Washington, DC Protective Order Hearing-Judge Keeps an Open Mind
My client was recently served with a notice of a protective order hearing in Washington, DC. The complaint was vague-in it it claimed he made threats of violence, was harassing the victim, was stalking her, caused her to lose her job. There was not a single specific fact alleged. He received a notice the day before the hearing. He told me he had never done anything wrong with this victim and had no idea what it was all about. He did not send her nasty e-mails or leave awful voice messages which could be used against him, he told me. He had no witnesses because he did not know what she was alleging. He gave me some background on the victim and with that we went the next day to the trial.
The case was called and the victim testified that my client had called her on the telephone approximately 17 times in approximately 10 days. She had taken pictures of her cell phone showing his number on the cell phone. I could tell the judge was getting annoyed at my client.
After that she claimed that while she was at church with her cousin and her baby her cousin went outside with the baby. My client was there and pointed a gun at the baby and threatened the cousin. At this point, the judge became alarmed and called on security. Things were not looking good for my client. The victim testified further that she spoke with my client's wife. His wife told the victim that she had better not pursue the felony gun assault charges because my client threatened to kill his wife if the victim pursued the matter. His wife and the victim were sisters.
The victim then called on her mother who testified that she went down to my client' s place of business. My client went outside with the mother and pulled a gun on the mother and pointed it at her and threatened her. The mother testified that a police car drove by and then my client ran away.
One of the greatest writers on evidence, John Henry Wigmore stated, “Cross-examination is the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth." On cross examination I used the police report that the victim brought against her. The victim testified that she had identified my client to the police. She had given the police his name, she had spelled his unusual name. The police report was quite detailed. Nowhere on the police report did it include his name. Further, on hard questioning, it appeared ridiculous that she would drop the charges especially when he is making death threats against his own wife. It would've been much more logical for both of them to go to the police at that point and have him arrested immediately. The victim admitted on cross examination that she was convicted of felony possession with intent to distribute drugs. Several months earlier she admitted to being involved in a custody dispute and admitted that the defendant testified at the dispute. She testified that his testimony was not against her. In that dispute she lost legal custody of her child.
On cross examination the mother also lost all credibility. That the mother would not go to the police immediately after being threatened with the gun when the police had just rolled by was preposterous.
I put my client on the stand and he explained that he shared the cell phone with his wife who was the sister of the victim. He explained he never threatened anybody with a gun. At the time that the threat was made he was at work. He testified that at the custody dispute he told the judge that the victim had acted inappropriately as a parent to her children.
At the end of the case the judge found the mother to be completely incredible and gave no weight to what the victim had said. The felony conviction discredited her. Her testimony about the custody battle discredit her. He dismissed the order against my client.
I was pleased that the judge was able to keep an open mind after he had ordered and security. My client, decent man, was able to survive lies and false accusations due to the power of cross examination.