Case News, CJA Case News and First Step Act
Seattle AFDs Get Client Released!
Seattle AFDs Chloe Akers, Ann Wagner and Jennifer Wellman, along with paralegal Michael Larson, were able to successfully expose the deplorable conditions of pretrial confinement for a mentally ill client. After a month spent filing aggressive pleadings and tenaciously litigating these issues in court, the attorneys convinced the judge and the government that continued prosecution of the client in the federal system was not only unnecessary to achieve the ends of justice, but also amounted to a due process violation. Ultimately, the government dismissed the case and the client was released from custody to enter appropriate psychiatric hospitalization. Congrats to the entire team!
CJA Case News:
Jury Hung: Only 3 Votes for Guilty; Gov’t Dismisses Indictment!
CJA Panel Attorney Bob Goldsmith went to trial on a ‘false statement under penalty of perjury in a bankruptcy proceeding’ charge. The defense theory was that there was no ‘intent to defraud.’ What made this case unique is that the defendant worked for a government agency at the time of the bankruptcy. A government office had already been investigating the defendant for an unrelated matter, which likely aided in this investigation regarding the alleged perjury in the bankruptcy proceeding.
The government had trouble proving the allegations and the defendant maintained his innocence throughout the entirety of the case. The government went to great lengths to attempt to prove this charge and searched everything the defendant did in his entire life. During these searches, the government discovered a declaration from 2012, that the government found problematic and was the bases for the charge. Goldsmith was able to offer a complete timeline of the defendant’s military and government employee career, as well as map out exactly what went in to the bankruptcy filing and how the defendant’s attorney assisted throughout the bankruptcy proceeding, acting as the checks and balances of each step. Goldsmith argued that the defendant had no intent to deceive or cheat. The defendant did everything he could to honorably meet his debt obligations and that any information that was left out, was simply a mistake.
The majority of the jury did not believe that the government proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt, but were also unable to reach a unanimous decision. The jury returned to the courtroom with a 3 to 9 split in favor of ‘not guilty.’ The government then decided to dismiss the case, instead of setting it for another trial. Congrats, Bob!
First Step Act:
Our most recent First Step Act releasee was sentenced in 1998 to 387 months of imprisonment under the racially discriminatory and draconian penalties for crack cocaine convictions. He missed out on every subsequent positive change in our sentencing laws due to various procedural bars -- technicalities to the non-lawyers reading this. Finally he got relief under the First Step Act. At his resentencing before Judge Pechman he thanked everyone in the courtroom and President Trump for signing the First Step Act into law. Judge Pechman added that Congress deserved credit as well. He received 111 months, a sentence he has overserved by many years. He was released to a halfway house, thankful for the support he will receive in his transition and optimistic about his future.