• A Fierce Advocate Proven Track Record of Success
  • Honesty and Passion
  • Ambition, Experience and Focus Extraordinary Results

INTRODUCTION

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you must have heard about the 80+ women alleging that Harvey Weinstein harassed and/or assaulted them in some way. Additionally, numerous other similar troubling allegations have been made about other high profile folks like Kevin Spacey, Matt Lauer, Brett Ratner, Charlie Rose and Jeremy Pivens, amongst others. Especially in light of the current climate, many believe with 100% certainty that all allegations made are 100% true and correct. That may be the case. Like most people, I tend to believe that most of the allegations made are true. My heart goes out to every man and woman who suffers any type of harassment and/or abuse. What I am also certain of is that not every allegation is always worthy of belief. After 25 years of practice in the criminal arena as both a prosecutor and as a defense attorney, I know that people lie. Why they do it isn’t always known. It happens, albeit not often. For those who are falsely accused, I have one word to describe what they go through, “Nightmare.” I’ve been asked, “What can you do if you’ve been falsely accused of sexual harassment/misconduct and/or assault?”

ANALYSIS

While the “Not guilty” verdict in the Steinle murder trial wasn’t what most people expected and/or desired, it doesn’t mean that the verdict was unjust, unfair, and/or “disgraceful.” Having practiced in state and federal criminal courts for the past 25 years, serving as a prosecutor, criminal defense attorney, and adjunct law professor, I can say, without reservation, that the only thing unjust, unfair, and/or “disgraceful” is to insult and demean the jurors who worked hard to arrive at what they believed was a fair verdict. I’m not suggesting that you have to like the outcome. You’re free to think and/or say whatever you want, per the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. However, before you criticize the jurors’ decision concerning their verdict on the murder charge, give some thought to the following points below that may assist you:

1. Like many, I was surprised by the verdict. Based exclusively on what I was reading and hearing in media reports, I was expecting a guilty verdict on the murder charge.

2. Like almost everyone, I wasn’t in that courtroom to hear any of the evidence first hand. Therefore, it would be inaccurate and unfair for me (and almost all members of the public) to say that I knew all the evidence that was presented and, more importantly, how it was being received by those in the courtroom.

FACTS

A woman from Fort Bend County, Texas has been threatened with arrest for a particular bumper sticker she chose to put on her truck. The sticker reads, “F-ck Trump and f-ck you for voting for him.” The woman, Karen Fonseca, was arrested as a result of an outstanding warrant for fraud. After her arrest, Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls posted a photo of Fonseca’s truck on Facebook. Along with the photo, he wrote, “I have received numerous calls regarding the offensive display on this truck as it is often seen along FM 359. If you know who owns this truck or it is yours, I would like to discuss it with you,” the post read. “Our Prosecutor has informed us she would accept Disorderly Conduct charges regarding it, but I feel we could come to an agreement regarding a modification to it.” After the sheriff posted the photo and accompanying comments, the story went viral. Countless folks passionately defended the bumper sticker as free speech. The sheriff claims that the objective of his post was simply to locate the owner/driver of the truck and to initiate a dialogue with her/him. He further claims that he wanted to prevent a “potential altercation” between the truck’s driver and those who may be offended by the message. The sheriff claims he removed the post solely because the owner of the truck had been identified. Fonseca said that she and her husband have had that bumper sticker for approximately a year and has no regrets for displaying it. She can’t believe that a simple sticker could cause so much “arousal.” (her words)

ANALYSIS

The story the 16-year-old victim told the cops was that she had been dating my client for several months but then broke off the relationship. A few days later, she said, my client and one of his friends showed up at her house when her mother was away. When she refused to let them in, my client supposedly asked if she would just loan him her cell phone to make a call. When she opened the door to pass him the phone, she said, the two pushed their way into the house and raped her. Now my client and his buddy were sitting in jail charged not only with sexual battery, but also breaking and entering. They faced possible life sentences.

Frankly, I didn’t know whether or not to believe my client. The prosecutor had deep faith in the victim’s side of the story and would only offer 30 years as a plea bargain against the possibility of life if the case went to trial. But then my investigator came up with a very interesting document. Written in the victim’s own hand it was two pages long and entitled “Incidents.” Each page contained several men’s names along with some cryptic numbers, words, symbols and dates. The first name, for example, was “Marlon.” Under that were the words “two times” followed by “butt ass naked” and then three hand drawn stars, six dates and the name of a local high school.

I suspected we had hit pay dirt. I figured this was some kind of list of men with whom the victim had engaged in sex. But to prove that I would have to put her under oath and ask her what it all meant. Trouble is, in most rape cases the Rape Shield Statute prohibits the defense from inquiring into the victim’s past history of sexual escapades on the grounds that even a prostitute can be raped. But there are exceptions to the Rape Shield Statute and I won just such an exception by arguing that the statute didn’t apply when questions of consent were at issue. I dreaded taking a sworn deposition from the young girl in which I would take her through what I knew would be a traumatic recitation if the “Incidents” document was what I thought it was, but I also knew that my client’s future depended upon this single document.

We had the case in the bag. As a young prosecutor, I was helping another colleague in the trial of a career criminal/violent offender accused of armed robbery. The evidence we had presented was considerable and compelling and we had just called our last witness, a cop. I didn’t think we should have called him to testify. After all, his entire role was to show up at the scene after the fact and then haul the guy off to jail. He didn’t have any role in the investigation. But who was I to make a decision like that? This was my partner’s case and I was just helping out, happy to get the trial experience.

The officer took the stand and my colleague asked him a few questions about his role transporting the accused to jail. As I expected, the cop’s answers added nothing exceptional to our case. When my partner finished his line of questioning he asked the judge if he could have a moment to confer with me. “Absolutely,” the judge said.

When he came over to the prosecution table I whispered vehemently “That’s all. You covered it. Let the defense have him and then let’s rest.”

Hypothetical

Imagine this. A guy in Florida shapes his finger like a gun and points his finger at a cop. As he’s doing that, he tells the officer, “I got you now!” You may be thinking, “Well, that’s not a bright thing to do.” Well, I don’t disagree with you. The question that I’d like you to ponder is, “Is what he did a criminal offense?”

Facts

THE ISSUE

A man from Raleigh, North Carolina was recently arrested for leaving his five children at home alone. His oldest child is 8 years old. Victor King, who was bailed out by a total stranger, claims that he had to go to work to support both his children and his wife, who is suffering from stage 4 cancer. Authorities were alerted to the house by a neighbor who called 911, alleging that this was the second day in a row the kids were left alone without adult supervision. Apparently, this isn’t the first time this father has done this. He was convicted of child neglect in California after engaging in a similar act. So, one of the questions raised by this case is, “What should happen to the father?” Also, the bigger legal and moral question is, “How old should kids be before being left home alone?”

ANALYSIS

My client was facing a life sentence for burglary with an assault and armed robbery. She had been a prostitute most of her life, and had been labeled a “Habitual Violent Offender” by the prosecutors, based on her extensive criminal record. The charges stemmed from an incident in which she and a friend allegedly entered the house of one of her clients and held a machete to his throat while the friend took his wallet. She could get life.

I was both excited and a little nervous about taking this one to trial because we would be before the infamous Judge Ellen “Maximum” Morphonios, known for her penchant for dishing out thousand-year sentences. She had been profiled by both “60 Minutes” and People magazine and had sometimes exhibited bizarre behavior. After sentencing a rapist to a life sentence, she reportedly stood up and lifted up her robe, revealing her rather shapely legs, and remarked, “That’s the last time in your life that you’re going to see a pair of legs like this.” Another story involved a defendant’s mother, who cried so hard that she passed out on the floor. Morphonios continued the court’s business, announcing “Next defendant. Step forward. Step over the body.”

It was evident at the outset of our trial that the judge had taken a liking to the victim, who was in his late 90s. Testifying through a Spanish interpreter, the victim revealed that he had been paying for the sexual services of my client three times a week for several years. They had engaged, he said, in both oral and regular sex.

INTRODUCTION

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you now know that Tiger Woods was arrested for DUI (Driving Under The Influence) in South Florida this Memorial Day weekend. Many in the “court of public opinion” have been speculating about the case. The on-air “talking heads” have been at it and many are getting it wrong. Since I’ve practiced criminal work in Florida for 25 years both as a defense attorney and a prosecutor, having handled thousands of DUI cases, I feel compelled to set the record straight. Also, as a fellow “talking head” with extensive experience defending and prosecuting these types of cases in South Florida, I’d like to give you my assessment as to how I think Tiger’s matter will be resolved.

ALLEGED FACTS

DISTURBING FACTS

This one is extremely disturbing. An eight-year-old Florida girl was arrested and charged with felonies. She was seen on surveillance footage breaking into cars in Palm Bay. The girl admitted her involvement, telling police that she and two older kids were walking in a park and decided to break into some cars. She was charged with felony burglary to a conveyance and attempted theft.

An arrest of someone so young, seems like an isolated shocking incident. Unfortunately, it’s not. In fiscal year 2014-2015, 80 Florida children under the age of nine were arrested. Two of them were from Miami and four were from Broward County.