Judith Mattern Hearn , TLC July 2012 Grad.
D.S. came to my office, following my court appointment on May, 2012, convinced he was going to do time. The State had filed a Motion to Revoke Probation on April 12, 2012, following an allegation that D.S. had intentionally and knowingly caused bodily injury to A.L.J. by punching, pushing, scratching, biting and choking her. The other allegations were that D.S. had failed to complete 240 hours of community service as directed by her (sic) community supervision officer, and had failed to attend, participate in and successfully complete the Batterers Intervention Program as directed by the Community Supervision Officer.
D.S. underlying offense was a third degree family violence charge, including impeding breath by choking, for which he received seven years probation. D.S. had been placed on probation the preceding September, 2011. Each time, I met with D.S., I would get just another piece of information from him, but he had maintained each time, that he did not punched, pushed, scratched, bit or choked A.L.J.
Upon review of his prior mental health history, D.S. advised me that he had multiple problems because of his anger, that he had sought treatment at Mental Health Mental Retardation, and that he had gone to John Peter Smith Hospital in Ft. Worth, because he had thought of suicide. D.S. told me that he had been diagnosed as bi-polar, but could not afford the medication. One medication was over $400 per month, and the other was $53 per month. MHMR had refused him assistance, stating his problems were significant and that he was a danger to himself and society, but refused to assist him with either psychiatric assistance or medication. Because of his problems with anger, D.S. would block things that he was uncomfortable with, or that he did not feel he could handle emotionally.
Our hearing for the motion to revoke was scheduled for 2:00 P.M. on August 8, 2012. On August 7, 2012, D.S. came in to work on his case. There were still so many holes in the events that happened the night of the alleged assault, that it was difficult to know how to defend him. D.S. had been offered eight years to do, and the State, upon his contesting the allegations, was going after 10 years. D.S. was convinced that after the hearing on the 8th, he was going to prison. The question was, for how long?
I asked D.S. if he would be willing to try something with me to fill in the gaps. I asked him to set the scene and show me where the alleged assault happened. After we did that, I asked him to tell me about A.L.J.: how she looked, how she smelled, where she was, and what she did. We went through the same thing with him. It was like a dam burst, and I got the information I needed. By doing the role reversal, D.S. was able to take me through the events of that evening, even the ones that he had suppressed.
I used that information to prepare my cross examination, and tell my story, including the lies that A.L.J. had told, throughout the case. Through cross, I started her back early in the evening, showed that she had been drinking, that drinking had been a sore spot between her and D.S., led her to the point where she punched him seven (7) time before he picked her up and set her on the washing machine, and that her injuries were from her fall. I started out as a soft cross, but when we got to the part where A.L.J. had sent D.S. 3,882 texts, 65 of them between July 10 and 27th, I went harder.
Our hearing was three hours long. Following that hearing, the Judge, who is not known for continuing anyone on probation, continued D.S., and gave him 60 days to do as a condition of probation, to be done on weekends. No additional time was added to D.S. original sentence, nor were there additional conditions added, nor was there an additional fine. D.S. was thrilled, and grateful that he was not going to prison. It was exhilarating to me – to use the TLC methods and have them work, outside the lab setting, and to have such a good result for my client. It was a good day.