On August 12th, 2013, a jury of twelve acquitted our innocent client of the 3rd Degree Felony Charge: “assault family violence choking.” In addition, the jury acquitted the client of standard assault. We were very pleased with this result, and worked extremely hard to see that the jury would understand the important facts of this case that led to the acquittal.
Quite interestingly, this was a case where the alleged victim did not want to press charges against our client and did not want to cooperate with the prosecution. Usually, when a complainant or victim does not want to press charges, the victim executes an affidavit of non-prosecution, telling the state that he or she does not want to pursue the case. When the prosecutors receive this affidavit, they very often dismiss the case. This particular time, however, the prosecutor in Medina County Texas would not dismiss the bogus charges, despite the victim’s affidavit of non-prosecution.
So, the case was set for trial about 1 month ago. We prepared our defense and appeared for trial. The victim, despite being subpoenaed, did not show up for the trial. The prosecutor told the judge in the early morning that he would be prepared for trial with or without this victim, and that he could prove the case either way.
Then, within a few hours that morning, the prosecutor sent out an arresting officer to try to force the victim to come to trial. When it became clear that the victim would not be showing up to trial, the state recanted its statement that it was ready for trial, and announced not ready. The court reset the case for 1 month. In the meantime, the prosecutor had their alleged victim arrested! Yes, the prosecutor arrested this alleged victim and held him in jail for 7 days. During this time the prosecutor spoke with the victim, and while we can never know exactly what was said during his stay in jail, we know that as a result the victim was frightened. When the victim showed up to court for our trial setting, he was sworn under oath to testify. He testified against our client, alleging that an assault occurred, and that such assault was not due to any self-defense.
After he testified for the State, Justin Cook cross-examined the witness. This was the most important part of the questioning:
Justin: “Matthew, are you afraid that if you do not testify the way the State wants you to, that they can charge your mother?”
Victim: (in tears) “Yes.”
As it turned out, the witness, on the stand and before the jury, admitted that he was testifying in accordance with the State’s desires, not because he had a motivation to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but because he was afraid for his mother.
After a 2 day trial and 45 minutes of deliberations, the jury returned the only just verdict. We were so glad that the jurors could see that what the state did (arresting and threatening their star witness) was absolutely awful.