Gary S. Bernstein, P.A.

Call Toll-Free: 866-435-2795

Locally at: 410-415-9219

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I got the email today that I have been selected again.  You take nothing for granted and each case is as important as the next.  Each case involves someone's life and maybe liberty.  You want to be one of the Best lawyers in America then you better be the best lawyer in America for each and every client.

Clients sometimes want to create a new reality.  They do this by not telling the lawyer the truth or all the facts.  They hope it gets hidden that way. I tell everyone I need to know exactly what happened..  I am a really good lawyer according to my peers and clients, and I can deal with the worst facts.  I cannot make chicken salad out of everything, but I can keep us from getting splattered with the alternative.  I don't want your family to be embarrassed about what may come out in court.  I can control the narrative much of the time.

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Well for at least the 3rd time I have had a DUI case dismissed with the same officer.  The video did not corroborate his written report.  The prosecutor suggested last week that he put the case on and let me crush the guy so he would learn not to do it this way.  I told him today it was not my job to educate the police.  He said he had already agreed to dismiss the case with the approval of his supervisor. and let me vent for a few minutes before he laughed and told me to relax. 

Had a trial in Essex yesterday that resulted in an aquittal.  The back story is funny.  I am sitting on my patio one Friday night enjoying the autumn air when I hear a BOOM and the power in my house goes out.  I say "some drunk just hit the BGE pole."  Two hours later power is restored.  You know what is coming next.  The following week a new client comes in and explains how he was travelling on Greenspring Avenue when the guy in front of him stopped suddenly and he had to hit his brakes and pull to the right to avoid colliding with the car…..instead he knocked my lights out.  I told him about my comment and he went home and told his wife who also found it hilarious.

There was a video and I thought it helped.  His head hit the windshield and it was a mess.  He had a previousl leg injury and was constantly holding and rubbing his leg (including in the station), so no SFSTs.  He attempted to take the breath test but could not provide a sufficient sample.  He was subjected to sarcasm from the technician who thought he was fine.  The video showed him holding his rib area while trying to blow.  HE HAD A FRACTURED RIB.  I thought the State had "bupkus"- NOT DICK BUTKUS of  Chicago Bears fame.  It is a commonly used Yiddish word for "nothing"- no I do not speak Yiddish either.

The Judge, who is not Jewish, also thought they had "bupkus" and found my client not guilty.  The good news is he has moved south of my BGE pole so the next time a moron stops suddenly in the roadway in front of him, someone else's light will get knocked out.

My client in this case just posted a wonderful review on AVVO.  This client was innocent and had a horrible set of circumstantial evidence that could have caused a conviction.  The police treated her horribly based on what they believed the circumstances to be.  They were wrong.  No video again of the SFSTs and interaction with the client because the Senior Deputy had the camera facing the wrong direction.  There was rear seat video that was exculpatory when you saw the client.  I provided the name and location of the witness who saw the client cold stone sober (0 alcohol consumed) 32 minutes before the stop.  It was a sales person who remembered the client and who emailed me her statement.  I turned the email over to the State and the first contact they had with her was on cross-examination.

Because of the career implications for my client, I turned over to the State her written statement, typed immediately after her release from jail, along with the receipts for all the stores where she had been shopping.  I told the State I was providing Open File Discovery.  You have to be real careful and fully confident of what you are doing when you make that decision.  It was the right decision.  The State introduced her entire 3 page statement and the Judge was able to consider it without her testifying.  Although she was prepared and intended to testify, the State's introduction made it unnecessary.  Whatever benefit they thought they got was completely offset by the totality and detail in the statement.

This was a life that would have been totally totally ruined if there was a conviction. Justice was served and the client can move forward.

New client came in on Thanksgiving day after having been charged the night before with a DUI.  She was the designated driver and was out with her sister who was the drinker.  She gets stopped for an illegal U-Turn and is taken to the State Police Barracks that has a camera without audio in the breath test room.  Now the way she looked that evening and her attempts to take the test were important since she could not provide a sufficient sample. She arrives at the barracks within an hour of the stop so her appearance and actions in the room are relevant.  Was she steady on her feet, was she swaying, did she look DRUNK?

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Hide the ball trick does not work.  Three years ago I wrote a Blog about a police officer who I caught lying in his FIRST CASE!  I have kept the video from that case on my IPad and the original tape and written report in a binder waiting to see if I would get a "return match" with this officer.  Well a few months ago a new client comes in and I recognize the officer's name, walk over to file boxes across from my desk, grab a blue binder sitting on top of them, and open it to the first stack of papers and tapes and it is the same guy.

There is no mention of a video in this client's paperwork but I KNOW there is one.  We get to court 2 weeks ago and when the officer arrives I ask him where is the video.  He tells me he and his supervisor looked for it, but the DVD in the car must have been full and the stop was not recorded.  I remind him who I was and he remembered his first case.  I don't believe him and move to dismiss the case and explain to the Judge, the prosecutor, and a courtroom of police, lawyers, and defendants that I have him on video and on paper committing perjury in 2014 and I don't believe for a moment that the video in this case does not exist.

After 2 recesses and the Judge ordering the prosecutor to personally speak to the supervisor, THERE IS A VIDEO!  However it is housed in a building that will require an hour to drive to and find.  The case is reset to today to give me my video.  Did anyone reading this get it?  I didn't either. Instead of the officer bringing it to court, a supervisor somewhere else emailed the State that he had it and would get me a copy next week.  The judge was too through with this bullshit, and gave the State 40 minutes to get it to court as she had ordered 2 weeks ago.  The new prosecutor on the case calls the supervisor who sent the email, but he is no where to be found, nor is the video.  

Without the video she is going to give me an inference that the video would be  favorable to my client.  Now the police report description of my client's field tests was not bad and incredibly vague (meaning he did really well).  At that point we agree to plead to 2 payable citations and pay $115.50 fines and costs.  The officer is probably happier than my client as he dodged a blood letting on cross-examination.  I blogged before to make sure you retain a lawyer who will watch the video.  Make sure you retain one who will DEMAND the video.

i just got a really nice card from a client who had multiple drug and alcohol issues.  His father passed a way a few years ago and he got lost in grief.  It took 2 cases to get him on track.  Here is what he wrote:

 

"Thank you for giving me a second chance to get my life back together.  A learning lesson indeed.  I got my job back.  My boss told me he believes in second chances."

Your foster son,

 

He was finally ready to get help and he did.  He deserves all the credit.  He knows that I will alwys be there to help.  

 

 

 

 

That is a phrase my former partner used years ago when he set a fee and the potential client said he or she knew a cheaper lawyer.  I started writing this a couple months ago but thought I would finish it today.  The particular case that generates this was an Ex Parte involving an allegation of Child Abuse.  The mother filed it in Somerset County as that is where it allegedly occurred.  The mother lives in Howard County.  The judge found no abuse and dismissed the Petition.  The statute allows ONLY for an appeal to be filed in the County where the original Petition was heard.  You cannot  file a valid new Petition elsewhere, only Somerset County has jurisdiction- it is in black and white in the statute.  The mother files a NEW Petition in the Circuit Court for Somerset County and it is heard and Dismissed by the trail judge as only an Appeal is allowed.  The mother then files an Appeal.  The Appeal will the be heard in Circuit Court, unless you have paid peanuts.

The mother now files a new Petition in Howard County. The mother also hires a lawyer in Howard County.   Instead of dismissing the improperly filed Howard County Petition (that is virtually verbatim of the Somerset County Petition) and taking his lazy ass to Somerset County to try the Appeal which is de novo ( meaning a new trial), he dismisses the Somerset County Appeal.   I emailed the lawyer the night before and explained the law to him and he emails back stating he did not need me to educate him.  Apparently he did.  I wanted to save my people from driving all the way from Somerset to Ellicott City. We show up and the judge dismisses the Howard County petition because she has no jurisdiction to hear it- jurisdiction is in Somerset County for the Appeal only that he dismissed! 

It gets worse, we walk out of courtroom and try to make arrangements for the return of the child, and the lawyer says he is filing a NEW PETITION based on newly discovered evidence.  Well we come back a week later and not only is there no newly discovered evidence, the evidence he claims he had was bizarre and unbelievable.  Before I could move for dismissal, he does.  All he had to do was go to Somerset County and he could have retried the Appeal with the original evidence and anything else he thought he might have.  My guess is he did not want to drive there.  He is one of the low fee advertising lawyers.  I took him to task years ago for not doing his own work and relying on the list serve to save his clients.  He even called me at home incredulous that I had given him a public spanking.  He deserved it then and deserves it now, but I will not use his name.  Just remember my former partner's admonition.   

 

You may be surprised to learn that when you are drinking you don't remember much of what went on in your interaction with the police. You knew it at the time, but recollecting it in my office is a different story.  That is why the Body Cam is invaluable.  Now if you pay peanuts, you get a monkey, meaning you get a lawyer who is going to do the least amount of work possible- sometimes none except to show up and plead you guilty to whatever the State wants.  The Body Cam is not being sent automatically and you have to follow up and ask.  Sometimes you win the case because of it, or sometimes you suppress the breath test.  Suppression was what happened last week.

My client could not believe what I told the client I was watching.  The client reacted to the police behavior at the time, but did not remember it later.  First of all NO ONE watched the client for the full 20 minutes preceding the test. The client was left on her own part of the time.  Worse, while the officer was doing his paperwork with his back to her, a second officer walked over to her and told her the judge would go easier if she took the test!!!  Absolutely results in suppression.  I gave the judge an opening statement, and after rolling her eyes she said she thought she should view the video now to see if we could deal with the breath test suppression up front.  I also gave her the email I sent to the prosecutor two nights before after I finished watching it.  The email outlined the exact times on the video that the police did something wrong. I did not go home until I watched it and sent the email, criminal defense is not a 9 to 5 profession.  The judge watch where I told her and returned and threw the breath test out.  The case was resolved for the lesser offense of DWI.  That was a win.
 

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Contact Information

  • Gary S. Bernstein, P.A.
  • 29 W. Susquehanna Avenue, Suite 700
  • Towson, Maryland 21204
  • Toll Free: 866-435-2795
  • Locally: 410-415-9219
  • Fax: 410-823-0610

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