On January 15, 2016, a Newton County judge reversed the convictions against our client and granted him a new trial. Our client (who has asked that we not use his name while the case is pending) had previously been convicted of rape, aggravated sexual battery, incest and multiple counts of child molestation. A lawyer who is not associated with our firm had represented the client when he was convicted at a jury trial several years ago. At that trial, the client was convicted on all counts and sentenced to serve 25 years in prison, followed by a lifetime on probation and the sex offender registry.
The client was in jail serving this lengthy sentence when his family contacted us to help him overturn this conviction and win him a new trial. His family hired us after they had learned about our firm’s success in similar cases. The client’s family was convinced that the first lawyer they hired did not do an adequate job of representing the client and had not really prepared for trial.
The allegations against our client had been made by two very impressionable young girls who may have been led into making these serious allegations by family members who had improper motives and were trying to have our client falsely accused of these very serious crimes. Immediately after we were hired, we visited the client in jail to find out what he thought had gone wrong at trial. We also obtained copies of all the transcripts from the trial and other court proceedings. I personally visited the client’s first lawyer to discuss the case with him and get his complete file. We also contacted and retained a qualified expert to work with us in helping get our client a new trial.
After a thorough review of all the pleadings, transcripts and discovery materials, we were convinced that the client had not been adequately represented at trial. We filed a Motion for a New Trial arguing primarily that the client had received ineffective assistance of counsel. We also argued that a forensic interview expert should have been provided access to certain records that may have indicated that the alleged victims in the case had given inconsistent statements about what happened and had even attempted to recant, or take back, their initial accusations.
After filing our motion and brief, we were granted a hearing by the judge. At the hearing, we called a number of witnesses to support our argument that the client had not been given a fair trial. We subpoenaed the lawyer who represented our client at the first trial and asked him some very direct questions about the things he should have done but did not do and the things that he did but should have avoided.
Once the hearing was over, we filed another legal brief with more arguments and cases to show the judge that our client did not get a fair trial. After considering our arguments, and the prosecutor’s response, the judge agreed with us that the lawyer had been ineffective in representing the client at the first trial. The judge granted our motion, reversed the convictions, and gave our client a new trial. Although we don’t have a date yet, we expect the trial to take place in a few months. While we certainly would have preferred that the client retain us before his first trial, we are glad to have helped him get a new trial so we can fight these false accusations.
Defending false accusations of child molestation can be incredibly difficult. In my experience, people charged with child molestation and similar crimes are often presumed guilty instead of innocent. To overcome this presumption, the defense lawyer has to work hard to develop credible evidence and reliable expert testimony before the client goes to court. If the case is handled the right way in the beginning, the chances of winning at trial are greatly increased. Ask me how a case I tried a couple of years ago is a good example of how pretrial preparation can really help.
We look forward to helping our client and his family successfully resolve this case as soon as the new trial is scheduled.