Thursday, June 12, 2014

Oh what a relief it is (finally)

Now I don't usually take to these pages with a self-congratulatory blog post after getting a positive result. That's self-serving and doesn't serve the purpose for which I started up this blog almost six years ago.

But yesterday I got to do something pretty damn cool. I got to call up a client and tell him that his felony dope conviction was overturned by the Court of Criminal Appeals. After almost two years and two previous denials of relief, the CCA granted our writ on the third attempt.

Our work to reverse the conviction came about when it was revealed that a DPS lab analyst, Jonathan Salvador, had been caught faking test results in drug cases. At first the writs were being granted and convictions were being reversed - until someone in Austin realized just how many cases were affected. We certainly couldn't have a bunch of judges in Austin reversing thousands of felony drug convictions just because the lab analyst was caught cheating now, could we?

The Court tried to make it harder to obtain relief by making applicants show a pattern of misbehavior on the part of Mr. Salvador. That hurdle was overcome when it was discovered that there were other tests that appeared to have been faked over the years.

Credit must also go to Galveston County District Attorney Jack Roady who made a decision that his office would be more interested in seeing that justice was done than in preserving convictions. Assistant District Attorney Virginia Jones who is a fellow marathoner (but a whole lot faster than me) and works in the appellate division of the office also deserves credit for the integrity she displayed during the entire episode.

And, while I'm doling out huzzahs, a final one goes out to the Honorable Bret Griffin, the Presiding Judge in the 212th Judicial District Court in Galveston County. When we sat back in his chambers a few months ago after our second request was denied by the CCA, he told us that he thought the Court's decision in the Coty case was wrong.

In the end my client is happy now that this five-year long roller coaster ride is over. And that's one of the reasons we do what we do.

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