Tuesday, July 21, 2015

POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA NOT GUILTY... SORT OF... CASE DISMISSED MID-TRIAL

This is a week late, at least.



Where to start...

Maybe I should start off by saying, thank you. 

 Thank you to the Harris County District Attorney and minions for not dismissing a case that never should have been charged in the first place.

Thank you. Harris County Court 14 and Judge Fields for hauling my client to court for 11 trial settings.

Thank you to the court for finally allowing me to try my case on the one year anniversary of my client's wrongful arrest.

Thank you to my client for sticking with me, even though she was incredibly frustrated and could not understand why I could get the case dismissed. 

Thank you to Judge Fields for following the law and granting my motion to suppress.

For those of you that have read some of my prior posts, this is my possession of marijauna case involving an overzealous cop and his failure to follow the HPD bodycam policy.

Let's recap:  My client was sitting in the driver seat of a parked car at a park in Acres Homes. Her friend was sitting in the passenger seat.  Both doors were wide open.  The cops, which a Juror referred to as "Officer Handlebars" due to his ridiculous stylish mustache, were conducting a "park check."  In other words, they were out to do warrantless searches that frequently violate the Fourth Amendment. Park searches are a treasure trove of constitutional violations, and I wish lawyers did more to challenge them.  Needless to say, if you have been arrested for drugs or weapons in a public park, CALL ME.

So the cops allegedly see a pile of loose tobacco outside the passenger door.  The cops then park their cop car right in front of the car my client was in, and boxing her in.  The cops then see the codefendant reach towards the center console and place something there.  The cops then exit the car and when they get right up next to the car they smell the week.  One cop puts my client in handcuffs while she is still sitting in the car.  The cop then forces her to stand against his front bumper in the searing July heat.  The cops then search the car and find a joint in the codefendant's side of the ashtray leaning towards the codefendant (the joint they saw the codefendant place).  They then claim to have found a second joint in plain view.  Well, the bodycam (which the police did not want me to have) showed that the second blunt was deep inside the codefendant's side of the center console.  The cop then searches my client's purse, without PC, and finds nothing linking her to the marijuana. The cop then searches the seat where my client was sitting and finds nothing linking her to the marijuana.  Finally, the cop searches the trunk.  Funny thing is that he says in the offense report that he could smell weed form outside the vehicle, but his body camera reflects otherwise.  The body camera shows the cop opening the trunk and then saying "smells like weed in here" 15 seconds later, and then saying "oh fuck yeah" when he finds the weed.  The cop then asks my client whose car it is and she says it is the codefendants.  The cop then turns off his body camera every time he talks to my client, including when she denied it was hers, and the turns it on when he talks to the obviously and admittedly high codefendant to get him to rat on my client.  Didn't work.

Nine months later we have a out first trial setting.  Two trial settings later, I finally get the body camera footage. Thank the good lord for that.

At the 10th trial setting, my client was told she did not have to show up unless we were called to trial.  Of course, we were called for trial, weather was horrible and she showed up 2 hours later, not one hour as she told the judge she would.  Lo and behold, we were given the best looking, most diverse, youngest jury panel in the history of Harris County.  It was so defense friendly, the judge wanted to take a picture with them.  OF course, though, because my client was late (DONT BE LATE), the jury was sent home.

We finally went to trial, picked a jury, got the jury we wanted, gave my opening then the cop got on the stand and I filed my motion to suppress.  Judge Fields disagreed with why all of the marijuana should be suppressed (I was right), but he suppressed all of the weed anyways under affirmative links (not permissible at a motion to suppress, but ok).  All that matters is that I got the not guilty.  Also, being on TV was pretty cool. Make sure to check back and read the next few posts that will go more in depth about my jury selection method and the Houston Police Department Body Worn Camera Policy (PS I'm the first in the county to have it).