Receiving her 8th “non-guilty” on a criminal charge since her graduation from TLC, Colorado Warrior Lynda Carter (July 2010) has freed another innocent man. After a year in jail on a charge he never committed, and because Lynda believed him and was able to use TLC’s methods in every phase of her trial prep and in the courtroom, he will be back with his family for Christmas. Here is her story:
“I start the trial of my clients life on Monday so please light the fires! It is a child sexual assault case where the stepdaughter did not like her new father’s rules and thought this was the best way to get rid of him. There is no evidence other than “he said-she said,” but I am very scared because juries here in Colorado tend to believe kids – I am hoping that does not extend to teenagers who try to take advantage of the justice system. My client is facing life for these charges and it dawned on me this morning: I have only been an attorney three years. What am I doing trying cases like this already? I would love to win this one because the system has failed so miserably for this man. My client is a good man with a good family. He has been locked up for a year because they could not afford bond, although there was no evidence against him other than her allegation. I feel like Don Quixote battling windmills.”
On the following Monday:
“We got a verdict! Not guilty on two counts of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust; indeterminate sentence to life in prison. My client’s entire family was there, including his 87-year-old grandmother. I have never received so many bear hugs and kisses in my life.
This case was botched by law enforcement from the very beginning and never even investigated by the District Attorney’s Office. No evidence against my client was presented, except the teenagers allegation that could not possibly be true, yet he had been locked up for over a year without bail because his family could not afford bail at all.
My client was allowed to wear street clothes during the trial but had two officers escorting him to and from court. I felt this information to be relevant so I used it to show my client was an innocent man who had been locked up for a year, could not afford bail and, as a result, had to wait a year to clear his name. Each time the DA said the jury should not blame the victim for a botched police investigation, I reminded them my client was a victim of this botched investigation – losing his freedom for a year without anyone to listen to him but me, while I was powerless until I had a chance to speak for him in court.
During the trial, I conducted a TLC direct on the accusers sister, who testified that their biological father allowed them to date at 12, did drugs together with the girls and did not make them go to school. In a TLC soft-cross, the accuser testified she had not been in school in a year. In addition to having given birth to a child fathered by her 20-year-old boyfriend ten days before, the 14-year-old accuser appeared to be under the influence of a mind-altering substance, so my Opening Statement was reaffirmed and my client was very believable. I conducted a direct exam on the mother who testified that she and my client had tried to put the girls in counseling for many issues but their biological father refused to follow up on it.
At 11:30am we wrapped up and the jury got the case, they picked a foreman, ate lunch and delivered the verdict at 1:15pm. Picture this scene, just one of many scenes from this trial that will stay burned in my mind: My client had maintained his innocence all along. Just before the jury verdict was read, the Chief of Police, the Sheriff, three detectives, two police officers, two probation officers, and other uniformed officers came in and sat behind the DDA. I stood alone with my client, with his wife and family behind me. After the verdicts were read, they left the courtroom without comment. The DDA did not even shake my hand.
I am so happy for my client and his family. I am still in shock over how quick the jury came back and the feedback they provided me when I spoke to them afterward. After my Opening Statement, the jury was very alert when watching the accuser. None of them believed the story from the time she set foot on the stand. They noticed the difference in how she behaved when the DA asked her questions and when I asked her questions. One observed her conservative dress on the stand was not at all like normal teenagers dress in the community. Others just felt something was simply not right.
And now, Not Guilty! I love the jury each time I think about them. My two-year stint as a criminal defense attorney has resulted in an 8-0 record for criminal jury trials! This never would have happened without TLC, the wonderful friends I have made there and the great instruction I received from the faculty. During the F Warrior Alumni annual meeting I attended in November, I worked through a case which helped me during this trial in my cross exam of the police officer who botched the case. The jury was able to see he was kind, but also that he had no training. I tried to reverse roles with each person on the jury throughout the process and it worked. The five jurors I spoke to expressed their fear that someone could be locked up for a year on no evidence. They did not want this happening to anyone else – certainly not themselves or someone in their family! I had two jurors ask me to run for Sheriff in two years and one ask me to run for DA to ensure this does not keep happening.
My client will now be home for Christmas with his family. I am just so happy and so proud of the jury and how the TLC methods worked to help get justice for this man. Thanks to you and to every TLC faculty member and alumni who has helped me along the way. I am so much better as a lawyer and as a person for having taken the chance and come to TLC! I can’t wait to for my next case!”
Lynda Carter (TLC July 2010)