Shout Outs

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Not many lawyers have mastered the art of spitting a razor blade from their mouth, but Megan Rue has. A rising star at Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, in Austin, Texas, Megan focuses on ferocious courtroom advocacy and complex motion practice. This month, Megan and partner Rick Cofer represented a young man accused of shooting a crack dealer in the thigh outside the downtown homeless shelter. The “victim” had started the altercation by pulling a razor blade from his mouth and slashing the client’s face in a fight. Megan researched the practices and habits of local crack dealers and discovered how many safely store a razor blade inside the cheek of the mouth. Megan was able to perform the demonstrative in front of the Court and the State to rave reviews. Ultimately, the case resolved on the day of trial, with the accused agreeing to a lesser included state jail felony deferred adjudication and back-time on an unrelated felony evading charge. Great result when he was looking at 30 years stacked! Megan’s willingness to risk bodily injury to represent her client is commendable, and her nickname henceforth shall be Megan “The Blade” Rue.

Kudos to Bryan Cantrell of Huntsville, Texas for his recent win in a Cruelty to Nonlivestock Animals case in Houston County.  The jury came back with a NOT GUILTY verdict in less than nine minutes!

Allen Place as lead counsel, with Shea Place as second chair, successfully obtained parole for Bobby Moore who was formerly on death row. Bobby Moore was originally sentenced to death in Harris County and his conviction was eventually commuted to life by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals,following two decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court focused on the issue of intellectual disability-586 U.S. (2019)/470 S.W.3d 481. In a reversal of roles, Shea Place was lead counsel and assisted by Allen Place in obtaining parole for Joe Bryan who was assessed a life sentence for a Central Texas murder conviction. Both men are now at home with their respective families.

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Shout Outs

Shout out to 2016 TCDLA Lawyer of the Year Richard Gladden for a recent win in district court. District judge granted a motion for summary judgment Richard filed on behalf of D in a Section 1983 Civil Rights case. The Court ruled D’s federal right to procedural due process was violated by the Sex Offender Registration Bureau (SORB) at the Texas DPS in Austin. Convoluted case involved a young woman barely of legal age indicted under a “law of the parties” theory for allegedly participating in consensual sexual activity with younger sister (under 17)—together with a much older neighbor male. D charged with sexual assault of a minor, though the DA discovered that D had herself been the victim of assault by the male. Instead of dismissing the case, he offered plea bargain of 5 years’ deferred for “unlawful restraint.” More than three years later, D attempted to renew her driver’s license and DPS told her she couldn’t because she hadn’t registered as a “sex offender.” SORB said D had been committing a felony by not registering and threatened her with a motion to revoke probation plus additional felony charges.
 At which point entered our hero. Richard, faced with a runaround from officials, then learning SORB had placed D’s info online as a sex offender, burned the midnight oil preparing a complaint and applications for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. A planned drive to Austin the next morning was forestalled by e-filing the docs. In a conference-call hearing with Richard and the AG’s office, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman granted the TRO after business hours and the DPS removed D’s info pronto. A fine example of battling for justice, Richard.

Kudos to Thad Davidson of Tyler for a big win in 7th District Court, Smith County (State v. Derrick Miller), on a first-degree felony aggravated assault with deadly weapon case. D, who faced life in prison if convicted, maintained he was suddenly attacked and struck in the face by an unknown metal object, at which point he defended himself with a knife. He took and passed a polygraph well before trial, which Thad presented to the prosecutor. He also pointed out that the State’s own witnesses were vastly inconsistent, and that the alleged victim was a twice-convicted dope felon who had also been convicted of UCW. Thad warned the prosecutor that he would “bleed and gut” the alleged victim on the stand (and proceeded to do just that). It seems the prosecutor is also running for DA, perhaps a factor in pursuing the case. The jury deliberated three hours before returning the big NG. Congrats, Thad, on a righteous win.

Shout out to Board Member Michelle Tuegel and Russ Hunt of Waco for their work in the 19th State District Court. D was set to stand trial on charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child. The dynamic duo filed a motion to dismiss the indictment against D or to suppress the testimony of the alleged victim, arguing she testified at D’s first trial last year—when the jury did not believe either one of two alleged victims. Both are members of D’s ex-wife’s family, and Michelle and Russ argued at trial that the accusations were false and a product of bitterness spawned by the divorce. They argued the case should be dismissed or the woman’s testimony should not be allowed under collateral estoppel, which prevents parties from re-litigating issues. The alleged victim made her allegations in 2000, but he was never arrested. Records show D passed a polygraph test and Waco police closed the case as unfounded. The alleged victim is a former employee of Bodie’s ex-wife. The judge did not dismiss the case, but he did grant the motion to suppress the alleged victim’s testimony, leaving prosecutors in limbo. Congratulations, team, on a job well done.

A big shout out to board members John Hunter Smith of Sherman and Kristin Brown of Dallas, who represented a Plano firefighter/paramedic in a DWI case with an accident in County Court at Law #3 in Collin County. D had an accident and tried to pay the individuals cash not to report the accident to law enforcement. When law enforcement arrived, D refused SFSTs and providing blood. Held in jail while a search warrant was sought, he thought he was having a heart attack. EMS was called and D was transported to the hospital. While there, D caught by law enforcement opening the IV to fullest and squeezing the saline bag. At trial—with the assistance of expert witness Janie Arvizu—John Henry and Kristin were able to discredit the State’s forensic scientist. A big upshot of this trial: Because of the State’s forensic scientist and her answers to questions on cross, District Attorney’s offices throughout North Texas must provide Brady notices on this analyst. Oh, and D was able to continue his 19-year career as a Firefighter/Paramedic. Congratulations, warriors, on the best possible outcome for all.

Kudos to Richard Torres II of Corpus Christi for a two-word verdict won recently in Bee County, Texas. Defendant faced 25 to life as a Habitual Felony Offender for Bail Jumping. After 15 months in jail and going through 5 lawyers, D saw his case finally go to trial. Richard was able to prove to the jury’s satisfaction that D was never given notice of his court date and decided in his favor. Richard is one of our new young guns. He’s been a practicing attorney for 3 years and has already worked more than 10 jury trials. Congratulations, counselor, for fighting the good fight.

Shout out to Emily Detoto of Houston for dogged perseverance: In 2015, Emily filed and successfully prosecuted a motion for a new trial for her client, who had pleaded guilty to shaking his child, causing traumatic brain injury, and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. D was recently released from prison and his case set for trial in Harris County. Dr. Rebecca Girardet testified for the State in this alleged “shaken baby” case, but a jury rejected her testimony and found D NOT GUILTY. Emily, who was ably assisted by Paul Morgan, asserts: “Do not plead those cases.” That’s telling ’em, Emily.

Kudos to Charlie Humphrey of Garland for his win in Dallas County CCC#8 in August.  The case involved a .235 blood test, a rear-end collision, and a confession that D was driving. Actually, it was initially a false confession by wife after husband fled the scene. It seems that 8 or 10 margaritas before and after the Cowboys game can cause problems for the family. But interestingly, the “victim” of the rear end collision left the scene, not the defendant, which the cops testified was weird. The victim also did not want to come to court and had to be brought by police, a fact that didn’t escape the jury. Bottom line, jury didn’t necessarily believe D, but said victim’s witness testimony wasn’t enough to overcome the highest burden of proof—a point hammered home in voir dire—in our court system. Well done, counselor.

Shout out to DWI guru (and committee co-chair) Mark Thiessen for the big NG in an emotional intoxication manslaughter trial in Lubbock, where D faced 2 to 20 for a traffic accident resulting in death. Partner Taly Jacobs was appointed to the case, and Mark tried it pro bono because of the circumstances. Mark, describing D’s financial straits, noted, “Client got her trial clothes as her Christmas presents from her parents the last three years.” Later blood draw near .19 was discounted by expert Gary Wimbish, who believed level at time of accident was a .05. Lack of police investigation into the crash scene apparently also swayed the jury, who deliberated three hours before returning the verdict. A tearful meeting with the deceased’s family followed, with Mark remarking: “I am man. I cried at the verdict.” Congratulations on a tough win.

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