Nov 12, 2009

Two Day Jury Trial in Oakland Circuit Results in Not Guilty Verdict

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, I was in a jury trial in Oakland County Circuit Court before Judge John McDonald. I think he's a great judge, mostly because I've never lost a trial in his courtroom. This trial made four straight.

The odds, as usual, were stacked against acquittal. The principal charge was assault with intent to do great bodily harm (less than murder), with a second count: commission of a felony with a firearm; a charge that carries a mandatory two-year minimum prison sentence upon conviction.

My client was a woman with no criminal record. The alleged victim, however, had done 15-years in prison for armed robbery. After an evening of drinking and socializing, the two (in an on-again off-again relationship) retreated to my client's home. An argument boiled over and two shots were fired from a revolver. One shot hit the victim in the foot.

At trial, my client took the stand and testified she shot the weapon toward the "victim" in self defense. The jury believed her, and she avoided the two-year mandatory prison sentence.

One of the keys to the acquittal was an effective cross-examination of the so-called victim. He was made to look foolish, and like a bully, admitting to contact with my client.

The case illustrates how the plea policy of the Oakland County Prosecutor's office can sometimes be quite flawed. In this case, the client was most concerned about doing two years in prison. She could appreciate the seriousness of the gun shots, and the significant injury one of the bullets did to her former boyfriend. While willing to do some jail time on an assault guilty plea, she was not about to sign-up for two years. But that's exactly what the prosecutor wanted her to do; no plea offer to drop the felony firearm charge.

So we rolled the bones and went to trial. In this case, it was well worth the effort. This client was well served as she saved two years of her life.

If you or a loved one face serious felony charges, contact our firm in order to assess your options. We will advance your interests in dealing with the prosecutor and, if necessary, take the matter to trial.

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