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Remember back a month ago when Polk County, Florida sheriff, Grady Judd was everywhere. It seemed that there was no media appearance too small for him to do. He was oozing with passion and excitement in front of the cameras while showcasing to the world that two juveniles, a 12 and 14 year-old, were arrested for a horrible crime. While literally holding their photographs, he announced their names to the world and alleged that the girls’ cyberbullying caused another teenager to commit suicide. Fueling his fire more was an alleged remorseless Facebook post by the older arrested teen wherein she allegedly shrugged off the suicide. Without question, the girls, charged with felony aggravated stalking, were vilified.

In a move that shocked many, including this veteran of the criminal justice arena, this week, prosecutors dropped charges against both teens. Apparently, AFTER the teens’ arrest, prosecutors carefully combed through and analyzed thousands of Facebook chats. One of the lawyers for the teens claimed that the 27,000 Facebook pages showed absolutely no evidence that either teen committed a crime. Rather, he alleged that there was evidence that the 12 year-old defendant was bullied by the alleged victim. Prosecutors aren’t commenting, claiming they can’t speak about the case because the law precludes them from speaking about cases involving juvenile defendants.

Sheriff Judd doesn’t feel the need to apologize. On the contrary, he claims that he has no regrets and that Florida law permits him to release the names of any and all juveniles charged with felonies. Further, he said that he believed he had probable cause to make an arrest and that prosecutors have the right to decide whether to move forward on a case. He told reporters that he is proud of the fact that he “raised awareness and helped kids.”

Many have commented about the fairness of George Zimmerman’s bond hearing conducted yesterday in Seminole County, Florida. Some think he got off light since the prosecutors were seeking a bond of $50,000. Others wonder why the bond was increased to $9000 when the standard bond for the same three criminal offenses was only $4,900. So, was Zimmerman treated fairly?

At the hearing, Judge Fred Schott was told by prosecutor Lymary Munoz that Zimmerman’s girlfriend revealed to law enforcement that he not only pointed a shotgun at her and broke her table on Monday, but also disclosed that he tried to strangle her just ten days earlier. The prosecutor passionately told the judge that the alleged victim is afraid of Zimmerman.

While the alleged choking is not charged by prosecutors at this time, the judge did refer to it as the reason for increasing the bond from the standard amount. Additionally, the judge ordered Zimmerman to stay away from the alleged victim’s residence. Zimmerman has been living there for the past three months. He was also ordered not to have any contact with her, surrender all of his guns, and must also wear a satellite monitor.

Here’s what is not in dispute. 40 year old Lazaro Ramos thought he had taken his 6-month-old to day care. Tragically, instead, he left her strapped in the child seat of his car, in sweltering Miami heat. After spending a long day at his office, he returned to his vehicle to see the gruesome discovery. His baby daughter died of heat stroke.

He was arrested and charged with Manslaughter. Miami-Dade prosecutors were very comfortable with their case. They believed that Ramos’ conduct was reckless. They maintained that he was distracted by work calls on the way to his office.

The defense argued that this was a tragic accident. They further told Circuit Judge Cristina Miranda that Mr. Ramos’ actions were merely negligent, at worst, failing to hit the legal requirement of “reckless.”

You hear those dreaded words, “Come with us.” Police give you the opportunity to speak with them. They tell you things like, “We’re giving you a chance to help yourself.” You think, “I’ve got to try to talk my way out of this. Maybe they’ll let me go.” Do you speak with them?

Well, the answer is waiting for you here:
As always, I’d love to hear your feedback. Feel free to contact me to discuss your case and/or any legal questions you may have.

I’m often asked, “How can you defend those people?” My response includes, amongst other things, “My job is to get the best possible outcome under challenging circumstances.” I further explain that just because I’m representing someone does not mean that I like what they did. In fact, in some cases, I am absolutely repulsed by what they did. Nevertheless, the system doesn’t work unless every defendant has competent council by their side representing them.

One case that I discussed this week on “Dr. Drew On Call” on CNN’s sister station, Headline News (HLN), involved some criminal acts that left me shaking my head in disgust (in spite my daily efforts not to be judgmental). That being said, I applaud their defense lawyer, as I would in all criminal cases, for doing their job, as challenging as that might be at times.

The reason why I am writing about this case has little to do with what the defendants did. Rather, it has everything to do with what the judge did, which was applauded by many. I felt a little differently.

How far would you go for a beer? I don’t mean how far you would drive. I mean, what lengths would you go to purchase one? One Maine resident arguably went too far recently. He allegedly used his own lawn mower to drive to a convenient store to purchase some beer. The store was approximately a mile from his home. Although unusual, that wasn’t the problem. The problem was that 51-year-old Tony Caulder was allegedly so drunk when he stumbled into the convenient store that employees refused to let him make the alcoholic purchase. When Caulder hopped onto to his lawn mower to return home from his unsuccessful beer run, store employees called the cops. Guess what came next? Police charged Caulder with driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while his license is suspended (DWLS).

I can only imagine how entertaining his court appearances are going to be. It will probably be as entertaining as one case that I personally observed early on in my career.

I was serving as a prosecutor at the time. I recall that the defense to the DUI case was nothing short of bizarre. The defendant’s breath reading was one of the highest I had seen at that time, close to three times the legal limit. His attorney was a well dressed middle aged man who spoke with a pleasant Jamaican accent. The attorney filed a motion to throw out the breath reading alleging that the results were obtained improperly.In the documents that he filed, he failed to specify why the breath testing procedure wasn’t proper.

So it appears that police chose not to charge Chris Brown with felony assault, opting instead for a misdemeanor. Based on my experience, having practiced as a prosecutor and defense lawyer in the criminal arena for over twenty years, I’m confident that the reason had nothing to do with his celebrity. Instead, cops investigated the case and determined that the injury sustained to the alleged victim’s nose wasn’t severe enough to warrant a felony charge. Great. Good work. That’s fair.

What’s not fair is that there are countless cases, wherein cops on a daily basis, all over this great land, are overcharging defendants. I personally see it every day. Often, it’s done intentionally because cops know the bond amount and penalties will be much higher and/or they just don’t like the defendant. Other times, it’s out of ignorance. Also, there are even times when the law permits it. One of those times that stands out to me concerned a case that I was involved in recently.

I was defending an African American teen who was walking down the street when he was confronted by three white males who pulled up to him and began yelling. Among other awful things, they called him a “f*ckin n*gger.” He reacted by reaching into the passenger’s side window and striking the face of one of the detestable occupants. The passengers drove off and immediately contacted law enforcement. Cops responded and questioned my client. He admitted striking the passenger. He also described the hideous things the passengers were yelling just prior to the punch. The passengers called my client a liar, vehemently denying uttering any racist words. The officers arrested my client. What was even more outrageous was what they chose to charge him with. Instead of charging him with misdemeanor battery for the simple retaliatory strike to the passenger’s face, the officers charged him with burglary with a battery, a felony punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison. The cop’s rationale was that my client committed the burglary because at least a portion of his body entered the car without permission and while inside, he committed an offense, a battery. Some officers faced with similar facts, may have chosen to use their discretion and charge the defendant with two separate counts, a burglary and a separate count of battery. By charging the two crimes separately, the maximum penalty would be up to six years in prison as opposed to life. Some cops would have gotten the truth out of the racists and chose not to charge my client at all.

Bernie Madoff. O.J. Simpson. Casey Anthony. Jerry Sandusky. Jodi Arias. We know those names. All “high profile” defendants at one time in the criminal justice arena. How about Kevin Byrd? Darryl Hunt? Ben Salazar? I didn’t know who those guys were either until I started doing some research this morning. I only did so because of an article I read about Gerard Richardson. I didn’t know who he was either until an article in today’s paper described his ordeal. The post was the size of a small saltine cracker, about 3-4 inches, at the way bottom corner of the newspaper page. I almost missed the tiny post if it wasn’t for my quickly scanning eye catching the words, “Longtime Convict Wins Freedom.”

Richardson has been in prison for nearly twenty years for a horrific crime that he didn’t commit. Yesterday, a judge overturned his conviction and ordered him released. Prosecutors did not oppose the judge’s actions.

Richardson, who is 48 years old, was convicted back in 1995 of murdering 19-year-old Monica Reyes, after her body was found in a New Jersey ditch. The primary physical evidence against Richardson was a bite mark on the victim’s back. Prosecution experts testified at Richardson’s trial almost two decades ago that the bite mark was definitely Richardson’s. Prosecutors also alleged that Richardson had threatened Reyes concerning a $90 drug debt.

The only good thing about Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey being served Sunday afternoon with a grand jury subpoena is that it temporarily took the focus off the fact that the Dolphins, who were undefeated after the first three games of the season, have dropped four straight. Pouncey, who was served by Massachusetts State Police, will now be required to appear as a witness before the grand jury investigating the case against former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez case. Pouncey and Hernandez were college teammates at my alma matter, University of Florida.

Law enforcement is reportedly interested in Hernandez’s alleged involvement in interstate gun trafficking in at least three states: Massachusetts, New York and Florida. No one knows yet whether Pouncey had any involvement in Hernandez’s alleged wrong doing. Police are allegedly focusing on “multiple transactions that involve him and Hernandez.” Pouncey isn’t commenting just yet.

So what does this mean? Well, let’s start with what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean that Pouncey is a suspect and/or has done anything wrong. Nor does it mean that Pouncey will ever be charged with a criminal offense. Rather, it simply means that law enforcement believes that he has information that will be helpful to the grand jury in deciding what charges, if any, should be filed against Hernandez.

Get ready. These dated jokes will probably be making the rounds again: “What do you say if Chris Brown is your blackjack dealer and you need another card?” Or how about this one: “I was going crazy trying to remember Rihanna’s ex boyfriend’s name. Then it hit me.”

The reason why Chris Brown is back in the news is that early today, he was arrested in Washington after a fight broke out near the W Hotel. Police charged Brown with felony assault. According to police, the Grammy Award-winning singer was allegedly involved in a physical altercation, which resulted in the victim sustaining injuries. Brown was arrested along with his body guard. The victim went to the hospital with significant enough injury to justify police charging this as a felony.

TMZ provided more specifics on what Brown allegedly did. They claim that the alleged victim told them that he and a friend were simply hanging out at the W when they saw two woman about to take a photograph with Brown. The victim alleges that he and his friend photo bombed the two woman and that Brown became enraged, striking the victim in the nose, causing a fracture. According to TMZ, the victim claims that just before striking the victim, Brown yelled, “I’m not into this gay sh*t, I’m into boxing.” The victim further told TMZ that he may need surgery tomorrow.

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