Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Convicted, Then Found Not Guilty

Eau Claire Man Convicted Of Second Degree Sexual Assault & Child Enticement, Then Un-convicted, The Acquitted

We've all heard it can't be done - convictions cannot be reversed... 'les there is a prior conviction. But that is precisely what happened several months ago when our client, Aaron B. J. Frey was wrongfully convicted of second degree sexual assault of a child and child enticement. And then at trial, he was acquitted.

In November 2005, Aaron Frey was charged with sexual assault of a minor child and child enticement. The court appointed an attorney, and Aaron plead guilty to third degree sexual assault, with a dismissal of the enticement charge. He was sentenced to 18 months of probation and served 90 days in jail.

Frey then hired Birdsall Law Office to represent him on appeal of the conviction. Birdsall reviewed the court record, and set in motion a reversal of that conviction. The trial judge reversed the conviction based on a defective plea colloquy - inadequate covering of the elements of the offense.

The district attorney then proceeds to file charges based on "other acts" evidence, which allege another sexual encounter on a separate night (two nights prior to the charged crime - and on the alleged victim's 14th birthday). But the alleged victim says that the "other acts" are all wrong, and any "touching" that may have occurred was accidental. She was very worried that her mother would find out about her setting a time with Aaron to meet him after sneaking out of the house while her parent slept. And then there was the fact that they were both in underclothing when the police found them parked behind a building that was under construction at 3:30 a.m. on a school night, the additional fact that she had disarmed the home security alarm to sneak out, and the small technicalities that she was the primary person calling Aaron and she set up the meeting.

Trial began this past Monday, but last Friday, the alleged victim met with the district attorney and completed switched her story, stating that at least one of the "touching" incidences was not accidental and was in fact sexual, among other changes to previous testimony.

When a person testifies to one fact, and then switches that testimony to another fact, and the defense attorney brings up these changes under examination during the trial, the process is called "impeaching a witness".

The jury deliberated for 50 minutes and brought back the verdict of "not guilty" on both counts.

John A. Birdsall, Birdsall Law Offices, S.C.
135 W. Wells St., Ste 214, Milwaukee, WI 53203
414.831.5465 -

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Poor Pakistani President Perez Musharaff....that bothersome constitution of his, it seems, is so severely hampering his ability to stem Islamist violence in his country that the only way to deal with it is to “suspend” it. That is code for “do away with” and/or “abolish” so that he can grab near absolute power. That level of control will certainly allow him (or anyone) to more efficiently crackdown on terrorism but what does this bode for the credibility of this important country? The Bush administration’s abysmal Middle East foreign policy strategy (lack of strategy?) now is faced with a terrible dilemma: support an emerging dictator whose country is home to Osama bin Laden and his terrorist friends (thus completely abandoning the “Freedom Agenda” articulated in his last inaugural address) or dump an important US ally in the legitimate war on terror (as opposed to the war in Iraq).

Is this overly simplified? Yes. The real situation is far more complex (as all matters of international relations are). However, the important point for Americans to take away from this is how precious the rule of law is. Let’s compare Musharaff’s justification for utterly suspending his “democracy’s” constitution with the Bush administration’s consistent and aggressive efforts to chop (not “chip”) away at ours. They are only inches apart.

Don’t get me wrong - I understand that there is a need to balance security and civil liberties. This will always be the case. However, we must ask for both the United States and Pakistan: Must we abandon our core values and the actual structure of democracy to achieve security. The US has been through many wars, we have been attacked, we have been infiltrated by spies, and our constitution has weathered all storms. But in the current terror hysteria (some real, some manufactured) I can easily see the scenario whereby a US president could justify suspension of even our constitution in order to respond to a terrorist attack(s). That is what should have us worried.

Am I engaging in scare tactics myself. I don’t think so. Witness the tremendous centralization of power in the last 7 years: the Patriot Act, consistently withholding information from Congress, essentially sanctioning torture (see, “rendition” and/or “waterboarding”) and, most recently, seeking to “redefine” the term “privacy.” Just today, the New York Times reported that:

Privacy no longer can mean anonymity, says Donald Kerr, the principal deputy director of national intelligence. Instead, it should mean that government and businesses properly safeguard people's private communications and financial information.”

What? “Trust us, we’re the government?” We’ve been down that road and if there is one thing the current administration has demonstrated - they are NOT to be trusted with increased power. I would say the same thing about any new Democratic administration. Checks and balances such as a legislative body and courts are intentionally inconvenient - they are there to slow down the tendency of one branch of government to either slowly accumulate or quickly grab more power than they are supposed to have under our system. So far, the past 7 years have been a slow, but quickening, accumulation of power by the executive branch. I think our institutions and the American people are strong enough to resist a sudden grab, the slow devolution of our freedoms is what we must all stay ever-vigilant against.

John A. Birdsall, Birdsall Law Offices, S.C.
135 W. Wells St., Ste 214, Milwaukee, WI 53203
414.831.5465 -

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Who Really Body Slammed Who?

On Friday, November 2, 2007, Coach Crawley will appear in Milwaukee Court for an intake hearing on two misdemeanor charges alleging he abused a child and acted disorderly.

However, Coach Crawley and several other witnesses say that never happened. This is just another case of the media sensationalizing a story for the ratings.

Reporters have been contacting Attorney John Birdsall, Crawley's criminal defense lawyer, asking questions and searching for more dirt on the story.

Crawley has been a coach for several years. Before being allowed to coach, the school conducted a complete background check on Crawley. And since becoming a coach, several parents say that he has positively impacted their children's lives.

When you remove the press wrapping from the story, it goes like this. Crawley was teaching his boys a new play. One of those players has repeatedly played dirty in the past, and on the day of this scrimmage, he targeted the coach's son as he had done in the past, and delivered a whopping impact with his shoulder. That impact was so strong that the responsible player wore a sling given to him by his mother after he had been checked out at the hospital to determine that there were no injuries and he did not need a cast.

Meanwhile, the coaches son, who was slammed to the ground by the blow and who lay screaming in pain while the responsible player looked over and laughed, was injured very badly. The responsible player was up to practice the following day and played in a final heated game two days later. However, the coach's son is still out with a very deep bruise to his thigh, and scheduled for an MRI.

So, who is the real responsible party here?

Is it the coach for being upset over his son being the target of a dirty player, getting seriously injured, and moving the assaulting player out of the way so that he could get to his and take him to the hospital?

Is it the dirty player who targeted the coach's son? Who laughed after he had knocked him to the ground, despite the fact that the boy he smacked to the ground with his shoulder blow lay screaming in pain? Who had previously played in this fashion?

Is it the coach who said that the dirty player would not play again?

Or the boy who lives to play football, despite his cheap shot methods?

Or is it the mother, who really wants to see the coach put in jail?

Perhaps there is much more to the real story than a single question about who body slammed whom. Perhaps the coach had talked to the dirty player's mother about the player's ethics on the field, and indicated to her that the cheap shots had to stop, or the boy would be removed from the game. And perhaps that mother told her son, which is what caused him to want to take the coach's son out. Vindictiveness seems to be playing a major role in this case. From the boy who wears his mother's sling to practice the next day - after hurting his own shoulder while taking a cheap shot on the coach's son and not being able to get a sling from the hospital - to the mother's repeated visits and calls to the police station to ask for the coach's arrest, things just don't add up the same way as the media has led you to believe when you know the whole story and the identity of the responsible player.

John A. Birdsall, Birdsall Law Offices, S.C.
135 W. Wells St., Ste 214, Milwaukee, WI 53203
414.831.5465 -