Our client was charged with Driving While Intoxicated. Police arrested her at a restaurant, alleging her speech was slurred and she smelled of alcoholic beverages. No witnesses observed her driving her car. At trial, we pointed out a lack of evidence that our client refused the breathalyzer test as alleged. This helped overcome the presumption of intoxication that exists in any case involving a “refusal.” Through cross-examination, we demonstrated that several Field Sobriety Tests which would have been appropriate were not completed at the scene of the arrest. This further undermined proof of intoxication. Other witnesses also testified that they did not believe our client was intoxicated at the time. Focusing on the fact that no one witnessed our client operate a motor vehicle, and the weak proof of intoxication, we were successful in convincing the court there was reasonable doubt and our client was acquitted. Our associate Brian Tedd was lead counsel on this case.
After a second trial, CDH Law obtained an acquittal for Sheldon Dukes, accused of predatory sexual assault in Watertown, New York. He faced life in prison if convicted. The judge took less than 30 minutes to issue his verdict. In the previous trial, the jury could not agree and the result was a mistrial. You can find coverage of the case here and here.
The brand new Veteran’s Treatment Court in Onondaga County is a judicial diversion program for misdemeanor and felony level veteran offenders. The goal of this court is to help those that served our nation by providing them an alternative to the traditional justice system. CDH Law, a veteran-owned law firm, is proud to participate in this exciting initiative by providing defense counsel services to the court. This article, which includes video, discusses the new initiative in more detail. If you are a veteran and charged with a crime in Onondaga County, we would be happy to discuss this initiative with you.
Witnesses claimed our client participated in a brutal assault. He was charged with assault in the first degree and faced up to 25 years in prison if convicted. Before trial, these witnesses identified our client in a photo lineup. At trial, we were able to persuade the jury that their testimony was unreliable and the jury returned a verdict of not guilty. Coverage by Syracuse.com is here.
In this article, we discuss our efforts on behalf of James Brower in Chenango County. Facing the most serious of felony charges and life in prison, Mr. Brower pled guilty to hindering prosecution in the first degree, a class D non-violent Felony.
The article below is reprinted from wwnytv.com and the original can be found here. Excellent defense work from our litigators Clifton Carden, III and Brian Tedd.
“The Sheldon Dukes sexual assault trial has ended in a hung jury Jefferson County Court.
That means the jury could not agree on Dukes’ guilt or innocence.
Dukes is accused of engaging in sexual acts in June 2011 and July 2013 with a girl who was born in 2005. Those acts allegedly happened in Watertown.
The girl, who is now 13, took the stand during the trial and was a key witness.
‘My client is thankful for the fairness of the court and the professionalism of the district attorney’s office and the thoughtfulness of the jury. Unfortunately, they just couldn’t make a decision on it,’ said defense lawyer Clifton Carden III.
The prosecution said it will seek another trial.
‘This is part of the justice system and sometimes you get a jury that comes to a verdict unanimously and sometimes you don’t. This time we didn’t, but it means we get to draw again and have a second chance,’ said prosecutor Patty Dziuba.
Prosecutors said the alleged victim in the case is, so far, willing to go through another trial. Meanwhile, Cardin said trials that end in hung juries often open the door wider to potential plea bargains.
Earlier in the afternoon Friday, the jury told Judge Kim Martusewicz they were having difficulty reaching a verdict.
That was around 1 p.m., after they had the entire testimony of Dukes’ alleged victim read back to them Friday morning.
The judge instructed them to keep trying.
That was followed by several more hours of testimony read-back Friday afternoon.
Shortly before 6 p.m., the jury again said it could not reach a verdict and the trial ended in a hung jury.
The jury deliberated two-and-a-half hours Thursday afternoon after hearing the defense and prosecution’s closing arguments.
They returned to their deliberations around 11 a.m. Friday.
Dukes had also been charged in connection with alleged sexual assaults in Carthage involving another child. The judge dismissed those charges during trial on Wednesday.”
In this excellent article in the New York State Bar Association Journal, W. Russell Corker provides a short introduction to the key principles of an effective cross-examination, “the single most important deciding factor in the outcome of a trial.” While this is a great refresher for trial lawyers, we think our clients will benefit from this resource as well.
This Newsday opinion piece addresses one part of proposed criminal justice reform in New York – discovery in criminal cases. New York’s discovery rules are indeed behind most of the country and the deck is often stacked against a defendant.
Discovery is the process by which the parties obtain evidence. Of course, one must know the evidence against them to successfully defend against it. While district attorneys in several New York counties provide informal “open discovery,” this is not always the case. Thus, as noted in the article, “many defendants facing criminal charges and their attorneys never see the evidence purportedly gathered — whether good, bad, or questionable.”
This is a problem that must be addressed. Imagine you are sitting in jail on a criminal charge and can’t afford the bail. Let’s say you think you have a defense, but are unsure how it will play out at trial because you have not seen the government’s evidence. You’re offered a plea deal that would see you released. How do you know your chances at trial if you don’t know the evidence? How do you make an informed decision? Many people faced with this problem simply opt for the easy solution-take the plea offer, plead guilty, and get out of jail. Later, when dealing with a collateral consequence of this conviction, regret sets in.
This happens too often in New York and must be fixed. Reforming our discovery rules by mandating the disclosure of all evidence at the very beginning of a criminal case would be a good start.