Misdemeanor Stalking Case
(Short Jury Trial to Not Guilty Verdict)
I represented a gentleman accused of a misdemeanor stalking by the ex-wife of his son. It took a day to pick a jury (May 22, 2018) It took one day for the evidence (May 23, 2018) And, it took a morning to argue the case. The jury returned a Not Guilty verdict before the end of the 3rd day (May 24, 2018).
I would have preferred the DA dismiss the case without the expense of trial to my client. This case was clearly a precursor to a custody battle between my client’s son and his ex-wife, mother of his daughter.
My client’s son told me that his ex-wife always “upped the ante” meaning that her claims would always grow over time. She would make more claims that, “you could neither prove nor disprove.” His advice was prophetic. When we started the trial, she had made new and different claims against my client to the District Attorney, who was obligated to inform me of her new claims. The DA was willing to postpone the case for the defense to investigate her claims. She would have made even more claims had we put off the trial.
I asked the jury in my opening statement if they ever knew somebody, a friend or acquaintance, who you knew was lying but you could never prove or disprove what they said because there was never any evidence, or any other witness, who could corroborate or dispute her claims. I made the entire trial about how the jury would have to accept her word without corroborating evidence. It was risky.
She made the mistake of claiming that my client had stalked her even more recently claiming that he following her to her daughter’s horse riding lesson. She described the silver/gray car that my client drove. Unbeknownst to her, that car was totaled in an accident prior to the date of the newly alleged stalking incident. We called my client’s son and a neighbor, whom we intended to call as a character witness. Both knew that my client had been driving a newer red SUV. She might have known this had she not served a restraining order against my client from picking up her daughter from school.
The jury saw right through the alleged victim’s testimony. They unanimously voted NOT GUILTY and left the courthouse. None were willing to speak with the DA or the alleged victim as they left the courtroom.
The NOT GUILTY verdict had a great impact on the Family Court Judge handling the divorce and child custody. The advantage that she sought in the custody battle turned against her. It may have saved my client’s son many thousands of dollars in the custody battle.
(Not all cases that I handle are serious cases in the overall scheme of things. However, they are the most serious case in my client’s life. Often, I am working with a judge or a prosecutor, who believes that my client “can live with” a minor conviction on their record, whether or not the charge is true. Sometimes, the deciding factor is the prohibitive cost of a jury trial. I would have preferred that the DA dismiss the charge without the expense of trial. Sometimes, you just got to say, “Enough is enough!” Let’s roll the dice and go to trial!).