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Reflections on the Unjust Influence of Police Reports in the Criminal Justice System

Stanford Criminal Defense Clinic students Maya Perelman (JD ’16) and Jeannie Lieder (JD ’16), supervised by CDC instructors Ron Tyler and Suzanne Luban, recently wrapped up their final case. Below they reflect on their experience navigating the criminal justice system. 

Lieder and PerelmanAnyone who believes that police reports tell the whole story should spend some time on the defense side of the criminal justice system. In each of our clinic’s cases, even the most cursory investigations revealed huge gaps, inconsistencies, and mistakes in the police version of events (a version that, unfortunately, too many prosecutors summarily adopt as the truth).

The inaccuracies are partly a function of police bias and partly the result of insufficient investigation. These sources of error—as well as the government’s failure to acknowledge these errors—can, and often do, have grave consequences for criminal defendants.

Police have clear incentives to avoid liability or self-incrimination, and their reports are inherently one-sided. Often, the police have a checklist of factors indicating guilt. They fill out their reports with the same rote language (sometimes just substituting, or forgetting to substitute, a different person’s name into a previously written report). During our time in clinic, we have seen the identical incriminating language used in multiple police reports, regardless of its relevance to the conduct at issue. In a vandalism case, for example, where the police awakened our client at 7:00 a.m., the officer inserted language straight from a DUI report regarding our client’s “blurry red eyes”—even though the vandalism had occurred the evening before, and alcohol use played no part in the vandalism charge. This police report read much like the DUI police report we encountered in another case.

In our DUI case, we saw how police reports rely on shortcuts over fact-specific investigations. Police DUI investigations employ the Standardized Field Sobriety Test, a battery of three tests administered systematically to evaluate a person’s level of impairment. However, because the results are also standardized, it’s easier for officers to simply check off the factors that could signal impairment without regard to a suspect’s actual performance on the test. In our client’s case, the officer’s report listed several of the go-to factors signaling impairment on field sobriety tests—but these statements were inconsistent with our client’s performance captured in the footage of the traffic stop.  However, tracking down and extracting the footage from the police “dash cam” was not easy, and in the vast majority of cases, judges and prosecutors will never see it. Thus, although our review of the footage in this case helped us secure a better offer for our client, in most cases, the police report is the only “evidence” that the prosecutor and judge will use to determine a client’s sentence.

Other times, the inaccuracy stems not from sloppiness, but from purposeful deception, In another one of our cases, which involved eight police officers surrounding and tasing our client, an unarmed black man, the police had clear incentives to minimize their use of force. To this end, the police report claimed that the taser caused our client no pain and resulted only in a “small abrasion.” Unsurprisingly, our client later revealed that the taser had caused him excruciating pain.

For two of our clients, the failure to thoroughly investigate resulted in unjust charges. In one such case, three drunken intruders broke into our client’s home through his doggy door in the middle of the night. When our client, who’d been sleeping, emerged from his bedroom, he “assaulted” X, one of the intruders, in self-defense. Yet the police accepted at face value X’s later claim that he was our client’s roommate who was simply trying to get back into the house late at night. This was despite the fact that X was listed as having a different address, could never produce a key to the house, was not listed on the lease, was explicitly warned away from our client’s home, and had never paid rent. Based only on X’s self-serving claim noted in the police report, one judge threatened our client with felony charges and told him he was “stupid” for refusing to take a guilty plea. Later on, in front of a different judge, the prosecutor in the case disputed our claim that the intruder was not a roommate by reading directly from the complaining witness’s statement to the police (given a full day after the drunken intrusion took place). He, too, had failed to thoroughly investigate before the pre-trial conference.

Those familiar with rules of evidence may point out that police reports are technically inadmissible at trial. Given this, why does the unreliability of police reports matter? Won’t the true facts be revealed anyway over the course of an adversarial trial, where the defendant gets to present his side of the story and confront the witnesses against him? The short answer is that trial is an unrealistic option for most defendants, and 94% of state cases end in a plea bargain. This phenomenon has many different explanations, including the reality of the “trial penalty,” wherein a prosecutor or judge can exercise his or her discretion to punish a defendant (for example, by adding, increasing, and stacking multiple counts) for refusing to plea. Trial is not only unrealistic because of the trial penalty but because of the uncertainty it presents, the time it takes up, and the fact that many criminal defendants will not, or cannot, take the stand at trial. Some fear having their words distorted.  Others worry that their past “bad acts” will come in and humiliate them. Their fears that they will not be believed are well-founded: most jurors view police officers as more trustworthy, and credit their testimony over that of the accused, presumption of innocence be damned.

Thus, for the vast majority of criminal defendants, the police report represents the sum total of the evidence that will determine their fate: it is the one document that prosecutors will always review in making an offer and the one that defense attorneys will always review in advising a client whether to accept. Under this system, the “presumption of innocence” mantra becomes meaningless; after all, in making an arrest, police don’t have the equivalent obligation to presume innocence—and their judgments continue to taint a court’s view of a defendant long before he ever gets to tell his story.

For further reading on this topic, please see Michelle Alexander’s New York Times article on “Why Police Lie Under Oath.” Find it here.

Spring Quarter Highlights from the O&T Clinic

Congratulations to all students in the Organizations and Transactions Clinic on a successful spring quarter. Under the supervision of director Jay Mitchell and clinical supervising attorney Michelle Sonu, students worked on a variety of corporate, contractual, advisory, and governance matters, as highlighted below:

Advice and contract matters:

Stanford Law School Portraits & Mentor eventKyle Canchola (JD ’16) and Fay Krewer (JD ’16) drafted loan, security, and guaranty agreements for a leading statewide small business lender and microfinance provider. They also advised a large San Francisco affordable housing provider about possible changes in its corporate structure, and developed a variety of program contracts and other documents for an international nonprofit that works with communities and local governments across Asia and Africa to develop literacy skills and promote gender equality in education.


Stanford Law School Portraits & Mentor event

Jennifer Binger (JD ’16) and KJ Pedersen (JD ’16) worked closely with a prominent Bay Area farmers’ market operator to develop an extensive market rules document reflecting recent changes in California law and market strategy. Jen and KJ also created contract documents and management decision-making tools for a substance abuse nonprofit concerning collaborations with mental health and primary care providers, and drafted a variety of documents for an Oakland provider of mental health, education, and family support services to children and families.

Stanford Law School Portraits & Mentor eventJason Fischbein (JD ’16) and Nicole Scott (JD ’16) revamped program documents for a business incubator that seeks to accelerate emerging apparel and accessories design businesses in the Bay Area. Jason and Nicole also worked with a large and long-established San Francisco nonprofit on a contract for an innovative donated goods collection program, advised a statewide farming organization about its relationship with local chapters, and drafted a suite of grant, service, and sponsorship contracts for a Santa Cruz County arts organization.

Stanford Law School Portraits & Mentor eventNicole Adamson Duda (JD ’16) and Drew Kambic (JD ’16) developed contract documents for a large international organization dedicated to encouraging distribution of free, multilingual content and providing full content to the public free of charge. They also advised a Marin County mental health provider about modernizing relationships with five affiliated organizations and drafted model farm lease provisions for a statewide agricultural organization, including provisions relating to drought mitigation measures and conservation easements.



Corporate governance:

In addition, all O&T Clinic students executed comprehensive corporate governance reviews. These engagements involve O&T governance teamreviewing the client’s existing governance documents and practices, preparing a detailed advice deliverable, drafting an extensive suite of bylaws, board committee charters, and other documents, and making a formal presentation to the board of directors and to the CEO. Nicole Adamson Duda and Jason Fischbein  worked with the board of a San Francisco Mission District visual arts organization. Drew Kambic and Fay Krewer worked with a San Francisco nonprofit that supports vulnerable individuals with HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, and other life-threatening illnesses. Jennifer Binger and Kyle Canchola represented a long-established Marin County provider of services to older adults and persons with disabilities. KJ Pedersen and Nicole Scott advised a Santa Cruz nonprofit that provides services and funds to artists and arts organizations.



Where Are They Now? An Interview with SLS Alum, Craig Segall (JD ’07)

Welcome to the first installment of our new “Where Are They Now?” alumni series! These articles follow a Q&A interview format with SLS/MLC alums and I hope you find it interesting to read about their careers since graduation–and to hear how their clinic experience may have played a role.

For this installment, we had the pleasure of catching up with SLS and Environmental Law Clinic alum Craig Segall (JD ’07), who shares thoughts on his career path and some of his more salient experiences in the clinical program.


A spelunking adventure for SLS alum, Craig Segall

A spelunking adventure for SLS alum, Craig Segall

Q: Where has your career path taken you since graduation?

A: After law school, I clerked for Judge Marsha Berzon, and then worked for five years at the Sierra Club, largely on climate, energy, and clean water issues. Since 2013, I have been a senior staff attorney with the California Air Resources Board. My portfolio at ARB focuses on climate change; among other things, I am the staff lead for ARB’s efforts around the federal Clean Power Plan. I also do quite a bit of work on short-lived climate pollutant issues, including around methane from oil and gas operations.

Q: Do you plan to maintain a career in public interest law?

A. Yes. Though, like any office worker, I sometimes think about trading in for a long stint on a trail crew. But, really, I can’t think of a better desk job. This work is relevant and important, and it feels good to work hard on issues that matter so much to so many people.

Q: So, you were interested in environmental law practice prior to law school?

A: Very much so. In my undergraduate science days, I became increasingly concerned about climate change and environmental degradation generally. I was particularly interested in the ways in which environmental legal practice bridges technical and scientific issues with larger questions of justice that ought to motivate legal and policy decisions.

Q: It seems natural, then, that you took the Environmental Law Clinic while at SLS. Did your experiences in the clinic influence or help prepare you for the career you have now?

A: I don’t think I’d be where I am today without the clinic. That experience shaped my approach to lawyering, and showed me that it could be fun. Practically speaking, friends from the clinic and Professor Sivas are a big part of my professional life. It’s good to keep working together. The clinic confirmed my preconceptions that I wanted to be an environmental lawyer. It showed me the grinding challenge of the work, but also how great it was to work as a team with good-hearted people to help protect the world.

Q: What would you say was your proudest moment in the clinical program?

A: Do I have to pick just one? First, I’d say I’m thrilled to have helped set up a major lawsuit over illegal development of vernal pool wetlands in the central valley. I faltered on the temporary restraining order, but ultimately helped to win a preliminary injunction that stopped development long enough for a good settlement to be reached.

Another time, I was part of the team that brought a lawsuit on behalf of then Senator John Kerry and then Representative Jay Inslee intending to force the George W. Bush administration to release a national climate science assessment. I was able to develop a detailed whistle-blower declaration that helped expose how the administration had been suppressing climate science. The lawsuit helped get the national climate program back on track.

One last thing I’ll mention is that as part of a Hurricane Katrina emergency legal response team, I got to spend a week dashing around the Mississippi gulf coast helping a historically black community preserve the wetlands that had buffered it from the worst of the storm. It is also the first, and (so far) the last, time I have ever gotten to actually stand in front of construction equipment waving a legal order to stop work. It was an exciting moment.

Q: Did you consider clinical education as a factor before applying to Stanford Law? 

I didn’t know much about clinical education, but I really appreciated Stanford’s insistence that good lawyers be comfortable both with doctrine and with human problem solving, and I think this approach is reflected in the centrality of clinical education to the SLS experience. When I discovered the clinical program, I knew I wanted to be part of the Environmental Law Clinic because of the community that I knew Professor Sivas created. Environmental problems are often pretty intractable and it really helps to engage them with good will and a sense of humor, with friends. That was very much the clinic’s atmosphere, and it’s an approach I’ve tried to since adopt with many of my clinic colleagues, who have wound up as professional colleagues, too.

Q: What advice do you have for law students considering clinical legal education?

A: Go for it! There’s really no better training for a life in law. Now that I am sometimes in a hiring role, it’s worth saying that clinical students, all else being equal, definitely have a leg up.



Advanced Environmental Law Clinic: A Day in the Life

Abby Barnes--ELCAbigail Barnes (JD ’16) is one of many SLS students who participate in a full-time clinic course and subsequently return as student attorneys in the advanced program. She writes below sharing experiences from a day in her life as a student in the Winter 2015 Advanced Environmental Law Clinic. 

As a full-time student in the Environmental Law Clinic last fall, I helped investigate and file a challenge to a desalination project being built without the environmental review required by state law in the small town of Cambria, California, for our client, LandWatch San Luis Obispo County. I continued to work on the case as an advanced student, and after the project began operating in January 2015, we filed a motion for a preliminary injunction. The motion had to be sent to the respondent by FedEx’s 8 p.m. cutoff on Wednesday, February 11th.

The motion had been in the works for weeks, starting with drafts by Carolina de Armas and Libby Berardi the full-time clinic students on the case, and yet there was still plenty of last-minute work to do. I ran into Carolina around 8:30 Wednesday morning, and we discussed the priority order for the list of final tasks I had circulated the night before (such as a final check that the exhibit numbers were correctly cited, and making sure that all edits had gotten into the latest draft).

I was back to clinic at 12:45 after my morning class, and the afternoon was something of a blur: the team reviewed final edits from our client and co-counsel, prepared shipping labels and started printing all the exhibits, made a table of authorities, proofread yet again, and sometimes just waited until someone else was out of the draft or another task came up. A last-minute exhibit was added and then taken out again. The printer stopped working briefly, and Carolina ran to the library. Eventually, Carolina, Libby, and I sat with Debbie, our clinic director with the final draft, and went page by page entering any final changes and looking for any lingering typos. We printed copies, I signed the motion and my declaration in support of it, and then rushed to FedEx, making the drop-off with five whole minutes to spare.

It was an eventful day, but just one of many in this case: One month later, I argued the preliminary injunction motion in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.

An Inside Look at Detention Conditions for Confined Immigrants Awaiting Hearing

” . . . the realities of confinement are indisputably bleak, regardless of whether individuals are considered detainees or criminals.”  —Nayha Arora (JD ’16) on the conditions immigrant detainees face similar to that of incarcerated convicted criminals.  

Nayha shares the experience and her observations of a tour of the new privately-run Mesa Verde Detention Facility as part of her policy work in the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic.  

IRC Team Spring 2015

IRC team returning from their tour of Mesa Verde Detention Facility. From left: Philip Klimke, Ryan McIlroy, Lindsey Jackson, Nayha Arora, Steven Spriggs, and Matthaeus Weinhardt

This quarter in the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, I have had the opportunity to both represent an individual client in her case and research policy issues that affect the immigrant community broadly. One of these issues is immigration detention.  In March of this year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began moving immigrant detainees from facilities in Sacramento and Yuba to the newly-opened Mesa Verde Detention Facility, a private detention center run by the GEO Group located in Bakersfield, California. Together with our clinic supervisor, my classmates and I drove roughly five hours from Palo Alto to Bakersfield to visit the new facility in mid-May.

Under the law, immigrants in removal proceedings are detained if they are considered flight risks or dangers to public safety. Detainees are not
criminals, however. I was interested to see whether this distinction influenced the conditions and operations of the detention facility.

We were greeted at Mesa Verde by the Warden, his assistant, and two officers. They gave us a tour of the facility, which feels and looks similar to some county jails. The grounds of Mesa Verde are surrounded by a barb wired fence. When detainees enter the facility, all their belongings are taken from them, and they are given a uniform. Detainees’ activities and schedules, from recreation to visitation, are all subject to facility approval and carefully monitored. Medical resources are limited, as well; the medical unit employs only one part-time physician, dentist, and psychiatrist for 400 people.

Personally, I was most struck by the silence in the hallways, communal spaces, and dormitories. Recreation areas and the library were vacant, and there was little chatter or interaction among individuals. The tour confirmed for me that the realities of confinement are indisputably bleak, regardless of whether individuals are considered detainees or criminals.

Immigration detention also makes it difficult for detainees to acquire and retain effective legal representation. Detention complicates the process of obtaining counsel in obvious ways: detainees have limited access to phones and contact information for attorneys, and they cannot freely communicate with friend and family networks to connect with counsel, either. These challenges are compounded because facilities like Mesa Verde are often located in remote areas far away from law firms and nonprofit organizations. If a detainee nonetheless manages to obtain representation, any attorney-client meetings are subject to (and often restricted by) the scheduling protocol and policies in place at the detention facility.

Individuals who do not acquire counsel must represent themselves. Immigration law is intricate and difficult to navigate without representation. Detainees who represent themselves contend with additional challenges, again, due to the nature of detention. Their knowledge is limited to what is supplied to them in the detention facility, and they do not receive any training on how to conduct legal research. Pro se materials in facilities like Mesa Verde are often limited in breadth and mostly written in English. Also, detainees cannot use the library whenever they wish; they must schedule their visit and abide by time limits. Finally, the computer program for legal research, which is also in English, sometimes is not regularly updated by the immigration authorities.

Today, Mesa Verde houses roughly 300 detainees at the cost of $100 per person each day. As the facility’s population grows, so will the importance of attorney access to detainees and adequate resources for pro se representation. Immigration advocates are communicating regularly with DHS and the Mesa Verde authorities to improve accessibility to and the resources available at the facility. I have appreciated the opportunity to take part in these efforts as a part of the IRC.

Detention and confinement present innumerable challenges in detainees’ day-to-day lives. As long as immigration detention is an accepted practice, however, I am hopeful that government, private prison companies, and immigration advocates can secure the highest standard of representation and treatment for immigrant detainees.

YELP Helps Nine-Year-Old Student Get Back Into School

The Youth and Education Law Project (YELP) is currently celebrating a win-win situation for young client J.R.: he is back in school after years of neglect by school officials and he has access to extra compensatory services to help him get back on track with his peers.

Robert Curran & Chris McLamb, YELPJ.R. is nine years old and has autism, selective mutism, an obsession with Minecraft, and an absolute terror of leaving his house. When Robert Curran (JD ’16) and Chris McLamb (JD ’16) first met with his family, J.R. had been “going to school” online for a few years because his mother could no longer get J.R. to leave his house to go to his local school. Although he needed and was entitled to robust special education instruction, speech and language services, counseling, behavioral therapy, and other educational therapies in order to tap into his potential – J.R. is quite bright – his online charter school was not meeting his needs and had even threatened to bring a suit against him and his mother to force him to dis-enroll, which would have left him with no schooling options.

Robert and Chris helped J.R. with a two-pronged attack over the course of several months. First, they negotiated with J.R.’s local responsible school district to get J.R. the robust special education program he needed to get back to school and start learning again. Second, they negotiated with J.R.’s previous online charter school to settle past claims in exchange for substantial educational and behavioral therapies that J.R. can use over the upcoming summer and winter breaks to help him make up for his missed instruction.

When she came to YELP, J.R.’s mother was desperate and convinced that J.R. would never go back to school again. J.R. is now taking the bus to school every day and spending two to three hours in a small special education classroom with a live teacher and his peers. He is not yet completing academic work or talking on a regular basis, but this is monumental progress given that just two months ago J.R. used to hit, kick, and bite anyone who tried to gently coax him out of his house. J.R. laughs again, shares little-known facts about Minecraft and World War II, and is on his way towards putting the past few years behind him.


Interested in learning more about the Youth and Education Law Project?  Check out the YELP website for details. 

SLS Students Represent Client at High-Stakes Hearing

Stanford Immigrant’s Rights Clinic students Matthaeus Weinhardt (JD ’16) and Lindsey Jackson (JD ’16), supervised by IRC director Jayashri Srikantiah, recently represented their client in a hearing in San Francisco Immigration Court. Below they reflect on the experience.  

Our entire quarter was focused on preparing for this hearing. We interviewed our client around seven times to get the details of her story, which is truly horrific. Suffice it to say, she experienced trauma and torture that no human being should ever have to live through. Working through an interpreter, in our MWeinhardt and LJackson after hearing--IRCSp15interviews, we effectively asked our client to relive some of the worst experiences of her life, all in the interest of advocating on her behalf. We reviewed documents from the government, researched particular aspects of immigration law and put together our client’s application for relief (and seven extra copies, as seemingly required).

Before the hearing, we mooted twice, preparing for every possible question or scenario we could think of. We also went to observe hearings held by our judge. Some of what we did may seem like over-preparation, but we felt like the stakes were extraordinarily high, given what our client had been through and what the consequences were, should we fail to secure favorable outcomes.

Disconcerting for us was the fact that on the day of our hearing, there were supposed to be about 30-40 other cases heard, largely unrepresented respondents, but by the time it was our turn, there were only around five parties present—all of whom were represented. This would seem to suggest that dozens of people were missing their hearing, which is particularly concerning since missing a court hearing practically results in automatic deportation. One thing this might indicate is just how important representation is in immigration proceedings (where there generally is no right to counsel). It’s important because immigrants without lawyers have an incredibly hard time putting together a complete, well-researched and persuasive case; but it may also be important for the court, which has an interest in individuals appearing for their court dates.

As for our hearing itself, all went smoothly and we were able to achieve the result we were looking for. The judge seemed to appreciate our preparation and especially the work of our clinic. Our client was pleased and relieved, and afterwards it was great to all get food and drinks at a nearby café and talk about things not directly related to her case. It felt very relaxed and genuine. As we sat together, we couldn’t help but appreciate the ethnic diversity of our group; we all spoke various languages and came from countries spanning three continents, yet we all currently consider the Bay Area home.

Religious Liberty Clinic Students Appear Before EEOC

Last week, Religious Liberty Clinic students Nicole Cambeiro (JD ’16) and Daniel Renz (JD ’16) first-chaired a multi-party, bilingual conciliation NCambiero and DRenz RLC 2015before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in its downtown Los Angeles offices. The students’ work was praised by their clients, the mediator, and opposing counsel. The matter, which involves religious accommodation in employment, is pending. 

Students’ U.S. Supreme Court Brief Sparks Benchmark Ruling

On April 21, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic’s clients in an important preemption case, Oneok Inc. v. Learjet, Inc., 13-271. The case arose from the Western energy crisis about a decade ago, caused in part by a conspiracy in the natural gas industry to manipulate prices. Various entities, such as nonprofit hospitals and educational institutions, that were harmed by the anticompetitive conduct brought state-law antitrust claims. The natural gas companies argued that the claims should be dismissed on the ground that the Natural Gas Act precludes state-law causes of action that deal with subjects also falling within the jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Oneok v. Learjet Stanford legal team (from left to right): Brittany Jones, Gary Dyal, Jenna Williams, Ali Karol

Oneok v. Learjet’s Stanford legal team (from left to right): Brittany Jones, Gary Dyal, Jenna Williams and Ali Karol

Clinic students Ali Karol (JD ’15), Gary Dyal (JD ’15), Jenna Williams (JD ’15), and Brittany Jones (JD ’16) researched and wrote a terrific brief arguing that the state-law claims should go forward. The students then helped clinic co-director Jeff Fisher, prepare to argue the case and traveled with him to Washington, D.C. for the argument itself. The Court’s opinion – written by Justice Breyer and joined by Justices across the Court’s ideological spectrum – closely tracked the students’ brief and promises to be a significant touchstone for years to come. ◊

SLS Students Win Dismissal Mid-Trial For Innocent Bystander in Police Use of Force Case

Stanford Criminal Defense Clinic students Ashley Williams (JD ’16) and Taylor Davidson (JD ’16), under the supervision of supervising attorney Suzanne Luban, won full dismissal for an innocent client in the middle of a trial in Santa Clara County Superior Court earlier this week on Tuesday, May 12.

AWilliams, TDavidson & SLuban in Court 5-12-15

Taylor Davidson, Ashley Williams, and Suzanne Luban debrief during trial

The client, an African-American small business owner, was arrested on October 31, 2014 outside a local bar while bearing witness to the use of force by police against his friend who had been resisting security guards and police officers inside the bar. The client’s companion was handcuffed, arrested, and punched in the rib. Then, he was taken outside and across the street to a police squad car. The client followed his friend and the police outside. From 25 feet away, he asked his companion for his mother’s phone number so he could tell her about her son’s plight. The police claimed that the client was delaying their work and they arrested him.

The client was handcuffed and detained in a squad car for 45 minutes. After his release, he began filming police conduct towards his friend, who was still on the scene. As captured on the video footage, the client’s friend was taken out of a police car, stood up by four police officers, and punched in the stomach. The officers then slammed his head into the side of a police car.

The clinic’s client was charged with resisting, obstructing, and delaying a police officer under California Penal Code Section 148(a)(1). He asserted his innocence from the start, and turned down multiple plea deal offers from the district attorney. Ultimately, he insisted on a trial by jury.

After a readiness conference, both defense and prosecution submitted motions in limine on Friday, May, 8. Ashley and Taylor prepared opening and closing statements, six cross examinations, and two direct examinations in preparation for the trial. They conducted a three-week long investigation and brought several exhibits to court for use in the trial.

The trial began and motions in limine were argued on Monday, May 11. Though the judge excluded the video evidence of police brutality from testimony, Ashley and Taylor won several important motions – including exclusion of their client’s prior convictions and an order from the judge mandating the prosecutor to turn over evidence of a use of force investigation that had been conducted in the case.

Ashley and Taylor showed the prosecutor enlarged photos of the scene outside the bar that were intended to be used in evidence. They also provided a list of witnesses who were prepared to corroborate their client’s testimony. A few hours after the argument on motions in limine, the prosecutor dismissed the case.

Taylor and Ashley were assisted by their six Criminal Defense Clinic classmates and both instructors, who provided invaluable support in preparation. The client, who has four children and is planning to get married in June, was overjoyed. He can return to his drywall business without fear of a criminal conviction. He was fully exonerated in a case of police wrongdoing.