A big association congrats go out to Kristin Postell, who got the two-word verdict on her very first solo jury trial—in Taylor County Court at Law #1. An assault family violence case, the complainant and defendant were estranged at the time of the alleged assault. Both testified, part of only two-and-a-half hours of testimony, and the jury deliberated for just two hours. As listserve compliments rolled in, a common theme predominated: You never get tired of hearing those two words, Kristin. Way to go.
Stan Brown received a “not guilty” on a charge of first-degree possession of cocaine with intent to deliver (involving about 9 grams), following one day of testimony and two hours of deliberations. Stan’s client, a 73-year-old grandmother, simply never took much interest in the comings and goings of her 20-something-year-old grandsons, and the jury agreed. After the trial court sustained the State’s objection to medical records showing COPD and chronic back problems requiring lots of medication, Stan rested. Congratulations, Stan, on a job well done.
Will Lara secured the two-word verdict on a tough battle over a charge of harassment. Client was accused of harassment by telephone, alleged to have left several messages on (ex-wife) complainant’s voicemail that “alarmed” her with the threat of bodily injury. In the course of the trial in Webb County Court of Law #1, Will says the judge allowed introduction of extraneous offenses, denied a hearing outside the presence of the jury, denied a presentation of a complete defense, and included definitions for common terms that would rise to the level of commenting on the weight of the evidence in the jury charge. State did not have the voicemail and intended to introduce detail of specific messages through a witness and officer. (The alleged voice messages were not presented because the lead investigator failed to preserve the evidence. The officer alleged that he listened to these messages and transcribed them the “one” time he heard them.) A blow-by-blow account can be seen on the TCDLA listserve. Nice work, Will.
Kudos to TCDLA member Casie Gotro, who heard the two-word verdict in a murder case in the 263rd in Harris County. Heather Lytle, who sat second chair with her, says she wishes she could have videotaped her performance: “From voir dire through closing, Casie told her client’s moving story of self-defense and defense of his wife, and pulled the jury into that story. It was a hard-fought battle, against a good prosecutor and a difficult judge. The verdict came in an hour and a half. When we talked to the jury afterward, one man said to Casie, ‘I just knew you were the real deal.’” High praise indeed. Good work, Casie and Heather.
Mike Trent scored a big victory on a 25-Life habitual on an agg assault charge. He notes that it boiled it down to the word of the complaining witness and they didn’t believe her. Mike thought it was going to be a death march in the morning, but the acquittal only took 16 minutes. As Mike says: “The moral is: have hope! No case is un-winnable!” Well done, Mike.