Mr. Beach’s client stood accused of the crime of Harassment in a domestic violence situation. This particular type of Harassment meant that his client could receive six months of jail should he have been convicted. On the day of trial, the prosecutor arrived missing a witness to ‘authenticate’ the 911 call recording. That recording was massively important to the prosecution’s case against Mr. Beach’s client. Mr. Beach therefore made a motion to ‘exclude’ the 911 recording because there was no evidence that the recording had anything to do with this case. The argument centered on whether the prosecutor had done his work. The specific argument is whether the prosecution made the proper attempts to obtain the witness. If the prosecutor had, then the witness was ‘unavailable’ and the 911 recording would be allowed as evidence. If not, the recording was not proper evidence. Mr. Beach prevailed and convinced the judge that witness was not ‘unavailable’ and therefore the 911 recording was not admitted as evidence. After the prosecution rested later that day, Mr. Beach made a ‘motion for judgment of acquittal’ and prevailed. Accordingly, the case against Mr. Beach’s client was dismissed.
Mr. Beach’s client was drunk. Mr. Beach admitted that to the jury. The person who called 911 to report the drunk driver testified that he was 99% positive that Mr. Beach’s client was the person he saw driving when he called to report a drunk driver. However, Mr. Beach delved through every detail of that identification during his examination of that witness. Less than an hour after the evidence ended, the jury returned a unanimous 12 person vote of Not Guilty!
Ms. Johnson’s client tried to obey the order of his sentencing judge. At his sentencing, the judge listed out his obligations and those things he was prohibited from doing. Should he violate those instructions, he is expected to go to prison for 18 months. When the judge’s staff produced the actual ‘judgment of conviction’ it differed from what the judge said during the hearing. So without knowing it, he was violating the rules in the ‘judgment’ immediately even though he was complying with what the judge had said. The prosecution wanted him to be found in violation of his probation and sentenced due to this. Ms. Johnson obtained the audio of the hearing and offered it to the prosecutor to prove what the judge had actually said; but, the prosecutor didn’t want to listen to it. So, at the hearing, Ms. Johnson made the prosecutor and judge listen. Accordingly, the allegation against Ms. Johnson’s client was dismissed
When someone doesn’t pay the full amount of child support that has been ordered, one of the options for the government is to pursue an allegation of ‘contempt of court.’ This is when someone is accused of knowingly disobeying a court order. A finding by a court that someone has acted in ‘contempt of court’ can be punished with up to six months of jail for each finding of contempt.
The prosecutors will often only look at one case of underpaying child support when they bring these charges against people. They often do this without considering the total circumstances of an individual. This was the issue for Mr. Goldman’s client. His client had five children – each with a child support order. His income was less than the total he was ordered to pay for all of the kids when those orders are combined. So, there was mathematically no way for his client to pay all five support orders in full. So, the prosecutor picked one that he was not paying the full support on and prosecuted the case.
At the hearing, Mr. Goldman had his client testify about all five of the child support orders, totaled up what those required him to pay each month, had his client testify about what his monthly income was, how that money was distributed, and compared the numbers. The judge agreed that for Mr. Goldman’s client to be paying in full for some kids he would have to pay less than ordered for other kids and alternatively that for him to pay all kids something he would be paying less than ordered for all of the kids. Accordingly, Mr. Goldman’s client was found Not Guilty of Contempt of Court.
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