Kudos to Lubbock’s David Guinn on a big win in the toughest of cases. Defendant, who became U.S. citizen in 2013, faced dual charges of Super Agg Sexual Assault of Child < 6 and Agg Sexual Assault of a Child > 6. In addition to the adorable complainant (now 7 years old), SANE nurse, CAK interview outcry, mother of complainant, and detectives with recorded “confession,” there was an extraneous offense from a 29-year-old niece, who claimed the accused did “the same thing” to her when she was 10 years old. But as the case developed, things did not quite add up: Little girl’s mother was having to move out from her sister’s house (D’s wife) and came off vindictive, wanting to ruin sister’s life (if I can’t have it, you can’t either—not so high & mighty), motivation for coaching daughter into claims against her uncle, D. She hit all the right buttons for the state, David says, but it was kinda too perfect and seemed . . . contrived. Client, wife, and two kids who lived in the home where this was claimed to have taken place all testified. Jury deliberated 4 hours before breaking their 10–2 deadlock with two Not Guilty verdicts late at night. Congrats, David, on a tough win.
TCDLA Director Clint Broden of Dallas tried a federal case related to the theft of firearms in June 2016. The jury acquitted the client of one count and convicted the client on the second count. On December 28, 2016, Chief Judge Barbara Lynn granted the defense motion for a judgment of acquittal on the remaining count, adopting Clint’s argument that a theft from the booth of a licensed federal firearms dealer at a gun show is not a federal crime unless it can be shown that the gun show was “sponsored by any national, State, or local organization, devoted to the collection, competitive use, or other sporting use of firearms, or an organization or association that sponsors functions devoted to the collection, competitive use, or other sporting use of firearms in the community.” This was Clint’s 21st federal criminal trial and his 11th federal acquittal (he has also had 2 federal hung juries). Kudos, Clint, for a big win—and for presenting a convincing argument.
TCDLA Director Don Flanary sends along this shout out: “Congratulations to our fearless leader, TCDLA President John Convery, and Col. (retired) Julie Hasdorff for an epic not guilty in a really tough sexual assault court martial.” In the case, decided December 2 at Joint Base Lackland AFB, Texas, Technical Sergeant Hogan was tried on one charge and specification of sexual contact of a child, one charge and three specifications of sexual abuse of a child, and one charge and specification of assault of a child. John notes that members of the defense team also included Air Force Captain Mark Schwarz and new attorney Jonathan Chavez. Congratulations, team, on giving the sergeant his life back.
Kudos to Houston’s Neal Davis and Dick DeGuerin for receiving a big not guilty verdict in Tarrant County on a sexual assault case more than 20 years old. D, sentenced to life in prison after his conviction in 1995, gained retrial after the CCA ruled in April that his conviction should be thrown out because his accuser later admitted lying during his trial. The court said that led other witnesses to give false testimony. It took a jury just over an hour to find him not guilty. The unfortunate thing was that the client spent 20 years in the pen. Great job, guys, on the writ and the retrial.
Board member Carmen Roe of Houston celebrated a highly successful end to 2016, coming out on the winning end in three sucessive appeals in the last three months of the year. In Her most recent, a case out of the First Court of Appeals, a third DWI tried by Steve Gonzalez and Kristi Urban, involved an implied consent blood draw prior to the final Villarreal ruling, where the State attempted to argue exigent circumstances, unsuccessfully, as it turns out. Congratulations, Carmen, on your incredible winning streak.
Kudos to Amicus Curiae Committee member Allison Clayton of Lubbock for filing an amicus brief on behalf of TCDLA in the Court of Criminal Appeals in the case of Ex parte Steven Herbert Speckman, No. WR-81,947-02. The Court of Criminal Appeals had issued an order in Mr. Speckman’s case for the parties to brief three questions concerning the standard that should govern whether a habeas applicant can have an existing Article 11.07 application dismissed if the motion is filed after the record has been factually developed in the trial court, and when findings of fact and conclusions of law have already been issued. As with all amicus briefs filed on behalf of TCDLA, Allison contributed her time pro bono on behalf of the organization. Our thanks to Allison for taking time away from her busy practice on our behalf!
Steven R. Green of Athens recently won a motion to suppress hearing in Van Zandt County in a case where the judge who signed the search warrant granted the motion to suppress. D was indicted for manufacture/delivery of controlled substance, 1 to 4 grams. Because of prior convictions, he faced 25 years to life in prison. Police officers obtained a search warrant for D’s residence based on finding drugs on a person they saw leave client’s house. Based on this and the fact D had previously been to prison for drugs, officers obtained a search warrant from the district judge to search his house, finding methamphetamine. The same district judge who signed the search warrant presided over the indicted case, and after a hearing on the motion to suppress, Steven convinced the judge the facts submitted in the search warrant affidavit were insufficient probable cause to support the search warrant. Congratulations, Steven, on a good win.
Former president Stan Schneider of Houston notched a big win when the 14th Court of Appeals affirmed the granting of double jeopardy habeas relief, upholding the ruling by State District Judge Stacey Bond that the trial prosecutor intentionally “goaded” him to ask for a mistrial during final arguments. The COA stated that the trial court’s findings were supported by the record and noted the affidavits of jurors that suggested that an acquittal was imminent. The case involved an accusation of indecency against a doctor who examined a seven-year-old boy in a hospital. He was prosecuted even though all statements by witnesses indicated that the boy said the man entered his room once. Hospital records and the testimony of three residents indicated that they accompanied the defendant into the boy’s room and were present the entire time that he was in the room. Kudos, Stan, on a job well done.
TCDLA Director Courtney Stamper of Waxahachie had good reason for celebration. Aside from his own recent successes, Courtney had further cause for jubilation when wife Ashlie Alaman Stamper got word that her Commutation Petition on behalf of a federal inmate had been granted by President Obama. D was serving a sentence of more than 15 years for possession of a very small amount of crack cocaine. He had been sentenced in 2006 when the disparities between sentences for crack versus those for powder cocaine were much larger than they are today. (In 2010 the crack/powder sentencing disparity was reduced from 100:1 to 18:1.)
During the summer of 2016, Ashlie had started volunteering with the Clemency Project, an organization created to support President Obama’s efforts to bring the existing sentences of inmates more in line with current laws. Through the project, she came to represent D, who had been in prison over 10 years. In reviewing the case file, Ashlie determined that the calculation of D’s criminal history, which contributed to his disparately lengthy sentence, was fraught with errors. One example: Juvenile status offenses and public intoxication offenses were included in the calculation, although they should have been categorically excluded in accordance with Sentencing Guidelines. In August, she filed a commutation petition, arguing that based on the calculation errors and sentencing disparity, he had already served more time than he would have been sentenced to had he been sentenced in 2015. On December 19, President Obama commuted his sentence to expire on July 31, 2017—over five years early. D was notified that his release would come a little earlier than that, placing him back home with his family in time for the holidays. Professor Pat Metze said it best on Facebook: “I am so impressed. This is the most noble example of how lawyers doing good work change lives. Thank you, Ashlie. You make me proud.”
Patty Tress and Susan Anderson worked their magic again and received a hung jury on an Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child under 6 years old. This was a hard-fought battle with many complex issues. Patty and Susan tried this same case once before back in August and received a hung jury. Stay tuned to see what happens next. Kudos for fighting the good fight, counselors.
Houston’s Lloyd van Oostenrijk had a busy December planned. Lloyd first heard the two-word verdict in CCL 2 in Fort Bend County in a shoplifting case. The key was showing that the asset protection employee was untruthful when he said that he was the only AP employee on duty, and that he followed the client to her car. This was the third trial Lloyd had set for December. The first was a family violence case that was dismissed on the day of trial. The second was a DWI in CCL 5 that was reset as Judge Cohen was sworn in. All in a month’s work, eh counselor?