A big shout out to the team of Amber Vazquez of Austin and Leslie Booker of Round Rock for a tough victory in a two-week-long murder trial. D was charged with shooting his ex-girlfriend’s brother after a dispute boiled up on social media involving a nasty breakup (as detailed in the Austin newspaper, here: https://atxne.ws/2Ct0xar). Victim showed up to fight D and was shot by a hidden assailant. Amber argued that the police never looked into any other suspects in the case, noting the shooting may have been related to a robbery the victim admitted to committing earlier that day. She also noted that a witness who allegedly spoke to police described the shooter as Hispanic, and D is black. The jury deliberated for two days before declaring him not guilty. Excellent work, Amber and Leslie, for giving this man his life back.
Kudos to John M. Lozano of Dallas, who recently won big in a 4-day jury trial in Denton County, Texas. D, a legal resident from El Salvador, was charged with Indecency with a Child in a 2-count indictment. D presented a real challenge because he needed an interpreter throughout the trial. After an hour of deliberation, the 12-member jury (11 whites and 1 Hispanic) returned an NG verdict on both counts. John attributes the win to a fair judge and an unbiased Denton County jury. He added: “In the closing argument, the DA told the jury to send a message by their verdict. In my closing argument I said, ‘Let that message be, We don’t send innocent people to prison in Denton county.’” Well played, John. Congratulations.
Shout out to Jonathan Chavez and second-chair Julie Hasdorff of San Antonio for the big NG in a federal DWI case. D, a 61-year-old female who had been involved in a wreck with a semi in the ’90s that resulted in a metal plate in her neck fusing together several vertebrae, has trouble balancing at all times. She had accidentally driven onto Fort Sam Houston, a military installation in San Antonio, and was pulled over. The officer, who testified D smelled like alcohol and looked disheveled, informed her he was going to administer field sobriety tests. He asked if she had any medical ailments, and she said that she had a metal plate in her neck interfering with her balance, and that she would probably fail any balance tests. He tested her anyway. She stumbled, and the officer reported that she failed. During the HGN, which the officer claimed she also failed, a well-lit video focused up close on her eyes. The judge even commented that he couldn’t really see what the officer was talking about. At all times, D was surrounded by officers wearing full military “battle gear,” though the officer in charge took her apparent fear as a sign of intoxication. Jonathan was able to bring out D’s injury problems, and though D wouldn’t take a breath test, they didn’t draw blood. Jonathan also credits TCDLA past-prez John Convery for help on pretrial work. Congratulations, team, on a job well done.
Kudos to Patrick Short and second-chair Matt Hill of Rockwall, recent winners in a ten-day trial. A Dallas jury acquitted their client in spite of his own false confession, passing on a lesser-included indecency charge as well as the penetration he had been indicted on. Two alleged extraneous bad acts from 20 years ago—an alleged public kiss on the neck of 13-year-old and an alleged inappropriate comment to the same girl a few years later—failed to sway the jury. Patrick credits TCDLA expert member Dr. Aaron Pierce, who listened to all of the testimony to render his opinion, then explained how to help the jury see that in spite of D’s non-law enforcement confession, alleged extraneous bad acts, and the lesser-included charge, they still needed to meet the standard of proof.
Kudos to Micah Hatley of Victoria for the big NG in a two-day Corpus Christi trial of a Brownsville police officer. D, arrested on Padre Island, told Border Patrol she had come to search for her boyfriend, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. She was subsequently charged with human smuggling in a case that Gov. Greg Abbott chimed in on. (“This is Texas, not California. Expect tough sentence.”) Substance of the trial concentrated on a relationship with a boy smuggled in two decades ago. He grew up in Brownsville and had dated D since the seventh grade, the two living together for years. As mentioned in the post on the Texas Monthly website (https://bit.ly/2IjHgay), a grand jury indicted D on three charges—”one related to conspiring to transport aliens, one related to concealing and harboring Perez at the scene of the arrest, and a third count that was more or less an indictment of [D]’s daily life.” Micah says the jury only deliberated for about an hour before reaching a verdict. Boyfriend, no longer needed as a witness, will likely face deportation and won’t be able to return legally to the U.S. for at least three years. Congratulations, Micah, on a big win in a sad case.
A big shout out to Tip Hargrove of San Angelo, chair of the Memo Bank Committee, for his work to bring new life to the TCDLA Motion Bank. Tip and his cohorts on the committee—Warren Wolf, Michael Mowla, and Leigh Davis—monitor the TCDLA listserve and preserve important information imparted therein in the members-only Memo Bank. Tip noticed that members often sought motions on the listserve and volunteered to solicit our members for their successful efforts. (Note the ad below.) The first harvest of winning motions, courtesy of DWI Co-Chair Mark Thiessen, can now be accessed in the Motion Bank (Members Only/Brief, Motion & Memo Bank/). Thanks, Tip, Mark, and all the committee members for your work spreading the good word.