Simon Purnell tried two federal jury trials, in two consecutive weeks in April, and walked his clients in both cases. The first, in Victoria, Texas, involved the alleged smuggling of marijuana into FCI Three Rivers, a medium-security facility, by Ms. Phillips, a female visitor. The government presented video of the visit, theorizing a kiss at the end of the visit as the delivery vehicle. The jury found for the defendant after hearing about the alternative ways drugs get into prisons—namely, the guards, other visitors, and the inmates themselves. It also helped that the guards were not consistent in their testimony… and that the inmate testified it was another inmate who passed it to him in the strip-search room while one of the guards sat surfing the internet.
The second case, in Corpus Christi, involved a spin-off case from the DEA and FBI investigation of the “silk road” website. The DEA office in Indonesia tracked a purchase of sassafras oil (one of the precursors for MDMA and meth) on the website to Corpus. Despite having the technology to track the purchase, package, and delivery (which was videotaped), finding an adult chemistry set and various alternative chemistry texts with recipes for the production of MDMA and meth, the agents followed DEA policy and did not record the interview and alleged confession. The jury found the defendant not guilty after hearing about the coercive techniques used by the DEA in this case, including threatening to arrest my client’s disabled mother for marijuana and pills she had in her room.
All in all, a hectic couple of weeks for Simon, but the results definitely made the effort worth it. Way to go, counselor.
Nicole DeBorde got some good news in one tough case in the 262nd District Court in Harris County. Accused, who had been to the penitentiary for credit card abuse and burglary on concurrent charges, was charged with Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child. He was living with his girlfriend and her extended family, and the 13-year-old niece of his girlfriend told another aunt he had been sexually assaulting her. Other children in the home were questioned, and an 8-year-old and 10-year-old also made outcry. The SANE examination revealed an acute tear in the oldest complainant’s genitalia. The accused testified at trial, so his priors were revealed. All extraneous allegations came into evidence. It was also revealed that the accused’s girlfriend had been asking her children for years whether “anyone had touched them.” The first accuser was having progressively worse discipline problems and blamed the accused for her punishments over these issues. The jury deliberated for two days and came back with the correct verdict of not guilty. Congratulations, Nicole, on a tough win.
TCDLA Board member Oscar Vega won a not guilty on all four counts of a federal conspiracy indictment in Judge Ricardo Hinojosa’s court in McAllen. His client was charged with having made false statements to, and committed fraud against, the Department of Education. The charges alleged employees and students made false statements on financial statements for Pell Loans. The jury deliberated for an hour before returning a verdict of not guilty on all counts. Kudos to Oscar for such a quick win.
TCDLA Board member Sarah Roland would like to pass out a couple kudos as well, the first to Patty Tress. Sarah tells us that Patty recently got three verdicts of not guilty after a jury trial in Denton County on aggravated kidnapping, felony assault, and felony evading. And this despite the fact that her guy had been to the pen before, too. Way to go, Patty.
Sarah, no slouch herself (she joins Lance Evans and Laurie Key as next year’s Rusty course directors), would also like to commend CDLP committee chairs Kelly Pace and Michael Gross for putting together marvelous seminars. Michael, who is also the Voice editor, presided over the Trial Strategies That Work series wending its way around the state. Look for more details coming soon on Kelly’s series, titled Training Your Defense Team to Win, a comprehensive approach that promises to involve your entire law office in winning cases. A big thanks to Michael and Kelly for their hard work putting these together.