Dukes Not Guilty of Sexual Assault

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.

Preparing for Divorce

Divorce is a major transitional time. Whether it is uncontested or contested, divorce will bring major life changes. If you are in the midst of a divorce or are even considering a divorce, making certain preparations can help streamline the process and prepare you for what lies ahead

Things You Can Do to Prepare for Divorce

One of the best things you can do to prepare for divorce is to take a good look at your financial situation and get things in order. This means getting copies of all of your financial statements, including:

  • Recent tax returns
  • Bank account statements
  • Investment account statements
  • Insurance statements
  • Credit card statements

Getting an overview of the state of your finances, such as your assets and liabilities, will help you make informed and intentional decisions as you go into divorce proceedings. 

Reviewing your finances will also help you prepare a budget. One of the biggest practical changes in divorce is that, instead of a single-family, dual-income home, you and your spouse will have a single household, single income situations. This is a big change. Establishing a possible budget based only on your income can alleviate a lot of future financial stress.

Also in line with your new living situation is where you will be taking up residence. Think about whether or not you will need to get a new place. If this is likely, consider investigating the housing market. This will give you a good idea of housing costs. If you are considering staying in the marital residence, evaluate whether or not it will still be a good fit for you as well as whether or not you will be able to maintain the living situation on your income.

If you have children, there will be other big decisions that you should begin thinking about. Consider what type of custody will work for you and your spouse. If you are looking to gain majority custody of your child or children, think about how you will advocate for this. If you are not aiming for majority custody, remember that you will likely have to pay child support and make sure to include this in your budget calculations.

Another very important part of preparing for divorce is making sure you have a solid support system in place. This means surrounding yourself with family, loved ones, and trusted advisors. Find a divorce attorney you trust and one that you feel comfortable with. You need to feel like you can communicate openly and honestly with your attorney about some personal subjects.

Syracuse Divorce Lawyer

At CDH Law, our team of experienced Syracuse divorce lawyers is here to provide you with the legal counsel you can count on. We protect the best interests of our clients and provide zealous advocacy. Whether you are considering divorce or are in the midst of divorce proceedings, CDH Law is here for you. Contact us today.

Veteran’s Treatment Court opens in Onondaga County

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.

Photo from LocalSyr.com

Trial acquittal on felony assault charge

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.



Dukes Trial Ends In Hung Jury

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.”

Discovery Reform May Be Near

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.

Welcome To Our New Website!

CDH Law PLLC grey and blue logo

We are excited to announce the launch of our newly designed website and logo! While the look is fresh, we are still the same trusted legal team. Along with our base of amazing clients, we are growing as a firm and thought an update was in order to reflect our growth. Here, you can contact us by calling the number at the top of your screen, or filling out a contact form on the sidebar of any page or by visiting the contact page.