Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays from TLC

Happy Holidays fellow Warrior for Justice!

May you all reflect on the past year, feel proud for all you have done to fight for justice for the poor, the injured, the forgotten, the voiceless, the defenseless and the damned.

May you feel fortunate for the friends and family which surround you.

May you feel the blessings and spirit of the seasons now and in the coming year.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Gerry Spence and Jude Basile,
on behalf of the entire board and your friends at TLC

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

TLC methods helped me get a client home for Christmas

By:  Lynda Carter  (July '10)

Receiving her 8th "non-guilty" on a criminal charge since her graduation from TLC, Colorado Warrior Lynda Carter (July '10) has freed another innocent man. After a year in jail on a charge he never committed, and because Lynda believed him and was able to use TLC's methods in every phase of her trial prep and in the courtroom, he will be back with his family for Christmas. Here is her story:

"I start the trial of my client’s life on Monday so please light the fires! It is a child sexual assault case where the stepdaughter did not like her new father's rules and thought this was the best way to get rid of him. There is no evidence other than "he said-she said," but I am very scared because juries here in Colorado tend to believe kids - I am hoping that does not extend to teenagers who try to take advantage of the justice system. My client is facing life for these charges and it dawned on me this morning: I have only been an attorney three years. What am I doing trying cases like this already? I would love to win this one because the system has failed so miserably for this man. My client is a good man with a good family. He has been locked up for a year because they could not afford bond, although there was no evidence against him other than her allegation. I feel like Don Quixote battling windmills."

On the following Monday:
"We got a verdict! Not guilty on two counts of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust; indeterminate sentence to life in prison. My client's entire family was there, including his 87-year-old grandmother. I have never received so many bear hugs and kisses in my life.”

“This case was botched by law enforcement from the very beginning and never even investigated by the District Attorney's Office. No evidence against my client was presented, except the teenager’s allegation that could not possibly be true, yet he had been locked up for over a year without bail because his family could not afford bail at all.” 

“My client was allowed to wear street clothes during the trial but had two officers escorting him to and from court. I felt this information to be relevant so I used it to show my client was an innocent man who had been locked up for a year, could not afford bail and, as a result, had to wait a year to clear his name. Each time the DA said the jury should not blame the victim for a botched police investigation, I reminded them my client was a victim of this botched investigation - losing his freedom for a year without anyone to listen to him but me, while I was powerless until I had a chance to speak for him in court.”

“During the trial, I conducted a TLC direct on the accuser’s sister, who testified that their biological father allowed them to date at 12, did drugs together with the girls and did not make them go to school. In a TLC soft-cross, the accuser testified she had not been in school in a year. In addition to having given birth to a child fathered by her 20-year-old boyfriend ten days before, the 14-year-old accuser appeared to be under the influence of a mind-altering substance, so my Opening Statement was reaffirmed and my client was very believable. I conducted a direct exam on the mother who testified that she and my client had tried to put the girls in counseling for many issues but their biological father refused to follow up on it.”

“At 11:30am we wrapped up and the jury got the case, they picked a foreman, ate lunch and delivered the verdict at 1:15pm. Picture this scene, just one of many scenes from this trial that will stay burned in my mind: My client had maintained his innocence all along. Just before the jury verdict was read, the Chief of Police, the Sheriff, three detectives, two police officers, two probation officers, and other uniformed officers came in and sat behind the DDA. I stood alone with my client, with his wife and family behind me. After the verdicts were read, they left the courtroom without comment. The DDA did not even shake my hand.” 

“I am so happy for my client and his family. I am still in shock over how quick the jury came back and the feedback they provided me when I spoke to them afterward. After my Opening Statement, the jury was very alert when watching the accuser. None of them believed the story from the time she set foot on the stand. They noticed the difference in how she behaved when the DA asked her questions and when I asked her questions. One observed her conservative dress on the stand was not at all like normal teenagers dress in the community. Others just felt something was simply not right.”

“And now, ‘Not Guilty!’ I love the jury each time I think about them. My two-year stint as a criminal defense attorney has resulted in an 8-0 record for criminal jury trials! This never would have happened without TLC, the wonderful friends I have made there and the great instruction I received from the faculty. During the F Warrior Alumni annual meeting I attended in November, I worked through a case which helped me during this trial in my cross exam of the police officer who botched the case. The jury was able to see he was kind, but also that he had no training. I tried to reverse roles with each person on the jury throughout the process and it worked. The five jurors I spoke to expressed their fear that someone could be locked up for a year on no evidence. They did not want this happening to anyone else - certainly not themselves or someone in their family! I had two jurors ask me to run for Sheriff in two years and one ask me to run for DA to ensure this does not keep happening.”

“My client will now be home for Christmas with his family. I am just so happy and so proud of the jury and how the TLC methods worked to help get justice for this man. Thanks to you and to every TLC faculty member and alumni who has helped me along the way. I am so much better as a lawyer and as a person for having taken the chance and come to TLC! I can't wait to for my next case!"

Love always,
Lynda Carter (’10)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Alumnus Reflections on Gerry's Trial

I have heard a lot of arguments since 2000. I have heard a lot of "stuff" about what works and what does not.

This Thursday and Friday, I heard the real deal.

I will be the first to admit that my ego is bigger than anyone's. Yes, it is. But I was humbled to see Gerry, the Lion of the Courtroom, roar. 

I had already made a deal with myself that I would not take notes, that I would just experience the opening, closing and rebuttal, and that I would read the transcript later.

I share this experience out of sheer pride because our Gerry Spence is the best I have ever or will ever expect to see: From the beginning of the closing argument, where he introduced his pride of lions standing, attacking the lies of the city Council Bluffs, to the introduction of the love of his life, Imaging. From paying his respect to His Honor and His Staff, while ignoring the defense, to painting the defense as Goebbels and ministers of propaganda. Gerry commanded, "If you tell a lie nine times, they will believe it is true.” From asking Terry whether he was proud to be punished with solitary confinement for standing up for his innocence and refusing to ever close the cell door on himself, to telling them Terry had instructed him to, "Trust the jury."

These were just some of his many planned and inspired strokes of genius. I saw Gerry stand in the middle of the courtroom and ROAR, even when he did not need to, for justice, for freedom. 

The rebuttal was epic - a thirty-minute crescendo that culminated with the exact words carved above the Judge's seat: Justitia Obnibus. Justice for All. As he educated the jury about the word games the defense was playing, his indignation at being called a "liar" reached apocalyptic range.

To further illustrate his points, he told the jury a story about a group of men who gathered having no knowledge of what their long deliberations, arguments and reasoning with each other would mean in the future. These men, whose names were unknown on their previous continent, were Jefferson, Madison, Washington, Franklin, men who were unaware of the impact they would have on the free world as they stood for freedom against the tyranny of England. He then reflected on whether we, in Iowa, would understand the impact this case would have on the free world by deciding the case based on freedom and justice, while holding those who trample on these principles accountable to we, the people.

While sitting on a chair in front of the jury, he finished with a final story, a story of a young man planning to squeeze two birds to death, who was then told by an old man that the birds were in his hands. Then, as only Gerry could do, he transformed the idea of these birds as he turned to the jury and said, “Justice is in your hands.”

He did not elaborate, he did not express gratitude, as he had already done so. He stood up, walked toward Terry and sat down.

He had spoken.

I am a Dreamer, a Utopian. I don’t know what the jury will do, but I can say for certain that when the Lion in Winter roars, he roars for our freedom, and that is good enough for me.

- Alejandro Blanco ('00)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Update on Gerry's latest trial

Lawyers: Men were framed for murder, seek 'justice'
An article from the Des Moines Register
(December 7, 2012) Two men wrongly convicted of a 1977 murder who spent “25 years in hell, where there is no love, where love is a dirty word,” deserve nothing less than “full justice” for suffering caused by the Council Bluffs police department, lawyers told a federal court jury in Des Moines on Thursday.
“Full justice,” as defined by attorneys for Terry Harrington and Curtis “Cub” McGhee, requires that Council Bluffs and two white, former police detectives pay at least $115 million for allegedly framing the two black then-teenagers for the murder of white Council Bluffs Police Capt. John Schweer.
Closing arguments continue this morning in Harrington’s and McGhee’s five-week-long trial, alleging that their civil rights were violated by former detectives Daniel Larsen and Lyle Brown. Plaintiffs contend Council Bluffs officials showed deliberate indifference to what the officers were doing while Larson and Brown coerced witnesses into lying and hid evidence of another viable suspect in the killing from defense.
Lawyers contend the two detectives, under pressure to solve a high-profile police killing, pressured witnesses and ignored obvious lies told by a teenage car thief who had to be coached on many of the crime’s details.
“When you’re seen as an inferior, that’s when your rights disappear,” McGhee attorney Stephen Davis argued to jurors. Larsen and Brown “knowingly used a pack of lies to send these two black kids to prison, because they didn’t matter.”
Harrington and McGhee, then teenagers from Omaha, were convicted in 1978 of shooting Schweer with a 12-gauge shotgun while he worked night security at a Council Bluffs car dealership. They both served more than 25 years in prison before the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that prosecutors were guilty of misconduct by failing to turn over reports that another shotgun-toting man had been seen near the scene of the crime.
Plaintiffs say Charles Gates, then a 48-year-old loner who had been suspected in another murder, failed a lie detector test and disappeared after the Council Bluffs detectives told him he was a suspect in the Schweer killing. Roughly a month later, teen Kevin Hughes was pulled over in a vehicle stolen from an Omaha car dealership.
Harrington and McGhee say the detectives seized on Hughes’ bid for a “get-out-of-jail-free card” and coerced other members of a black teen car theft ring into backing up the story. Those teen witnesses — including one who said he agreed to sign a statement for police only after he was raped in jail — all recanted their statements when they were in their 40s.
Lawyers for Council Bluffs and the two police detectives, who dispute any charge of fabrication and have not conceded that Harrington and McGhee are innocent of Schweer’s killing, did not make any closing arguments Thursday.
Their turn is scheduled to come this morning, followed by a short plaintiffs’ rebuttal before the case goes to the jury.
Harrington attorney Gerry Spence on Thursday blasted what he described as Larsen’s and Brown’s racist habit of periodically driving from Council Bluffs to an Omaha ghetto in 1977, rolling up to black teens in a police car and asking, “Hey, bro, what do you have for us today?”
Spence described the practice as “entertainment” for the detectives and a danger to young men, who would immediately be suspected by their friends of being a police informant. “Can you fathom the sadisticness of that?” Spence asked. “Can you even make room for it in your mind?”
Spence, 83, is a renowned litigator who came to national prominence as a television commenter during the O.J. Simpson murder trial. He made no apologies for seeking a large settlement on Harrington’s behalf.
While a final reward amount will be set by the jury, that portion of the requested award includes $2 million for every year Harrington was incarcerated and $500,000 for every year that actuarial tables suggest he will continue to live with post-traumatic stress disorder and other illnesses.
Davis, who requested $52 million for McGhee, reminded jurors of the trauma involved in spending 25 years behind bars for a crime you didn’t commit.

For more information on this article, click here or visit www.desmoinesregister.com. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Meet TLC Sept 2012 Class Representative

( Kristin with fellow TLCers on top of Spence Mountain)
As our time at the Ranch began to come to an end, I had more and more classmates approach me about being class representative. I was honored and flattered that I was being asked to fill this role. I was not expecting, however, that the entire class would unanimously vote me as class rep in one sweeping vote. What does it mean to me that I was elected as the class representative? Well, it reinforces everything I learned at the Ranch. I will do my best to explain.

I came to the Ranch with a whole lot of self-doubt and performance anxiety. I have only been practicing for 2 ½ years and was quite nervous about looking inexperienced and unsophisticated in front of a group of experienced and successful trial attorneys. The greatest gift I received at the Ranch was the knowledge that just being me, with all my strengths and all my faults, is the most important thing I can do for myself, my clients, my family, and my friends. This is the most important tool in our advocate tool box, and that’s a tool I will always have, regardless of my years in practice or number of trials under my belt.

While at the Ranch, I was simply me. I treated people with kindness and compassion, and received the same in return. I was honest and trusting, and shared freely and openly in my psychodrama group, as well as our working groups. I respected other people’s opinions and worked to help foster an atmosphere of support where all my classmates, and myself, could participate and experiment with the TLC methodology without fear of judgment or humiliation. I gave hugs and encouragement as much as possible.

As a result, I developed real, profound, and honest relationships with my classmates. I came to love, honor, and deeply respect my fellow warriors. We discussed our families, childhoods, careers, and reasons we were at the Ranch without fear of criticism. We shared many laughs and shed many tears. We discussed our deepest regrets and proudest moments as if we were childhood friends. There was nothing superficial about the relationships I formed at the Ranch. My experience was real and unforgettable.

When I was elected class representative, I felt all the love, honor, and respect I had for my classmates returned to me. I am grateful that my class trusted me with this position. I feel a great sense of responsibility to keep our class in contact and to continue the relationships we formed off the Ranch. I will not let my fellow warriors down.

Kristin Ross - TLC September 2012 Class Representative

Friday, October 19, 2012

Protect patients' rights, protect patients' lives - Mary Alice McLarty

Dear Friends:

I think most of you know that the current President of the American Association for Justice (the plaintiffs’ bar) is our own 2004 Trial Lawyers graduate, Mary Alice McLarty. In this election season, where lawyers who represent injured people often seem to have targets painted on their backs by the tort reformers, Mary Alice is out there fighting back. Mary Alice wrote a beautiful opinion piece for CNN about the victims of medical malpractice. She used the example of her home state of Texas to talk about how terrible the reforms there have been.

Betsy Greene
TLC '05 Grad


Opinion: Protect patients' rights, 

protect patients' lives

By Mary Alice McLarty, Special to CNN
updated 8:53 AM EDT, Fri October 12, 2012

Eliminating patients' rights is not the answer to the nation's health care problems, Mary Alice McLarty says.

Editor's note: Mary Alice McLarty is president of the American Association for Justice and a partner in McLarty Pope LLP in Dallas. She practices personal injury and civil trial law, concentrating on catastrophic injury cases.
(CNN) -- We are facing a medical malpractice crisis in our country.
More than 98,000 people die every year because of preventable medical errors. That is equivalent to two 737s crashing every day for a whole year. Preventable medical errors are the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and cost our country $29 billion a year.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Discovering the story of the accused


Recently Maren Chaloupka (TLC '99 Grad & Faculty Member) represented a man, a religious man, a pastor of the church against the allegations of "rape" brought against him by his wife of 30 years.

The accusation that the accuser in this case made against her husband was that they were amidst a bitter divorce despite not separating and instead keeping the battle hot by continuing to live together in the same house. Her claim was simple enough, that he had violently raped her a total of 3 times over the course of 4 hours in their home. When asked why, she claimed that he had been emotionally and physically abusive, and had serially cheated on her, for 30 years and the rape was a natural progression of that pattern. One of the rapes she claimed was when after some 30 years of conventional sex he decided that it was time to introduce anal sex into the relationship.

Maren is very good at finding out dirty little facts and everything else there is on her cases. She will spend an incredible amount of time through conventional and TLC methods to discover the story. The real story. The back story. In this case the back story actually revealed that this woman was absolutely nuts and had been so for well over 30 years. Now the problem, how to get that story into evidence. Maren made that story a legal defense in the case. She did so by claiming that the dispute was whether the wife/accuser's craziness was relevant to show that she would make up a false rape story, or whether it was relevant to show the Pastor's motive to rape her, which was the prosecution's case. The Prosecution was cagey enough to turn her craziness into part of their theory by arguing that he raped her to punish her for making his life a living hell, and that the anal to oral sex was proof that he was deliberately punishing and humiliating her.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Learn more about TLC's President, Jude Basile

Profile: Jude Basile 

Nationally recognized trial lawyer stands up against corporate greed and government bullies 

Plaintiffmagazine.com - October 2012
     Nothing gives Jude Basile more satis­faction than finding the truth and using it to conquer greed and abuse of power. It’s been a mission of his since childhood, long before he became an acclaimed trial lawyer, to challenge those who unethically – and in many instances, unlawfully – exploit their positions of authority. 
     As a youngster growing up in a small, blue­collar town in western Pennsylvania, Basile experienced firsthand accounts of such abuse. To this day, one incident in particular involving his father’s business and a certain teen employee serves as the driving force behind Basile’s pursuits. 
     “My dad’s bar got shut down for me being underage and working there. I’d help him out on Friday nights making pizzas in the kitchen; I was 14,” Basile re­called. “The liquor board came in and shut us down for a month for me working there and for having gambling devices that were actually 50­50 church raffle tickets in the bar. And my dad couldn’t do anything about it.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Power of the TLC Soft Cross

Haytham Faraj, TLC '09 Grad & Faculty Member. 9/20/2012 

My recent jury trial victory in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia did not involve huge sums of money, at least not if measured by some of the verdicts we hear about, but it was every bit as important and significant to my client who stood to lose his livelihood.

The case arose from events that began in the summer of 2005. As the war in Afghanistan waged and as the U.S. government sought to establish some measure of normalcy in Afghanistan, it reopened the U.S. Embassy and put out solicitations to bring in contract guards to provide security for the Embassy. A large government contractor by the name of MVM won the contract. They then hired a startup company by the name of 3D Global Solutions -my client- to recruit guards from Peru to provide security outside the Embassy.

Now these are not mercenaries. They are mere guards; good and decent men whose sole function is to guard the Embassy and provide access control. They would receive a meager $1800 a month for their work. Another facet of the contract required the prime contractor to also provide senior guards who would provide security to high profile personnel and act as a roving force. MVM recruited elite former military Namibians with South African citizenship for that part of the contract. The Namibians are black. When the Namibians showed up, the Regional Security Officer (RSO) who is the State Department official responsible for security at the Embassy objected. He wanted "real expats." In other words, he wanted white mercenaries. You can imagine what he wanted, the khaki clad, muscle bound men donning Oakley shades and driving around in black 4X4 vehicles blowing away everyone in sight. After a few weeks of frivolous nitpicking, the RSO managed to terminate the contract based on a pretext that the guards provided by MVM did not meet the language requirement to effectively discharge their duties. MVM had spent nearly 7 million dollars to take over the Embassy security. The termination was devastating. MVM hired a top DC law firm and threatened to sue the State Department, effectively arguing that the guards were qualified and that the termination was pretextual to get rid of the black Namibian guards and bring in white guards.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

$5.25 million verdict in an "un-winnable" case

Nelson singing & teaching to the TLC 2012 September Class 
Nelson Tyrone, TLC '00 Grad & TLC Faculty. 9/26/2012 

On September 14th , TLC Alum Richard Jones (‘03) and I obtained a substantial verdict on behalf of our client, Nathaniel Polite who had been shot in the back running away from attackers at his apartment complex. He suffered an incomplete spinal cord injury and consequent loss of feeling and spasticity in his legs. Nathan’s family came to me for help, and I brought Richard in as co-counsel. We filed a case against his apartment complex and the management company for inadequate security. Most lawyers I talked with urged me to reject the case but by relying on the TLC methods and the TLC family, we were able to obtain a verdict for Nathan that will help take care of him for the rest of his life.

Preparing for Trial:

Don Clarkson: Don flew to Atlanta to work with Nathan for a day early in the case. Don took him through re-enactments of scenes of vulnerability in his life. This was the starting point for us in understanding Nathan’s disability.

Alumni Tom Metier (’94), Maren Chaloupka (’99), Mel Orchard (’08) and Marj Russell (’94) spent a day during Staff Training in May 2012 to work with me on discovering the story in Nathan’s case and working on a values-based voir dire. Later this summer, Marj flew to Atlanta and spent a day with us working further on discovering the story of our client and of this case. We also relied on several other folks from the Atlanta TLC Local Working Group who spent a day serving as a focus group as we worked on the social atom and more discovering the story.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

1997 grad takes on, and beats, the IRS

We are proud to report that 1997 TLC Grad Patrick A. Mullin took on and beat the IRS! Here is the PRNewswire article that circulated on the web and is featured in the Bloomberg Businessweek.

NEW YORK, May 21, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --On Monday, May 14, 2012, after deliberating for less than two hours, a federal jury found George J. Dilworth not guilty on all counts of conspiracy to defraud the IRS and making false statements to IRS agents. This acquittal represents the third consecutive contested federal criminal indictment in which Dilworth's counsel Patrick A. Mullin, a veteran federal criminal defense attorney, has secured an acquittal or dismissal on all charges.

Mr. Mullin said the jury's speedy verdict served justice in this two-week trial which had commenced on April 30, 2012. "The jury's resounding not guilty verdict on each and every count should send a loud and clear message to the IRS, which prosecuted these charges, that there must be greater selectivity before utilizing its vast powers to pursue American taxpayers." According to the IRS 2012 current fiscal year statistics, more than four out of every five IRS prosecutions result in conviction.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Voir Dire: Trusting our jury with the danger points

Sam McGee, 2011' Grad. 9/12/2012

Mike was 24 when he was hit from behind while waiting at a light to let a fire truck clear the intersection. The light had turned green but he did not go because of the fire truck. He had a L-1 burst fracture which required a fusion. He has had a strong recovery. He can walk for miles but cannot run. Reaching up is no problem but reaching down us painful. He can lay on his back with no pain, side with some pain, and cannot lay face down at all. It hurts to lift his child.

He has a long list of misdemeanor convictions, 12 of which came into evidence. The worst were the 4 violations of DV protective orders. The case was on a calendar in November, and we planned on saying he had not been in trouble in a long time. The case was continued, and he was arrested... Twice. Stealing construction supplies the first time and then a domestic incident that led to some nasty charges.

He also got fired by his pain doctor for running out of pain pills too early on 3 occasions. By contrast, the person who hit him was an attractive, pleasant young woman working on her masters in Christian counseling.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

My tribute to the July 2012 Class

Some thoughts... I've been on staff since 1998.... I don't remember a group of students so willing to come out of the chute running full speed like this class did...

The first small group I sat with was warmed up before we started... I was assigned to another group later that night and was disappointed to be leaving the 1st group even tho we had been together for maybe 1/2 hour....

I struggled with saying goodbye to groups, even as they were being formed... I felt so connected...especially with the public defenders and young solos who are out on their own and alone,  like i was in 1973.... I was immediately proud to know them and worried about the difficulties ahead that they will face  in their professional lives..... Some that they can't imagine yet.... I'm feeling very parental and protective of these young warriors..i guess my age is showing  in  mysterious ways....

I was beginning to think I would not experience a "tlc" moment in small group, but sure enough, in the last small group in the rec room, Connie and I watched a student become a talking cement ramp.....the student transformation was quite remarkable, as it usually is...and was appreciated by all of those in the group....they got it" and i was fulfilled....then the fun of the Dubois rodeo and a tlc team beating the "cowboys" at their own game was the cherry on top....saying good bye and leaving thunderhead was especially difficult for me this time.. I sometimes feel that my "in the moment" experiences  might never be repeated.... I wonder if I'll ever be back to thunderhead....or see my good friends ever again....or meet a new class, or participate in a large or small group...or if I will ever again  make my moose call in the big barn ............when i got home i thought of the July 2012 class every day.....wondered how they were doing.....how much they were learning, laughing, crying, living..... I wanted to fly back out for graduation and think i would have except that my family  became and still is the subject of a credible threat by an angry, heavily armed, psychotic individual  .......needless to say, I'm staying close to family and home..........

Finally, I need to say that  on my last day, when we all gathered in the big barn to say good bye, I experienced a feeling like I've never experienced in my entire life of 65 years.... I was the last staff member to be called.... I was at the end of the line and when Jim  introduced..."Paulie d'................the most wonderful thing happened... The entire class spontaneously made low, harmonious  moose calls to me............it was amazing... I can only describe the feeling as like I was  being recognized and honored by an entire herd of moose....they were my moose family....and they were showing me their approval....i was being verified  and they were saying goodbye in their moose way....i was touched like I had never been touched before... I want to thank the entire class for bestowing that honor upon me.... I'll never forget that moment....

For the finish... I hope to make it back ,meet new warriors and visit with old ones....

TlC 95"

Monday, August 20, 2012

It was exhilarating to me - to use the TLC methods and have them work

Judith Mattern Hearn , TLC July 2012 Grad. August 15, 2012.

D.S. came to my office, following my court appointment on May, 2012, convinced he was going to do time.  The State had filed a Motion to Revoke Probation on April 12, 2012, following an allegation that D.S. had “intentionally and knowingly caused bodily injury to A.L.J. by punching, pushing, scratching, biting and choking her.”  The other allegations were that D.S. had failed to complete 240 hours of community service as directed by “her” (sic) community supervision officer, and had failed to attend, participate in and successfully complete the Batterer’s Intervention Program as directed by the Community Supervision Officer. 

D.S.’ underlying offense was a third degree family violence charge, including impeding breath by choking, for which he received seven years probation.  D.S. had been placed on probation the preceding September, 2011.  Each time, I met with D.S., I would get just another piece of information from him, but he had maintained each time, that he did not punched, pushed, scratched, bit or choked A.L.J. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

It Might be a Million Dollar Case

Tony Vitz, TLC 99' Grad & Faculty Member. 7/19/2012

     What is a person’s job worth, especially in this economy? When Walter was arrested for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), he knew he was in jeopardy of losing his job as a car salesman even though he was the top salesman in the company. This arrest was not only about Walter and his job, it was about his ability to support his wife and their (3) children. There was no doubt that a conviction for this type of offense would mean termination of his employment and a major detour in this family’s life path.

     Walter trusted the breath test and the officer to get it right, but he and the jury found out that the officer and the machine were on a different team and it wasn’t a team for Justice. Walter’s breath specimen produced an alcohol concentration result of .149 on the Intoxilyzer 5000 about an hour and twenty minutes after the officer stopped him. (A .08 or higher is considered intoxicated) Walter admitted to (7) drinks and that “maybe he had two too many”. His field sobriety tests weren’t too bad, but he hopped a bit to retain his balance and wasn’t able to stand in place with one foot in front of the other. The bottom line is that Walter’s actions on the video could be explained and they were not the result of being intoxicated.

     We always want to know how another lawyer won a big case. We get questions like, “How did you overcome the presumption of intoxication?” or “Who was your expert?” and others. I can share some of how we won this one, but there isn’t any one reason. Many lawyers don’t understand what it takes to win. We go into the courtroom with the culmination of life experiences that we use. It is caring about our clients, and being genuine that make the difference, not how much law or science we know. I think trials are like football games. While they aren’t games at all to most of us, every inch can be the difference. Momentum is also very important. We’ve got to grab it and keep it as much as we can until the trial is over. We begin with ourselves in jury selection.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Betrayal of our client by the insurance company

Tom Metier, '94 Grad. Trial Lawyers College List Serve, 6/14/2012.

Warriors and Grad II'ers,

            Pleased to report that Mike Chaloupka (TLC '11) and I obtained a verdict against Auto Owners Insurance last Friday evening.

Gary was hit on Christmas day, 2006, while driving a full size Chevy GMC pickup.  SUV blew through a stop light and T-boned him on the driver's side.  Gary suffered 6 broken ribs and a torn labrum of the left shoulder which required arthroscopic surgery repair in April, 2007, followed by some PT.   Ribs completely healed.  No future medicals.  No past or future wage loss.  Medicals were $30,000, including the three day stay in the hospital immediately after the crash for pain management of the broken ribs.

Farmer's had the liability policy and paid $50,000 policy limits w/in the first year.  Gary had UIM coverage through Auto Owners of $500,000.  Auto Owners was given a medical release by Gary, but not a list of medical providers. In September, 2007  Auto Owners used the medical release to obtain the medical records contained in Farmer's adjuster file. Auto Owners never requested any medical records using the release at any time thereafter, electing instead to continue to try to place the burden of obtaining bills and records on Gary by writing a letter every 3 to 6 months asking for updated information and records/bills.  Gary never responded, completely confident that his insurance company, Auto Owners, would obtain all such records and information and be updated and ready to make an offer to him when he notified Auto Owners he was ready to settle.  After all, that is what they promised, wasn't it?

Auto Owners failed to investigate, evaluate and make an offer to Gary, forcing client to hire attorneys and file suit on December 22, 2009 (three days before the statute of limitations ran).

The jury found my client not guilty in 7 minutes!

Shannon Smith - 2011.2' Grad. TLC List Serve, 7/20/2012.

I'm on fire, so thankful for TLC and have to report!!!!
I am happy to report I got a 7 minute not guilty verdict this morning on a child criminal sexual conduct case in Detroit, Michigan!  Our Michigan group helped me on this case -- thanks to Marj, Cheryl, Keeley, Josh, Ian, JConline, Barton, Rhonda.....and anyone I unintentionally forgot!!!

Facts:  Elise, one of the cutest 9 year olds I've ever seen was sleeping over at the client's house.  Client's wife allowed the child to sleep in the client's bed.  He was asleep with his son who was 4.  In the middle of the night, Clark goes into his room, gets in bed and spoons the person next to him.  Realizes it's not his wife and tells the girl to go sleep with her dad.

She goes into her dad's room and reports "Clark touched me."  The conversation snowballs into allegations that Clark put his hands down her pajama pants and rubbed her privates.  The dad came out of the room and punched Clark.  Clark keeps saying, I'm sorry I touched your daughter, I thought it was my wife.  Forensic interview, 8 days later, she says the same story.  Exam three months later, same story.  At trial, same story. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Twelve brave citizens of Harris County, Texas had the courage to find my client; Ranulfo Castro, not guilty of the offense of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child

Emily Detoto, TLC ’01 Grad. July 11, 2012

Ranulfo Castro was living with one woman but seeing another woman who had three daughters.  He had three grown children of his own.  He knew it was wrong to be living with one woman, while seeing another, but that didn't make him a child molester.  He worked two jobs: one as a landscaper and another as a mechanic.  He worked these jobs to support himself, his common law wife, his children, and his girlfriend and her children. 

Ranulfo met the mother of the girl who would eventually accuse him of sexually assaulting her over a month's time, because he was working on her car.  Her name was Sandra.  Sandra and Ranulfo hit it off and she began sharing personal stories about herself, and the two began speaking almost daily.  About two weeks after Sandra and Ranulfo met, Ranulfo learned that Sandra was engaged to another man, and that she was going to move, along with her children and this man, to Seguin, Texas, a small town outside of San Antonio.  Ranulfo said goodbye to Sandra and didn't expect to hear from her again.  But a short time later, he received a call from Sandra, telling him that the relationship with this man didn't work out.  Sandra asked Ranulfo if he would please drive all the way to Seguin to retrieve her and her children because they had no money and no way to make it back to Houston.  Ranulfo agreed, and he drove all the way to Seguin, Texas to pick up Sandra and her daughters, and helped them get an apartment, and eventually began supporting Sandra and her family.  He paid their rent, bought them food, clothing, and became like a father figure to the family.

Monday, June 18, 2012

THE JURY was my biggest fear.

Leo Finucane, TLC '97 Grad. TLC List Serve, 6/12/2012


A little debriefing from last week's trial because I get so much from it
when you do it.

I settled Linda's case after jury selection and a day of testimony from my

Linda, age 72, got hit by a car as a pedestrian in a store parking lot.
Linda's back was broken and she had to have fusion surgery.  The collision
was captured on the store's security cameras. The trial was about damages
only but we got to play the movie for the jury to show them the force of
impact.  It is a breathtaking little clip.  The hot issue during trial
would be whether Linda was experiencing recent falls from her spinal chord
injury or from a previously existing movement disorder.

But I am here to tell you about my friend, Warrior Steve Shultz and how
much he helped me.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Walgreen's forced to pay!

Kenneth Behrend - TLC '08 Grad. June 11, 2012.

This was my FIRST jury trial since graduating from the college in 2008. Wow, what a difference there is in the experience of trying a case after TLC!!!

In preparing for this case, I listened to the CD's of Gerry's "Win Your Case. During the trial, every morning driving to court and every night driving home, I listened to the section of the book that addressed the part of the case that was actually happening. It felt as if Gerry was standing beside me in the courtroom and was very comforting to here is melodious voice. Interestingly, as I listened to certain sections over and over, my mind would wander into my own examinations, arguments, etc., and helped to crystallize them.

This case involved claims for conversion and breach of contract against Walgreens. My client was a small vendor, whom Walgreens owed money to. Most significantly, my client is owned by my sister Becky, which came with a boatload of additional pressure and family relationship issues, since I am her younger brother. Needless to say, I would never hear the end of it, if I lost the trial.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Fearless - Criminal defense lawyer Anna Durbin takes the cases no one else will

Anna Durbin - TLC  2001 Grad. May 28, 2012
I don't know why they chose me for this article, but I am thankful for my TLC sister Joyce Collier, also 2001, and others for saying such positive things about me. I did mention in my interview how Trial Lawyers College helped bring back the joy in practicing law to me, but I guess that was edited out.  However, the support and information sharing from other lawyers, especially on our wonderful listserves, has always helped me to be a better lawyer for my clients.  And I am always afraid, and I don't take all cases.  But you all know that.  And my brother told his kids to put my picture on their refrigerators to scare the rats out of their kitchens, so you know I got toughened up at an early age.  Thanks to all my fellow Warriors, and to my clients who trust me with their stories and their lives.   
- Anna

BY MICHAEL Y. PARK - Superlawyers.com

Criminal defense lawyer Anna Durbin takes the cases no one else will
IN 2004, KIMBERLY YATES, WHILE SERVING AN 84-MONTH sentence from a drug conviction, was temporarily housed in the Philadelphia Federal Detention Center. She was working in the commissary when a male prison guard ordered her into the basement to attend to a chore. There was no chore. When she got down to the basement, the guard raped her.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bob Hilliard Slams Coca-Cola

Ron Estefan, President - F Warriors Alumni Board - 05' Grad, May 11, 2012 - TLC List Serve


Our TLC brother, Bob Hilliard, from the class of 1995 heard the sound of justice for his client last Friday. A Coca Cola truck driver on his hands-free phone while driving the Coca Cola truck slammed into the side of Vanice’s car, causing her painful and permanent back injuries.

A Corpus Christi, Texas jury returned a verdict of $21,000,000.

Here’s the link to a short You Tube video (less than a minute) in which Bob is interviewed after the verdict: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wltdJVUyZ54.

Ron Estefan

Thursday, May 3, 2012

My first solo jury trial.

Aida Spahic, TLC ’10 Grad - May 3, 2012

On April 27, 2012 I went to trial for a client accused of domestic violence and larceny.  Specifically, he was accused of choking his ex-girlfriend, with whom he has a child, for 15-20 seconds, picking her up by the throat, and throwing her to the ground, as well as stealing her phone so that she could not contact the police.  This incident allegedly happened at a gas station as my client was dropping his daughter off to his ex-girlfriend, the accuser.  From day one, my client denied that he did any of this to the accuser.

This was my first solo jury trial and boy, was I nervous.  I have been practicing law for three years now and have done several trials with my boss and mentor, Daniel Ambrose, and other colleagues; however, never by myself.  I was mortified.  I wanted a safety net; someone there in the courtroom, even a law clerk or an intern…just someone…anyone… to sit at the table next to me, to make sure I don’t somehow destroy my own case.  Dan was unavailable as he was out of town.  I tried my best not to show him that I was beyond mortified but I am pretty sure he noticed it.  What made it even more nerve-wrecking was that the client was a friend from high school.  I have known him for 15 years now and am very close with his family.  His mother and his stepfather were present at the courtroom, only adding to the pressure I was already feeling. 

There was no physical evidence or any type of injuries to corroborate the accuser’s story; however, there was an independent witness.  On top of that, the judge allowed, over my objections, testimony regarding my clients’ two prior alleged domestic violence incidents, involving the same accuser.  This did not look good, even if they were all false accusations.  The jury trial was definitely a battle!  Even before trial started, a decision was made not to put my client on the stand.  Since he was not taking the stand, I had to make sure the jury loved me.  If they loved me, they would love my client and believe that he truly was innocent.

Trying to get the jury to love me started with voir dire.  Jury selection was on April 13, 2012, two weeks prior to trial.  I had to do well so that the jury members did not forget about my client two weeks later.  Throughout voir dire, I just kept thinking “build a tribe” and get the jury members to open up.  As Mr. Spence, another mentor of mine always says, “you have to show them yours, before they will show you theirs.”  I tried to do that as much as I could.  A couple of people who were sitting in the jury pool inside the courtroom, but not picked to be on MY jury, came up to me and said “good luck.”  I figured this was a good sign.  If they hadn’t liked me, they wouldn’t have wished me good luck.  And if I had built good rapport with them, then I must have built good rapport with the people picked to be on the jury.  I left the courtroom that day feeling pretty darn good!  However, I knew that the battle has only begun.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Terry Lenamon Saves a Life!

Maren Chaloupka – TLC Faculty & ’99 Grad – April 22, 2012

Terry Lenamon (TLC '11 7-Step Grad), death penalty warrior in Florida, saved the life of his client Josh this week - - after a lengthy, graphic and heartwrenching trial on both guilt and sentencing, Terry's jury returned a verdict of LIFE for the damaged, despised man whom Terry placed into the jury's hands.

The prosecutor used some prosecutorial version of TLC methods in his final argument of the sentencing phase of trial, reenacting parts of the kidnapping and murder for which Josh stood trial.  That Terry overcame that dramatic reenactment is a true testament to the power of love.

Folks, it doesn't get any more real than this.  This man would be damned to the needle if not for Terry.  I am amazed and so proud to have him in our group.

Here is a link to a news write up about this case:  Jury: Life for Fulgham
Here is a link to a TV story on this case: Joshua Fulgham Gets Life

Three Valor Marines - All charges dismissed!

Phil Stackhouse, TLC '10 Grad. TLC List Serve, April 28, 2012
Recently, I had the pleasure of working with two fellow warriors - Joey Low and Colby Vokey - representing 3 Marines in California who were co-defendants in a case alleging the unlawful killing of two Afghans while the three were serving in Afghanistan.  We recently found out that all charges have been dismissed.

The three Marines were infantrymen - real warriors if you know what I mean.  One was on his third combat tour, the other two on their first.  By the time the allegations were made - they were all seasoned combat veterans, having been in multiple firefights against the enemy.

The general nature of the allegation was that our clients - while actively engaged in a firefight against the Taliban - turned around and shot two men who were unarmed non-combatants...wounding them.  That they then moved to the area where the two men were located, observed that they were wounded, and then summarily executed them both - each co-defendant shooting  3-5 times from a distance of between 2 feet and as close as 2 inches.   The allegations continued that they 3 co-defendants took trophy photos with the two dead men - envision how a hunter takes a photo of a freshly killed dear, holding the head up by the antlers.  Also, there was an allegation of obstruction of justice.

We were gathered to conduct the Article 32, Uniform Code of Military Justice, pretrial investigation hearing - loosely the military equivalent grand jury combined with a probable cause hearing. Quite often these hearings are just the speed bump to a military general court-martial (felony level) trial.

From beginning to end, the case was handled utilizing the TLC method.  Individually, we had commitments from our clients that they would fight these charges to the bitter end - that they did NOTHING wrong.

Record $74 million-ish Med Mal Verdict In SLO!

Nick Rowely, TLC '04 Grad. TLC List Serve - April 23, 2012.

Defense denied liability, offered zero.  Claimed we could never win in San Luis Obispo because jurors are conservative and would send us packing.  Defense, through the insurance company NORCAL, told us to take our best swing and we did. 

The local news and bloggers and talk shows ridiculed us during the trial.  The paper published love stories about the doctor such as a full page story "DR. HAUPT WAS THE RIGHT ONE FOR OUR TWINS".  We were called greedy, frivolous, among other things.
But, yes a big win.  Everybody is emailing me and texting me.  It feels good.  It boosts the ego.  But, as I sat there with the jury and laid in bed last night, I was humbled by the Justice that the jury decided.  And, with that I want everybody to know some things. 

First, this was a team effort.  Credit is due for what we accomplished to Michels and Watkins, Phil, Shirley and Jin Lew and Russ Kussman (Judge) and our teams.  Judge Kussman had the case initially and believed in the case.  When he made the tough decision of retiring his practice as a lawyer and becoming a Judge he trusted Michels and Watkins with the Blunt Family's case.  Michels & Watkins worked up the case expertly.  Jin Lew's work, Phil's work, Shirley's work, all exceptional.  

We, Carpenter, Zuckerman & Rowley, got called into the case a few weeks before trial because the case was preferentially set and Michels & Watkins had other conflicting trials with preferential settings.

Our partner Robert Ouinjan and I met the Blunt family and took the case on.  Rod Ritner, a trial lawyer from our midwest offices flew out immediately and jumped into the fight.  We worked together with Michels & Watkins all throughout the trial on witness preperation, law and motion issues, and all the chaos that comes with a 7 week med mal jury trial. 

We were all told/warned by the defense that the highest verdict in San Luis Obispo was low seven figures and that a med mal case had not been won in San Luis Obispo County for 24 years. 

As we started trial, the offer was zero.

Justice for a Montana Family - largest verdict in Montana history

Mike Sand, TLC '02 Grad. TLC List Serve, April 19, 2012.

TLC warriors Mike Abourezk (TLC '96 Grad) and Daniel Bidegaray (TLC '04 Grad) helped  Montana Jurors hold an insurance company accountable for their mistreatment of an elderly Alzheimer's patient. 

Arlene Hull, 90 and her husband, Bill spent most of their lives farming, ranching and raising a family near Billings, Montana. In 1997 they bought a long-term care policy from Medico Insurance Company. Bill died in 1998 and Arlene continued paying premiums so she would not be a burden to her family if she became disabled.

 In 2007 Arlene was diagnosed with dementia. She became unable to care for herself and moved int St. John's nursing home. Medico paid for Arlene's care until they were purchased by Ability Resources Inc. of Omaha, Nebraska.  In January 2010 Ability quit paying for the level of care that Arlene required claiming that she did not need "continual supervision due to a severe cognitive impairment".

Jurors in Federal Court in Billings, Montana disagreed. After a 4 day trial, they sent a message to Omaha that our parents and grandparents deserve to be treated with dignity. Mike asked the jury to award somewhat more than ten million dollars damages including punitives.

After several hours of deliberations the jury awarded thirty four million dollars damages, the largest verdict in Montana history.

Here is a link to the Huffington Post article about this case: Insurance Company Ordered toPay $34 Million For Kicking 90-Year-Old Arlene Hull Off Plan

Friday, April 13, 2012

For Former Military Lawyer Colby Vokey, the Defense Never Rests

For anyone in need of a little inspiration going into the weekend, here is a link to a great story about one of our own in Grad II, Colby Vokey.

This group is full of so many brave and courageous Warriors with such generous spirits.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to draw knowledge, inspiration, and energy from this group.  You guys are terrific.

Maren Chaloupka - TLC Faculty & '99 Grad

For Former Military Lawyer Colby Vokey, the Defense Never Rests

Once an outspoken judge advocate, Dallas' Colby Vokey was chased from the Marines, but he's still defending troops -- and still speaking his mind.

Sara Kerens
Colby Vokey emerges from behind his wooden desk and crouches into a shallow squat, his broad shoulders eating up the space in front of the panoramic windows that overlook downtown Dallas. He bends at the knees and stretches his hands behind him, his crisp, dark suit crumpling unnaturally.
Vokey's work has taken him to Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he posed with members of the local police force.
Courtesy of Colby Vokey
Vokey's work has taken him to Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he posed with members of the local police force.
Vokey, a retired lieutenant colonel, says he discovered his interest in the law serving on a jury in Dallas.
Courtesy of Colby Vokey
Vokey, a retired lieutenant colonel, says he discovered his interest in the law serving on a jury in Dallas.

"The purpose is to create stress on your joints," Vokey says. His office walls skim the highlights of his life — college and law school diplomas, a Dallas Morning News story about his retirement from the Marines, a Wall Street Journal story about a teenage detainee whom Vokey defended at Guantanamo Bay. Vokey retired from the military in 2008 as a lieutenant colonel, but he still spends most of his time defending the accused in high-profile military cases — including one of the soldiers charged with manslaughter in the recent suicide of Chinese-American Army Private Danny Chen.
It creates incredible pain, Vokey goes on, still crouching. He's attempting to capture, as best he can from the comfort of an Uptown office tower, how that teenage detainee in theJournal story was shackled to the floor with his hands and feet chained together. Omar Khadr was 15 when he threw a grenade that killed an American soldier in Afghanistan, and he was among the youngest to be sentenced to Guantanamo. Shackled to the ground in prison, he eventually tipped over, Vokey says. The guards yanked him by his hair back into position. After a while, Vokey says, the boy urinated on himself. The guards squirted the ground with disinfectant and used Khadr as a human mop, swirling him in his own mess.