Stan Brown scored another “not guilty” recently in a trial before a Taylor County jury. In a suppression hearing, client had testified that case agent came to his home (“knock and talk”) and on the front porch told him that they had info on him growing marijuana in his backyard, and that if he would consent to a search and only a relatively small amount was found, “it will go away.” Agent acknowledged that he could possibly have said something about like that, but added he would’ve said if a relatively small amount, “we can handle it.” Trial court took under advisement and denied a motion to suppress. Testimony essentially the same at trial, with a jury charge on voluntariness of consent: “Unless you are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt consent was freely and understandingly given, you will not consider the evidence seized as a result of the search.” After about two-and-a-half hours deliberating, jury found client not guilty. As one of the jurors said in the elevator, “They just didn’t do it right.” Stan says he’s very proud of this particular jury. And we’re proud of you, Stan.
David A. Schulman wanted brag on his friend, Bonham defense lawyer Steve Miears. Steve litigated the issue of whether a “non-judge” could not rule on a motion to suppress in a DWI case. He won that question at both the Court of Appeals and the CCA, then had to relitigate the case in trial court. As Steve said to David: “Raymond’s DWI video showed him stumbling all over the roadway and admitting to having had 10 beers at the VFW. However, he testified that in his opinion his left wheels did not cross the center stripe like the trooper said. I was able to get the judge to submit to the jury the issue of whether the stop was legal. The jury said he was drunk on his ass but the trooper had no reasonable suspicion to stop.” The two-word verdict made all his work worth it. Congrats, Steve.
Todd Hatter of Amarillo credits what he learned at John Ackerman’s Psychodrama seminar (now called Round Top III—see ad page 32) with a recent victory. In a felony jury trial in the 320th District Court in Potter County, Todd tried an assault family violence case (with a prior on the same charge in 2011). The indictment included the prior as jurisdictional element and was read to the jury. As Todd notes, the trial began at 10 in the morning, and the two-word verdict came back just after 4 in the afternoon, with the jury deliberating a little over 8 minutes. Well done, Todd.
The Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association held its 43rd annual banquet and awards ceremony on May 9, with special honorees. HCCLA President Elect Todd Dupont noted: “This year’s banquet was particularly special. Not only was HCCLA recognizing and honoring some of the finest criminal defense lawyers in Texas. HCCLA also had the unique opportunity to humbly honor Anthony Graves and Michael Morton—two men who, collectively, have wrongfully and unjustly spent 43 years of their lives behind bars, at the hands of rogue prosecutors.” Graves and Morton received the Torch of Liberty Award for their work with members of the Texas Legislature this session.
Thomas D. Moran received the Sharon Levine Unsung Hero Award for his work on an international case for a client charged by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda with nine counts ranging from genocide and crimes against humanity to war crimes and rape. His client, Prosper Mugiraneza, was acquitted on all counts.
Chika Anyiam recently got two NGs on two counts of Agg Sex Assault on a child under 6. A grueling trial revealed inconsistencies in the alleged victim’s “coach speak,” and after a bit of wiggling, the SANE admitted that there were no apparent injuries to the child’s genitalia. She simply didn’t know one way or the other. Things got weird during closing when the state said: “The defense attorney has given you little snapshots of the defendant’s life with the victim’s family, but just wait until the punishment phase. This is the first phase, but wait till the punishment phase and you will see the entire picture.” The judge and Chika both erupted at the same time: What the hell was that?! Chika requested an instruction to disregard, moved for a mistrial, and prayed the judge would deny it (having put in some good work). The judge denied, and the jury acquitted. Good job, Chika. Now take that vacation you richly deserve.