Tip of the hat to Mark Griffith of Waxahachie for the big NG in a Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child trial—in which, he says, the judge let the entire CAC video in. Mark sought permission in jury selection to go hard after the truth . . . and did. In cross, he caught CW in three major lies, so nothing rang true. First vote found the jurors voting 11 to 1 not guilty (one of whom had a friend molested as a kid). In a wild and crazy trial, Mark once again prevailed, and we salute you for the hard work done by you and your associates.
Congratulations also go out to Ashkan Mehryari of Richardson and Mark Lassiter of Dallas for their recent win in an intoxication manslaughter case. D, who spent 475 days in jail, maintained throughout that she wasn’t driving when the accident occurred. A trial in December resulted in a mistrial (10–2 for acquittal), and the DA retried. Ashkan argued that the only evidence was questionable eyewitness testimony. A bloodstain on the driver seat was never tested, and D had no open wounds. They also found records relating to the crash wherein a nurse heard a second involved party telling his mother on the phone that he was driving—exculpatory evidence they say that was withheld. Excellent work in fighting for your client, guys.
Shout out to Jeff Bell of Texarkana for his win in the Fifth District Court in Cass County—in his first felony criminal trial. D was charged with Evading Arrest Detention w/Vehicle, Felony 3rd, and three misdemeanor charges of DWLS, Evading, and Resisting. Just two of his myriad priors had him facing 25 to 99. Jeff says the judge rulings managed to exclude priors and extraneous offenses, and a Motion to Sever meant he tried only the felony. Jeff graciously credited listserve help from such notables as “David Potter, Bart Craytor, Josh Potter, Gary Albertson, Corky Stovall, Bryan Simmons, and many others.” Congratulations, Jeff, on the first of many wins.
Ex-prez Gerry Goldstein sent out a shout out to SDR Editor (and listserve docent) Michael Mowla of Cedar Hill following one of his recent responses: “I want to express what many, including me, have often said, and we all continue to think: A big thank you to Michael Mowla for his remarkable, selfless, and tireless efforts to make us all look smart. Thank you!” And a concurring opinion was expressed by Don Haslam Jr.: “No kidding, Mr. Goldstein. I’ve been thinking the same. I’m going to look well-prepared when my ADA tries to scuttle this 404b hearing this week, thanks to Mowla. And my record is going to look better.” And Terrence Marsh piled on the praise: “As a new lawyer I always learn new things from Mr. Mowla’s posts. He’s always dropping pearls of wisdom, and I can’t thank him enough.”
And speaking of Monsieur Mowla, he and Michael Price II of Plano were granted relief in May on claims of actual innocence and false evidence. Michael M. drafted the writ but Michael P. was the original lawyer and pitched in at the writ hearing. Michael M. cross-examined the police and complainant’s parents, and Michael P. questioned the complainant. The case, a charge of Injury to a Child and Sexual Assault of a Child, was based on the testimony of a young lady who later recanted—and said as much in a letter to the judge. Fortunately, the judge followed the letter of the law and did the right thing. Congratulations to the Mighty Michaels, a pair that beats three of a kind.
Hat tip to TCDLA members Bob Jarvis of Sherman and Lance Sloves of Dallas (from Computer Forensic Services Inc.) for their big NG on a charge of 9 counts of possession of child porn. It seems a large volume of child porn had been downloaded to an IP address that was linked to D’s residence. Bob said that other people lived in the home and would share a computer so it couldn’t be proven D downloaded the images. He said: “There was also a relative that basically lived on the couch and he didn’t have a job. He was always on this laptop, and we found out he is a sex offender.” Congrats on saving a man’s life, guys.
A big shout out to Gerry Morris of Austin, former president of TCDLA as well as NACDL, and co-counsel Angelica Cogliano (also of Austin). The case involved an Ethiopian man seeking asylum who was accused of three first-degree-felony counts for assaulting a public servant. Gerry said the D never threatened the officers and had picked up a knife to protect himself after an intruder had broken into his home earlier and assaulted him. Neighbors heard the ruckus and called the police to D’s apartment. The jury needed just 30 minutes to return a not guilty verdict. D, who has been living here for two years and was accompanied by friends and family, collapsed when the verdict was read. Way to go, team, on this beautiful win.
Shout out to George Laughrun II of Charlotte, NC—who’s been an out-of-state member since 2013. He defended the former quarterback on the local college football team, charged with 3 counts of rape and another on a felony sex offense. After a 2-week trial, the jury deliberated for approximately 2½ days and came back with the big NG. George says they hired a forensic expert who managed to get ac·cess to the alleged victim’s cell phone—numerous text messages she sent to her girlfriends seem to indicate that a rape didn’t happen. They also hired a SANE expert to counter the State’s medical testimony. Good work, George, and a highly charged case.
George also had a shout out of his own: “Thank you for allowing out-of-state members to be a part of TCDLA. As I have said many times to the support staff you have, the TCDLA is extremely well organized, and the North Carolina defense lawyers are ‘jealous’ of how well organized and funded TCDLA is.”
Butch Bradt sent a shout out to Oscar Rene Flores of Edinburg for his recent success in a capital murder case that’s been pending for two years (with the trial in the near future). “Judge signed an order for Rene to be paid $30,000 for work already done and another order requiring payment of his experts’ fees. Response from the county judge and county auditor was, ‘Too bad, the County doesn’t have the money and cannot pay these fees.’ Even went so far as to say that the PD Office would be substituted in to represent Rene’s client. Rene was faced with the prospect of trying the case, pro bono, without experts.
“Rene filed a motion to dismiss for interfering with his representation, alleging that the DA was a co-conspirator in this scheme. He also filed a motion to have the County Judge and County Auditor held in contempt for not obeying the order to pay fees.
“DA showed up without his file and without any witnesses, telling the judge that they expected Rene to just withdraw. Judge found the county judge and county auditor in contempt, ordering an additional $150,000 to be deposited in Rene’s trust account to prevent a repeat failure to pay. Judge went on to say that if the money was not paid by May 30, he would dismiss the case for the county / state’s interference with the defendant’s 6th Amendment rights.” Go get ’em, Rene!
Kudos to Benson Varghese of Fort Worth, named 2019 Outstanding Young Lawyer of Tarrant County by the Tarrant County Young Lawyers Association (TCYLA). Benson also serves as an officer on the Board of the Tarrant County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and is a supporter of a number of philanthropic and nonprofit organizations, including Tarrant County Volunteer Services (TVAS), Habitat for Humanity, WORTH, Rotary Club of Fort Worth, and the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. Last year, Varghese Summersett was honored with the 2018 Law Firm Pro Bono Award by TVAS for the firm’s work assisting indigent clients, and last month the firm again awarded scholarships to students with autism and Down syndrome, an annual cause established in honor of two of the firm’s senior attorneys who have children with special needs. Congratulations, Benson, for this well-deserved honor.
Kudos to TCDLA Board member Phil Baker of La Grange for his two big wins recently at the Fayette County Courthouse. The first, a DWI with Accident & .12 BAC, was reduced to Obstruction of a Highway. The second, a DWI II with Accident & .14 Breath Test (a repeat customer), also reduced to Obstruction of a Highway—with the first DWI dismissed. Congratulations, Phil, on a job well done.