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:

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