Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Never Judge a Book by its Cover

Battery to a Law Enforcement Officer is a crime that defense attorneys dread to defend. The case boils down to this. A police officer, usually in uniform, with gun and badge, will come in and tell the jury how much of a bad guy the defendant is, show his bruise, and then leave the stand. If anyone else testifies, it is usually his partner who witnessed the whole thing unfold. Slam dunk for the prosecution, right?

Not necessarily. Keep in mind that just because a case looks like a loser on its face does not mean that it is a loser deep inside.

As it turns out in our scenario, two police officers got on the stand and testified, but interestingly enough, they both told different stories. Under cross examination officer 1 and officer 2 could not even explain exactly how the injury occurred, even though they claim they were both, "right there". Referencing their police reports didn't help either. Upon refreshing their memories, they both realized they had written down different accounts of what happened. On top of the debacle which was the testimony of the two on scene officers, a detective got on the stand and initially testified that he had spent 2 hours with the defendant getting his confession. As it turns out, that didn't happen either. On cross, it came out that he really only spent 20 minutes with the defendant. By his own training manual that was not enough time to get an accurate statement.

In the end, the jury found my client not guilty and sent him home. So despite the charges, the bruising evidence and what may seem like insurmountable odds, we asked questions and set the record straight in a criminal trial by jury held in Milwaukee County Circuit Court on the charge of battery to a law enforcement officer and won an outright acquittal (not guilty verdict from the jury).

John A. Birdsall - T.J. Perlick-Molinari
Birdsall Law Offices, S.C.
135 W. Wells St., Ste 214, Milwaukee, WI 53203
801 West Walnut Street, Green Bay, Wisconsin 53704