When we extended kudos to TCDLA members recently certified in criminal law by the Board of Legal Specialization, we missed one: Steven J. Lieberman of Houston. Sorry, Steven, and congratulations.
Randy Brooks of Denton recently got a NOT GUILTY on a .24 blood-test DWI case. A witness testified that his client was swerving all over the highway, and that his client had bloodshot eyes (seen from the officer’s body camera). Randy successfully mounted a disconnect defense, attacking the labs in the right way, and the jury told him afterwards that his client’s eyes looked bloodshot throughout the trial (he had been in custody the whole time, so no, he wasn’t showing up drunk to court). Way to go Randy!
John C. Rentz of Denton heard some good news after a grueling trial. Client was charged with 4 counts of Indecency with Child under 14 by contact, with 2 alleged victims (allegations of under-the-clothes breast and genital touching for each child). Court allowed a 38.37 extraneous under-14 victim to testify to “attempted indecency by contact.” Client, the step-grandfather of the alleged victims (cousins), was alleged to have done the touching at his home while he and the children were watching movies with his wife (their grandmother) in the room. A week-long trial featured a Morton Act discovery violation: John learned they were going to offer a recording of a 1.5-minute portion of a 2-hour conversation between the grandmother and mothers of the victims. The recording, given to prosecution 6 months earlier by the family, had never been turned over. Judge, in excluding the audio and any testimony regarding the conversation, also commented that she believed that discovery of impeachment evidence goes to any witness, not just those sponsored by the State. Jury took 5 hours and came back not guilty on the 2 counts for one victim and hung on the other two counts. John is currently waiting to see if there will be a retrial on remaining counts. Good work, John, on a tough case.
Clay Conrad and Paul Looney report that the McLennan County Grand Jury in Waco failed to indict their clients and 37 more in the notorious Twin Peaks case. Neither the state nor the grand jury requested the cases should be continued and therefore they have been released from bond with no charges pending. Clay noted: “The case ended just the way we thought it would . . . The cases have all ended with a whimper, dismissed because there were no facts justifying the charges against them.” The grand jury’s term expired without an order extending the prosecution, so the cases were dismissed. Kudos to Clay and Paul for their part in the fight against the peculiar circumstances in Waco.
On February 29 and March 1, 2016, Patty Tress and Lisa Fox busted two jury panels in Dallas County in the 195th District Court on a Sexual Assault of a Child and Child pornography cases. The panel that was busted on February 29 had 77 panel members, and only 22 were left after for-cause strikes, so Judge Tinsley called a mistrial. On March 1, the panel of 77 was again busted, leaving only 16 after for-cause strikes. So Judge Tinsely called another mistrial. Stay tuned to see if they can ever get a jury in July!
Kudos to Denton-area attorneys for responding to our new editor’s call for kudos. Details are sketchy at this point, but the following enjoyed recent courtroom success: David Wacker got a Not Guilty on a four-count aggravated assault indictment, and George Roland also on an assault case. And definitely worth a mention, Earl Dobson and Susan Piel got the big NG on a cold case murder trial in Denton—on a 30-year-old case. The case involved a murder in 1983, when a victim was found with 35 stab wounds in a Denton hotel. In 2013, the national crime database linked D with fingerprints and then DNA to items at the scene and in the car used to leave the scene. D testified that it was self-defense, based on an attempted sexual assault. After four days, Earl and Susan heard the good news. Congratulations all around.