CAN YOU PROVIDE SOME EXAMPLES OF CASES WHERE YOU PREVAILED AGAINST TOUGH ODDS?
When I first started practicing law, I was consulted by a gentleman who was charged with a DUI. It was his first offense, but he had a high Blood Alcohol Content (BAC); and his driving behavior, when he was stopped by the police officer, was, in a word “Terrible”. It looked like a very tough case to “Win”. I did my legal due diligence; looking at the prior breath test results for the two months before my client blew in to the alcohol breath machine at the police station – to see if I could find any anomalies, errors, service problems etc. with the breath test machine that I could use to undermine the credibility of the high blood test result against my client. But, there weren’t any anomalies, errors, service problems or maintenance problems with the machine.
It looked like my client and myself were in a very, tough position. But I continued to look into every possible way to get the best outcome possible for my client. I looked at the police officer’s ”Criminal Complaint” form filed by the police officer who stopped my client; to first find out why he was stopped; in essence, to see whether or not there was “Reasonable Suspicion” for the police officer to stop my client in the first place. Again, there was bad news – the “Criminal Complaint” showed that my client had been weaving badly in and out of his lane; his headlights were not turned on; and, he was speeding. Then, I looked at how my client did on the “Field Sobriety Tests” that the police officer had him do on the roadside and the Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) results, done on the roadside; that the officer had noted. Everything I looked at was all bad. There was nothing good in the police notes, the Field Sobriety Tests, or on the Preliminary Breath Test. As I looked at all of this, it certainly did not look like a winnable case.
But, some weeks after my client was charged, and after I had engaged all the above legal due diligence prior to my client’s court date, I happened to be in court, on another case, I happened to run into the same police officer who had stopped and arrested my client for the DUI case. We started talking in the hallway and he asked me to come to his office so he could show me something. When I got there, he showed me pictures of my client taken at the police station the night of the DUI arrest.
My client was dressed up in a Santa Clause” costume, from an earlier Christmas party. To my amazement, the photos showed him dressed up exactly like Santa Clause, a fake white beard and all; but instead of carrying a bag of toys over his shoulder, the picture showed him handcuffed to a pipe, sitting on a bench, in the jail, “Drunk Tank”. With this information, and the “Santa Clause jail” pictures, I was able to get the prosecutor to agree to reduce the criminal DUI charge down to a non-criminal, minor traffic infraction, why? Because sometimes even though a person is guilty of what they’re charged with, and all of the evidence is against them, even a prosecutor will have a heart when it comes to giving “Santa Clause” a break.
Any Other Interesting Examples?
Every case is interesting in some way; one of the most interesting examples of what I consider “Good Lawyering” is a case in which a woman from California hired me, some years ago, to fight a charge of Felony “Pandering “she had, “Pandering” is the charge of being a “Pimp”. My client had been running ads in the Yellow Pages, for a number of years, advertising a very high class “Escort Service” in the Northern Virginia area.
While my client lived in California, she actually ran various “Escort Services” around the country. She would simply travel around the country Several times a year, to go to each city in which she had an “Escort service” operation, to pick up the money she had made as the “Escort Service” owner. The girls that were in her “Escort Service” were all physically beautiful girls, with no criminal record and all that had post-college degrees; which is exactly what as she had advertised. She called me from California and told me she’d been arrested and charged in the City of Alexandria with Felony “Pandering” after two of her “Girls” were caught in a police “Sting” operation, and had “Rolled Over” and named her as the “Madam” of the Escort Service – and had agreed to testify against her. After I agreed to take the case, she gave me all the details about herself and her “Escort Service” activities in the City of Alexandria.
Indeed, two of the girls had “Rolled Over” on her to save themselves from being charged with “Prostitution”, as I was walking into the courtroom for her Felony Preliminary Hearing, I knew intuitively that there was something I was missing – that there was something that could help my client, that I just quite didn’t see until then.
It must be noted that her “Pandering” charges simply don’t happen every day. In fact, I would hazard a guess that most criminal defense attorneys have never ever in a career of 20 or 30 years have ever handled a “Pandering” charge. My legal mind said that the prosecutor had a perfect case against my client; there were two “Girls” Rolling over on her; saying that they had received all of their instructions and directions from my client; that my client had set up the “Dates” for each of them in advance with their “Johns”; and, that the Girls had to pay my client by sending half of the cash money they received from the “Johns” for their services to a specific Post Office box in a suburban Maryland Post Office. As noted before, my client would travel around the country about several times a year, picking up her earnings from various post boxes in major cities around the country. So, as I was walking into the courtroom literally reading and re-reading the “Pandering” statute, one of the legal elements of the charge of Pandering hit me like a lightning bolt.
While all of the evidence and witnesses were against my client, I noted that one of the elements of “Pandering” that the prosecutor had to prove beyond a “Reasonable Doubt” was that my client had to actually receive the earnings her “Girls” prostitution in Virginia, but, my client had her “Girls” send their earnings to a Post Office box in Maryland, not Virginia; in fact, the Prosecutor, at the Preliminary Hearing, even had a federal Postal Inspector as a witness, with video that showed my client picking up the money and putting into her purse. But, the statute in Virginia for “Pandering” clearly stated that one of the elements necessary to be found guilty of “pandering” beyond a “Reasonable Doubt that the “Pimp” must receive her monetary proceeds in Virginia. My client hadn’t. In fact she had, received the money in Maryland, as the prosecutor’s own evidence showed by the Federal Postal Inspector’s video of her picking up that money in the Maryland suburban Post Office box. So, I pointed out these facts to the prosecutor, who had marshaled all of the facts and witness against my client; but had forgotten the part of the statute that required he prove that the money she received be received had to be received in Virginia. The prosecutor was embarrassed but obviously had to do the right thing. He immediately dismissed the cases against my client.
This was probably one of the most “Zen” dramatic moments I’ve had in my career. When you’re looking at all of the elements of a crime. When you are completely “under the gun” and your client is about to be convicted of two major Felony Charges of “Pandering and go to prison for many years, then and to suddenly clearly see the way out was stunning.