September 2019

Subscribers to the Criminal Defense Resource Center’s online resources, found at, have access to more than 1,800 appellate pleadings filed by SADO Attorneys in the last five years.  The brief bank is updated regularly and is open to anyone who wants to subscribe to online access.  On our site, briefs are searchable by keyword, results can be organized by relevance or date, and the pleadings can be filtered by court of filing.  Below are some of the issues presented in briefs added to our brief bank in the last few weeks. For confidentiality purposes, names of clients and witnesses have been removed.

BB 320762:  As the trial judge found, the prosecution proved nothing more than an agreement by the defendant to be in a Jeep with another individual. The judge did not abuse his discretion in concluding that the verdict was against the great weight of the evidence. The Court of Appeals misread and misapplied Lemmon.

BB 320770:  The erroneous admission of irrelevant music videos was used as character evidence and tainted everything in the trial. The admission was outcome determinative error that violated the defendant’s right to a fair trial.

BB 320770:  The admission of gang-affiliation evidence was plain error warranting reversal. This evidence was used as impermissible “bad character” evidence.

BB 320772:  Adoptive siblings are not related by blood or affinity. The factual basis failed to establish the crime to which the defendant pleaded no contest. He should be permitted to withdraw his plea.

BB 320785:  The trial court did not obtain a valid waiver of the defendant’s state and federal constitutional rights to counsel prior to allowing him to represent himself at trial.  Defendant is entitled to a new trial.

BB 320785:  The judge denied the defendant a fair trial by his unfairly prejudicial commentary to the jury stating, inaccurately, that the defendant had declared the whole trial process treasonous, that he was a sovereign entity and that the laws do not apply to him.  The judge in effect testified against the defendant.  Alternatively, defense counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel in failing to object to the judge’s impropriety.

BB 320786:  Defendant’s conviction for first-degree murder must be vacated because the defense met its burden of proving insanity by a preponderance of the evidence, and so the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict of guilty but mentally ill.

BB 320792:  The trial court reversibly erred, over a defense objection, in holding that the complainant was unavailable to testify in person, and that the prosecution thus could read his prior recorded testimony from the preliminary examination to the jury, as the prosecution failed to present a sufficient demonstration of an exercise of due diligence to insure the complainant’s appearance, thus denying defendant’s constitutional right to confront his accuser.

BB 320794:  It was error to sentence defendant as a fourth felony offender because he had only two prior felony or attempted felony convictions. The error was plain, or in the alternative counsel was ineffective for not objecting.

by John Zevalking
Associate Editor