DC COURT OF APPEALS REVERSAL: DC STALKING STATUTE INTERPRETATION

The DC Court of Appeals in Coleman v. U.S., decided on March 7, 2019, reversed an attempted stalking conviction as it analyzed further and defined the DC Stalking Statute and the requisite sufficiency of evidence to withstand a conviction. Coleman essentially argued on appeal that the government failed to prove that he possessed the requisite mental state in that he should have known a reasonable person in the complainant’s circumstances would fear for her or another’s safety, or feel seriously alarmed, disturbed, or frightened.  Or suffer emotional distress in at least two of the occasions that allegedly comprised his course
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REVERSAL DUE TO ERRONEOUS SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE: DC COURT OF APPEALS RECENT DECISION

The Court of Appeals in Jones v. U.S., decided on March 7, 2019 reversed a conviction for armed robbery and assault due to unreliability of the microscopic hair analysis evidence. Factually, defendant was tried in 1996 and convicted of armed robbery and other offenses. The appeal is from the court’s denial of his motions to vacate his convictions pursuant to D.C. Code § 23-110 and for post-conviction DNA testing pursuant to the Innocence Protection Act (IPA). Predominantly at trial the forensic evidence of microscopic hair samples testified to by an FBI agent clinched a conviction. Since 1996, and specifically in a
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CIVIL PROTECTION ORDER (CPO) VIOLATION THROUGH HEARSAY EVIDENCE: CELL PHONE CALL LOG

The Court of Appeals in Holmon v. D.C., decided on February 28, 2019, determined whether a Civil Protection Order violation resulting in conviction based on hearsay evidence at trial should be reversed. First to establish the elements of a CPO violation, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant had engaged in: (1) Willful disobedience (2) Of a protective court order. It is not a willful violation if: Petitioner approached the respondent without his encouragement or consent, The contact was necessitated by an emergency, or There also existed some other compelling reason. Even in the enumerated exceptions listed
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ILLEGAL SEARCH AND SEIZURE: RECENT DC COURT OF APPEALS DECISION

The Court of Appeals in Posey v. US, decided on February 21, 2019, reversed the trial’s court denial of the suppression motion and thus vacated the conviction. Posey was arrested after the Officer responded to a look out for Robbery suspects.  The look out was vague and nondescript and essentially depicting “a black male wearing black clothes.” Because Posey had fled upon observing the approaching police officer and subsequently searched and a weapon found – the trial court determined that the fleeing from the scene by itself added to the reasonable suspicion criteria for Terry stop and thus search and
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STOCK OPTIONS ORDINARY INCOME IN DIVORCE? DC RECENT COURT OF APPEALS DECISION

The Court of Appeals in Crater v. Oliver decided on February 14, 2019, considered whether stock options would be an ordinary income for the purposes of dispensing alimony payments. Generally the court considered the following factors in the award of alimony: Ability of the party seeking alimony to be wholly or partly self-supporting; Time necessary for the party seeking alimony to gain sufficient education or training to enable that party to secure suitable employment; Standard of living that the parties established during their marriage or domestic partnership, but giving consideration to the fact that there will be 2 households to
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FACEBOOK v. SUBPOENA: RECENT DC COURT OF APPEALS

The Court of Appeals in Facebook v. Wint, decided on January 3, 2019, determined and analyzed if a criminal defendant is entitled to issue a criminal subpoena on a provider (here Facebook) to obtain certain communications. Specifically, Mr. Wint charged with multiple murders requested the trial Judge to authorize defense subpoenas duces tecum on Facebook for records, including communications relating to certain accounts. Facebook objected pursuant to the Stored Communications Act (“SCA”), arguing that Facebook was prohibited from disclosing such information in response to a criminal defendant’s subpoena. The trial court approved the subpoena request and held Facebook in civil
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COPARENTING: PROS & CONS & THE COPARENTING APPS

In an event of separation or divorce and when children are involved, it is imperative to create a detailed guideline for each parent to follow to minimize conflict and to maximize harmony and continuity in parenting. Thus, a detailed, focused separation agreement should be implemented providing visitation and custody schedule, medical and educational responsibilities, as well as holidays and summer calendar and also conflict resolution channels such as parenting coach or mediator to step in when needed to de-escalate conflict. Considering the best interests of the child as the paramount criteria and given the complexities and difficulties in single parenting
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SETTING A CRIMINAL CONVICTION ASIDE UNDER THE DC YOUTH ACT

Under the DC Youth Rehabilitation Act, if a youth, defined as individual within the ages of 15-24, is deemed eligible under the Act and hence sentenced under the Act, upon completion of the sentence the conviction would be automatically vacated. Moreover, sentences under the Youth Act are more geared toward probation rather than incarceration.  That is, if the court determines that a youth offender would be better served by probation instead of incarceration, the court has the discretion and motivation to suspend the imposition of sentence and place the youth offender on probation. The Statute generally requires the youth offender
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PRESUMPTION OF JOINT LEGAL AND PHYSICAL CUSTODY & EVIDENCE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

The DC caselaw as well as the Statutory language both are consistent on equality among parents when it comes to granting physical and legal custody and the presumption is well rooted. Courts have generally held that: it is a “Constitutional principle, rooted in the Due Process Clause, that the right to presumptive custody of a fit, unwed, noncustodial father who has grasped the opportunity to be involved in his child’s life can be overridden only by a showing by clear and convincing evidence that it is in the best interest of the child to be placed with someone else. The
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DISTRIBUTION OF RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS AFTER MARRIAGE: DC COURT OF APPEALS

The Court of Appeals in Reed v. Rowe decided on November 15, 2018, addressed how a sole retirement account would be dispersed after a marriage to the surviving spouse. The Reeds were married on August 6, 2011. Prior to the marriage and for over fifteen years Mr. Reed held a sole retirement account designating his sister Ms. Rowe as the sole survivor. Shortly after the marriage, the trial court found that the couple initiated a joint account and commingled funds to and from the account. This was not though the retirement account subject of the litigation. There was some evidence
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