Tag: Washington County

Case Dismissed

FELONY POSSESSION OF DRUGS AFTER FORMER CONVICTION OF A FELONY

Criminal Charge: Felony possession of drugs after former conviction of a felony
Case: State v. Kenyatta Carter
Court: [CF-06-217, Washington County]
Result: Case Dismissed

Oklahoma State Courts Network
For more details on this case, open the Docket View.

Summary:

One of the best arguments for hiring a good lawyer I have ever seen, this case involved a bad arrest, a bad search and an unfortunate clerical error, all resulting in almost a year of litigation before the prosecutor wisely dismissed the case.

The Bartlesville PD stopped Mr. Carter for doing 6 miles over the speed limit. Then the officer arrested him because his dispatch told him an arrest warrant existed. As is his right, the officer conducted an “inventory search” of the car before impounding it to get it off the city street. The officer claimed to have found less than .01 grams of pot in the ashtray and charged him with possession of drugs.

Throughout this ordeal, Mr. Carter told the officer the warrant had been “recalled” by the issuing judge months earlier. In fact, his lawyer at the time had misinformed Mr. Carter about a court date in a family law matter so they both missed the court date. A bench warrant was orally issued for Mr. Carter but the judge immediately recalled it when she learned of the misunderstanding. Unfortunately, that same judge signed a written warrant – by another mistake – when it came across her desk a week later. This bad warrant floated around for months until the traffic stop. Mr. Carter’s vehicle was searched and inventoried, and he went to jail…on a clerical error.

While bizarre, this situation has been addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court. [Arizona v. Evans, 514 U.S. 1 [1995]]. In Evans, the SCOTUS extended the so-called “good-faith” exception to evidence collected as a result of a bad arrest warrant: Mr. Evans went to prison because of what was found when he was arrested…on a clerical error.

The Evans decision would make it appear that Mr. Carter was destined to the same legal conclusion: bad warrant, good arrest, good search, and guilt. What a good criminal defense lawyer knows, however, is that Oklahoma has never adopted the “good-faith” exception to the warrant requirement. As a result, Haslam filed motions to dismiss the case because the arrest was illegal in Oklahoma: the police never get inside his car unless Mr. Carter is legally arrested.

The prosecutor fought Haslam’s efforts, but ultimately realized the futility of this case and dismissed it completely.

Case Dismissed

FELONY POSSESSION OF DRUGS

Criminal Charge: Felony possession of drugs
Case: State v. Laramie King
Court: [CF-07-79] [Washington County]
Result: Case Dismissed

Oklahoma State Courts Network
For more details on this case, open the Docket View.

Because this case was dismissed by the State on Haslam’s motion, the docket sheet link above reveals no search result.


Summary:

Mr. King was arrested in his Vo-Tech school classroom when a drug dog handler alleged he had drugs in his pants pocket.

Knowing that he could have only had his father’s pain medication in his pocket by mistake, Mr. King rejected the State’s offer of Drug Court and committed himself to defending the charge. Haslam presented evidence to the prosecutor supporting the claim of Laramie and his family that the medication was left out for him in the same place he was to pick up his own allergy meds before school one morning.

The prosecutor independently evaluated the evidence and dismissed the case before preliminary hearing.

Sentence reduced

TWO [2] DRUG TRAFFICKING CHARGES AFTER 2 PRIOR FELONY DRUG CONVICTIONS

Criminal Charge: Two drug trafficking charges after two prior felony drug convictions
Case: State v. Carl Rogers
Court: [CF-06-462] [Tulsa County] and [CF-06-44] [Washington County]
Result: Reduced to Possession with Intent, 15- & 12-year sentences run concurrently

Oklahoma State Courts Network
For more details on this case, open the Docket View.

Summary:

Another case that involved hard litigation to achieve a result involving prison time, Mr. Rogers was first charged in Tulsa County with trafficking in meth. Weeks later he picked up another trafficking meth charge in Washington County. His several prior felony convictions threatened to significantly increase his sentences. The evidence was difficult in both cases.

Trafficking is a severe charge. It is worse even than the so-called “85% crimes” in Oklahoma that require serving 85% of the sentence before discharge, because the trafficking statute denies Department of Corrections “good-time credits”. [See 63 O.S. 2-415 [D][3]]. As a result, a trafficking convict serves about 90% of his sentence before discharge….

Tulsa County quickly offered to plea down to possession with intent to distribute and a 12 year sentence – a sentence that can be discharged in about 5 years. Washington County, however, refused to budge from the trafficking charge and would offer only a 30 year sentence.

It got interesting. After prosecutor Scott Julian reneged on a discovery agreement, Haslam and he exchanged harsh words outside the courtroom and the prosecutor threatened to arrest Haslam unless he apologized. No apology ensued, of course, but the prosecutor referred to the exchange in a hearing with the trial judge weeks later that suggested there had been an earlier, private conversation about it with the judge.

Haslam immediately moved to disqualify the prosecutor and the trial judge. The trial judge wisely removed the prosecutor from the case. Weeks later – after numerous hearings and motions pressing her own disqualification from the case – the judge stepped down from the case, as well.

With a new prosecutor and judge in the case, it quickly settled. Mr. Rogers pled to possession with intent in Rogers County, and his sentence was run concurrent with the Tulsa County sentence imposed weeks earlier. He should discharge both cases in about 5 years.