In July 2014, our client, a Prince George’s County Policeman and his wife with another couple went to see a show at the Howard Theater. Upon leaving the show it became evident that the valet for the Howard Theater had inadvertently left the lights on, on our client’s friend’s automobile. The valet became belligerent and taunted our client’s friend, while refusing to adjust the parking fee or assist the friend in getting his automobile jump started. The friend was then surrounded and threatened. Our client observed one of the valets grab a metal pipe from the valet stand. Observing the former, our client went to his automobile, grabbed his identification in one hand and his off-duty service revolver in the other. Our client went to the assistance of his friend who was then surrounded by the valet staff. Our client ordered the valet staff to get to the ground and drop their weapon, which included a metal valet sign and the metal re-bar pipe. Our client never pointed his service revolver at any of the assailants. The Metropolitan Police Department was called and inexplicably arrested only our client and his friend. Our client was charged with two felonies: Assault with a Dangerous Weapon and Possession of a Firearm during a Crime of Violence, which carried a minimum mandatory five years’ incarceration, if convicted. Because the client was a police officer, charged with a felony, the Prince George’s County Police Department placed the client on leave-without-pay. The client remained on leave-without-pay for fifteen months.
Our associate, Abigail Scott, combed through the security video given to us by the Howard Theater and realized that a citizen was taking a cell phone video of the incident. Abigail then developed a flyer which we distributed to all the local stores hoping to find the, yet unknown, citizen with the cell phone video. My special investigator and myself also went to the Howard Theater backdoor to show the flyer. My special investigator realized that by chance the cell phone videographer was present at the backdoor when we arrived. The videographer did not identify himself at first; however, two weeks later, we received a telephone call from the videographer who provided us with the video exculpating our client and his friend. We then presented a video compilation produced by, Joey Rossetti of JR Media Systems LLC, showing the cell phone video and the Howard Theater surveillance video in sync. This was shown to the court and to the United States Attorney’s Office at a short motions hearing. Shortly thereafter, today, the Court on motion of the United States Attorney’s Office dismissed the Indictment completely. My client is looking forward to having his back-pay reinstated.
This ordeal was patently unnecessary and shows that diligent investigation and attorney work-product goes a long way to free the innocent.
Our client suffered significant injuries on May 9, 2013, as a result of being struck in the rear of his vehicle by a commercial vehicle. The significant injuries included injuries to the client’s leg. The client was transported to the hospital for surgery and the client had to have portions of his leg surgically removed due to an infection proximately caused by the collision. The case settled May 2014.
Our client was seriously injured on July 12, 2011, as a passenger in a one-car incident in Charles County. Our client was the passenger in an automobile which was driven in such a fashion as to cause the automobile to leave the roadway and roll over on the side of the road. Our client had to be cut from the automobile and transported to the hospital with significant injuries to her head, scalp, ear, neck, and back. The case settled August 2015.
The Honorable Krystal Q. Alves found that the fruits of the search of our client’s vehicle was an illegal inventory search and suppressed all of the evidence seized from our client’s vehicle. The suppression of the evidence illegally seized forced the State to enter all charges as dismissed [Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine, Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana, and Driving while Impaired by Drugs or Drugs and Alcohol].
The Honorable Richard E. Jordan granted the unprecedented and extraordinary relief requested by this office to dismiss the Indictment against our client for pre-indictment delay. No court in the United States had granted such relief without state action being the cause of the pre-indictment delay. Our client was unaware of any allegations against him for approximately 26 years, from the date of the allegations. The Complaining Witness did not report, for approximately 26 years, any inappropriate contact between herself and her former boyfriend to the police for reasons only known to the Complaining Witness. Our client had moved from the Washington Metropolitan area to the Southern regions of the United States. Our client made no attempt to contact the Complaining Witness for approximately 26 years. The Complaining Witness was encouraged to try to call our client to get him to inculpate himself. However, try as the police might have, our client never in any sense admitted to any inappropriate contact in the recorded telephone sting orchestrated by the Police Department. Our client was arrested and extradited to Maryland only on the statements of the Complaining Witness without the slightest corroboration of her clearly stale allegations. Our client spent a considerable amount of time incarcerated in the Montgomery County Detention Center before he was referred to us for relief. We secured our client an immediate bond hearing and he was released by the Circuit Court for Montgomery County pending trial.
After a three-day trial in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland, before the Honorable Gary E. Bair, a jury acquitted our client of all charges placed against him by the State’s Attorney’s Office for Montgomery County, Maryland. The Complaining Witness had waited at least 17 years before disclosing to the authorities allegations of sexual misconduct against our client. There was a significant issue of the Defendant’s right to have the charges presented to a Grand Jury in a timely fashion and thereby affording him a speedy trial and opportunity to adequately defend himself. The State was unable to prove that our client was guilty of any of the charges in the Indictment. Our client was quite elderly and if convicted would have suffered significant imprisonment, which would have been physically and mentally devastating to a person of his age. Our client at all times protested his innocence and the vindication was magnificent!
Prior to the jury’s verdict, after a motions hearing before the Honorable Melanie Shaw-Geter, the State had to dismiss the charges of: Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine and Possession of a Firearm with a Nexus to a Drug Trafficking Crime.
The vindication by the jury was a magnificent result as the client was facing a minimum mandatory prison sentence for the Possession of a Regulated Firearm.
Our client’s vehicle was struck head on by an intoxicated motorist. Our client suffered significant injuries to his ankle and body. The jury considered past medical expenses, lost wages, as well as pain and suffering. The trial, before the Honorable Richard E. Jordan, lasted approximately three days.
April 9, 2014, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation approved “The Forensic Science and Standards Act of 2014” establishing scientific review and standards for forensic sciences, clearing the way for the bill to be considered by the full Senate.
The Forensic Science and Standards Act would employ existing scientific agencies to develop and direct forensic research and set and implement standards for the forensic disciplines, helping to ensure that these disciplines are based on solid, reliable research.
“Today the Senate Commerce Committee approved critical legislation that will help ensure that the forensic practices used in criminal investigations are based on the best possible science and are guided by meaningful and consistent standards. Forensic practitioners have long asked for the scientific support this bill provides, and we have the same goal — to provide law enforcement with rigorously validated and steadfastly reliable forensic practices that identify the people who actually commit those crimes while protecting those who didn’t. We look forward to working with members of both the Senate and the House to quickly pass a law that will strengthen investigations and prevent wrongful convictions through reliable, science-based forensic practices.” said Peter Neufeld, Co-Director of the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with Cardozo School of Law.
Unvalidated and improper forensic science is one of the greatest contributors to wrongful convictions, playing a role in nearly half of the 316 cases later overturned by DNA evidence. The landmark 2009 National Academy of Sciences’ report, Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward, found that there is a desperate need to improve the validity and scientific quality of forensic evidence.
via The Innocence Project.org’s Paul Cates
Prosecutor: Officer, can you tell us what led you to believe that the defendant was “under the influence of alcohol”?
Officer: Yes, the defendant had a glazed and glassy look in her eye.
Defense Attorney (questioning the defendant): Is there a medical disability you have that the court should know about?
Defendant: Yes, there is.
Defense Attorney: What is it?
Defendant: I have a glass eye.