Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Jury has case in civil pilot trial (updated with verdict)

Well, that was quick.  A two day civil trial before Judge Ungaro.  I didn't hear of any issues... thank goodness.  

The only item that I did hear about was that lawyers were required to wear masks when speaking in court -- even when examining witnesses and doing openings/closings.  I think that certainly takes away from the ability to effectively examine a witness and from giving a moving opening/closing.  

Maybe it doesn't matter all that much in a short civil trial, but I don't see many criminal defense lawyers agreeing to trying a case with a mask on.  

Some folks in state court who have tried cases with masks on have said that everyone forgets about it pretty quickly, but I have my doubts... I suspect we will see criminal trials opened back up in the Fall.  My only request to judges is to be understanding with lawyers' schedules, which are going to be insane.

UPDATE— jury verdict before 5pm for Plaintiff for full amount of claim. Plaintiff was represented by Katie S. Phang and Jonathan S. Feldman, a husband and wife team trying their first case together.  It also happened to be their anniversary today. What a nice anniversary gift!! 


Anonymous said...

I tried a felony case in state court recently in north Florida. Everyone masked. I did not like it or want to do trial masked, with witnesses masked, etc. but client wanted trial now. Not guilty.
At this juncture the jury pools appear to me to be great. Everyone wanted to serve, I guess they were tired of being locked up for a year, had not been out in a year, no movies, etc.
During breaks you could hear laughter in the jury room. They were happy to be out of the house and making new friends.
Do not be afraid to try a case right now in front of a jury.

Anonymous said...

Look at this horse shit and miscarriage of justice in an unpublished 11th Circuit opinion last week: https://media.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/unpub/files/202011460.pdf

11th Circuit affirms summary judgment for cops based on qualified immunity after the following series of events:

- beginning in 2016 police began receiving tips and investigating a drug house at 305 English Road.
- In 2017 police had a car parked in front of 305 English Road to surveil it (and apparently were chased by the criminals operating there). So, police had actually been to the house and seen it themselves.
- In January of 2018 two more police drove by 305 English Road and observed it.
- By 2018 police also had a video of criminal activity at 305 English Road.
- Eventually, police used an informant to actually conduct a controlled purchase at 305 English Road.
- Police got a warrant and were preparing to conduct a non-knock at 305 English Road.
- The police assembled a 21 person team to conduct the no-knock.
- In advance of the no-knock, leadership presented a powerpoint presentation with aerial images the house's location and driving directions to the house.
- During the presentation, leadership told the team that the warrant included a detailed description of the house at 305 English Road. But the warrant team leader testified that "he did not recall anyone reviewing the search warrant at the briefing nor any Response Team agent reviewing the warrant before the briefing."
- The team leader himself testified that he reviewed the search warrant to make sure, among other things, that the address matched the address used in the PowerPoint presentation, but admitted that he did not read it “all the way through.”
- No one in leadership thought to send an officer along with the warrant team who had ever put eyes on the house.
- When the team conducting the no-knock arrived at 305 English Road, the officers involved decided that despite the unambiguously provided address of 305 English Road on the warrant, the aerial pictures they were provided, and the directions given, that the address was wrong and executed the no-knock on another house that was 40 yards away.
- No one on the 21 man team that decided that the address was wrong thought to call it in to confirm. They just decided, on their little own, to go to an address that was not listed on the warrant - just because they felt like it.
- The team made the decision after they had begun the search of the correct house and had even arrested someone.
- And so, the 79 year old neighbor, 40 yards away, at 303 English Road, had his house raided, and he was arrested.

And immunity prevailed for the police, the neighbor got jack shit, and the police lived happily ever after. The end.

Extra credit: guess what color the police officers on the team are. Then guess what color the neighbor is. Watch the video here: https://www.11alive.com/article/news/investigations/the-reveal/henry-county-no-knock-warrant-wrong-house/85-3af2b307-8a6a-4f8c-8355-3ebe58a8c508