Victory for Client

We recently received a not guilty verdict for a client accused of the crime of failing to verify his address with the County Sheriff.

We were successful based upon a legal technicality known as identification. None of the witnesses called by the State of Ohio could say whether or not the man sitting at the table with me was the man who failed to verify his address.

None of these witnesses had in fact ever seen my client before, and they failed to bring any identification information with them.

The client was a now homeless man who had been residing at a homeless shelter for about a year and had been in the hospital for a number of months when the authorities claimed he should be verifying his address.  

Successful Appeal

Today we received word that an appeal we were doing for one of our criminal clients was successful (the client fell way behind on his child support and was charged with criminal non-support). 

The Court of Appeals for Cuyahoga County reversed a trial court and ordered the case remanded back to the trial court for further proceedings.  

Once the case is back at the trial court, we hope that things will continue to go well for our client. Stay tuned.

Withdrawing a plea - getting harder and harder.

It us to be relatively easy for a criminal defendant to try and withdraw his or her plea prior to a sentencing (a sentencing date usually takes place about 3-4 weeks after a plea is made).   The rule that controls how it is done indicates that prior to sentencing such motions should probably be granted (Ohio law from the Supreme Court of Ohio says that pre-sentencing motions to withdraw a plea “should be freely and liberally granted”).    However, more and more trial courts (and appellate courts) are, in our opinion, finding more and more reasons to deny these plea withdrawal motions - even if they are filed before sentencing.  For example, a Court in Canton, Ohio (Stark County) just did this on a case  involving a weapons charge. Our advice:  Assume that you are locked into your plea at the time you plea - and that a trial court will be easily able to prevent you from withdrawing that plea even prior to your sentencing.  

Get a second opinion if you can before you plea.

Diversion Programs

More and more courthouses in our area of Ohio are creating or refining what are generally called "diversion programs."   These programs (which can go by many names and use a number of different letters)  are mainly designed for people who generally have no criminal record ("first offenders")  and who have committed a type of offense that is eligible for diversion (some specific offenses are not eligible for diversion).  

A diversion program generally requires that the offender plead guilty to the charge (for the time being) and complete a probation-like program with such things as restitution, drug testing and community service.   After successful completion of the diversion program, the case is dismissed - and some diversion programs actually include a free "expungement" element to them as well. Sort of like a mulligan in golf.

We have obtained diversion for many of our clients.

Spoliation of Evidence

A court of appeals recently dealt with an issue that lawyers in litigation have to struggle with from time to time: "spoliation of evidence."   Spoliation of evidence is where one side of a litigation dispute destroys or alters evidence that the other side needs for its case.   

As a matter of fact, in addition to the severe sanctions a trial court will likely impose on a party for such conduct, the act of spoliation of evidence all by itself gives rise to a specific separate cause of action against a party who does it - including a party who was not initially involved with the case.  

Stated another way, if a defendant is being sued (or about to be sued), and (for whatever reason) a third party alters or destroys evidence that could be used in that lawsuit, that third party can be independently sued by either the plaintiff or the defendant for that conduct.   Most of the times however, the party who is altering or destroying the evidence is already a party to the lawsuit and is just doing this type of conduct to cover its proverbial tracks. We have been involved with litigation where spoliation of evidence has reared its ugly head on the other side of the table.   Very very nasty consequences.