This past Tuesday shortly before noon a Spolin Law client charged with murder walked free after a judge dismissed the charges against him.
The client—a high school senior—had been charged with murder based on his alleged participation in a street racing contest where another driver had struck and killed a pedestrian. The client had not in fact been participating in any street racing and was not the driver who struck the pedestrian. The case was heard by Judge William Wood of the San Diego County Superior Court, Juvenile Division. The client’s family had hired Spolin Law P.C. to write the motion to dismiss the case and had also hired attorney Carl Bradley Patton to represent the client in the “jurisdiction hearing” that resulted in the dismissal.
Spolin Law’s motion to dismiss argued that all charges against the client should be dismissed and that the prosecution had not in fact presented evidence showing the client’s participation in a car racing contest. In support of this argument, the motion cited numerous prior cases with similar fact patterns and highlighted that convictions in other courts for the same crime were not analogous; other cases had all involved significantly more evidence of actual racing. The arguments were enough to persuade the Superior Court judge to drop all charges—including the murder charge—and dismiss the case.
When the ruling was announced, a wave of relief swept through the client’s family seated in the courtroom. The client himself let out a deep sigh of relief and, with tears in his eyes, embraced his father and other family members who were in the court. At that moment he was a free man, and he walked out of the courthouse with his family moments later. He will now be able to return to his life, which will include completing high school, applying to colleges, playing sports, and being with his family.
For more information about Spolin Law P.C. and how our attorneys may be able to help on a criminal case, feel free to contact us at (310) 424-5816.
Early last week Spolin Law won a key ruling for a client on a writ of habeas corpus in the Federal District Court for the Central District of California.
The client had contacted the firm just weeks before the deadline for a federal writ of habeas corpus. Federal writs have extremely strict deadlines, and individuals who file writs after the deadline typically get an automatic denial regardless of the merits of their arguments.
Besides the deadline, federal writs also have another requirement: writs of habeas corpus based on state convictions require that the issue at stake be litigated in the county’s Superior Court, the Court of Appeals, and the California Supreme Court. Only after losing in all three courts is a litigant allowed to bring the argument to federal court in a writ of habeas corpus.
This requirement was the client’s essential problem: he had just a few weeks of time before the federal deadline but had not yet raised his key argument (ineffectiveness of counsel) in any of the state courts. Moreover, the process of raising his claim in all the state courts would have taken several months at the very least (and certainly not the mere weeks he had before his federal deadline). While federal courts typically “pause” the deadline period for state court litigation filed and litigated properly, there was no guarantee that the federal court would consider the client’s state filings to be properly filed and litigated.
Spolin Law, under the direction of appeals attorney Aaron Spolin, attempted to solve this problem by seeking a “stay” from the federal court. Essentially, the firm filed the client’s federal writ of habeas corpus in federal court along with a request that the federal court preemptively affirm that they would count the federal writ as having been filed within the one-year limitations period regardless of the length of the state court proceedings.
United States Magistrate Judge Kenly Kiya Kato issued the written opinion granting Mr. Spolin’s requested stay. She sympathized with the client’s desire to have a “‘protective’ petition in federal court to avoid the ‘predicament’ of ‘litigating in state court for years only to find out in the end’ the state court petition was never ‘properly filed’ and thus that his federal petition is time barred.”
Spolin Law has also filed a state court writ regarding the same issues that are discussed in the federal writ. As the firm litigates this issue, its hopes to win in state court and thus negate the need to appeal any denial to federal court. Nonetheless, should the client not prevail in any of the three levels of state courts, the doors to federal court will be open as a result of Spolin Law’s diligent efforts to preserve every opportunity for the client to win his writ of habeas corpus and—ideally—secure his freedom.