12/30/10 – A Sumter county defendant charged with Aggravated Assault was granted a new trial! The Defendant was convicted at trial for Aggravated Assault. It was alleged that he shot at several people and struck a young boy in the leg. After he was convicted, his family hired us to see if the conviction could be overturned. During our investigations, it was discovered there were numerous witnesses who saw who the actual shooter was and were willing to testify. However, the trial attorney had not talked with these witnesses and did not present any witnesses at trial. In addition, tape recordings of witness interviews which were played for the jury at trial by the State had subsequently disappeared, thereby depriving the Defendant of his right to a meaningful appeal. After presenting this evidence to the Court, the Defendant’s conviction was reversed and a new trial was granted.
10/7/10 – A Dougherty county case involving Aggravated Assault was dismissed after we challenged the merits. The defendant was accused of having threatened an individual with a hand gun. The defendant was also on probation and the state proceeded to the probation revocation first. Through witnesses brought by both sides, we were able to show that the alleged victim came to a hotel room occupied by his girlfriend and the defendant. He went there to confront his girlfriend and he was drunk. When he became verbally abusive, the defendant stepped in to calm things down, but was attacked by the alleged victim. Others broke up the ensuing fight and the defendant and the girl left the hotel. The alleged victim also left, but returned later and searched their room. Then he called the police and reported that he had been threatened with a gun. When the police searched the room, they found a gun stashed under the mattress. No other witnesses ever saw the defendant with the gun. We argued that the victim either placed the gun under the mattress himself or found the gun there when he was searching the room and made up the story of the threat in order to get revenge for the defendant being with his girlfriend. The court agreed with us and declined to revoke the Defendant’s probation based on the new charges. Because of this outcome, and our willingness to go to trial, the prosecution dismissed the underlying indictment.
9/10/10 – A Wilcox county case involving Felony Obstruction of an Officer was dismissed after we challenged the legality of the defendant’s initial detention and the validity of the subsequent ‘arraignment’. The Obstruction charge was based upon the pushing of a police officer. We pointed out that even if the Defendant committed the pushing of the officer, it was not crime as the officer was illegally detaining the Defendant. A person always has the right to resist an illegal detention. Additionally, the prosecution attempted to bring the defendant to trial before he was properly arraigned. Although the court had read the indictment to the Defendant, this was done prior to his having an attorney on the case. We explained that an arraignment performed without an attorney present, absent a finding that the defendant intends to proceed Pro Se, is not a valid arraignment under the law. The Defense fought the attempt to bring him to trial prior to a proper arraignment. The state opted to dismiss the case rather than continue to fight both the arraignment and illegal detention issues.
8/25/10 – A Tift county case involving Burglary was dismissed after we filed a Demand for Speedy Trial!After starting work on the case, the prosecution was motivated to dismiss the case. Thereafter, the prosecution failed to re-indict the case within the appropriate amount of time according to our Demand for Speedy Trial.
6/14/10 – A Lee county case involving Failure to Obtain a Business License was dismissed after we demanded a trial on the merits!
6/10/10 – A Lowndes county case involving Assault was dismissed after we successfully quashed an Accusation for being too vague and for containing separate acts which should have been charged separately! When the prosecution recharged the defendant with two new Accusations to fix the previous problems, they did not do it correctly (and some things were mixed up between the two), so we successfully quashed both of the new Accusations as well. The prosecution failed to get it right before the statute of limitations barred further prosecution!
3/5/10 – The Appellate court decided we were right! In a Tift county case involving Child Molestation, Aggravated Child Molestation, and Distribution of Cocaine, we filed a Motion to Suppress Evidence of an illegal entry and search, but had it denied without explanation. We contended that the officer’s actions in getting the defendant to consent to letting him in to do a search by opening the back door to Defendant’s home and saying ‘If nobody comes to the back door, I’m coming inside the house to check.’ amounted to coercion. Although the trial judge didn’t agree, the Appellate Court did, stating in part that it ‘…went beyond this permissible procedure when he opened the door to the mobile home, and the State cites no authority indicating that Barber had the right to do so. “It is axiomatic that the ‘physical entry of the home is the chief evil against which the wording of the Fourth Amendment is directed.'”‘ And also that ‘It is apparent under any construction of these facts that Watson’s consent was not sufficiently attenuated from Barber’s illegal entry and misrepresentation of authority, but instead was an immediate response to it.’
It is worth noting, that one should never consent to a search of their home, person, or car…especially if an officer claims to be able to do it anyway.
2/26/10 – A Crisp county jury remained hung as to the guilt of a defendant in a case involving Attempted Armed Robbery, resulting in a mistrial! After hearing testimony from officers and the eye witness, the jury simply could not make a unanimous decision as to the defendant’s guilt or innocence.
2/16/10 – A Dougherty county case involving Possession of Cocaine WID was dismissed!
2/16/10 – A Tift county defendant charged with two counts of Aggravated Assault on a Peace Officer was acquitted after a one day trial! The prosecution sought to prove that the Defendant tried to run over two police officers who were investigating an unrelated abandonned vehicle on a dark road. The only witnesses were the two officers there at the time. Although one of the officers gave a simple account of the incident, describing his concern over the approaching car and that he had backed away from the road to get out of the way, not being able to see much about the driver at all, the other officer decided to give a more heroic account. That officer testified that he had not moved at all while trying to get the car to stop (with an extended hand and flashlight), resorting instead to having to jump over the hood of the car and into the ditch when the car didn’t stop. In this moment of danger, the officer kept his cool and got a detailed view of the driver. The officer than testified to a very specific description of the defendant.
We pointed out that his description of the defendant had not been produced in such detail until testifying at trial (and not on his reports). We then pointed out that the description matched a photo the officer had been shown of the defendant (taken after the defendant had changed his hair cut and other features), and that the officer was merely making up a description to match that picture, which would not have looked like the defendant at the time of the incident at all. We also brought attention to the fact that there would have been no way to see the driver of the car while it was heading towards the officer at a high rate of speed at midnight with the headlights on, much less while the officer’s life would have also hung in the balance. All in all the officer’s testimony contradicted the more mild account of the incident by the other officer in almost every detail, making him unbelieveable.
In the end, we made the jury aware of a witnesses that we had notified the prosecutor about years ago, who had confessed to being the driver of the car that night. This witness had no reason to lie, since he could face being charged with the crimes by admitting to being the driver. So, even though the prosecutor never saw fit to dismiss this bogous case against the defendant prior to trial, the jury did the job instead, by acquitting the defendant.
1/19/10 – A Worth county case involving Burglary was dismissed based on a Speedy Trial Demand! The Defendant was accused of breaking into a convenience store and steeling merchandise. The only evidence was two witnesses who claimed to have seen the break-in. After investigating the crime scene, it was apparent that the witnesses could not have seen what they claimed to have seen. We took photos to show the vantage points of the witnesses. It was also discovered that the witnesses were facing Burglary charges for a different break-in. We made the prosecution aware of these facts and filed a Demand for Speedy Trial to prevent the prosecution from putting the case on a back burner. The case sat around anyway, and after the time limitation was up, the case was dismissed pursuant to our Demand for Speedy Trial.