Case Conclusion Date:May 31, 2007
Practice Area:Criminal Defense
Outcome:Not guilty on all counts
Description:Justice (a very fitting name!) was a young man charged with two counts of Penal Code 243, assault with great bodily injury, after a fight at a party. He also had two prior "strike" convictions, so he was looking at a sentence of 55 years to life. The District Attorney's "offer" would have made him eligible for parole when he was 65, but there was no guarantee he would ever get out of prison. In closing argument, I asked the jury to consider deliberating in two steps. First of all, the other guys weren't hurt badly enough to constitute "great bodily injury" so the DA didn't prove that essential element for a felony conviction. After deciding he wasn't guilty of a felony, I encouraged them to consider the evidence of self defense we presented. The other guys were the aggressors, and Justice happened to end the fight with a couple of lucky punches. That meant they had to acquit Justice on the two lesser misdemeanor battery counts, too. I was sweating when the clerk read the "not guilty" verdict on the first felony count. Although I felt a little relief when I heard "not guilty" on the lesser misdemeanor, I couldn't relax until I head the verdict on the second felony, since he was still facing the possibility of 30 years to life. Then we heard the "not guilty" verdict on the second felony, and I felt a wave of relief. The acquittal on the second misdemeanor was the icing on the cake! The jury foreman told me they'd followed my advice.