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Prince George’s County Jury Acquits Correctional Officer of all Charges.

After a three day jury trial in Prince George’s County, a 30 year veteran correctional officer was acquitted of all charges, including several felonies which would have carried five years without parole.

Andrew Jezic and Jamie Alvarado-Taylor cross-examined all of the State’s witnesses in such a way as to show that the client’s own testimony was corroborated. It was a difficult case because the State had two eyewitnesses as compared to one for the Defendant – himself.

The jury deliberated only three hours before liberating the 62 year old father of seven. He and his wife of 32 years were elated.




Army Ranger murder case ends 8.5 years later with no jail and no supervised probation, and with a chance for an expungement.

logo Army Ranger murder case ends 8.5 years later with no jail and no supervised probation, and with a chance for an expungement.

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Former Army Ranger enters plea in 2006 death of his roommate in Gaithersburg, avoiding third trial.

A former Army Ranger accused of killing his roommate in Gaithersburg in 2006 has reached a plea agreement that lets him go free after serving more than five years in prison.

On Thursday, Gary James Smith, 32, now living in Olney, entered an Alford plea in Montgomery Circuit Court to involuntary manslaughter in the death of fellow soldier Michael McQueen.

An Alford plea means Smith does not admit guilt but acknowledges that there is evidence that could convict him.

Twice, Smith was convicted of killing McQueen, but both convictions were thrown out on appeal. A third trial had been scheduled for this month.

As part of the agreement, Smith pleaded guilty to a charge of reckless endangerment.

“He wanted a compromise that would end this,” his attorney, Andrew Jezic, said Thursday about the agreement reached with the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office and McQueen’s family.

The end result is that Smith is free to continue studying engineering at Montgomery College and working as a carpenter.

“It means I now have a chance to move on with my life, go to school and be with my family members,” Smith said Thursday.

Representatives of McQueen’s family could not be reached for comment.

“Today’s sentencing of Gary Smith, Jr., is the culmination of years of effort in holding him accountable in the death of Michael McQueen,” Ramon Korionoff, a spokesman for the state’s attorney’s office, wrote in an email Thursday. “It won’t bring the victim back but hopefully it can start the family on the road to healing.”

Smith was originally charged with murder after police found McQueen, 22, dead of a gunshot wound inside the Gaithersburg apartment he shared with Smith. Smith was found outside the apartment crying and covered in blood.

The question for a jury to decide was whether Smith shot McQueen or whether McQueen committed suicide, Jezic said.

In Smith’s first trial in 2008, the jury found him not guilty of first- and second-degree murder, but guilty of depraved heart murder, a crime which is not intentional, Jezic said.

The jury’s verdict was overturned by the state’s Court of Appeals in 2011.

In Smith’s second trial in 2012, the jury found Smith not guilty of depraved heart murder, but guilty of involuntary manslaughter. That conviction was overturned by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals last August.

Smith was released from prison in October and has been living under house arrest until the plea agreement was reached in April, Jezic said.

Under the agreement, Circuit Court Judge Joseph Dugan Jr. gave Smith credit for time served in prison and ordered a period of unsupervised probation. Smith will not be allowed to have firearms for 18 months, Jezic said.

If Smith had gone through another jury trial, he would have run the risk of being found guilty, Jezic said.

Smith said that would mean losing more time than he already has missed with family and friends, including his elderly grandparents.

“It was hard not to be there for them during my two stints in prison,” said Smith, who spent time in Hagerstown-area and Salisbury prisons while waiting for state appeals courts to rule in his case.

Last weekend, Smith said he went to the beach with his girlfriend after not seeing the Atlantic Ocean for nine years.

“It was great. We had a phenomenal time,” he said.

According to the agreement, Smith may ask for a reconsideration of his Alford plea for involuntary manslaughter in 4½ years and ask for probation before judgment.

If granted, the involuntary manslaughter can be expunged from his record, Jezic said, but the reckless endangerment charge will remain.

vterhune@gazette.net

An earlier version of this story mistakenly said McQueen was convicted in the 2008 trial.




Man found not guilty in Montgomery County home day-care sex abuse trial

Portada Washington Post 300x64 Man found not guilty in Montgomery County home day care sex abuse trial

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October 27, 2015

A 56-year-old Maryland man was found not guilty on all charges Tuesday after being accused of fondling a 5-year-old girl at a home day-care center owned by the man’s daughter and wife.

“I am very satisfied,” Manuel Aguilar-Morales said after the verdict. “The jury accepted the truth that I am innocent.”During the six-day trial, Aguilar-Morales’s attorney called as character witnesses eight parents whose children went to the day care. One of them, Steve Hadeed, said in an interview that he never doubted Aguilar-Morales’s innocence. “There are no other people in the world I would trust more to care for my children than the Aguilar-Morales family, and that includes Manuel,” Hadeed said.Andrew Jezic, an attorney for Aguilar-Morales, said his client had several roles at Ariana’s Learning and Play Family Child Care in Silver Spring. He cooked meals for his daughter, his wife and the children. He cleaned rooms and performed maintenance. After returning from his own job — landscaping and construction work — he would help watch the children when they played in the back yard. According to the allegations, at some point, he went into the children’s nap room and fondled a 5-year-old girl. The girl testified during the trial, Jezic said.Aguilar-Morales was acquitted on five counts: child sex abuse, two counts of second-degree sex offense, and two counts of third-degree sex offense, Jezic said.

Cindy Aguilar, Aguilar-Morales’s daughter, said it has been “a little bit hard” getting new parents to enroll their children while the case was pending. But she said many parents who had kids at the day care before the arrest returned their kids to the center after it was shut down briefly. Their support, she said, “will be something my family will never forget.”

 Man found not guilty in Montgomery County home day care sex abuse trial

Dan Morse covers courts and crime in Montgomery County. He arrived at the paper in 2005, after reporting stops at the Wall Street Journal, Baltimore Sun and Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser, where he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He is the author of The Yoga Store Murder.



Client released after JM attorneys prove it was a miss-identification

Our client had just been bonded out of jail when the Baltimore City Police department swooped in and arrested him for an attempted murder that occurred on March 3, 2015. He was held on a no bail status. Our client was not the person who had committed this crime. He was in Cumberland Maryland on March 3, 2015. We were able to subpoena video records from a Sheetz store in Cumberland Maryland that showed our client in their store at the time of the crime. We supplied this to the State’s Attorney’s Office, but they were still not convinced. We subpoenaed phone records from different providers to try to show where our client was at the time of the incident. The state was slow to give up the discovery. We went to the prosecutor’s office to give them the Sheetz video and try to get the discovery. We were advised that the victim and another had made identifications of the defendant as the perpetrator, but they were unable to give us the discovery at that time. Our client had now been sitting in jail for over two months. We continued to ask for the discovery and identifications through the arraignment and the first trial date. The prosecutor assigned to the case then gave the case to another prosecutor. We started our pleas with the new prosecutor for our client’s innocence. Finally, three weeks prior to the next trial date we received the discovery. There was only one identifying witness and the description both witnesses gave of the assailant did not match our client, he was much taller than the assailant and had a different complexion. We supplied pictures to the prosecutor and asked her to speak to her victims. Finally, the day before the last trial date the prosecutor spoke to the victim and the witness. The prosecutor dismissed the case in court only after she walked up next to our client, took off her shoes, and verified his height. The court apologized to our client for making him stay in jail for six months on a misidentification. To add insult to injury, the jail took two days to process our client for release. Luckily our client is home with his family now.




JM Attorneys Serve as Faculty Presenters at the Immigration and Criminal Defense Institute in Baltimore.

Partner Rand Lucey and Immigration Attorney Himedes Chicas recently served as faculty presenters at the day-long Immigration and Criminal Defense Institute, which was attended by over 120 attorneys and legal professionals who represent noncitizen clients in criminal and immigration proceedings. Attorney Lucey presented at a panel focusing on post-conviction strategies, providing participants with advice on pursuing post-conviction remedies for their clients in the State of Maryland. Attorney Chicas presented on another panel focusing on obtaining discretionary relief from removal for clients facing deportation in immigration court. The Immigration and Criminal Defense Institute was organized and sponsored by the Maryland Office of the Public Defense Immigration Program, the D.C. Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, the D.C. Public Defender Service, and the Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys Association, among others.




Attorney Successfully fights Protective Order in Alleghany County

On Wednesday, September 23, 2015, Attorney Jamie Alvarado-Taylor successfully defended a Montgomery County mother against allegations of abuse by her children’s father. The father, an Alleghany County resident, had filed a petition for a protective order against the mother on behalf of the parties’ ten year old child citing that the mother assaulted the son over the course of 15 minutes at a local Montgomery County water park while the father watched helplessly. Attorney Alvarado-Taylor was able to challenge the father’s credibility as an eye-witness and convince the judge that the charges were retaliatory and an overreaction from the father. The judge acknowledged that the mother has certain leeway in disciplining her child and agreed that the father’s timing of the filing of the charges was suspicious, given that it came a full month after the alleged assault and just days after the mother filed for a custody modification.




Daily Record again turns to Ahmet Hisim for expert commentary about Freddie Gray murder case in Baltimore

Montgomery County criminal defense Daily Record again turns to Ahmet Hisim for expert commentary about Freddie Gray murder case in Baltimore

Defense Attorney Ahmet Hisim

Motions hearings set on recusal, venue in Freddie Gray cases

After a summer of combative court filings, the case against the six Baltimore police officers charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray will begin moving forward in Baltimore City Circuit Court on Wednesday with the first of two pretrial motions hearings scheduled over the course of eight days.

Local defense lawyers not involved in the case say the attorneys for the officers continue to show a united front, including submitting joint motions, with no signs that will change.

“I don’t anticipate any one of these officers will point his or her finger at another officer,” said Steven H. Levin, a former federal prosecutor.

Levin, of Levin & Curlett LLC in Baltimore, said that as in other cases with co-defendants, attorneys for the six officers have likely decided who will argue each motion to avoid wasting time and duplicating efforts.

“It’s not in anyone’s interest to have each attorney argue the same motion,” he said.

Primarily at issue Wednesday will be the defense motions for the recusal of Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby and her office, and to dismiss the case based on prosecutorial misconduct. The defendants, who are not expected to appear in court, have also asked Baltimore City Circuit Judge Barry Williams to have their cases tried individually.

What some see as the biggest issue – whether the trial, or trials, will be heard in Baltimore or another venue – will be heard Sept. 10.

The six officers — Caesar R. Goodson Jr., Garret E. Miller, Edward M. Nero, William G. Porter, Brian W. Rice and Alicia D. White — pleaded not guilty in June to charges ranging from second-degree murder to reckless endangerment in connection with Gray’s death in April from injuries suffered while in police custody, which spawned widespread protests and rioting in Baltimore.

Conflict of interest?

The officers’ lawyers have repeatedly made the argument that Mosby faces conflicts of interest in the case and prosecutors were too involved in the investigation of the officers’ conduct.

Ahmet Hisim, a former Baltimore assistant state’s attorney, said he does not believe the defense argument will succeed that Mosby filed charges in the first place because her husband, Baltimore City Councilman Nick Mosby, represents the district where much of the unrest following Gray’s death was centered, according to a motion filed by the defense attorneys. The motion alleges that Mosby charged the officers to prevent rioting.

Defense attorneys are close to suggesting that Mosby cannot impartially prosecute crimes strongly connected to her husband’s district, Hisim said, which is counter to the goal of having a prosecutor with ties to the community they serve.

“They’re going to have to have something a little more solid than that,” said Hisim, of Jezic & Moyse LLC in Silver Spring.

The strongest arguments in favor of recusal, according to Hisim, are the allegations of conflicts of interest due to ties Mosby and other prosecutors have to the case. Williams quashed subpoenas sought by one of the defense attorneys to call Mosby and other prosecutors to the stand at Wednesday’s hearing.

Still, the officers’ lawyers might still bring up the problems they have alleged in how prosecutors handled the investigation, Levin said, specifically to discussion prosecutors had with an assistant medical examiner prior to her determination of the cause of Gray’s death.

“I think there’s a strategic interest in making that point to the court,” said Levin, who has been critical of Mosby’s handling of the case.

But Warren  S. Alperstein said it’s common for prosecutors to talk to experts during an investigation, and that alone is not grounds for recusal.

“It is rare for the defense to argue that a prosecutor should recuse his or herself,” he said. “It’s almost unheard of that the defense would ask an entire office to recuse itself.”

The onus is normally on a state’s attorney to recognize a conflict and recuse themselves, said Alperstein, of Alperstein & Diener P.A. in Baltimore. When the defense requests the recusal, it is an implication that the prosecutor is being unethical by handling the case, he said.

“When you ask someone to recuse themselves, you are implying that they have overstepped their bounds and done something unethical,” he said. “Once you accuse a prosecutor’s office of being unethical, you can’t un-ring that bell.”

Strongest case first

Mosby’s team has requested the officers be tried in two separate groups: those charged with felonies – Goodson, White, Nero and Miller; and those charged with misdemeanors – Rice and Porter, according to court filings.

The U.S. Supreme Court has said a statement made by a defendant that implicates a co-defendant is inadmissible if the defendant refuses to testify because it violates the co-defendant’s right to confront a witness. Lawyers for the officers, in court filings, argue much of the prosecution’s case is based on the officers’ statements.

It will be more challenging for prosecutors to try the case six times, Alperstein said, especially because as time goes on, witnesses memories fade, they can become uncooperative and the case deteriorates overall.

Strategically, whether tried as individuals or in two groups, Alperstein said prosecutors will want to try the strongest case first.

That case, in Alperstein’s estimation, is against Goodson, the driver of the transport van who prosecutors allege saw that Gray was in need of medical attention and denied it and drove recklessly with Gray unrestrained. Goodson is charged with second-degree murder.

Tainted jury pool?

Defense attorneys filed a motion to transfer their clients’ cases to another venue, providing an 84-page memorandum and more than 400 pages of documents to support their argument that the officers cannot have a fair and impartial trial in Baltimore.

Alperstein said the motion to remove the cases is likely the most important one the judge will hear at this point in the proceedings.

“I can’t think of any other case in Baltimore city that is more deserving of being moved to another venue,” he said. “The negative publicity in and of itself is enough to change venue.”

Every potential juror was affected by the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death, he added, which is argued in the defense motion.

“Every citizen in Baltimore was affected at a minimum by the curfew,” he said.

In the memorandum accompanying the defense motion, attorneys argued that as many as 90 jurors could be required to try the six officers separately, as the defendants are requesting, including alternates.

Citing reports of voter registration drives seeking to register young people to get them into the jury pool, the defense asserted, “This is alarming that an infiltration of the potential jury pool with biased individuals is being advocated in public.”

Hisim said there is a competing interest in trying the case among the community where the alleged crime occurred.

Another consideration if the motion is granted is where the case could be transferred, Alperstein said. Only a handful of jurisdictions have the infrastructure to handle the influx of parties, witnesses, media and possible protesters.

“To take it out of the community, this judge is going to have to say there’s no way these officers can get a fair trial in this community,” he said.

University of Maryland law professor Doug Colbert said it is exceedingly rare for a judge to grant a motion for change of venue. The defense faces a very heavy burden of showing not just a great deal of pretrial publicity but that the publicity has been prejudiced against the defendants and community sentiment is that the defendant is guilty, he said.

“I strongly believe in a jury system where, if there’s sufficient evidence that a juror has prejudged the case, they would be dismissed,” he said.

Through more extensive voir dire, Colbert said he believes the officers could receive a fair trial in Baltimore.

“I don’t question for a moment that 12 impartial jurors could be found here,” he said.




Criminal Defense Attorney Wooten wins another Bar Fight Trial

In July, DC criminal attorney David Wooten convinced a very tough judge in D.C. Superior Court to acquit his client of two counts of assault, for an altercation that occurred at the Green Turtle restaurant outside the Verizon Center, after a Washington Capitols hockey game. Mr. Wooten’s client was on parole for a prior felony assault, and could have been sent back to prison for an additional 7 years if convicted. Upon hearing the verdict, observers in the courtroom appeared shocked. They couldn’t believe that this tough judge did not believe the 4 Government witnesses who testified as to the assault that split one young man’s eye open. But Mr. Wooten was not the least bit surprised. Justice was served.




Confession Suppressed, Drug Case Dismissed

In July, a Prince George’s County judge made a rare decision to credit the testimony of attorney David Wooten’s client over a detective’s testimony, and to suppress the defendant’s confession, which led to the discovery of cocaine hidden in a wall. Mr. Wooten’s client was facing certain jail and deportation if convicted of felony possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. As Mr. Wooten learned a long time ago by reading Andrew Jezic’s book Maryland Law of Confessions, it is a rare feat to convince a judge to suppress a confession. A week after this victory, the entire case was dismissed and Mr. Wooten’s client got to remain in the United States a free man.




Attorney Lucey’s client Robbery Charges Dismissed

On July 3, 2014, criminal defense lawyer Rand Lucey, convinced a Prince George’s Circuit Court judge to dismiss all charges in his client’s robbery case. Despite the State being prepared to go forward on that day, Mr. Lucey successfully argued that previous delays, caused by the State’s witnesses, violated his client’s constitutional right to a speedy trial. Such a result is particularly rare given that the case was still less than one year old




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