A Bit of Humor on Probable Cause

Posted on: March 26th, 2014  |  No Comments

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.

How Marijuana Use Causes Deficits that Affect Driving Ability

Posted on: February 19th, 2014  |  No Comments

Science’s answers to crucial questions about driving while stoned — how dangerous it is, how to test for impairment, and how the risks compare to driving drunk — have been slow to reach the general public.

“Our goal is to put out the science and have it used for evidence-based drug policy” said Marilyn A. Huestis, a senior investigator at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

It is clear that marijuana use causes deficits that affect driving ability, Dr. Huestis said. She noted that several researchers, working independently of one another, have come up with the same estimate: a twofold increase in the risk of an accident if there is any measurable amount of THC in the bloodstream.

The estimate is based on review papers that considered the results of many individual studies. The results were often contradictory — some of the papers showed no increase in risk, or even a decrease — but the twofold estimate is widely accepted.

The estimate is low, however, compared with the dangers of drunken driving. A recent study of federal crash data found that 20-year-old drivers with a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 percent — the legal limit for driving — had an almost 20-fold increase in the risk of a fatal accident compared with sober drivers. For older adults, up to age 34, the increase was ninefold. The study’s lead author, Eduardo Romano, is a senior research scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation.

The difference in risk between marijuana and alcohol can probably be explained by two things, Dr. Huestis and Dr. Romano both say. First, stoned drivers drive differently from drunken ones, and they have different deficits. Drunken drivers tend to drive faster than normal and to overestimate their skills, studies have shown; the opposite is true for stoned drivers.

The deficits of being stoned really began to show up, she said, when people had to handle multiple tasks at once and were confronted with something unexpected.

Experts like Dr. Romano and Dr. Kleiman believe that facts suggest public resources are better spent combating drunken driving. Stoned driving, they say, is best dealt with by discouraging people from mixing marijuana and alcohol — a combination that is even riskier than alcohol alone — and by policies that minimize marijuana’s risk on the road. For instance, states that legalize recreational marijuana, Dr. Kleiman said, should ban establishments like pot bars that encourage people to smoke away from home.

via The New York Times’s Maggie Koerth-Baker

A version of this article appears in print on February 18, 2014, on page D1 of the New York edition with the headline: Marijuana and the Sobriety Test.

Prince George’s County is Overhauling Photo Lineups to Protect the Innocent from Prison

Posted on: February 18th, 2014  |  No Comments

Last fall Baltimore adopted new photo lineup policies that have since become the norm in Dallas, North Carolina, Philadelphia and other jurisdictions. Now the Prince George’s County Police Department is also overhauling how detectives conduct photo lineups in an effort to prevent innocent people from going to prison.

Starting this spring, detectives must show witnesses photos of potential suspects one at a time on separate pieces of paper rather than all at once on a single page. Lineups must also be “blind,” which means a detective unfamiliar with the case must present photos to witnesses instead of an officer investigating the crime.

The method is called the “double-blind sequential lineup.” The goal is to reduce chances that witnesses would falsely identify suspects or that detectives would unwittingly nudge witnesses to choose a particular photo.

To view the full article online you must log in to The Washington Post

A version of this article appeared in print on Monday, February 10, 2014, on page B of The Washington Post with the headline: Move aims to prevent jailing of innocent. Pr.George’s police alter method for conducting photo lineups of suspects. By Lynh Bui

A First Degree Murder Case is Finally Resolved in the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County in Our Client’s Favor

Posted on: February 4th, 2014  |  No Comments

Our client was arrested on July 25, 2010 for a First Degree Murder which was alleged to have occurred on July 26, 2007. The client was held without bond. The case came to trial on October 3, 2011 and after a prolonged trial before a jury the client was acquitted of First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder and Second Degree Depraved Heart Murder. The jury could not reach a verdict as to the remaining counts of Manslaughter, Attempted First Degree Murder and First Degree Felony Assault. The client was released on bond.

The defense then appealed the Court’s denial of our Motion to Dismiss for Double Jeopardy and the Courts of Appeal returned this matter to the Circuit Court for trial after denying our appeal of the denial of our Motion to Dismiss for Double Jeopardy.

The Circuit Court set this matter on the remaining counts for trial on February 3, 2014. However this office was able to negotiate a final resolution of all the charges on February 3, 2014, just prior to the trial commencing.

The client entered an Alford plea to Second Degree Misdemeanor Assault and the Misdemeanor of Carrying a Dangerous Weapon Openly. The Court placed the client on 18 months probation. Both the client and the attorney must weigh the risks of trial versus the “no risk” of a misdemeanor plea with no incarceration and without admitting guilt. We believe the client made the right decision. Life in prison means life in prison!

We believe that the resolution of this case was precipitated by our relentless pursuit of exculpatory evidence; primarily our independent discovery of a $10,000 fee (reward) paid to a witness by Prince George’s County Crime Solvers Inc. at the request of the lead investigator. Initially the State, in court and on the record, denied any knowledge of this payment.

“And there’s been no funds given to [the witness] and I’ve disclosed to Mr. Kupferberg before that he was relocated. No funds were given to him, but there was funds paid to relocate him.” August 24, 2011 Motions Hearing.

However after our continued demands it became known just one month prior to the first trial that in fact this payment had been made to the State’s most critical witness more than six months (March 11, 2011) before the commencement of the trial.

The defense during trial subpoeaned the records of Prince George’s County Crime Solvers Inc. and for the first time found an email between the primary investigator and Crime Solvers showing that request was being processed by Prince George’s County Crime Solvers Inc. as early as January 31, 2011 some nine months before the commencement of the trial. The correspondence stated in pertinent part:

Crime Solvers to Investigator dated January 31, 2011

I was processing the reward payment request for the [case] and 2 questions came up?

1. You mentioned using this person in court at the trial. Is the State’s Atty’s office okay with this person being paid before they testify?

2. If it is okay… does your person want cash or a check made out to them?

Investigator’s reply to Crime Solvers dated January 31, 2011

Yes the State’s Attorney knows and it is OK to pay him. Either check or cash is fine.

Outside the hearing of the jury the Court held a hearing on this new revelation in which the Assistant State’s Attorney indicated that he became aware of the $10,000 payment from Prince George’s County Crime Solvers Inc. in late August of 2011.

When the primary investigator was questioned about his email response “Yes the State’s Attorney knows and it is OK to pay him.” to Prince George’s County Crime Solvers Inc. of January 31, 2011, the primary investigator stated under oath that he gave the Assistant State’s Attorney the payment information in July of 2011. CLEARLY THE PRIMARY INVESTIGATOR HAD MISLED CRIME SOLVERS WHEN HE TOLD THEM IN HIS EMAIL OF JANUARY 31, 2011 THAT THE STATE KNEW OF THE PROPOSED $10,000 PAYMENT.

Without the tireless efforts of our present and past associates, Anne Khirallah, Joshua Borean, Joseph Hainline and Joshua Goyden as well as our staff, Pat and Shelly, this result could not have been accomplished.

RELENTLESS PURSUIT OF THE TRUTH ALWAYS IS IMPORTANT IN THE DEFENSE OF THE INNOCENT.

Acquittal in the District Court of Maryland for Montgomery County

Posted on: February 4th, 2014  |  No Comments

We appeared with our client on charges of trespass, failure to obey a reasonable and lawful order of a police officer and disorderly conduct. Upon entering a plea of Not Guilty the State entered the trespass charge as Nolle Prosequi (dismissed) and we proceeded to a court trial. The trial judge found our client Not Guilty. We believe that the prosecution was initiated by an overzealous police officer. The court’s ruling totally vindicated our client.

Acquittal in the District Court of Maryland for Prince George’s County

Posted on: January 20th, 2014  |  No Comments

Our client, a young woman, was acquitted of second degree assault upon a University of Maryland policeman after a court trial in Hyattsville, Maryland. The court found that our client was entitled to use reasonable force to defend against an unlawful touching initiated by the University of Maryland policeman. Justice once again is achieved.

Acquittal in the District Court of Maryland for Montgomery County

Posted on: January 13th, 2014  |  No Comments

This office successfully defended a young man in a domestic violence (second degree assault) case brought by his wife. The defendant offered a plea of not guilty and his wife invoked her marital privilege not to testify. In spite of the fact that the defendant’s wife refused to testify the State continued to prosecute this matter by attempting to enter the wife’s medical records into evidence. However during our preparation for trial we realized that the State did not give timely notice of their intent to offer this business record. The court accepted our objection to the late notice and refused to allow the medical records into evidence and thereafter acquitted our client of all charges.

Re-balancing crack cocaine convictions

Posted on: December 24th, 2013  |  No Comments

The Editorial Board of the Washington Post reported that last week, President Obama granted clemency to eight people serving long sentences on crack-cocaine convictions.

Because of a disparity in the law that is now recognized as unjust, they remain in prison, separated from their families and their communities, at a cost of millions of taxpayer dollars each year.

Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States of America

Congress and the president agree that the old rules were unwise, yet many others sitting in prison deserve a chance to show that their sentences did not fit their crimes. Lawmakers are considering various ways to ease sentences — and the strain on the prison system — by applying new sentencing standards to old convictions.

Politicians should embrace the opportunity to re-balance, in a measured way, how the country punishes criminals. Mr. Obama’s latest move is welcome. We hope it is not his last.

via The Washington Post

A version of this article appeared in print on Tuesday, December 24, 2013, on page A16 of The Washington Post with the headline: Insufficient mercy Thousands imprisoned for crack deserve a shot at fairer sentences. By The Washington Post Editorial Board

D.C. Mayor Gray Supports Bill to Decriminalize Pot Possession

Posted on: October 25th, 2013  |  No Comments

Wednesday, October 23, 2013, D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) offered his first unequivocal support for decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, adding momentum to a legislative proposal that has the support of a supermajority on the D.C. Council and could make the District one of the nation’s most lenient jurisdictions on marijuana possession.

Under a measure proposed by council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), possession of less than an ounce of marijuana in the District would no longer be punishable by six months in jail and a penalty of $1,000.

“I support decriminalization. Legalization is another issue. I’m not there on that issue, yet,” Mayor Vincent Gray

Instead, those caught with amounts of the drug deemed for personal use would risk only a civil charge and a ticket of $100.

via The Washington Post’s Aaron C. Davis

A version of this article appeared in print on Wednesday, October 23, 2013, of The Washington Post with the headline: Gray backs bill to decriminalize pot possession by Aaron Davis.

Total Vindication of our Client in Allegany County Circuit Court on the Charge of Rape

Posted on: October 21st, 2013  |  No Comments

On October 15, 2013 we appeared with our client in the Circuit Court for Allegany County. Our client was accused of Rape at a party held by upperclassmen and graduate students at Frostburg State University; our client was the only sophomore present. The State on October 15, 2013 entered the charge of Rape as “Nolle Prosequi”, DISMISSED.

The defense investigation located six additional witnesses who corroborated our client’s version of the events which corroborated the client’s total claim of innocence. Our office, early on in the case, located a video tape which also corroborated our client’s innocence. The investigating officer failed to interview critical witnesses and failed to go to the scene of the alleged crime to properly document the allegations of the complaining witness. Our investigator, Todd Troutner, not only documented the scene of the alleged crime but he also located and interviewed the unbiased critical witnesses present at the get together.

The Sexual Assault Forensic Examination at the hospital ultimately showed that there was no evidence of trauma which would indicate a forcible rape assault. DNA swabs taken by the sexual assault nurse at the initial examination of the complaining witness’s vaginal area were taken at the hospital the morning after the alleged rape. These swabs were eventually provided to the Maryland State Police for testing. The DNA of the vaginal area of the complaining witness failed to implicate our client. These forensic revelations as to the DNA were not disclosed by the State until September 19, 2013; however the allegations of Rape were alleged to have occurred on or about February 26, 2013.

Our investigation revealed that the complaining witness’s father was a former policeman who was well known to the investigating officer as a colleague. Discovery disclosed that there were discussions between the investigating officer and the complaining witness’s father just as the investigation commenced which clearly indicated to this office some bias in the investigation.

Unfortunately this vindication of our client had a significant cost, both emotionally and economically on our client and his family. JUSTICE SOMETIMES COMES AT A PRICE BUT JUSTICE PREVAILED!