12 February 2003

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Jury trial today; trial started at at 8 a.m. and ended at 8:30 p.m. Client stood charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute (5-40 years), possession of marijuana with intent to distribute (0-10), possession of firearm after being convicted of a felony (5 years mandatory), possession of firearm while in possession of cocaine (5 years mandatory), and concealed firearm (0-1 years).

There were questions about evidence which just happened to appear after the preliminary hearing showed that the prosecutor's evidence was very weak. I also had an independent witness who did not know the client and came in to testify to that she had moved the bag and box which the gun and drugs were in from a car she had bought into a bright yellow van (client's mother's van which client was driving when he was stopped and the vehicle searched) because she thought the van belonged to the man from whom she bought the car. The prosecutor was unable to shake or impeach her or connect her with my client or her family. After she and three other defense witnesses testified the case was so strong that the client testified, despite the fact that his felony record would be exposed.

Closing arguments got pretty rambunctious. I had to object when the prosecutor started talking about how my client's witnesses had not proven that he was innocent. After that I tried to soft-sell my closing but the prosecutor objected because I was didn't get to the facts quickly enough (he was right, I was a little out of bounds). So, I paused for a second and let it rip: how dare the prosecutor attack my poor helpless 3d party witness who came to court out of a sense of duty and told the truth despite the fact that she didn't know my client or anyone in his family (I really pushed this point hard). Then I went after the officers and ripped every inconsistency in their testimonies (which had been pretty bad and contradicted opening statements and closing arguments by the prosecutor) and had to accuse them of either purposefully planting evidence or incompetently and mistakenly mixing items which were not evidence in so that they were later found in a manner which made them look incriminating. The prosecutor had called my case a house of cards so I ended my argument by stating "If [my client's] case is a house of cards then his case is a house of straw. And it's rotten. And it stinks. From where I sit [my client] looks innocent."

When the jury retired I felt that the case was very strong and had a good feeling that the majority of the jury went back predisposed to find not guilty. However, once they were back there they went thru all the papers which were in the bag and found a "blowjob coupon book" which had the first name of my star, independent witness signed on every coupon. They compared the signatures against the witness' signature on a receipt she had brought me that morning and I had introduced into evidence (they were dead-on matches). They sent it out to the judge who sent it back without comment. So everyone who's not in the jury room thinks that my case has been totally destroyed. About a hour later they send a note out which indicates they are hung. The judge brings them out and gives them an Allen charge. They go back in.

Another hour later they come back with a verdict. Possession of cocaine with intent to distribute: reduced to simple possession of cocaine. Possession of marijuana with intent to distribute: guilty. Possession of firearm after being convicted of a felony: not guilty. Possession of firearm while in possession of cocaine: not guilty. Concealed firearm: not guilty.

The jury went back to sentence and came out shortly thereafter with a sentence of 6 months on the possession of cocaine and 12 months on the possession of marijuana with intent. It also imposed $2500 fines on each charge. Considering that my client was facing a maximum of 61 years in jail with 15 years mandatory if he was convicted of the charges as they were when he walked into court, coming out of court with only 18 months imposed and $5,000 in fines seems a pretty good deal.

Anyway, that's how I spent my birthday. And now I have to get ready for 3 or 4 cases tomorrow.

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