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Terrific Trial Experience for Winter Quarter Criminal Defense Clinic Students

trial meeting

Trial strategy session; (from left) Snayha Nath ’15, Connie Dang ’15, Krisina Zuniga ’15 and Matt Henry ’15

Early in the winter quarter, several students returned to the advanced Criminal Defense Clinic to see their cases through to trial. Below are highlights of their work and results.

Acquittal Win on One of Two Charges at Misdemeanor Trial

Under the supervision of Director Ron Tyler, students Matt Henry ’15 and Snayha Nath ’15 conducted a misdemeanor battery trial on January 27 through February 3. The Clinic’s client had been stopped on Caltrain by two conductors who wrongly believed that he was fare evading. After one of the conductors pushed the client, he responded by trying to free himself, and a second conductor also grabbed him. As a result, the client was charged with two counts of battery on transportation personnel. On February 3, based on Snayha and Matt’s excellent trial work, the jury returned a verdict finding the client not guilty of one of the counts of battery. Unfortunately, he was convicted on one count. Matt and Snayha are preparing for a sentencing hearing that will likely take place soon.

Students Litigate Three-Day Jury Trial

During the week of February 10, 2014, Krisina Zuniga ’15 and Connie Dang, ’15 represented a client charged with three criminal misdemeanor counts in the clinic’s third full jury trial. Their client was charged with claims of driving under the influence and causing hit and run property damage. Krisina and Connie presented the defense that a third party, not their client, was the actual driver involved in the accident in question. The trial took place over three days and involved strategic jury selection, two separate motions in limine hearings, multiple cross-examination of law enforcement and civilian witnesses, and a direct examination of their client. Krisina and Connie were successful in winning an important set of motions in limine, filed by the prosecutor midway through their trial, defeating the claim that evidence of third-party culpability should be excluded – the basis of their client’s defense.

Although the jury unfortunately returned a guilty verdict on all counts after hours of deliberation, their client expressed deep gratitude for his “day in court.” Immediately following the verdict, Krisina and Connie presented mitigation evidence to the judge who granted their proposed sentence. The team was supervised by Clinic Director Professor Ron Tyler.

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