Kudos to the dynamic duo of John Hunter Smith and Thomas Wynne of Sherman for their recent wins. TCLDA Secretary John Hunter and Thomas represented a mother charged with Assault Causing Bodily Injury–Family/Household (Impeding Breath) of her 17-year-old daughter in the 336th District Court in Fannin County. After 4½ days of trial, the jury returned a Not Guilty verdict. And in County Court at Law #2 in Grayson County, Texas, John Hunter received the big NG on a DWI–1st where client was alleged to have been intoxicated by marijuana. Congratulations, gentlemen, on your success in the quest for justice.
Shout out to TCDLA ex-prez Gerry Morris of Austin for his efforts in freeing an innocent man who spent 25 years in TDCJ. Suzanne Spencer also credits David Sheppard and Susan D’Arezzo Sheppard for doing the heavy lifting in the case under the auspices of the University of Texas Innocence Project.
After a winning motion to test DNA (“contested by the same DA’s office that brought you Twin Peaks”), all four men convicted in the case were excluded. A contested 11.07 writ led to a trial court entering findings of actual innocence, though the CCA decided the burden hadn’t been met. As Gerry notes, “It sustained the finding that the evidence showed by a preponderance of the evidence that no jury in its right mind would now convict the men, but not by clear and convincing evidence.” He says that he came late into the mess, saying those who fought the battles deserve the credit, and that they would now fight for the exoneration that would allow the men compensation. Gerry in particular credits David Sheppard, Tiffany Dowling, Marjorie Bachman, and Caitlin Meredith—as well as the lawyers for the other men involved in the case—for their efforts. Hats off to Gerry and all involved for this big win—and on to the money round. . . .
Shout out to James Rogers and Tony Vitz of McKinney for their recent win in a hard-fought trial on Assault Family Violence. In a spat with girlfriend in a relationship on the skids, D pushed her—in self-defense—and she cut the back of her head on a door frame and bled profusely. Feeling remorse, he called 911 and reported himself. D, who had “Reckless” tattooed on his forehead and sports hoops and a beard, builds and repairs guns as a hobby, so our heroes faced an uphill fight from the start. Girlfriend, apparently unconcerned about the case, moved out of state, so defense was left contending with D’s admission and appearance, as well as the injury itself. James and Tony concentrated on humanizing D, relying on their psychodrama training, even having D reenact incident before the jury to involve them in the story. In the end, jurors could relate to D and judged him in light of a deteriorating relationship. Great job in the finding the way in an interesting case, guys.
Hat tip to Megan Roper Grantham of Canyon Lake and Blakely Mohr of Southlake for their recent NG in Tarrant County on a charge of possession of less than two ounces of marijuana. Megan was particularly incensed that a conviction in this day and age for such a “crime” would have cost D a job, one that supported a wife and three kids. Her mood was in no way lightened by what she saw as an “absolutely indignant, dismissive, and rude” attitude out of one of the prosecution team. This one ended well, though, thanks to y’alls’ fine work. Good job.
Congratulations to Amanda Hernandez of San Antonio, associate attorney with the Flanary Law Firm, for being named the 2019 Young Lawyer of the Year by the San Antonio Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. We see many shout outs in your future, Amanda. You make us proud.