The jury had just been given the case and my client and I walked across the street to get a drink and wait for the jury to deliberate. My client had been accused of assault, domestic violence, and we had just spent the day at trial in the Salt Lake City Justice Court.
My client had been wrongfully accused by her sister-in-law of assault. I had spent months preparing her case, carefully putting together strong evidence of her sister’s lies and motivation to have her charged and convicted. I had spoken with the prosecutor and told him that he did not have a strong case and that it seemed pretty evident to me that his “victim” was lying. Yet the prosecutor insisted he would go to trial.
My client turned down the City’s offer to plead guilty and pay a small fine. She refused to plead guilty to something she did not do and I was more than happy to stand up for her rights at trial.
At trial, I was able to show the jury the “victim’s” true colors and that she assaulted my client. I cross-examined her aggressively so that the jury could see how she reacted under pressure and when verbally confronted by another person. She was out of control, and even the judge had to reign her in.
Yet, still, the prosecutor did not move to dismiss the case. So we made our final arguments, and it was now up to the jury to decide.
Typically, a jury will deliberate for somewhere between 30 minutes and few hours. So it is a good idea to find a place close by where you can sit and wait for the jury to return its verdict. That way, you can get back to the courthouse quickly.
So we did; my client and I walked across the street to get a drink. She had ordered a latte, and I had just sat down for a cold Diet Coke when I got the call—the jury was back! I looked at my clock, and sure enough, it had only been 12 minutes! 12 minutes! That had to be some kind of record. I walked over to my client and told her we needed to head back to the courthouse. She hesitated and said, “well, I haven’t gotten my latte yet!”
In the end, the City’s case was so clearly wrong, that the jury only needed to minutes to decide to acquit my client. On the way out of court, she said to me, “It took me longer to get a latte than it did to be acquitted!”
“Yeah,” I said, “unfortunately prosecutors just don’t know when not to prosecute.” I am five for five in jury trials against those prosecutors. Maybe after this one they will take a more serious look at whether to pursue cases against people when they just don’t have the evidence of a crime.
Millions of people in this country are prosecuted for crimes they simply did not commit. But so many people take plea deals because they are afraid of the consequences if they lose at trial. And trial can be a scary place. People need lawyers who will prepare and execute a winning strategy at trial. A competent attorney can give a person the confidence they need to stand up for their innocence and assert their trial rights.