Allen G.’s wife told police that following an argument about finances, Allen grabbed her by her biceps and slammed her against a wall, leaving bruises. Allen claimed that his wife came home drunk and after an argument attempted to leave the home to drive back to the bar. He said that he stood in the doorway and took the car keys to stop her from leaving and possibly hurting anyone. The next day, upon returning home from running errands, Allen’s wife barred his entry into their home and told Allen that she had issued a restraining order against him. Allen went to the police station, was told that no such order existed, and obtained a police escort back home. Upon arrival, a different officer came upon the scene and arrested Allen, charging him with domestic violence battery.
In this “he said – she said” case where the state had pictures of injury to the wife’s arm, things looked dire for Allen. The one thing that Allen’s wife didn’t count on, however, was the support Allen would get from — her own family. Allen languished in jail for almost two weeks before his wife’s mother posted bond. When I got involved in the case, the wife’s son would reveal that she had been involved in an affair before lodging this allegation against Allen and that the person with whom she had the affair had been staying in Allen’s house while Allen was in jail. I also found out that Allen’s wife had authored a letter to Allen where she was requesting $20,000 to quash the case. Despite informing the prosecution of this discovery, they refused to drop the matter or to investigate my allegations.
This is an important point. Real life criminal justice is not like what you see on t.v. This isn’t Law and Order, where the prosecutors are concerned with “doing justice.” Unfortunately, a lot of prosecutors are more concerned with convictions than the dramatized notion of justice. And even where the division prosecutor may be willing to drop a case, their immediate supervisor may force them to proceed.
At trial, I effectively and aggressively cross examined Allen’s wife and was able to prove most of the evidence I discovered through my pre-trial investigations. After the state rested, I argued that the state did not prove venue because it was never established that this incident occurred in Broward County. After much argument and review of the record, the judge agreed and dismissed this case. While this may seem like a trivial, technical basis by which to dismiss a case, the point is that the prosecutor and I are trained professionals. We went to law school to learn this craft. The law is about technicalities, and the attorneys must pay attention to detail to ensure that the details are being proven or disproved. In this case, I was able to rely on my experiences and knowledge of the law to argue that the prosecution failed to prove a critical element. Fortunately, for Allen, this case did not have to go to the jury, which could have decided either way, and Allen was able to walk out of the courtroom because I pounced on a legal technical error by the prosecution.