Monthly archive

October 2011 - Page 2

Said & Done

/

Kudos

Gary Trichter sent along this note: As President of TCDLA, I want to applaud the 26 Collin County defense lawyers who publicly provided written statements that a specific trial court judge had a DWI videotape policy that denied all Defendants a fair trial. These brave warriors showed no fear of reprisal. They couragously signed off on the evidentiary statements knowing that they still had to regularly practice before this judge. The court of appeals, in reversing the trial judge for his unconstitutional policy, took special note of this fact. That said, you 26 bring great honor to the defense bar and to TCDLA. Thank you for standing together and backing up the trial lawyers.

Kudos to the Dallas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, who presented cash and checks totaling $4,740 to Zach Thompson at Dallas County Health and Human Services to purchase air conditioners for those elderly and young in need. Deandra Grant reports that the city had run out of money for the humanitarian effort. Brad Lollar set up a table and collected donations. A deal with Lowe’s on a discounted rate of $100–125 for each unit meant that 38–48 units were provided. Additional donations can be sent to Zach at Dallas County Health and Human Services, 2377 N. Stemmons Freeway, Dallas 75207. Great work, guys.

Keith Hampton won writs in the district court forcing the Austin State Hospital to accept his mentally ill clients. The clients had already been found incompetent to stand trial and ordered to the hospital but had languished in jail for weeks and even months. Keith is happy to share his writ with anyone who has similar problems in getting incompetent clients into a mental health facility instead of the county jail. Good work, Keith.

Paul B. Love represented an army recruiter charged with Aggravated Assault, Aggravated Sexual Assault, and Retaliation in the 122nd Judicial District Court of Galveston County. The jury returned not guilty verdicts on all three charges. Nice work, Paul.

Craig Henry obtained reversal of a murder conviction based on ineffective assistance of counsel in improperly advising client that he would be eligible for probation from a jury if convicted of murder.

Mark Griffith’s client was charged with Aggravated Assault/Serious Bodily Injury, arising from a fight outside a bar. A friend was being jumped by two people, and the accused heard him scream for help and ran up and punched one of the attackers in the face. Mark’s client was a very large man, and his punch broke the “victim’s” jaw and nose, necessitating multiple plastic surgeries. Mark’s investigation included obtaining witness statements from people at the scene. He spent a substantial amount of time talking to client and other witnesses regarding dangers of testifying at grand jury. Mark told the prosecutor that his client would testify, but he also requested that the prosecutor give the statements he had obtained to the jury, and the statements were passed out to each member. His client testified for 30 minutes, and the grand jury no-billed his client. Monica Bishop, Mark’s associate, played a huge role in getting this case ready.

Dustin Nimz, assisted by Scott Stillson from the Wichita County Public Defender’s Office, recently won a “not guilty” in a DWI trial. When arrested after a wreck on the highway, the defendant told the officer and an ambulance driver that he was intoxicated. The defendant testified that the wreck occurred in one fashion and the prosecution pursued an alternate theory for the wreck—even though the State’s expert agreed that the wreck could have occurred as the accused claimed. The jury remained unconvinced, and after a long and spirited debate came back with the not guilty. Dustin also tried a 5-count in­dictment including aggravated assault on a peace officer x 2, attempted aggravated assault on a peace officer, escape, and deadly weapon in a penal institution. The jury found the defendant not guilty of the attempt and found a lesser included offense of attempted aggravated assault on a peace officer on the second agg assault charge. The jury only gave 75 years even after hearing evidence of two separate incidences of stabbing guards occurring after the trial.

Fred Stangl tried a 25-to-life Injury to a Child case in Terry County recently. His client also had two other 25-to-life Domestic Assaults by Strangulation pending.The plea offer was 10 years in TDC on two cases (to run CC), dismissing the other case. Client was acquitted in an hour. Thereafter, Stangl pled him to time served on the remaining cases (LIO Class A Domestic Assault).

Michael Robbins, Bexar County Assistant Public Defender, assisted by Micah Mason, a St. Mary’s student intern, had a case reversed and remanded on appeal. Robbins’ client was stopped late at night because the car he was driving vaguely fit the description of another involved in a hit-and-run. An officer saw some loose pills in the car and removed him. Thereafter, another officer saw a pair of brass knuckles in the car. Client was arrested for possession of a dangerous drug and a prohibited weapon. Defense counsel Frank Dickson filed a motion to suppress, which was denied. The client pled to the knuckles case, and got deferred. The dangerous drug case was taken into consideration. On appeal, the Fourth Court reversed and remanded because the officer who stopped D did not have specific articulable facts sufficient to raise a reasonable suspicion that client was involved in illegal activities.

Charles Soechting had a client—a “very deserving and sweet woman”—no-billed by a Dallas County Grand Jury in a Negligent Homicide case. She was charged with the crime because of a motorcyclist died on a Dallas highway during a car accident. Two and a half years went by without citation or charge. The family of the deceased pushed on and on, and she was arrested by the Mesquite PD. The PD couldn’t identify the criminal act but arrested her nonetheless. Soechting made a presentation to the grand jury regarding the lack of criminal conduct and secured a No Bill. Truly a sweet, sweet victory.

Skip Davis represented a couple of Iraq/Afghanistan war veterans in a public intoxication case occurring on Christmas night 2009. The vets were detained after the driver asked one cop if he could spare some M-16 ammunition, flummoxing the cop. The cop claimed reasonable suspicion and stopped the car. Investigation revealed nothing, but client and male friend were both mouthy. The single video in this multi-car response captured the initial minute after the client was pulled from car, though there was no audio on the recording. Client ambulated fine, looked clean cut—all good. Cop cussed client out on screen and then shoved client in the chest, as if instigating a fight! The rest of the detention/arrest was off camera, but with audio. Client and friend were verbally disrespectful to cop, and the client was arrested for Public Intoxication. Skip argued that his client was arrested for being In Contempt of Cop. He proved, with the initial video snippet, that client looked stone cold sober, and using audio from the off-camera interaction, proved that client was not drunk, was no danger to anybody, and, more importantly, that cops knew all along they had no case. Skip felt that in a case of Contempt of Cop, you might beat the rap, but you’re not gonna beat the ride!