Ms. Kothari was charged with interstate extortion and blackmail, based on emails sent across state lines. The person who received the emails forwarded them to the FBI, and the case was prosecuted in federal court. We were able to convince the jury that Ms. Kothari had no criminal intent. She was found not guilty after less than three hours of jury deliberations.
Mr. Stewart was charged in state court with carrying a concealed weapon and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Two police officers testified that they personally observed Stewart throw a handgun on the ground beside a vehicle as they approached on foot. The vehicle was also registered to Stewart. Even without Stewart testifying, we were able to persuade the jury that there were reasonable doubts as to the truthfulness of the officers’ testimony. Mr. Stewart was found not guilty of all charges.
Ms. Higdon was convicted of escaping from federal custody. At sentencing, the judge denied the defense’s request for a downward departure from the sentencing guidelines. We appealed, and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the sentence and remanded for a new hearing. The case now provides the blueprint for sentencing departures in federal district courts in the Western North Carolina District.
Ms. Huntley was charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base, or “crack.” The government’s evidence included cocaine and drug paraphernalia seized from Ms. Huntley’s home, and a four-page signed confession by Ms. Huntley. The jury found her not guilty of all charges.
Ms. Liu was charged with immigration fraud and bribing a federal law enforcement officer. She was on tape receiving fraudulent immigration documents from an undercover immigration officer. She was acquitted of all charges.
Mr. Valdes-Valdes was charged with conspiracy in an alleged interstate prostitution ring. Mr. Valdes-Valdes was on videotape paying bribe money to an undercover vice officer, and was arrested in the prostitution house. Codefendants testified against Mr. Valdes-Valdes. He was found not guilty of all charges.
Mr. Alas-Fuentes was an alleged MS-13 gang member charged with two counts of first-degree murder, robbery, and kidnapping. The state’s evidence included a statement by Mr. Alas-Fuentes wherein he admitted to being a member of MS-13, and to being present with other gang members when the kidnapping and shooting occurred. Our defense focused on Mr. Alas-Fuentes’ lack of actual participation in the crimes. He was found not guilty of all charges. A story on the trial and the outcome ran in the Charlotte Observer.
Mr. Her was charged with the first-degree murder of William Odom, a young man who had just shot and killed Mr. Her’s brother. After shooting Mr. Her’s brother, Mr. Odom attempted to flee from the scene. Mr. Her then opened fire, and shot Mr. Odom in the back of the head as he ran. We focused on the theories of self-defense and defense of others. The jury acquitted Mr. Her after less than an hour of deliberations.
Mr. Barnette was charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking offense. Close to a pound of marijuana and a gun were seized from Mr. Barnette’s car. Mr. Barnette was arrested at the scene. According to the arresting officer, Mr. Barnette admitted that everything in the car was his. The jury disagreed. Mr. Barnette was found not guilty of all charges.
Mr. Edwards was charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base. During a search of Mr. Edwards’ home, police seized scales and marijuana. Police had also seized approximately $8,000 from Edwards during an earlier automobile search. Several alleged co-conspirators testified against Mr. Edwards. After hours of deliberations, the jury found Mr. Edwards not guilty.
Mr. Drayton was charged with conspiracy and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill or inflict serious injury. The alleged victim testified that Mr. Drayton hit him repeatedly in the head and face with a cinderblock. The prosecutor produced photographs taken of the victim at the hospital, which showed the victim with a broken jaw swollen to the size of a softball, with tubes inserted to drain the blood. We argued that the photos, although disturbing, clearly showed that the victim had no cuts or scratches on his face or head, which would have been present if he had been hit repeatedly with a cinderblock. We then argued that the evidence more likely showed that this was just a fight, and Mr. Drayton had won the fight fair and square with his fists. The jury found Mr. Drayton not guilty in less than two hours of deliberations.
Mr. Curbelo was charged with drug conspiracy and multiple firearms’ violations. If he had been convicted of the firearms’ charges, Mr. Curbelo would have faced a minimum of 105 years in prison on those charges alone. The evidence of drug trafficking was overwhelming, including videotape of Mr. Curbelo selling kilo quantities of cocaine.
However, we were able to convince the jury that the firearms, although present, were unrelated to the drug transactions. Mr. Curbelo was found not guilty of all firearms’ offenses.
Ms. Sigmon was charged with drug conspiracy. The evidence included a confession and testimony from alleged co-conspirators. The jury convicted her. Still, we were able to convince the trial judge to overturn the jury’s verdict and grant Ms. Sigmon a new trial. The government then decided not to retry the case, and all charges against Ms. Sigmon were dismissed.
In this case, we sued two revenue officers from the North Carolina Department of Revenue, who we believed had acted in bad faith against our clients. Over 2,000 pounds of marijuana had been seized from a barn on our clients’ farm. Our clients claimed that they did not know that marijuana was being offloaded into their barn for distribution, and local law enforcement told the revenue officers that there was no probable cause to believe our clients were involved. Nevertheless, the revenue officers filed a $6 million tax lien on the property, which eventually forced our clients into bankruptcy. We sued.
It took eight years to get to trial, including a trip through the North Carolina Court of Appeals, which denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss our case. At trial, the jury returned a verdict in our favor for $6.4 million.
This was one of the highest profile cases in Charlotte in recent years. Mr. Hammoud was charged as the ringleader of a group of Lebanese businessmen who were allegedly funneling profits from illegal cigarette sales to the terrorist group Hezbollah. The trial was the first of its kind in the United States, receiving extensive local and national media coverage.
The outcome of a particular case cannot be predicated upon a lawyer’s or law firm’s past results. Past success is not a predictor of future success in any particular case.
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