Cleveland, OH (PRWEB) June 02, 2014
Cleveland Criminal Defense Attorneys Ian N. Friedman and Eric C. Nemecek recently obtained a notable appellate court victory. The Ohio Court of Appeals case resulted in an order for a new trial for a man who was convicted of vehicular assault and driving under the influence and sentenced to five years in prison, according to the case’s journal entry and opinion (Case No. 2014-Ohio-2262 in the Court of Appeal of Ohio, Eighth Appellate District in the County of Cuyahoga). The opinion was released and journalized on May 29, 2014. According to the court documents, the appeal was reached after the Court of Appeals determined that the trial court violated the defendant’s Constitutional rights by allowing a prejudicial anonymous letter to be used in his trial.
According to the journal entry and opinion, the defendant’s case stems from a November 2012 incident in which he struck a bicyclist with his vehicle, causing the bicyclist to become a quadriplegic. The defendant was arrested for drunk driving and later charged with two counts of vehicular assault (categorized as third-degree and fourth-degree felonies) and one count of driving under the influence, which is a first-degree misdemeanor.
Court records show that in June 2013, the defendant was convicted of all three counts through a bench trial in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas (Case No. 12-CR-568852), which resulted in a sentence of a maximum of five years of imprisonment, a seven-year driver’s license suspension, and a $5,000 fine.
The defendant appealed his convictions on multiple grounds, according the appellate court’s journal entry and opinion. These grounds included the assertion that the court unjustly allowed prosecutors to admit an anonymous letter that should not have been admissible in the trial. The letter, which had been sent to a detective, stated that the defendant had been drinking throughout the night of the accident and that he was intoxicated. In its judgment and opinion, the Court of Appeals cited objections (from the original trial proceedings) made by the defense lawyer who previously represented the defendant.
According to the legal records, multiple arguments were raised, including the fact that the letter had not been provided to the defense, the fact that the defense could not cross-examine the person who wrote the letter since it was anonymous, and the fact that the letter included hearsay. Prosecutors suggested that the court simply give the letter the appropriate level of weight when making its judgment, especially since no jury was present for the trial. Ultimately, court documents show that the trial court allowed the letter to be used in the trial proceedings.
The Court of Appeals’ journal entry and opinion stated that the appellate court ruled that the defendant’s decision to forego a jury trial did not give prosecutors the right to admit any evidence of their choosing with the assumption that the trial court would weigh the evidence appropriately. It also stated that the court could not state beyond a reasonable doubt that the admission of the letter did not “tip the proverbial scale in favor of guilt.”
As a result, the Court of Appeals reversed the previous convictions and ordered a new trial, according to the journal entry and opinion. With this ruling, the defendant was released from prison, and he will be represented by Attorney Friedman and his legal team for the new trial. (The defendant had different legal counsel for his first trial.)
Ian N. Friedman is a seasoned criminal defense attorney who has won numerous professional accolades for exceptional legal skills and high level of peer recognition. He was the very first attorney to be granted the “Lawyer of the Year Award” from the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and he has been included in Top 50 Cleveland Super Lawyers® list and the Top 100 Ohio Super Lawyers® list. Mr. Friedman handles various types of criminal cases. More information about Attorney Friedman is available at http://www.iannfriedman.com.