Personal Injury, Criminal Defense, Family Law and more
BIG TRIAL WIN IN MAJOR FEDERAL DRUG CASE
Our client was cleared of the most serious drug charges in Federal Court trial after the government failed to prove the charges against him. Days later, a second federal trial ended when a jury chose not to convict another Manasseh, Gill, Knipe & Bélanger client. This trial ended with a hung jury.
After a nine-day trial in U.S. Middle District Court in Baton Rouge, a federal jury found our client not guilty of the more severe gun and drug charges he faced. Our client, a Baton Rouge man, was charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and marijuana, possession with intent to distribute marijuana and nearly 20 pounds of pure methamphetamine, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking.
The arrest was part of a sweeping 2015 investigation by 10 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies that utilized two undercover officers and placed wiretaps on three phones used by the co-defendants. If convicted, our client faced a recommended sentencing of life imprisonment under the applicable sentencing guidelines. A jury found our client not guilty on all charges except for the single marijuana count for which we agreed that he be held accountable. Our client now faces a maximum sentence of five years and we are now actively seeking his release from custody believing he has served sufficient time in jail for the crime committed.
“This case demonstrates our firm’s ability to provide the skills and resources to defend against the Government,” said partner James Manasseh of Manasseh, Gill, Knipe & Bélanger law firm. “That means our client will be going home to his family instead of spending most of his life behind bars,” Manasseh said.
At trial, the client was represented by attorneys Andre Bélanger and Ian Hipwell of Manasseh, Gill, Knipe & Bélanger.
CLIENT SPARED A CONVICTION AND JAIL SENTENCE
Another federal court trial ended in a hung jury late last week. Our client was accused of a weapons charge. Lawyers Andre Bélanger and Ian Hipwell of Manasseh, Gill, Knipe & Bélanger argued prosecutors didn’t prove our client was one of two suspects allegedly seen firing weapons into a vehicle near Plank Road on that October 2017 afternoon. No one was injured in the shooting.
“This is the third federal trial this year that Andre Bélanger and Ian Hipwell have successfully kept our clients from being convicted of the most significant counts against the Federal Government,” Manasseh said.
In this trial, our client was arrested after a police officer spotted two masked men firing weapons at a vehicle and pursued the men on foot into a wooded area in October 2017. After a search the officers spotted our client and an acquaintance in the area and arrested them on firearms possession charges.
At trial Bélanger and Hipwell successfully argued police couldn’t prove that our client and his co-defendant were the men first spotted at the scene. The clothing they were wearing didn’t match the description of the shooters’ clothing, and the first officer on the scene reported there was third person in the area, Hipwell and Bélanger argued.
The trial in Middle District Court in Baton Rouge ended with the jury unable to reach a verdict.
30 DAYS PROBATION IN A FEDERAL CORRUPTION CASE
We represented a horse trainer who worked at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. He was accused of participating in a scheme to sell horses that belonged to the State without going through the proper auction process. While he did if fact violate the statute, the defense argued that he was a mere pawn in an attempt by the Government to build a case against other Angola officials. The Judge at sentencing agreed with that assessment and sentenced our client to a sentence of 30-days probation with no fines or special assessments. The Government, after being questioned by the Court, did not object.
A CASE OF MISCONDUCT
We represented a man wrongfully convicted at trial and kept fighting for him until he was acquitted on appeal. Our client was accused of pulling two guns during an altercation in the courtyard of a housing project and shooting an unarmed man. The defense argued that our client was trying to leave the complex and was escorting his girlfriend and infant child toward safety from a group that had previously threatened and shot at him. We suggested, and the scientific evidence of the bullet trajectory proved, that the decedent’s body posture was consistent with his reaching behind his back to retrieved a concealed firearm. During trial, it was learned that witnesses told police that they saw him (the decedent) appear to reach for a gun. This evidence was not provided to the defense, despite formal requests. Following a conviction at trial, we successfully convinced the Louisiana Supreme Court that the failure to disclose the witnesses’ statements were a violation of the exculpatory evidence rule of Brady v. Maryland.
During oral argument, Justice Kimball seemed to agree that the scientific evidence supported the defense position that the decedent reached for a gun and was shot in self-defense.
A DEAL WITH THE DEVIL
We obtained an acquittal in Iberville Parish in a homicide case accusing our client of shooting the victim in the back with a shotgun. We noted that the description of the shooter matched more closely with the state’s key witness who was not prosecuted. We also established how such a gruesome act is more consistent with the witnesses’ character and further established that the state’s witness was present at the crime scene. We believed the state was prosecuting the wrong person and aggressively argued that the State’s witness was in fact the shooter. We attacked the case much like a prosecutor and put on a case establishing the guilt of the State’s key witness. A unanimous jury acquitted the defendant.
AGGRAVATED 2ND DEGREE BATTERY TRIAL
We represented a man charged with aggravated second-degree battery in Concordia Parish. Our client and his stepson were at a bar where they got into an altercation with another man. Our client and his stepson left the bar to avoid the situation escalating. The other man then followed them to their home where he then physically attacked the stepson. Our client then intervened to protect his stepson, and was later indicted on charges of Aggravated Second Degree Battery. The case went to trial; however, the State failed to prove that our client was not acting in self-defense, and the jury found our client “not guilty.”
AUTO ACCIDENT TRIAL
We represented a client for recovery of damages he sustained from injuries following an automobile accident which occurred in Leesville, Louisiana. Jurisdiction statutes permitted the lawsuit to be filed in East Baton Rouge Parish, where our client resides. During the weeks leading up to the trial, defendant, Progressive Security Insurance Company’s (Progressive) last offer for settlement was an additional $25,000.00, in light of the $11,506.00 which Progressive had already paid. Our client properly rejected that offer and following a three-day trial, a jury of twelve persons rendered a verdict against Progressive and in favor of our client awarding him $200,584.00.
CHANGING THE LAW FOR MENTALLY ILL INMATES
We successfully argued the United States Supreme Court decision changed the law as it relates to the continued confinement of insanity acquittees. Our client was an insanity acquittee, meaning that he was adjudicated not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity, who had no history of mental illness while being confined in the Feliciana Forensic Facility. The law at the time allowed for continued confinement unless and until it could be established that the acquittee was no longer a danger to himself or the community. In essence, a mentally ill acquittee could be confined in a mental institution indefinitely. That seems patently unfair and runs afoul of any legitimate concept of “due process.” So, we argued for a change in the law and won. This decision by the United States Supreme Court provides that an acquittee can no longer be confined if it is established that he/she is no longer mentally ill.
CHARGES DROPPED AGAINST TEACHER
A Baker, LA middle school teacher was arrested at her school and dragged off to jail for supposedly assaulting one of her students. Quick and aggressive intervention by our attorneys saved the teacher’s job and eventually got the authorities to drop the charges and apologize to her. We worked on all fronts – with the school system, the prosecutor, the police chief, local community leaders, and the media – to get the truth out and rally support for the teacher.
CHINESE CORPORATE ESPIONAGE
We represented a chemical engineer accused of participating in a complicated conspiracy to steal trade secrets from Dow Chemical on behalf of Chinese proxies. This highly complex case took several years of litigation and negotiations to complete. At the end, our client became a key and valued government witness and, instead of facing years in prison, which was the ultimate fate of several co-conspirators, he received a probated sentence in federal court.
CONVICTION REVERSED FOR IRREGULARITIES WITH THE JURY
We represented a client on appeal who was duly convicted at trial. In reviewing the court record, we noted that the alternate jurors were not dismissed at the conclusion of the case as customary and actually went back to deliberate with the regularly empanelled jurors. The law requires the jury to deliberate secretly and with out undue influence of any outsiders. We argued that this exclusion extended the alternate jurors as well. We argued that those not empowered to vote on the case shouldn’t be given the opportunity to sway opinions. The Louisiana Supreme Court agreed with our position and reversed a conviction.
CONVICTION REVERSED, ACQUITTAL AT TRIAL
We represented a person who pled guilty to a series of theft charges but was able to get the guilty plea withdrawn during a pro-se appeal when he successfully argued that his sentence was constitutionally excessive for a first offender. We handled his case on remand. At trial, we were able to establish that it was impossible for him to know that the items he possessed were stolen. The jury agreed and he was acquitted.
CRIMINAL DEFENSE OF FIRST DEGREE MURDER CHARGE
Our client was already under investigation and had been arrested for charges of Aggravated 2nd Degree Battery, Domestic Abuse Battery, and Aggravated Assault when he was arrested for First Degree Murder. It was alleged that he shot and killed another person in the course of a drug transaction gone wrong. Our client was also a previously convicted felon and could not legally possess a firearm. Our client gave a statement to the police after being arrested. He said that he purchased drugs from the victim about an hour before the killing, that he shot the victim, and told the police where he hid the victim’s gun after he killed him with it. Our client told the police that this was done in self-defense and that the victim was trying to rob him at the time of the killing. We then conducted a vigorous investigation and intervened on the client’s behalf with the District Attorney’s office immediately after being retained. These efforts resulted in no formal charges being filed against the client, including no charges for murder, drug possession, nor any charges for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. The client was not indicted on any charges and allowed to go home from jail.
CRIMINAL DEFENSE OF SEXUAL ASSAULT CHARGE
Our client was charged with Aggravated Rape of a child who was 4 years old. The child claimed she was raped by our client. She was examined by doctors and counselors, and then by the police. Police interviewed witnesses and prepared a warrant for our client’s arrest. In the meantime, our client came to us and we conducted our own investigation. Due to our vast experience in the field of sexual assault investigations and prosecutions, the client and his family were able to work with us to uncover the truth about the allegations and prepare a defense to the charges when the matter came to court. We were able to review the evidence and show to the court that there were inconsistencies which the court then ruled that was no probable cause to go forward with the prosecution. There was an enormous amount of effort placed into the case in research, motions and interviews which resulted in success for our client and his family. The case was dismissed.
DIFFICULT WORKPLACE INJURY CASE SUCCESSFULLY CONCLUDED
A heating and air conditioning subcontractor went onto his job site only to have a piece of the ceiling fall on his head. On behalf of our injured client, we sued the drywall subcontractor whose employees were repairing the ceiling at the time. It took a lot of investigation to find the subcontractor and to find applicable insurance coverage. The defendants opposed us very aggressively, claiming it was our client’s fault and/or the general contractor’s fault but not theirs, and that Louisiana law didn’t allow our client to recover damages. We tracked down every lead, made sure all the facts came out, got the backing of a workplace safety expert, and came up with some novel legal arguments. The defendants settled in mediation shortly before trial.
DWI 4TH ACQUITTAL
We represented a client in St. James Parish for DWI 4th Offense and we were able to challenge the arresting officer’s opinion regarding intoxication by showing that he failed to perform the field sobriety tests correctly; the physical evidence was not consistent with intoxication and that this particular officer had a vendetta against our client who once dated the officer’s sister. Despite having three prior DWI convictions, the jury acquitted our client.
One of our most memorable DWI cases involved a woman charged with a Second Offense DWI. During our initial consultation, we learned that the she was stopped for an alleged traffic lane violation after she attended a local social event, a very common police allegation as cause for a traffic stop. Once stopped, she admitted to drinking five mixed drinks prior to driving. The woman also submitted to Standardized Field Sobriety Tests as requested by the officer. We also learned that the woman had pled guilty to a DWI offense just a few years prior.
We knew from the date and the location of the arrest that her case would be heard before a conservative judge, a judge who imposes the mandatory jail term for those convicted of Second Offense DWI. There was little doubt in our mind her case would be challenging.
Once retained, we filed a request for an Administrative Hearing (Driver’s License Hearing) and filed a motion for discovery, requesting among other items, the full police reports. Upon receiving the police reports, we learned that the officer’s observations matched what my client had told me: stopped for swerving; admitted to drinking five mixed drinks; and not surprisingly, poor performance on Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. However, we noticed that the police reports contained a small reference to an in-car camera system (dash-cam). We immediately filed a subpoena duces tecum and obtained an order directing the arresting agency to release a copy of the dash-cam video.
The beginning of the video displayed a vehicle pulling off onto the shoulder of a highway. Next, the officer exited his vehicle and contacted our client. During that initial contact we noticed something that seemed irregular. Once we reviewed the entire video, we went back to again watch and listen to the officer’s initial contact with our client and confirmed my notion that our client (likely unknown to her at the time) invoked her right to counsel. The audio was difficult to hear, but if carefully reviewed, my client could faintly be heard asking to speak to an attorney.
We immediately drafted a Motion to Suppress Evidence and Statements asserting that all evidence collected by police (field sobriety tests results) as well as any statements made by our client after she invoked her right to counsel must be suppressed and could not be considered during trial. To ensure that we properly presented what was said on video to the trial judge, we had a portion of the audio professionally transcribed. The transcription took the conversation between our client and the officer and presented it in a format much like a deposition or trial transcript. Now, our client’s words were loud and clear.
The prosecutor, whom we had dealt with on many prior occasions, was impressed by the motion and transcription. Citing our reputation for honest hard-work, the prosecutor advised the judge that he was confident that the transcription was accurate. We began the hearing on our motion to suppress and we were encouraged to see the judge carefully reviewing the transcription while watching the video.
Needless to say, the judge ruled in our client’s favor and in keeping to the conservative tone, the judge noted that she rarely grants a motion to suppress in DWI cases, but the law required that our Motion to Suppress Evidence and Statements be granted, thus suppressing all evidence (field sobriety tests results and the result of the breath test) as well as all statements made after the invocation of counsel from introduction during trial. The prosecutor had no choice but to then dismiss the Second Offense DWI charge. This is another example of how, with hard work, experience and dedication to detail, even difficult cases can have outstanding outcomes.
DYING DECLARATION HOMICIDE
We represented an individual charged with murder in Ascension Parish. The sole evidence against him was an alleged “dying declaration” the decedent made to his family before death. At a preliminary hearing we were able to establish that no one could identify our client as the gun man and there wasn’t a shred of forensic evidence implicating our client. At another hearing seeking to exclude the “dying declaration” we were able to establish that the purported statements made by the decedent were unreliable and, even if true, did not fit the evidentiary requirements allowing for their use at trial. After losing this hearing the State dismissed the case and our client was set free.
We represented a client who was convicted of multiple robberies. After discovering an error with his sentence and release date calculations, we were able to petition the Department of Corrections to recalculate his sentence causing them to credit our client with 10 years towards his remaining sentence prompting an immediate release.
ENVIRONMENTAL CRIMINAL DEFENSE
(Federal EPA-CID Wetlands Charge)
Our client and his company were being investigated by the EPA Criminal Investigation Division (EPA-CID) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for violating the Federal Clean Water Act. Our client was accused of dredging wetlands by these Federal Special Agents who had opened a case on the matter and referred it for prosecution to the United States Department of Justice. Grand Jury proceedings were initiated by them and documents from our client’s company were ordered to be turned over. Our efforts served our client’s personal liberty, and also the survival of his company that had been highly successful for two generations of leadership for his family and their community.
EVIDENCE SUPPRESSED AND CASE DISMISSED IN FEDERAL COURT
The Court suppressed evidence in our client’s case believing that they extended a routine traffic stop without an objective basis to believe that our client was engaged in any other wrong doing. As established at the hearing, local police detain our client during a traffic stop for an obscured license plate and allege that the passenger made some movements causing the police to search the interior of the car. Drugs are found in the center console and $15,000 found in a bag on the driver’s side of the car. Our client was facing 5-40 years in federal prison. We filed a motion to suppress alleging that the duration of the traffic stop was too long and the prolonged detention, which was not based upon observable criminal activity, violated our client’s right against unreasonable seizures. On cross examination we established that the citation for the license plate was written but not issued prior to the vehicle search. Our client’s passenger turned and become a Government witness and she could not recall the movements that she made which prompted the search. In fact, we established that one of the detaining officers allowed our client to reach inside the glove compartment during the traffic stop and found neither our client nor the passenger to be threatening. The Court agreed and suppressed the evidence. Afterwards, the Government dismissed the case.
FEDERAL CLIENT SENTENCED TO 1 DAY AND HAS SEIZED MONEY RETURNED
We represented someone convicted of narcotics trafficking with a recommended guidelines range of imprisonment of nearly 20 years. We challenged the basis of drug quantity attributed to our client since those amounts were driven by the uncorroborated word of a cooperating informant who tried to retract those amounts at his own sentencing hearing. We also challenged the disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine and argued that a 1 to 1 ratio should be used instead of 18 to 1. We also presented the remarkable life turnaround our client has made since he was indicted and, coupled with our client’s unique life circumstances, we argued for probation. The Court sentenced our client to 1 day in jail followed by a 5 year period of supervised release. Since the Government failed to properly forfeit money seized from our client when he was arrested, they advised the court it would be returned to him.
FIRST REPORTER RAPE CASE
We represented a high school senior charged with raping a classmate. The client was a promising African American Athlete and the alleged victim was a different race. Our defense focused on the belief that the victim’s parents were displeased to learn their daughter was having consensual sex with an African American which prompted an allegation of rape. We were able to interview the first person the victim spoke with after the alleged rape and was able to determine that this person, the “victim’s” friend, believed the sex act to be consensual. After confronting the prosecutor with this evidence, the State offered a plea deal to “credit for time served” which would have amounted to less than one day in jail. Our client maintained his innocence, rejected the deal and was acquitted at trial.
FULL COMPENSATION FOR ACCIDENT VICTIM
A retiree was stopped at a red light when a young woman looking at her cell phone rear-ended her at full speed, causing serious injuries. The at-fault driver had only a minimum limits liability policy, and our client, the retiree, did not have uninsured/underinsured (UM) motorist coverage. Or did she? By examining the client’s policy, and obtaining and scrutinizing the papers the client filled in when she got her policy, we were able to show that, under the law, the client had to be afforded UM coverage because there was no valid waiver of that coverage. Thanks to this, we were eventually able to get our client full compensation for her injuries.
HEAT OF PASSION
We were hired in this Ascension Parish case after a guilty plea to manslaughter in hopes to save our client from a potential 40 year sentence. Our client had shot her boyfriend, who was holding a baby in his arms at the time of the killing. Prior to hiring us, our client was scared of a possible life sentence if convicted of 2nd degree murder. Upon contacting our firm, her concern was making sure that the facts of the incident were clearly explained to the Court. We provided the Court and prosecution team with a compelling recitation of the events and convinced the Court that our client had been victimized by the decedent which is what led to these events. The defense gathered a courtroom full of good character witnesses on behalf of her. After presenting the first good character witness, we, with Court permission, asked the audience to stand if they concurred with the witness’ testimony regarding the good nature of our client and to support for leniency. The entire courtroom stood in support. The Court sentenced her to an extremely fair sentence of five years with credit for time previously served.
In one case, a little boy with spina bifida was repeatedly injured while riding his school bus, because the school system employees didn’t restrain him properly. The school board claimed it was doing all it could. We filed an extraordinary proceeding called a Writ of Mandamus to force the school board to safely transport the boy. On the eve of the hearing, the school board agreed to add special equipment and provide an aide to ensure the boy’s safety. In another case, where a baby was catastrophically injured in a car crash, We filed suit and then negotiated with the healthcare providers and Medicaid to get as much money as possible into the hands of the baby’s parents.
JUVENILE LIFE SENTENCE COMMUTED
We represented a client in Franklin Parish who was convicted and sentenced to Life nearly 20 years ago for a homicide he committed when he was 16. We were able to get him back into court arguing that recent Supreme Court decisions made Louisiana’s mandatory life sentence cruel and unusual punishment when applied to juvenile offenders. The trial judge agreed and commuted our client’s sentence. Based on “good time” provisions in place at the time of the homicide, it is expected that our client will be released from jail within three years.
LSU MURDER TRIAL
We represented a young man charged with a double homicide of two LSU grad students on campus. Originally, we were able to prevent our client from getting indicted and secured his release from jail due to the lack of evidence against him. However, a year or so later, a federal informant looking to get out of federal prison along with his brother who was indicted for the killing concocted a story implicated our client causing his re-arrest and forcing him to stand trial. We were able to obtain an acquittal and set him free by focusing on the inconsistent testimony of the state witnesses; by demonstrating how the witness’ testimony contradicted the forensic science developed in the case; by establishing the likelihood of other known suspects who were over looked by the police and by establishing our client’s alibi.
MANSLAUGHTER PAROLEE ACQUITTED IN ATTEMPTED MURDER CASE
We represented a client in St. James Parish who was charged with the attempted murder of his girlfriend while on parole for manslaughter. We argued that the girlfriend exaggerated the claims of violence and that our client’s after-the-fact behavior was not consistent with someone trying to kill another. The jury agreed and found him not guilty.
MARDI GRAS MURDER
We represented one of several people arrested during a gang shooting during the Muses Mardi Gras parade in which an innocent bystander was killed. The client was arrested for first degree murder and resisting arrest by flight for his attempt to evade arrest at the time of the shooting. We were aggressive in our handling of this case and got a preliminary hearing held prior to indictment. Although, probable cause was found at the hearing, the evidence gathered at the hearing placed us in a position to convince the prosecutor not to proceed to trial on the homicide. The defendant pled the resisting arrest by flight after the state dismissed the murder charge. The client received a 6 month sentence which, at the time of his plea, he already served.
MEDICAL FRAUD DISMISSAL
We represented someone accused of false billing. The allegations alleged the client generated false progress notes and billed for services not provided. The evidence against the client were limited to time sheets and billing records submitted to Medicaid along with time sheets from another employer. The State opined that the overlapping entries between the two time sheets evidenced fraud on our client’s part. Count by count we were able to establish, through third party witnesses and other documents, that services were in fact provided and that the over lapping time sheet entries were due to errors at the other place of employment. Upon reviewing this information, the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office concurred and dismissed the case.
MEXICAN DRUG CARTEL CASE
We represented, a prominent civil litigation attorney, was accused of laundering money for a Mexican drug trafficking cartel. Our client was also a private pilot and owner of a regional aircraft charter service. He was accused of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars of illicit funds and running them through his law practice. It was further alleged by an undercover FBI agent that he was offering his services as the cartel’s “lawyer” and engage in further money laundering. This matter was litigated in the Southern District of Texas, and is an example of the benefit of being engaged immediately after arrest. Several close attorney friends of our client contacted our firm the day that he was detained. We were able to negotiate his immediate release and minimize his exposure. An extensive sentencing memorandum documenting our client’s years of public service and emphasize his relatively benign role in this much larger criminal enterprise was provided to Court and a variance to the sentence was accepted. Prior
to the sentencing hearing, a guideline calculation suggested a sentencing range of approximately nine to eleven years. An upward departure could have seen the sentence balloon to 15-16 years. Instead, the Court accepted the defense arguments and sentenced our to one year and one day which resulted in him having to serve less than one year in jail.
MONEY LAUNDERING PTI
We represented a client who was caught in a federal sting with accepting currency in large denominations and swapping them for an exact amount in smaller denominations. Undercover agents contended that the monies given during the exchange were proceeds of narcotics trafficking and that the client, the business and others associated with the business were laundering drug money. After convincing the Government that our client was unaware of any drug trafficking and after explaining how the business structured its accounts and cash flow, the Government agreed to dismiss the money laundering count against our client. The case concluded with our client placed into a federal diversion program for failing to report the currency swap as required by various IRS regulations. Upon successfully completing the diversion program, charges against the client for failing to report the transaction will be dismissed.
MOTION TO SUPPRESS ALL EVIDENCE AND STATEMENTS GRANTED
Our client was a college student enrolled in a very prominent university in New Orleans. He was living in a fraternity house off campus when he was charged with possession of cocaine, LSD, heroin, marijuana and ecstasy. The drugs were obtained online through Silkroad which is a website anonymously used to buy and sell contraband and drugs. The drugs were purchased using Bitcoin which is an innovative payment network referred to as digital currency or cryptocurrency. It involves software that solves mathematical problems.
The drugs were purchased and then shipped from Canada to a mail facility in San Francisco, California where the first search of the package was conducted by Customs agents. The package was then sent to Louisiana where a second and third search was conducted by local law enforcement. Local law enforcement then staged a controlled delivery of the package to the fraternity house by way of a search warrant.
We were able to successfully argue in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court that all searches conducted by all law enforcement were illegal. We were also able to successfully argue that the warrant obtained by law enforcement was illegal and that all evidence and statements obtained from our client as a result of all searches were “fruit of the poisonous tree.” We successfully won our Motions. As a result, all evidence and statements have been thrown out of court.
Our client was accused of being one of several people involved in a large scale drug transaction. This multi-kilo cocaine trial turned on our ability to build a case against another party by showing that their actions were clearly more indicative of guilt whereas our client’s actions were consistent with an innocent person. We secured a not guilty verdict for his client.
MUNICIPAL ORDINANCE AND SELLING ALCOHOL WITHOUT A LICENSE
Our client had been arrested for running a restaurant without a license and selling alcohol without a license. The local authorities also confiscated several thousand dollars worth of equipment from the restaurant. After the arrest we were not only successful in convincing the District Attorney’s office to reject prosecution but also in returning all of the seized equipment to our client.
NOISE LAWS SUCCESSFULLY CHALLENGED
On two occasions our clients were arrested for violating local or state laws against making excessive noise. On each occasion we filed a Motion to Quash, claiming these noise laws were unconstitutionally vague and infringed on our client’s freedom of speech. Each time we went to court to argue our Motion, the prosecution dismissed the charge rather than risk losing. On another occasion a police officer stopped our client on the pretext he was violating one of the noise laws. The officer searched our client’s vehicle and found drugs. Our client was billed with multiple drug felonies. We filed a Motion to Suppress the evidence on the grounds the search was illegal because the noise law was unconstitutional and, besides, its elements were clearly not met. The Motion was granted and the charges were dismissed.
NOT GUILTY VERDICT IN JURY TRIAL - $14,000+ THEFT
Our client was arrested by a warrant alleging he stole over $14,000 in diesel fuel from a local company. The investigation alleged that our client had purchased between 210 and 230 gallons of diesel fuel over 114 times during the course of a year when his truck’s fuel capacity was only 200 gallons. The District Attorney’s office determined that, conservatively, even if just the fuel overage were fruits of the theft, then the total amount stolen was $14,700, however, the actual amount taken was presumed to be much more. A witness at trial also testified that he saw our client stealing fuel on a security tape and identified him as the thief. Evidence at trial also showed that mileage from our client’s truck, compared to another comparable driver who drove the same truck, would have resulted in our client averaging 1 mile per gallon if he actually used the fuel he pumped and the other driver averaging 5 miles per gallon. Our extensive jury trial experience enabled us to attack the evidence and the State’s witnesses’ credibility. Also, the defense presented highly credible witnesses who helped establish reasonable doubt in the case. Our client, who was facing up to a possible 20 years in prison, then testified himself in his own defense and the jury was able to view the issue from all sides. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty.
A few years ago we were contacted by a young woman who was just released from the hospital. She was a twenty-one year old single mother of two young boys who was involved in a significant automobile collision in Greenwell Springs. The other driver involved turned immediately in front of the young woman as she passed through in intersection on the way to bring her youngest son to daycare. The collision caused the total destruction of both vehicles and caused several fractures in the young woman’s right arm. Fortunately, her son remained safe and virtually unharmed secured in his child seat in the back of the vehicle.
The young woman’s injuries required an initial surgery to secure the broken bones in her arm, months of physical therapy and another surgery to properly remove the hardware. Fortunately, the other driver maintained a large automobile insurance policy with a per-person liability limit that totaled $250,000.00. Our client maintained an uninsured/underinsured (UM) policy on her vehicle with a limit of $20,000.00. After we filed a lawsuit and conducted depositions, we secured payment of the $20,000.00 uninsured/underinsured funds before the liability insurance company paid a single dollar, a rare event that was only achieved through proper documentation and presentation of the damages the young lady sustained.
The liability insurance company grew more resistant to pay what was owed to our client for her losses. With a possible trial date months and months away, we negotiated a partial arbitration for the damages our client sustained that exceeded the $250,000.00 liability policy. Our presentation to the arbitrator included a twelve page memorandum that precisely detailed the factual and legal grounds for which our client was entitled to funds that exceeded the $250,000.00 the policy limit.
The arbitrator, a local legal figure well known for his fairness, ruled in our favor and our client was awarded an additional $30,000.00 above and in addition to the $250,000.00 liability policy limit. Our client’s recovery included the $250,000.00 liability policy limit, plus the $30,000.00 arbitration award, plus the $20,000.00 uninsured/underinsured recovery, for a total of $300,000.00.
The monetary recovery truly changed our client’s life. She and her two boys were able to move from a small apartment to a home that she purchased on a large piece of land. The funds allowed her to go back to school and even helped her plan a wonderful wedding to a young man she met once her life turned around. Although prior commitments kept us from attending, her invitation to her wedding is something we still cherish.
POSSESSION OF SCHEDULE II DRUGS
Our client was on parole and was arrested for possession of codeine. He had a detainer on his bond for which he could not post bail. We filed a suppression motion based on irregularities that we found with the discovery of the drugs which was successful in getting the new felony charges dismissed. Additionally, we were successful in convincing his parole officer to remove his detainer and get our client released from jail.
Our client was arrested and indicted by the Grand Jury of East Baton Rouge Parish for public bribery. The allegations against our client were that he offered to pay an officer for his story about a local politician’s private indiscretions. It was the contention of the State that the money offered was an inducement to a public official that was in violation of the public bribery statute. We were successful in getting this indictment dismissed by the District Attorney’s office within thirty days of the charge being filed in court.
ROLEX ARMED ROBBERY
Our client was accused of participating in an armed robbery of $170,000 worth of Rolex watches at a well-known Baton Rouge jewelry store. A co-defendant who was apprehended at the scene agreed to testify against him as part of a plea bargain. The defense argued that the co-defendant was not reliable in light of the leniency he was receiving and was also covering for a close associate. The physical description of the perpetrator had several slight, but significant differences from the accused. Through cross examination of the witnesses, including the co-defendant, we obtained a not guilty verdict for our client.
SEATTLE TOURIST MURDER
We represented an individual arrested for murdering a tourist from Seattle who was visiting New Orleans for a work related convention. The evidence implicating the client was his possessing the victim’s wallet which was purported to be an expensive designer brand. Although able to convince the State that a homicide prosecution was not warranted, we could not obtain an outright dismissal. The State sought felony prosecution for theft based on the wallet’s value. After using the expertise of a ”high end” department store to establish that the wallet was a “reproduction”, the client was ultimately convicted of misdemeanor theft. Originally facing a potential life sentence, the client received a 6 month jail sentence.
We represented a young man accused of Sexting, Porn Involving Juveniles, Contributing to Delinquency of a Minor, Indecent Behavior, and Crimes Against Nature in East Feliciana Parish. The accuser allegedly had a consensual sexual relations with our client. The mother discovered the sexual relationship and made a criminal complaint to the East Feliciana Sheriffís Office. We filed a motion to quash the indictment arguing that the venue was improper and the charges should be dismissed. At a hearing on our motion, the Judge agreed and the charges were dismissed and our client was released.
SICK HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT ALLOWED TO PLAY BALL
An athletically gifted but medically challenged teenager was eager to play baseball, basketball, and football for his high school, and the high school was eager for him to play. But the Louisiana High School Athletic Association wouldn’t bend its rules and grant a waiver for him to play, even though their waiver criteria fit the young man’s situation. We filed suit in federal court, alleging violations of equal protection and of the Americans with Disabilities Act. On the eve of an emergency hearing, the LHSAA relented and agreed to let the student play. They said this was the first time they ever gave in.
ST. TAMMANY SEXUAL BATTERY TRIAL
We represented a 54 year old man who was accused and charged with the sexual battery of a 10 year old boy in St. Tammany Parish. Our client maintained his innocence of this crime throughout his 3 hour interview with police. He refused every plea deal we were able to obtain from the State. This case went to trial. We were able to show the jury that this client not only had no history of this type of charge, he had no criminal history at all. He worked with children for over 11 years without incident, he had no child pornography on his computer or in his possession and after his arrest no subsequent accusers came forward. He was acquitted at trial.
STATE CONTRACTOR'S LICENSING BOARD
Our client had been cited by the Contractor’s Board for a second violation of operating without a license. First, we were able to assist him in the proper procedure applying for a contractor’s license. Next, we were successful in resolving his current infraction with the board and getting his license expedited for approval.
TEACHER'S RIGHTS VINDICATED
Three different teachers in three different public school systems were injured and disabled when they were attacked by students while doing their job. In each case the school system paid for the teacher’s medical treatment but refused to pay the teacher’s full salary while she was disabled from the attack, claiming the “assault pay” law didn’t apply because the student supposedly didn’t intend to hurt the teacher. In each case, we filed suit, went to court, and won. And in a separate case, we went to federal court to put a stop to invasive post-accident drug testing of teachers.
TINDER RAPE TRIAL
We represented a young man accused of forcible rape in East Baton Rouge Parish. The accuser met our client on the Tinder app and within hours invited him to her home. They had consensual sex but after the accuser cried rape. This case went to trial. The State was not able to prove their case against our client. We were able to show the jury that the evidence the State collected did not back up the accuser’s account of the events that night and the jury found out client “not guilty.”
TRAFFIC STOP SUPPRESSION
We represented a client in federal court who was a passenger in a vehicle pulled over for a routine traffic stop that culminated in the search of the car and the recovery of stolen cell phones. At a motion to suppress, we were able to establish that the police detained our client for an extended period of time prior to searching the vehicle resulting in the suppression of the evidence and a dismissal of the charges.