Mr. Beach’s client was accused of the crime of Harassment with a child witness in a domestic violence situation. The alleged victim and a ten year old claimed that Mr. Beach’s client kicked the alleged victim. However, upon cross examination, Mr. Beach proved that it was a mutual shoving over a TV remote. Therefore, the defense was that there was ‘no intent to harass or annoy.’ Accordingly, the jury heard the actual circumstances and returned a verdict of Not Guilty.
Mr. Goldman’s client had a reasonably normal DUII police report. This case involved a client who refused to submit to the breathalyzer. This issue is often a weakness for us since many jurors will think the only reason a person would refuse to submit to the test is because the person thinks he will fail – attorneys might say it ‘demonstrates a consciousness of guilt’. Knowing this was a weakness, Mr. Goldman worked on turning that weakness into an advantage. Through cross examination, Mr. Goldman turned the trial into a reflection of that one portion of the facts – what happened with the breathalyzer and the refusal. He cross examined the officer on why the officer didn’t get a warrant for a blood draw after Mr. Goldman’s client refused to submit. Getting such a warrant is not unusual and can be done electronically with little difficulty. The officer admitted he didn’t do it because it was nearing the end of his shift and he just wanted to get off of work. Of course, this became the focus of Mr. Goldman’s closing statement. After 19 minutes of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of Not Guilty.
This is rather spectacular. Defense is not really supposed to obtain a dismissal at a felony preliminary hearing. The prosecutor really just needs to have the police officer testify why s/he believes a crime occurred and why s/he thinks the defendant is the one who committed the alleged crime. There is no right to a jury at these hearings. The purpose of these hearings is to satisfy a constitutional requirement to have the government demonstrate that they are not prosecuting a person due to that person’s race, religion, politics, or other inappropriate reason. Basically, the prosecutor’s job at this hearing is to show why s/he has a legitimate witness complaining that a crime actually occurred and that they think the defendant is the one that did that crime. Normally, they don’t bother with a preliminary hearing in these types of cases and rather take it to the grand jury where the defense is not allowed to appear and cross examine witnesses. Well, on this case, the prosecutor didn’t get that done in time, and thus had to hold the preliminary hearing. That was a mistake for the prosecutor. Mr. Beach used his opportunity to cross examine to burrow into the government’s weaknesses in the case. The judge agreed with Mr. Beach’s arguments and dismissed the case.
Ms. Johnson’s client was accused of contempt of court for not paying child support that had been ordered. However, that child support order was issued on the belief that client could work in his professional capacity as a professional dancer. Medical problems demanded that Ms. Johnson’s client have hip replacement surgery. He could no longer participate in his former career. Nevertheless, the prosecutor pursued a contempt case against Ms. Johnson’s client. A win for the prosecutor would mean Ms. Johnson’s client would be subject to six months of jail. Once presented with Ms. Johnson’s evidence, the Judge agreed with Ms. Johnson and dismissed the prosecutor’s claim of contempt.
Mr. Beach’s client was accused of Tampering with a Witness. This potential witness had accused Mr. Beach’s client’s son of a crime. Mr. Beach’s client didn’t believe the accusation the potential witness had made and told her to tell the truth to the police. For that, the prosecutor accused Mr. Beach’s client of ‘Tampering with a Witness’ and wanted Mr. Beach’s client to go to prison. At trial, Mr. Beach pointed out that the charge the prosecutor brought against his client was the charge for trying to get someone not to testify at a trial; but, his client merely wanted the potential witness to testify truthfully. The Court of Appeals agreed with Mr. Beach’s argument entirely and ordered that Mr. Beach’s client be found Not Guilty.
Mr. Goldman represented a father in juvenile court. Six years prior, the mother had taken their daughter from Montana and came to Oregon. Here in Oregon, she concealed the daughter so that Mr. Goldman’s client could not find either of them. Eventually, the Oregon Department of Human Services Child Welfare Division took the daughter into their care because of the negligent care provided by mother. Because of this governmental action, the father was notified that his daughter had been found. Since the daughter had not seen her father in six years, Oregon DHS wanted the mother’s family to keep the daughter. Of course, Mr. Goldman’s client wanted to reestablish his relationship with his daughter and to care for her. Through months of litigation and ‘motion practice’ Mr. Goldman obtained an order requiring the Oregon DHS to return the daughter to her father. They are now back home in Montana
Mr. Beach’s client was on probation for an assault conviction. His client only had one more month of probation. However, in that last month an allegation of ‘offensive contact’ was made. This is a particularly bad allegation to have given his circumstances. Should Mr. Beach’s client be found in violation for this reason, Mr. Beach’s client could both be imprisoned and could have the length of time on probation extended. Through rigorous cross examination of the complaining person, Mr. Beach established that her story had reasons to be distrusted. Accordingly, Mr. Beach convinced the judge that the judge could not determine that it was more likely than not that Mr. Beach’s client had engaged in ‘offensive contact.’ Accordingly, no violation was found and Mr. Beach’s client was able to stay out of custody and to finish is last month of probation.
Mr. Goldman’s client was accused of violating a stalking order by going to his child’s school and entering the building to ask for a copy of his child’s records. This was allowed by the court order. However, the prosecutor argued that when he rang the doorbell asking to be let into the office, the ten second wait for the staff to open the door for him constituted him ‘waiting outside the school.’ Mr. Goldman naturally argued that a momentary pause to open a locked door is not the type of behavior intended to be prohibited by an order that forbid lurking outside the school. In fact, the order specially allowed his client to go the school to pick up his child and to request records. Unfortunately, the trial level judge decided in favor of the prosecutor. However, the Court of Appeals returned a decision holding that Mr. Goldman was correct and instructing the trial judge to enter a dismissal.
Mr. Goldman’s client was facing his eighth DUII. Due to his client’s prior history of DUIIs, the best plea offer was to spend one full year in jail. Unfortunately, this was not the best of factual cases for defense. Mr. Goldman’s client was at least a 0.20 and the police had followed all the proper procedures. The one ray of hope (and not necessarily a bright ray of hope) was that the police had not seen Mr. Goldman’s client drive. The client had told the police he drove; but, they had not actually seen him driving. Accordingly, at trial Mr. Goldman focused on how his client could not be trusted to tell the truth! He was drunk, so his mental facilities were impaired – that was a reason the prosecution was prosecuting him after all. Additionally, Mr. Goldman proved that his client had told the police many different, and incompatible, stories about what had happened. Since, the prosecutor needed the jury to believe the one story Mr. Goldman’s client had given about being the driver and Mr. Goldman proved that his client couldn’t be trusted; the jury returned a Not Guilty decision after only twenty minutes of deliberation.
Mr. Beach’s client had two criminal cases - one where he was accused of stealing a car (Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle) and another case where he was again accused of stealing a car (another Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle). If Mr. Beach’s client was convicted of either charge, Oregon law required a minimum sentence of 30 months (2 ½ years) of prison due to his prior criminal history. The offer from the prosecutor to avoid trial was for Mr. Beach’s client to do 60 months (5 years) of prison. Mr. Beach and his client declined the offer and went to trial. If Mr. Beach lost, the judge would have to impose at least the 30 months but could impose as much as 120 months (10 years) or prison. On one case, Mr. Beach proved that although his client didn’t specifically have permission to drive that car, he had been previously allowed to drive it and reasonably could have believed he still could drive it. On the other case, Mr. Beach proved that his client was arrested (for other charges) before he had the opportunity to return the car he was driving – he might have returned but for being arrested. Not Guilty on both Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle charges!