Dan Carney of Weatherford sends a big shout out to former TCDLA president Mark Daniel of Fort Worth: “Mark accepted appointment to represent a mother accused in the murder of her own child. The indictment charged her with two counts of Capital Murder and one of SBI Injury to Child by striking her child against a hard surface. The government was so confident they chose to make no plea offers of any kind to Mark during the years it was pending. The case pivoted in part on intricate medical examiner evidence that Mark toiled over in preparation for months.
“After a two-week capital trial, the jury acquitted Mark’s client of ALL THREE of the indicted offenses! She did receive a lesser SJF Endangering from the jury but had already served a year and a half awaiting trial in this tragic case. An incredible victory. If you have time let Mark know his tenacity and professionalism on behalf of all of his clients, whether retained or appointed, is the gold standard for each of us. Such results benefit everyone having to deal with difficult prosecutors. Proud of you, Mark.” We can only add our congrats to that, Mark.
Kudos to Al Charanza Jr. of Lufkin and John Tunnell of Huntington for their big NG after a five-day murder trial in Angelina County. Al and John represented co-defendants charged under the Rule of Parties for assisting the shooter in the case, who had already plead guilty and was sentenced to prison. The case was tried as a joint trial over the objection of defense counsel. The Friday before jury selection, the State dropped six cell-phone dumps on the defense as additional discovery, but both defendants still announced ready for trial on Monday. The judge ordered a two-week continuance over the objection of the defendants, who wanted to go to trial immediately.
Al’s client allegedly handed the gun to the shooter, and John’s client allegedly drove the vehicle leaving the murder scene. Al and John worked together to develop effective defenses for each client. Al explains the strategy: “The defense for both was to show that they did not aid, abet, or encourage the murder. The victim pulled out the gun, and the shooter shot him with his own gun. Therefore, my client did not hand the gun to the shooter. Additionally, the three of them were not riding in the same car, as claimed by the State’s witnesses. I had the shooter bench-warranted from TDCJ, and he testified that the gun came from the victim and he was in a separate car and did not travel with our clients. They happened to all meet at the victim’s house, a fight broke out, the victim pulled the gun, and he was shot with his own gun in a struggle over the gun. No gun was recovered and everyone fled. No one called 911 for 15–20 minutes. The fight was over a debt my client owed, but there had been no plan or discussion to get into a fight over the money.” Congratulations, gents, on a job well done.
You can’t win ’em all, that’s true, but some fights are worth everything you’ve put into them. Such is the case in a four-day trial that Mark and Taly Thiessen battled through. D, charged with Aggravated Assault w/ a Deadly Weapon and offered prison time, is a disabled Army vet, and the Ts took the case pro bono. As Mark noted, “He fought for our freedom, the least we can do is fight for his.” Disabled client shot brother-in-law attacking him, leading to serious injury. After an intense trial, jury hung 9–3 not guilty, believing in D’s right to defend himself.
“I hope the DAs and us can come to an amicable deal before the next trial to bring this family some closure,” Mark said later. “Thank you to this jury for working as hard as you did. I know it involved many tears and was very difficult, but you provided us valuable insight on how to try it even better if we have to retry it.” Kudos, Team Thiessen, for fighting the good fight and never giving in.
Kudos to TCDLA past president Sam Bassett for his recent win: a Motion to Suppress granted for lack of probable cause in a DWI case involving a registered nurse. Nurse stopped for speeding in downtown Austin. Officer gave her a hard time when she admitted to meeting a guy at a local hotel. Nurse said she smelled of alcohol because she had been kissing him. He’d been drinking a lot and she had to leave in a hurry because he passed out. Officer repeatedly asked if she’d been drinking, but she denied it four times. Officer claimed she failed the HGN but did not do it on camera. Nurse passed the other FSTs almost perfectly, refusing the PBT and other tests. A blood draw an hour later reported a .10 BAC. A county court-at-law judge ruled that the video showed nothing to indicate she was intoxicated. Motion granted for lack of probable cause to arrest. Way to go, Sam.
Shout out to TCDLA Secretary John Hunter Smith of Sherman for his recent successes. In the 336th District Court, John Hunter and Thomas Wynne (Dallas) represented a mother charged with Assault Causing Bodily Injury –Family/Household (Impeding Breath) of her 17-year-old daughter. After 4½ days of trial, the jury returned the big Not Guilty verdict. And . . . in County Court-at-Law #2 in Grayson County, John Hunter received the two-word verdict on a DWI 1st—where client was alleged to have been intoxicated by marijuana. Congratulations, guys, for walking the walk.
Kudos to John Lozano of Dallas for a tough win in County Criminal Court No. 3 in Dallas County. John had to take it to a jury because the charge was DWI 2nd, and if convicted, D would have seen his Temporary Protective Status revoked, followed by deportation. D, who was involved in an accident, blew a .24. After a two-day trial, the jury returned the big NG. Outstanding work, John, in protecting this man’s liberty.