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.
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.