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!

Jury Finds Our Client Not Guilty of Assault Upon Montgomery County Police Officer

Posted on: September 23rd, 2013  |  No Comments

On September 18, 2013 our client appeared for a jury trial before the Honorable Joseph Dugan in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, after having been initially charged with three counts of reckless endangerment, one count of affray, one count of second degree assault upon a police officer, and one count of disorderly conduct. All charges, but for the assault upon a police officer, were dismissed in open court prior to the jury’s finding of Not Guilty as to the assault count. On September 19, 2013 after only two hours of deliberations the jury returned a unanimous verdict of Not Guilty. The client was the subject of completely unfounded charges but the State seemed “hell bent” on getting a conviction even if the facts of the case did not warrant the client being charged initially. Justice was well served on September 19, 2013.

First Degree Assault Case Dismissed in the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County

Posted on: September 19th, 2013  |  No Comments

On August 5, 2013 after many weeks and months this office was successful in convincing the State’s Attorney’s Office for Prince George’s County to dismiss all charges. This task was accomplished by filing Motions to Compel Discovery which asked that the State be sanctioned for their failure to produce the physical evidence against the defendant. It became apparent to this office that the State was being recalcitrant in the production of these items for reasons unknown. This office continued to press the issue and the State then disclosed that all the physical evidence including DNA samples had been destroyed.

Death penalty convictions under review due to FBI forensic testimony errors

Posted on: July 22nd, 2013  |  No Comments

The Washington Post reported on July 17, 2013, that an unprecedented federal review of old criminal cases has uncovered as many as 27 death penalty convictions in which FBI forensic experts may have mistakenly linked defendants to crimes with exaggerated scientific testimony, U.S. officials said.

The review led to an 11th-hour stay of execution in Mississippi in May.

The death row cases are among the first 120 convictions identified as potentially problematic among more than 21,700 FBI Laboratory files being examined. The review was announced last July by the FBI and the Justice Department, in consultation with the Innocence Project and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL).

One of the things good scientists do is question their assumptions. No matter what the field, what the discipline, those questions should be up for debate. That’s as true in forensics as anything else.

David Christian “Chris” Hassell, director of the FBI Laboratory

The federal inquiry came after the Public Defender Service helped exonerate three D.C. men through DNA testing that showed that three FBI hair examiners contributed to their wrongful convictions for rape or murder in the early 1980s.

Of 15,000 files reviewed to date, the FBI said a hair association was declared in about 2,100 cases. Investigators have contacted police and prosecutors in more than 1,200 of those cases to find out whether hair evidence was used in a conviction, in which case trial transcripts will be sought. However, 400 of those cases have been closed because prosecutors did not respond.

via The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu

No ‘accepted medical use’ yet medical marijuana has been shown to ease pain.

Posted on: July 11th, 2013  |  No Comments

Special to the Washington Post, Kathryn Petrides, reported that dispensaries aren’t yet open, but when drugs failed, cannabis helped her endure side effects of chemo.

My breast cancer diagnosis at age 26 was an unwelcome and at times harrowing experience.

Eventually, though, I was lucky enough to take a medicine that did alleviate my suffering. Not so fortunate was the fact that it came in the form of a drug illegal under U.S. federal law: cannabis.
Though cannabis for medical purposes became legal in the District of Columbia (where I live) in 2010, the city-sanctioned dispensaries that can supply it are only now inching closer to opening their doors.

Nevertheless, marijuana is still banned under the United States Controlled Substances Act – meaning it continues to be a federal crime to possess or grow marijuana, even in the 18 states plus the District that permit it for medicinal purposes. As a Schedule I drug, cannabis is deemed to have no “accepted medical use” and to lack “safety for use under medical supervision.”

Yet marijuana was the only thing that truly quelled my stomach, provided for restful sleep and allowed me to eat and drink. I was not a cannabis smoker prior to my diagnosis, and I am not one now. I used it only during my chemotherapy treatments, which ended a few months ago.

It was the safest medicine I took over the course of my cancer treatments. Only with further research can we better understand the palliative effects of cannabis – and perhaps finally make it more accessible to the many of us who suffer chronic pain and discomfort. For us, quality of life has special meaning.

A full version of this article appeared in print on Tuesday July 9, 2013, on pages E1 and E5 of The Washington Post with the headline: Medical marijuana and me: It eased my pain

Jury Finds Client Not Guilty After Four Day Trial in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County

Posted on: June 17th, 2013  |  No Comments

Our client was charged with illegal possession of four handguns including two semi-automatic weapons. Our client and this office maintained the client’s innocence from the outset. The State continued to prosecute this matter in spite of many fatal flaws in the evidence. Justice prevailed.

The racially biased ‘war on marijuana’

Posted on: June 17th, 2013  |  No Comments

New federal data, included in a study by the American Civil Liberties Union, shows that the problem of racially biased arrests is far more extensive than was previously known- and is getting worse. The costly, ill-advised “war on marijuana” might fairly be described as a tool of racial oppression.

The study, based on law enforcement data from 50 states and the District of Columbia, is the most detailed of its kind so far. Marijuana arrests have risen sharply over the last two decades and now make up about half of all drug arrests in the United States. Of the more than eight million marijuana arrests made between 2001 and 2010, nearly 90 percent were for possession. There were nearly 900,000 marijuana arrests in 2010- 300,000 more than for all violent crimes combined.

This nationwide pattern is evident in all kinds of communities – urban and rural, wealthy and low income, in places where the African American populations are large and in places where they are small.

As the report notes, police officers who are targeting black citizens and black neighborhoods are turning “a comparatively blind eye to the same conduct occurring at the same rates in many white communities.”

Law enforcement agencies need to put an end to what is obviously a widespread practice of racial profiling.

via The New York Times, Editorial Board

A version of this article appeared in print on Sunday, June 16, 2013, on page 10 of The New York Times with the headline: Racially Based Arrests for Pot. The ‘war on marijuana’ has become a war on minorities

Driving under the influence, new legal limits of marijuana levels.

Posted on: June 17th, 2013  |  No Comments

With the recreational use of marijuana now legal in Colorado, officers who patrol the state’s roads face a new set of challenges. Though smoking or possessing small amounts of cannabis is no longer breaking the law, anyone who drives while impaired is still subject to arrest.

Colorado lawmakers passed legislation that set legal limits on marijuana levels in the bloodstream. Under the new law, which took effect on May 28, a driver is assumed to be impaired if a blood test shows a level of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, that is five or more nanograms per milliliter. A nanogram is a billionth of a gram. Washington State, where recreational marijuana is also legal, has established the same THC limit as Colorado.

Some states, like Arizona, have enacted zero-tolerance laws that make driving with any trace of marijuana in the blood unlawful. A handful of other states have set their own thresholds for THC in the bloodstream.

“We have this notion that since we have a magic number for alcohol, that we are going to have a similar number for marijuana,” Paul Armentano, deputy director of Norml, which advocates for the legalization of marijuana. “The problem is that marijuana is not metabolized and absorbed by the body in the same way alcohol is.”

via The New York Times, Dan Frosch

A version of this article appeared in print on Sunday, June 9, 2013, on page 12 of The New York Times with the headline: In Colorado, Redefining ‘Under the Influence’ by Dan Frosch.

Recommendation to drop the legal limit from 0.08 to 0.05

Posted on: May 22nd, 2013  |  No Comments

The National Transportation Safety Board wants state legislatures to drop the measure from the current blood-alcohol level of 0.08 to 0.05.

The research clearly shows that drivers with a BAC of 0.05 are impaired and at a significantly greater risk of being involved in a crash where someone is killed or injured. Our goal is to get to zero deaths, because each alcohol-impaired death is preventable. They are crimes.” NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman

The NTSB has no authority to impose its recommendations. “NTSB’s action raises the visibility of drunk driving, and we will consider their recommendations,” said Jonathan Adkins of the Governors Highway Safety Association, while underscoring that the group continues to support the 0.08 level.

Advocates for the beer and liquor industry reacted negatively to the recommendation.

via The Washington Post, Ashley Halsey III

A version of this article appeared in print on Wednesday, May 15, 2013, on page A3 of The Washington Post with the headline: 0.05 urged as standard for drunken driving by Ashley Halsey III

The Brady Rule, Calling for Open File Discovery Reform

Posted on: May 21st, 2013  |  No Comments

Fifty years ago, in the landmark case Brady v. Maryland, the Supreme Court laid down a fundamental principle about the duty of prosecutors — to seek justice in fair trials, not merely to win convictions by any means. The court said that due process required prosecutors to disclose to criminal defendants any exculpatory evidence they asked for that was likely to affect a conviction or sentence.

This principle, known as the Brady rule, has been restricted by subsequent rulings of the court and has been severely weakened by a near complete lack of punishment for prosecutors who flout the rule. The court has also declined to require the disclosure of such evidence during negotiations in plea bargains, which account for about 95 percent of cases.
A better approach is to require the opening of prosecutors’ files to defendants, as a general rule. North Carolina adopted open-files reform to make criminal cases more efficient and fair.

North Carolina’s statute requires prosecutors in felony cases, before trial, to make available to the defense the complete files of all law enforcement agencies, investigatory agencies and prosecutors’ offices involved in the investigation of the crimes committed or the prosecution of the defendant. The New York Times

So far Ohio has followed North Carolina’s lead, and other states should as well. So should Congress. The best way to fulfill the promise of Brady is with open-files reform, which addresses the need for full disclosure of evidence that could show a defendant’s innocence.

via The New York Times, The Editorial Board