advised that he did not know how the materials were lost and that he was being blamed in order to avoid responsibility falling upon the higher command for mismanagement. The SCPO sought to prove he was innocent without a trial. A thorough defense investigation contradicted the government investigation regarding the SCPO’s knowledge and involvement. As a result, the Convening Authority resolved the matter outside of the judicial system. The SCPO retired sometime after this incident and started his speech at his full parade retirement ceremony by announcing that he was able to retire because his lawyer had more balls than anyone he had met in his career in the Navy. On his lawyer’s desk sits a small box with 2 metal balls that her boss gave her so that she would never forget this speech and govern her career accordingly. She has done so.
U.S. Navy v. LT GG– Navy pilot was accused of organizing Tail-hook the year of the sexual harassment scandal and therefore accused of facilitating sexual assault and sexual harassment. The Navy pilot did not understand why anyone cared about an annual party that had been going on for half a century in the same format and was being mischaracterized by politicians and media. He asked for assistance in stopping the witch hunt that appeared designed to prevent politicians from blaming the senior military leadership. By telling the truth, he was awarded immunity from prosecution which enabled him to speak freely protecting those who were wrongly charged with misconduct while convicting no one. After the criminal case was closed, the Navy sought to administratively discharge the pilot for his involvement in Tail-hook. He requested administrative separation hearing panel. He had served honorably including tours in the Iraq combat zone risking his life to protect our country alongside our entire flight community. The best of many witnesses was the pilot’s wife who had stood beside her husband through thick and thin, and knew every trauma he suffered, every brave act over foreign soil in combat in which he had engaged and every family joy. She was an honor to the ranks of military wives and the pilot an honor to the Navy. The panel agreed and retained the member in the Navy.
U.S. Navy v. LT G– Navy pilot was concerned about the techniques being used the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) in interviews of pilots who had attended Tailhook, particularly those who were not even accused of doing something wrong. NCIS used the lack of specific criminal accusation to interview all pilots who had attended Tailhook without having a lawyer present. To the Navy’s credit, the Navy assigned lawyers to meet with the pilots before their interview and to be available outside of the interview rooms should the right to counsel arise or should the pilots have questions after their interview. This particular pilot chose to surreptitiously record the agents interviewing him in order to expose the techniques being used. In the interview, the pilot became so disturbed by the interview techniques that he confronted the agents and told them he was recording them. The agents forcibly seized his recording device and sent it to their headquarters. The agents claimed that the pilot violated the law by recording them. The law had been researched prior to the pilot’s decision to record. He had not violated any military law. A demand was made for the return of the recording device with its recording intact NCIS refused. The matter went up the chain of command and eventually the pilot won the argument and the device was returned but they had deleted the recording. This may seem like a minor case to make it to a list of significant cases, but it is important to remember because of the pilot’s bravery in the face of a nationwide political attack on the Navy over a party that had been mischaracterized by politicians and media, the Navy’s recognition of the pilot’s rights and effort to provide some legal support to the pilots, as well as the ultimate recognition by NCIS headquarters of their violation of the pilot’s rights and return of his device.
U.S Air Force v. MGySgt – Adult and child pornographic images were found on the MGySgt’s computer. The MGySgt sought help ending the investigation and preventing prosecution. The defense engaged in a prompt defense investigation, cooperated with the Air Force’s investigation, and met with the Convening Authority and the Convening Authority’s supervising chain of command. The investigation was halted and no action was taken to blemish the otherwise perfect career of the MGySgt.
U.S. Navy v. CDR – Pilot and his medical officer were accused of making false statements in the pilot’s medical records in order to maintain the pilot’s flight status so that the pilot could continue to fly combat missions. The Convening Authority processed the pilot and the medical officer for administrative separation. The pilot and his medical officer denied any wrongdoing. This case required detailed review of the medical records, testimony from an expert, fact investigation and several days of tense moments in an Administrative Separation Hearing.
Civilian Federal Cases
United States v. LH – The client was indicted for conspiracy to defraud the United States by submitting false claims to the government. Based upon interviews of the client and family members, it appeared that the client experienced a mental health condition that prevented him from comprehending the nature of his conduct. It was a complicated mental health issue because he did not appear to be insane, that is unable to understand the criminality of any conduct. His mental health condition impacted his ability to understand the particular complexity of the charges lodged. The defense requested that Court appoint a very specific team of mental health care experts – one to perform a battery of psychological tests and one to review the tests, meet with the client and render expert opinions. The experts determined that the client could not form the intent for the particular conduct. The government, including the prosecutor and the investigating agent, reviewed the tests and reports provided by the experts and agreed with the facts and conclusions as presented by the experts. As a result, the prosecutor dismissed the indictment against the client.
United States v. IM– The client was charged along with other people with conspiracy to manufacture cocaine based upon allegations that the defendants were selling “cut” for cocaine and sending the proceeds to Lebanon to support terrorism. The client denied the allegations. The client was just one of many shops believing he was lawfully selling lawful products and sending extra funds home to support family members not terrorism. The defense, demanded the terrorism investigation reports and pointed out to the prosecutor that this counsel had Level 4 SCI (top secret) clearance with the military and could secure clearance for this case in order to review these reports. The defense also filed a motion to dismiss claiming that the prosecution was racially biased as it arrested only Lebanese immigrants while other people sold the very same items. The government decided to dismiss the case rather than be forced to permit the defense to gain access to the documents in their terrorism file that purportedly supported the criminal drug charges.
United States v. JW – JW is a Standing Rock Lakota Sioux member and a Veteran of the United States Army. When the Standing Rock reservation found itself the center of a worldwide supported protest against a pipeline being constructed across their land including across a burial site and very near the tribe and buffalo drinking water, JW volunteered to assist the tribe with security at the camps where protestors lived during the protest. Word came through the grapevine that law enforcement was going to come down to the reservation with tanks and destroy the camps, surprising the campers, risking their safety, and likely destroying property. A tribal decision was made to block road access to protect the innocent people who had come from around the world to stand with the tribe. Tree limbs and other lumber were donated by non-indigenous neighbors to block the road and the limbs were set on fire. Law enforcement did in fact arrive with tanks and guns. The tribe and supporters stood in the road praying for the law enforcement to turn back rather than harm the protestors. The United States government charged the indigenous people who protected the protestors with engaging in civil disorder and use of fire to commit civil disorder. The prosecutors accused JW of leading the action. It is true that JW was the most senior tribe security person at the protection action, but not true that he committed a crime. Everyone charged went to federal prison except JW. While the defense prepared for trial the prosecutor called and begged the client plead guilty and in exchange the prosecutor would recommend house arrest. The prosecutor advised that house arrest on the reservation was just ordinary probation, that JW would not actually be required to stay in his home. JW decided not to risk trial. He suffered enough with his posttraumatic stress (PTS) from military service that was aggravated by watching law enforcement yank protestors out of tents and destroy the campground. He did not want to risk the trauma of prison. He served on the line in Germany. There the rules of engagement allowed them to help immigrants from East Germany if they made it across the “no man’s land” space, but they were not allowed to engage the enemy while someone was making an attempt. In this position, he saw people killed who he was not permitted to save – one that tortures him to this day a young woman who was shot in his sites by the other side. This resulted in him experiencing a breakdown that led to his transfer to military hospitals for months. When he came out on the other side, in his heart he vowed never to stand by and allow someone to be harmed again. He honored that vow in his security work at Standing Rock during the protests. And the Judge recognized his suffering, and sentenced him to straight community supervision for only two years without any “house arrest.” It is a spiritually powerful moment in life to travel through a reservation.
United States v. B and Z G–Clients were brothers who were targets of an FBI led joint domestic terrorism task force. Clients were accused of stockpiling weapons to use while engaging in civil disorder with the suggestion that the conduct constituted domestic terrorism. The clients met with the FBI and stopped this investigation before it left the FBI office by truthfully describing to the FBI agents everything the clients had done prior to and during the protest and showing the agents that the clients did not do what they were accused of doing. The FBI did not even require a polygraph. The clients were resolute and straightforward in their interview.
United States v. AS– The client was a target of a federal Medicare fraud investigation along with a group of other medical providers. Grand jury subpoenas were issued to the client and others. Other lawyers fought the subpoenas. AS advised that he was completely innocent. The defense gathered and reviewed all of his records and responded to the subpoena with an overwhelming amount of data depicting the client’s innocence. Yet again, an investigation stopped at its inception. Many lawyers take the position that they will never voluntarily speak to the government. These lawyers lack vision and confidence. There are times when a client should speak to the government. A lawyer needs experience and instinct to recognize those times, and wisdom and tact to know how to present the truth to the government.
United States v. JM– The client was charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana grown in California to customers in Texas as well as possession with intent to distribute. The conflicting state laws on marijuana are of great concern to the federal government. As a result, charges of shipping from a state where marijuana is lawful to a state where marijuana is not lawful are given heightened attention by the prosecution. The client had a long criminal history – habitual plus which made his prison exposure extreme. But once arrested, the client turned a corner in life that he had been struggling to turn for some time. Courtesy of a United States Magistrate saw something in the client’s heart worth saving, the client went through intensive inpatient and outpatient treatment while awaiting trial. Ultimately, the client pled guilty to count one, possession with intent, and he filled the courtroom with witnesses from California and Texas who attested to the client’s character and his real change in life plan. The United States District Judge focused on morality. He took note of the sea change in the view of politicians towards legalization of marijuana, determined that it seemed likely that marijuana could be legal across the nation within a year and so sentenced the client to a year and a day in prison so that the client would not remain incarcerated beyond that year. The sentence was a stunningly enlightened ruling brought about by a reasoned sentencing memorandum.
United States v. GP – The client was charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, harboring illegal aliens, and making a false statement to a federal agent. 113 pounds of methamphetamine were in a car he was driving with his brother as a passenger. The client was attempting to save his brother from the influence of the violent Mexican drug cartels. The brother was trying to escape and had been made to believe if he engaged in one more trip he could leave without harm but if he failed to engage in that trip harm would come to him and his family. As anyone close to the cartels knows, they have no conscience and will torture and kill anyone with impunity in Mexico and sometimes across the border in Texas. The defense investigation supported the facts and ultimately the prosecution permitted the client to plead to harboring his brother and false statement to a federal agent. The client was sentenced to 1 year and 1 day. This is a case where my husband is listed on pacer as lead counsel but I did almost all of the work on the case including running the investigation drafting all pleadings, negotiating with the prosecutor and appearing with the client at sentencing.
United States v. Ashley Richards. and Brent Justice – In this case, I represented Stopcrush.org, but in truth I represented the cats and dogs who were harmed because they could not speak in Court. The defendants’ names are disclosed in my curriculum vitae because their disgusting conduct does not merit privacy, and I did not and would never represent them. Congress passed a narrowly tailored statute to address the horrifying animal crush sexual industry, an industry that harms, maims and kills animals for the sexual pleasure of the viewer. A District Judge found the statute unconstitutional thereby preventing prosecution of Ashley Richards and Brent Justice who were creating these movies. The United States prosecutor appealed the ruling. I filed an amicus brief in support of the United States’ position on behalf of animals worldwide that are being tortured and killed. It is rare that I am on the same side as the government, but in this case I was because the government sought to protect the animals. I filed the animals’ story which was found in all of the pictures and videos that Stopcrush.org had gathered through their brave investigations. The prosecutor had not presented the animals’ story to the trial judge when litigating the motion to dismiss, a grievous error. The DOJ Washington DC stepped in on appeal and was pleased that I sought to help with a remedy for the trial prosecutor’s failure. A litigant is limited to arguing what’s in the record, but an amicus curiae is authorized to file materials on appeal. Interestingly, there was no procedure for filing photographic and video exhibits like this on appeal, but to the credit of the appeals court staff, the clerks found a way to accept the material. The appeals court then reversed the District Judge’s ruling and found the statute is constitutional. The prosecution of Richards and Justice went forward, and anyone engaging in this conduct in the United States can now be prosecuted under the federal statute. .
United States vs. M.C.– The client and several others were charged in a conspiracy to harbor aliens who illegally entered the United States. One of the aliens died in the client’s home, and the client was accused of helping to dispose of the body. The government alleged that the death of the alien 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. Prior to the prosecutor getting up to speed, the defense immediately investigated and researched the medical facts surrounding the death including reviewing the records, speaking to independent pathologists, and securing a meeting with the government’s pathologist before the prosecutor had even met with him. The pathologist answered questions truthfully and signed an affidavit which supported the defense position that the client and the others who helped the deceased escape from Mexico did not cause the death instead it was an underlying medical condition which the alien likely did not realize could cause death. With the affidavit in hand, the defense 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. Ultimately, the Judge found that the death was not connected to the conspiracy. The client plead guilty to harboring aliens without a death connection and was sentenced to 22 months in prison. This was a rare ruling on the death connection and an excellent sentencing result. Very few lawyers ever contest death connections in alien smuggling cases, and those who do generally lose the contest. In addition, the sentence was incredibly light given several years of smuggling many aliens. It is relevant to note that the client engaged in support of the alien harboring in order to help people escape persecution. Mexico has become a dangerous country because it is run by cartels who rule ruthlessly with violence. Young men in particular are ordered to engage in drug trafficking and if they fail to do so family members are harmed. If they even attempt to get out of the trade by speaking to law enforcement, the results are gruesome for them and family. The client knew these facts and hoped to save people not harm people by helping them escape to the United States.
United States v. BZ– The government believed the client was a sleeper cell for the Chinese government. The government accused the client and her company of engaging in shipping prohibited electronics to China in violation of export laws. The client faced 5 years in prison for each transaction as well as the possibility of a terrorism enhancement. A detailed defense investigation convinced the government to permit the client and the business each to plead to one count and for the client to serve 2 years on probation.
United States v. SB– The client was accused of being the leading methamphetamine dealer in the state of Wyoming. She served a short period of time on a state sentence and then the federal government picked her up and charged her in federal court. She was granted bond while her case proceeded and her magic began. She turned her life around completely making her unrecognizable to anyone who knew her in her previous life. She successfully completed treatment, accepted a job making sandwiches at a national sandwich chain, advanced to the statewide manager of the sandwich chain, changed her focus in life to her children and her husband. The Court rewarded her for her change with a probated sentence instead of prison.
United States v. JD– The client was accused of conspiracy to possess with intent distribute large quantities of multiple controlled substances that had been run through her home in Montana. Her name was included on charges related to methamphetamines. A defense investigation followed by a meeting with a multitude of agents from multiple agencies resulted in all charges being dismissed.
United States v. KS– In this case, the government interdicted a person bringing controlled substances from Canada. The agents persuaded the person to bring them more controlled substances so they could deliver them in Texas. The informant placed the controlled substances in the client’s house in Texas. The agents and informant engaged in conduct intending to get the client to see the controlled substances, but the client never followed their lead and took a look. My husband and I tried this case together. We were able to show the jury that at least there was a good chance that he did not know there was a controlled substance left in his house. The jury found the client not guilty.
United States v. LK– Client was the medical director of a sleep study clinic. He was charged with Medicaid fraud and proceeded to trial. He did not know that the clinic engaged in fraud and felt honored and grateful that he was selected as medical director. The defense investigation revealed 1000s of pages of records that showed that the client actually met with clients, actually noted their condition and actually ensured they received relevant tests. Records and even the testimony of a law enforcement agent from Southern California where the clinic’s billing company operated were presented at trial. The jury could not believe the client and found him guilty. I share this story so that the reader of this curriculum vitae sees that even with a good lawyer and strong investigation, people are convicted and go to prison. I share this story in full transparency that I have lost trials, as have all trial lawyers.
United States v. EW– Federal prison sentence reduced by 5 years pursuant to Rule 35. United States v. TE (Teresa Ely) – Federal prison sentence reduced by 36 months pursuant to Rule 35. EW and TE witnessed sexual assault of inmate by a prison guard. The guard took advantage of his position of authority over the inmate. The inmate could do nothing to protect herself. ET and TE stood up for the inmate. The victim was a former client of mine. EW and TE bravely agreed to speak to investigators with the inspector general despite the risks of repercussions against them by other prison officials. As a result of their truthful testimony, the guard was arrested, fired, and convicted. In honor of their bravery, the defense filed petitions for EW and TE for reduction in their sentences. The defense appeared before both of their judges in separate hearings and convinced the judges that it was just to reduce the sentences of these witnesses.
State Court Cases:
RN v. The State of Texas – The client was convicted in trial in state court in East Texas. He was represented by one of the perceived top criminal defense attorneys from Houston, Texas, but the attorney failed to effectively argue the critical issue in a hearing to suppress the evidence. On appeal, the appeals court found, “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. 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 [N]’s truck. See Rodriguez, 135 S. Ct. at 1614–16. We sustain [N]’s sole issue.” The client walked out of prison.
State of Texas vs. CC – The client was accused of DWI and taken to the Travis County jail for a blood draw. I despise drunk driving as it is a careless act that causes so much harm nationwide. Most of the time, I refuse to accept DWI cases, but this one had to be tried. In a horrific tale from the dark ages, while taking the client’s blood, deputies with the Travis County Sheriff’s office and Austin Police Officers strapped the client to a restraint chair by her hands, arms, chest and legs, 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. The client began to convulse in panic believing the police were about to kill her. As she shook from the convulsions, because she was not still, deputies choked her until she almost lost consciousness. The client was found not guilty of DWI. The jury by finding the client not guilty likely believed the blood test results were unreliable due to contamination of the sample that occurred while the client was being tortured by the police and they sent a message to the police that juries will not tolerate torture by police.
State of Texas vs. Jane Doe – The defendant was accused of interfering with the public duties of a police officer by involving herself in a traffic stop. The defendant 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 speech delays the performance of the officer’s duties the speech 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. Charges were ultimately dismissed.
State of Texas vs. MA– Muslim client and 2 other men had been arrested and jailed for 3 years for charges of attempted sexual assault and aggravated kidnapping. Another attorney handled the client’s case for those three years and the client was held with a high bond. The first lawyer never took the case to trial, allowing the client to languish in jail with no work towards overcoming the injustice. A non-profit organization hired counsel to represent the client due to lack of action on the case with court appointed counsel. The defense hired an expert witness on diabetes and an investigator and their reports revealed the truth. The expert witness was able to show that the client’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. The reports from the expert and the investigator convinced the prosecutor to dismiss the attempted sexual assault charge and reduce the kidnapping charge to a misdemeanor of unlawful restraint.
State of Mississippi vs. TM – The client, a Black man, was accused of armed robbery by a white man. An average person thinks that an eye witness identification should cinch the case. In reality, there are a multitude of flaws with eye witness identification including cross-racial confusion and other psychological issues that result in wrongful conviction. At the time of this charge, the premier expert in eye witness identification was the late Dr. Robert Shomer, a resident of California. The defense convinced a judge in Biloxi, Mississippi that it was critical that the state of Mississippi pay for this particular expert to fly from California and explain to the jury the complications with the eye witness identification process and eye witness testimony. The judge listened, and he signed an order hiring the expert paying his travel expenses to fly to Biloxi to testify. When it came time for trial, a different judge was on the bench and he was furious with the judge who signed the order. He suffered from the standard racial bias found in courts in certain states. The Judge had previously confronted me in the back hallway of the courthouse and told me never to file “that motion” in his court. By “that motion”, he was referring to one that I called “driving while Black.” I had come to learn that “driving while Black” was a crime in Southern Mississippi, and I was in the process of uncovering the real crimes that were leading to the arrest of all of my young Black clients. I managed to get my hands on 1000s of pages of records revealing the race of people stopped by the police, searched by the police and those ultimately charged with crimes. An honest clerk had responded to my subpoena without contacting the prosecutor to permit the prosecutor to cover up the evidence. These documents revealed that Black men were more likely to be stopped and those stopped were more likely to be searched and those searched were more likely to be arrested regardless of the similarity of facts in cases with White men. A new rule came out of that snafu for the government, the Daphne subpoena rule. If one comes in from Daphne to your office, contact the prosecutor. I had the data I needed, so I did not worry about the infringement on my investigatory rights. This judge who was now hearing my case refused to let Dr. Shomer testify before the jury even though he had flown from California. The judge believed the concept of eyewitness identification flaws to be hogwash. When the judge refused to allow the expert to testify, I told the judge I would have to proffer every word of the expert’s testimony for purposes of appeal. The Judge respected me enough to allow me to do this, and even more curious he sat in the courtroom and listened while I did so. After hearing the testimony, he abruptly stood without a word to any of us, turned and went out the back door into his chambers. He stayed there for what seemed an interminable amount of time while we all sat and waited. There was no motion pending at the time. We did not know what he was doing or what we should do until he came out. He took the bench, and he said the most powerful words a judge or anyone can say, he said “I was wrong.” He said that Dr. Shomer had educated him and that he now found that there was not enough credible evidence to allow the jury to examine the facts of the case. Earlier at the close of the state’s case, I had made a motion to dismiss. The Judge reconsidered and granted that motion, dismissing all charges.
State of Mississippi vs. SG –In Mississippi, defendants were often left in jail over 2 years without being indicted and without have court appointed counsel to speak on their behalf. I had had enough of this process about the time that this client’s 4 cocaine delivery cases landed on my desk as retained counsel. I filed motions to dismiss two drug delivery cases that had been indicted. 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 and lectured the prosecutor. 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. Subsequently, I filed the same motion for 2 unindicted drug transfer cases, and the prosecutor elected not to pursue the unindicted cases. Four cocaine delivery cases dismissed due to violation of constitutional right to speedy trial. More importantly, the judge in this case was the chief judge in the county. He was responsible for selecting appointed counsel. He upgraded my position as merely an appointed counsel to appointed counsel in charge of the other appointed lawyers and permitted me to have counsel appointed for inmates as soon as they were arrested rather than awaiting indictment without counsel.
State of Mississippi vs. DG – Capital Murder dismissed because the Court ruled that the statements made by the client to police were inadmissible at trial. The Judge held that police coerced the client to confess by telling him that he would be sentenced to the death penalty if he did not confess but that “the truth would set him free.” The defense filed a motion to suppress the client’s confession, hearings were held on the facts, and then to provide the Judge with detailed guidance for his ruling, proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law were submitted. 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. The client 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.S. – Capital Murder, jury verdict not guilty. Very few attorneys have one not guilty verdict on a capital murder. Even less, have 2. These 2 not guilty verdicts are a direct result of a divergent philosophy in approach to defense of capital cases. 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 capital cases should be investigated and researched in the same fashion as other criminal cases, that is, that the defense should start with examining guilt/innocence rather than assume the client is guilty. No stone should be left unturned in investigating the actual facts of the allegation and the law applicable to the specific facts. This client was accused of killing a hotel maid after she saw the face of the defendants during a robbery. Defense counsel were Donald Rafferty and myself. Through attention to detail before and during trial, the defense team was able to show that the State’s case had too many holes to support a conviction. According to Mr. Rafferty, my simple, thorough cross examination of the lead agent and insightful closing argument helped to win the jury’s understanding of the case.
State of Mississippi vs. CS – Capital Murder, jury verdict not guilty. The client was accused of killing her own child by shaking the baby. I tried this case with Donald Rafferty and again attention to factual details laid the foundation for the acquittal. I 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. I then uncovered numerous charges pending against the co-defendant which it appeared were being dismissed in exchange for his testimony but the charges had been hidden so that the prosecution could avoid disclosing the benefit the witness was receiving. At the last minute the State announced a jail house snitch would testify to a confession, I immediately went to the jail and interviewed everyone in the cell block including guards in order to prove the unreliability of the jail house snitch. I disclosed so much evidence to discredit the jail house snitch that the prosecutor decided not to call the witness. I then did what most defense attorneys refuse to do, I put the client on the stand and guided her through her story. The final cincher according again to Mr. Rafferty was a magical closing argument which transformed the jury to the night of the murder and showed them the truth. After my closing argument in our first capital case together, Mr. Rafferty had decided I would get most of our closing time in the case. 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. The client sent me a thank you note. All it said was “thank you for saving my life.”
State of Texas v. IV – The client was charged with Burglary of Habitation. The client’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. Texans love their dogs. The defense researched this purported scent science and helped to expose that it is not founded upon strong scientific principles. The defense filed a Motion to Exclude the testimony of the dog handler which resulted in the dismissal of the case.
RH v. State of Texas – The client was convicted of aggravated assault on a family and sentenced to 8 years in prison. I was hired to appeal. First, I filed a Motion to Abate the Appeal and convinced the court of appeals that the client should be permitted to file a Motion for New Trial outside of the deadline. Then, I filed a Motion for New Trial to the trial judge and convinced the trial judge to change the sentence to probation. This result took creativity and careful reading of the law to accomplish. My husband refers to it as the Charlie’s Angels ruling because what he walked into the courtroom he saw 3 beautiful women standing before the trial judge with the not beautiful client. We believed the client could change and showed the judge why, and the judge took a leap of faith and trusted all of us.
State of Texas v. WF – The client was a true habitual accused of aggravated robbery. He faced 25 years to life in prison. The defense again secured the appointment of an eye witness identification expert, Dr. Shomer of course, 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 critical pleading that ultimately led to the outcome in this case was the Memorandum of Law supporting the appointment of the expert.