Posts Tagged ‘trial’

Galluzzo & Johnson wins major trial acquittal in rape case

Monday, October 21st, 2013

On October 15, 2013, the attorneys at Galluzzo & Johnson LLP won a total trial acquittal for their client in a very difficult rape case in Delaware County, New York. Their client, a student at an upstate university, was accused of raping a fellow student in his dormitory room. The complaining witness testified and the client’s roommate testified that he helped our client rape the woman. Two “prompt outcry” witnesses, a forensic nurse, and two DNA experts also testified for the prosecution. Nonetheless, the jury deliberated only 45 minutes before announcing that it had decided to acquit our client of Rape in the First Degree, Criminal Sex Act in the First Degree, Sexual Abuse in the First Degree, and Unlawful Imprisonment in the First Degree (it took approximately 20 minutes to assemble the jury to announce its decision after the note was sent to the judge indicating it had reached a decision). A conviction for the top charge carried a maximum possible sentence of 25 years in jail and lifetime registration as a sex offender.

An article from the local newspaper, the Walton Reporter, is attached below. Matthew Galluzzo, a former sex crimes prosecutor from Manhattan, was the lead attorney at trial.

Walton Reporter Lynch Article

If you or a loved one have been wrongfully accused of a rape or sexual assault, you should strongly consider contacting the criminal defense attorneys at Galluzzo & Johnson LLP.

Micheal Jackson’s doctor Conrad Murray convicted of manslaughter

Monday, November 7th, 2011

After only nine hours of deliberation, the California jury in the involuntary manslaughter trial of Michael Jackson’s doctor, Conrad Murray, returned a guilty verdict.  Altogether, we’re not surprised.  Indeed, we “called it” just minutes before the verdict.

The main problem for Dr. Murray was that the evidence against him was damning.  Rather than re-iterate all of it, we’ll simply summarize the primary problems for Dr. Murray’s defense team: 1) propofol is not meant for use as a sedative or for administration outside of a hospital, 2) the doctor reacted inappropriately and ineffectively to the emergency, and 3) the apparent cover-up made it look terrible for him.

The issue of propofol and its proper use and how it was administered to Jackson was central to this trial.  Unfortunately for Murray, the use of propofol for non-surgical purposes and outside of a hospital were not accepted as reasonable by the scientific community, and there were no experts to oppose that.  In that sense, the defense expert that testified that Jackson might have given himself the fatal extra dose of propofol was irrelevant, because arguably it shouldn’t have even been in the room in the first place, and it was the doctor’s responsibility to know that.  Basically, the defense team was totally boxed in – there never really was a good justification for the manner in which the doctor was administering the propofol.  Their only plausibly defensible explanation was that the doctor was trying to wean Jackson off of the medication, but there really wasn’t any sworn evidence to that effect (more on this later).

It also didn’t look good for Murray that he left Jackson – probably a propofol addict – alone in a room with propofol on a drip while he went to text and talk to his multiple girlfriends.  That fact made him seem a little cavalier about the powerful and dangerous drug that he was putting into Jackson’s system.  Sadly for him, if he had been on the phone talking to another patient about an emergency, the jury might have cut him some slack; unfortunately, he seemingly took a timeout from his doctorly duties to play the field.  There was also some evidence that he was too slow to call 911, which not only was medically imprudent but also fed the perception that he was hoping to cover-up his use of propofol without the authorities finding out.

The evidence of an attempted cover-up by Dr. Murray was also exceptionally damaging.  There was evidence that Dr. Murray tried to go back to the home to remove the evidence of the propofol (which obviously indicates that he knew that he shouldn’t have been using it that way, and that the propofol had likely caused the death), and he declined to tell the EMT workers or the treating physicians at the hospital about the propofol when he was asked the direct question about the medications that Jackson had been taking just prior to his death.  Certainly, if the doctor was acting like he knew that he had acted in appropriately in giving him propofol this way, it’s hard to convince the jury that he did nothing wrong.

Given the result, it is easy to play armchair quarterback and criticize the decision not to allow Dr. Murray to testify (after all, the result couldn’t have been any worse for him).  Generally speaking, defense lawyers prefer to have their clients remain silent.  Personally, I think defense lawyers are frequently a bit too scared to put their clients on the stands.  When the client is an educated professional with no criminal record (see Raj Rajaratnam, for example), he is probably going to come across as relatively articulate and respectable.  Why defense lawyers don’t more frequently try to show juries that their accomplished clients are decent human beings worthy of forgiveness and pity is beyond me.  Then again, Murray’s defense team may have decided that Dr. Murray didn’t present well, or maybe Murray was just too scared to testify before the world and the cameras.  Aside from the subjective perceptions game, which I think can be critical in trials, Dr. Murray could have testified as to his only real substantive defense in using propofol: that Jackson was an addict, and though his use of the drug was outside of acceptable medical practice, he was only administering it because he was trying to gradually wean him off of his addiction.  Without the doctor’s testimony there really wasn’t much to support this defense, however.

Much will probably be said about the effect that publicity had on the trial, but Casey Anthony’s case should have proven that jurors will generally do the right thing and judge the case objectively and based on the evidence even when protestors are lined up and screaming for convictions.  The problem for Dr. Murray is that the evidence objectively proved his guilt.

If you’d like to contact the authors of this article, visit their website at Galluzzo & Johnson LLP.

Attorney for Rape and Sex Abuse Victims Explains the System and the Best Strategies for Winning Cases and Settlements

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Studies have shown that a surprising number of women that have been raped or sexually assaulted still choose not to report the attacks to the authorities.  Assuredly, even fewer pursue civil actions against their assailants.   Victims may be intimidated by the legal system and rightfully fear a loss of their privacy.  But the attorneys at Galluzzo & Johnson are firm believers that the system does work for those who are brave enough to pursue justice, and they are prepared to help victims skillfully navigate those waters.

Recently, the high-profile matter of Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s arrest has caused many laypeople to wonder how the criminal prosecutions of rape cases relate to the civil lawsuits filed by the victims.  Generally speaking, a smart civil attorney will wait to file a lawsuit alleging a sexual assault until after the criminal court case has resulted in a conviction, for three reasons.  First, if the defendant decides to plead guilty to a sex crime to resolve the criminal matter, his plea and allocution – which are done under oath – can be used as evidence (an admission, really) in the civil lawsuit.  Of course, an admission by the defendant under oath makes the civil lawsuit very easy to win.  Second, if the defendant is convicted after trial, that decision by the jury does not automatically guarantee a victory in the civil suit (as the criminal verdict does not constitute evidence in the civil proceeding), but it certainly makes a big settlement in favor of the plaintiff more likely.  Third and finally, civil lawyers also want to delay the filing of the civil lawsuit because the filing of that suit is likely to jeopardize the victim’s credibility in the criminal trial.  Indeed, one of the easiest ways for a criminal defense lawyer to discredit a rape victim at trial is to ask her, “And you have filed a civil lawsuit seeking millions of dollars, have you not?”  Of course, the implication for the jury is that the complainant has fabricated her story because she wants to get rich.  (This may have in fact contributed to the acquittal of the “Rape Cops” Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata).  Fortunately, the CPL allows attorneys to delay the filing of their sexual assault lawsuits when the criminal case is pending, without statute of limitations penalties.

An acquittal of the perpetrator in criminal court doesn’t necessarily mean that a civil lawsuit will be unsuccessful, however.  For example, O.J. Simpson was found “not guilty” of murder in criminal court, but was later found to be criminally responsible for the death of Nicole Brown in a civil trial.  The reason for these different results is that the standards of proof are different: in criminal court, the defendant must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, but in civil court, the defendant must be proven liable by a preponderance of the evidence.  Clearly, the latter is a less difficult standard of proof than the former.   Thus, a civil claimant need not abandon her lawsuit simply because her accuser was found not guilty by a criminal jury.  (As an example, the writer thinks it will be very interesting to see the resolution of the $57 million civil lawsuit in the “Rape Cop” case involving Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata, who were found not guilty of rape and sex abuse but found guilty of official misconduct.).

Civil lawsuits can even be successful in cases where the perpetrator is destitute or not apprehended.  That is because there may be liability on the part of the operator of the premises where the rape occurred.  Hotels, bars, and concert venues that fail to provide adequate security to prevent a sexual assault can also be sued, even where the perpetrator eludes capture or is not apprehended.

If you or a loved one have been a victim of a rape or sexual assault and are considering starting a lawsuit against the perpetrator, you should strongly consider contacting the experienced attorneys at Galluzzo & Johnson, LLP.  In particular, Matthew Galluzzo served as a prosecutor in the famous Sex Crimes Unit of the Manhattan D.A.’s Office, and thus he has real-world experience building and proving cases of sexual assault and rape.  His efforts have resulted in the conviction and incarceration of numerous sexual criminals, and now, he is available to help victims obtain the justice they deserve in civil court.  He has been recognized by the U.S. government as a leading expert in the investigation and prosecution of sex crimes, and his opinions on the prosecution of sex crimes have been sought out by television and print media.  Plainly put, if you have been a victim and are seeking justice in civil court, or if you just need help understanding the often daunting and intimidating criminal justice process, you would be hard-pressed to find someone better suited to do so.  Give him a call today to schedule an appointment.

The Future of Wall Street Insider Trading Prosecutions: A Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Thoughts on the Raj Rajaratnam Conviction

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

This week, Manhattan federal prosecutors scored a huge victory with a conviction in the insider trading trial of billionaire Raj Rajaratnam, the former manager of the successful Galleon hedge fund.  Rajaratnam is expected to be sentenced to anywhere between 15.5-19 years in prison as a result of his conviction, though he plans to appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.  Now that the trial phase is over, however, it is time to contemplate what, if any, consequences this conviction could have for the financial industry and the professionals working in it.   Smart defense attorneys will also dissect this trial – in particular, the strategies used by the attorneys – and learn some valuable lessons from it.

To begin, it is widely believed that this conviction will embolden prosecutors and make them even more willing to pursue financial professionals suspected of insider trading.  This is probably true, though some commentators seem to forget that federal prosecutors were already under significant pressure from the public and their politicians to hold the perceived Wall Street fat cats criminally accountable for the nation’s economic woes.  (And the numbers speak for themselves: over the last 18 months, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office has charged 47 individuals with insider trading crimes and 36 have pleaded guilty or been convicted. Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, has promised more prosecutions to come, as well.)

From an attorney’s standpoint, it was interesting to see techniques that were once reserved for cartel and Mafia prosecutions – such as wiretaps and cutting testimony deals with cooperating co-defendants – put to such effective use against Raj Rajaratnam.  Indeed, as Rajaratnam’s attorney, John Dowd, discovered, an incriminating tape recording of your client can be very difficult to overcome. (Coincidentally, the other front-page trial currently in progress – that of the “rape cops” Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata –  involves a highly damaging secret recording of the defendant.)  The techniques prosecutors used were not new, but until now, Wall Street defendants were not used to seeing them used against them.

In some ways, though, this very public trial and conviction of Mr. Rajaratnam might yield some subtle silver linings for future inside trading defendants.  From a criminal lawyer’s standpoint, the case against Mr. Rajaratnam was a grand affair : Mr. Rajaratnam was one of the richest and most successful hedge fund managers on the Street, the government had numerous recorded wiretapped conversations, and the prosecutors cut deals with other defendants for their testimony.  So, the question becomes: will juries accept anything less?  What if prosecutors don’t have incriminating wiretapped conversations?   In some ways, the issue is analogous to the “CSI Effect” often lamented by prosecutors: without elaborate DNA evidence or scientific proof, juries that have spent years watching fictional and unrealistic television courtroom dramas are often less willing to convict defendants.  So, what was once considered a cutting-edge prosecutor’s advantage – DNA evidence – has now almost become a prerequisite for their success. Similarly, juries in white collar/insider trading cases may not be willing to convict someone without the sort of wiretapped conversation that they may have read about in Rajaratnam’s case.  Prosecutors have made it clear that they intend to pursue more wiretaps against Wall Street executives, but there is simply no way that every prosecution case will involve this evidence.  Thus, those lucky defendants – particularly the lower-level defendants with less of a profile than Mr. Rajaratnam – may be able to successfully take advantage of this “CSI Effect” with their juries.

Hindsight always being 20/20, we hesitate to criticize the defense strategy, as it was most assuredly a difficult case to defend.  However, there are two things that we can probably take away from this case: first, the jury on white-collar cases should probably not be blue collar.  Right now, anti-Wall Street sentiment is at an all-time high in this country.  Mr. Rajaratnam’s team deliberately avoided putting financial professionals on the jury – we suspect that they did that because they were concerned about jurors that would be personally familiar with the issues relating to public and private investment information.  However, that strategy may have backfired; certainly, it is difficult for teachers and blue collar workers to relate or sympathize with the plight of billionaires.  A few financial professionals on the jury might have felt a little “defensive” about the prosecution’s case, if, as defense attorney John Dowd suggested, what Mr. Rajaratnam did wasn’t a crime because this sort of thing “happens every day on Wall Street.”

Additionally, Mr. Rajaratnam perhaps should have testified in his defense.  The decision whether or not to testify is a complicated one and we are sure that Mr. Rajaratnam and his team agonized over it, but ultimately, we think that it is exceptionally difficult to win cases like these unless the defendant personally provides an explanation for his actions, and, perhaps even more importantly, demonstrates to the jury that he is a decent and likable human being.

If you or a loved one have been arrested or are being investigated for insider trading or some other financial-related crime, you should strongly consider contacting the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Galluzzo & Johnson LLP.  Our attorneys include three former Manhattan prosecutors that have tried, and won, exceptionally difficult trials and arbitrations under intense pressure.  We have successfully represented Wall Street brokers, traders, and other financial professionals in a wide range of criminal and civil matters.  Our attorneys have a deep and sophisticated understanding of the financial industry, and we have used that expertise to win stunning victories in cases involving alleged financial fraud.  Call us or email us today to set up an appointment at our convenient Wall Street location.