Looking back to the first of this year, we have found an edge in each case and used it to gain reduced charges for our clients in the following cases:

In Jerome County, our client BG was charged with felony vehicular manslaughter. A vehicular manslaughter case may take the form of a felony charge if the State relies upon "willful and wanton misconduct" or intoxication as a significant cause of the death of another person. In this case, the State alleged that BG’s reckless operation of his commercial truck resulted in the death of a Sun Valley woman. After considerable investigation and relying on the opinion of other operators, we were able to gain a reduction of the charge to a misdemeanor. The end result meant that our client would not face the possible 15 years in prison authorized under Idaho law.

In Valley County, our client PR was charged with a second driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) as the result of his vehicle having slid off the road last winter. In discovery, we obtained a report of a test of the machine that seemed to indicate the reliability of that test was suspect. The case was reduced to a first DUI and our client permitted the opportunity to complete his sentence by work release.

In Canyon County, our client TB was charged with insurance fraud. He had repaid the questionable money he possessed and we used his admission and restitution to gain a probationary sentence. No conviction (TB took a withheld judgment that will permit dismissal if he successfully completes probation), no jail, no prison.

In Canyon County, our client KH was charged with fish and game violations that would have destroyed his related business. After completing the first day of trial, the State moved to dismiss the case after we showed that fish and game officers had not turned over all the evidence required. A "mystery CD" suddenly surfaced with text messages and emails and photos that would clearly have been relevant.

In Federal Court, our client RBH was charged with violating certain food and drug act prohibitions. The company and its owner faced possible felony charges, huge fines, and prison for its owners. We worked with co-counsel from NY to obtain a misdemeanor corporate plea, and the business paid a fine.

In Power County, our client was charged with possession of controlled substances, a felony. We negotiated a misdemeanor possession charge and probation for TS. A similar situation occurred only a few weeks ago in Adams County, with a resulting dismissal of the felony charges in exchange for a plea to a misdemeanor paraphernalia charge for our client KN.

In Federal Court, our client ST pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of controlled substances instead of the conspiracy to engage in racketeering that would have subjected him to a mandatory minimum 10 years. 

In Ada County, our client RP’s felony trafficking in drugs was reduced to a misdemeanor possession, and he avoided an almost certain lengthy confinement.

In Federal Court in Wyoming, our wrongful death case against Grand Targhee Ski Resort, and Teton County Idaho and Wyoming has been settled for an amount agreed to be confidential. We were only weeks away from trial when a mediation in Casper allowed us to help EF’s heirs. Wrongful death cases against ski areas are tough to win in view of the recreational safety act in both Wyoming and Idaho, as we found out when we tried our last ski death case. Our pal Skip Jacobsen, who is now "of counsel" to the Spence Law Firm out of Jackson, Wyoming served as lead counsel.

Big trials in federal court in August (fraud), Wyoming federal court in September (wrongful death) and securities fraud (federal court October) all washed out – and were either settled or continued. These bigger cases took much of our time over the year, so settlements and continuances have kept us out of court. That, however, is the new norm – with increasing costs to try cases and increased risk of losing at trial, most cases are settled. By preparing for trial, we are able to gain the leverage we need to obtain the best result for our clients.

Here is my "take away" looking back over the first eight months of 2012:

First, our more complex cases have caused us to reject many cases that we simply did not have have time for.

Second, sometimes the best resolution is the certainty achieved by a negotiated settlement. This is particularly true in view of the application of the federal sentencing guidelines.

Third, spending time investigating your case gives us the best chance of helping you succeed at trial, or at the settlement table.



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