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Appellate Victory Leads to New Trial for Man Convicted of Vehicular Assault

The highly effective appellate representation from Attorneys Ian N. Friedman and Eric C. Nemecek, led the Court of Appeals of Ohio to overturn the vehicular assault and DUI convictions of an incarcerated young business manager. As a result of this appellate case victory, the defendant will now be released from prison and will have his case retried. Attorney Friedman and his team will provide the defendant with legal representation in his next trial.

According to the case's journal entry and opinion (released and journalized on May 29, 2014), the defendant was arrested for suspected drunk driving in November 2012 after his vehicle struck a bicyclist. The accident victim sustained injuries that caused him to be paralyzed from the neck down. The defendant, who argued that he was not intoxicated at the time of the accident, had his case heard in a bench trial in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas.

The defendant was convicted of the following charges in June 2013: third-degree felony vehicular assault, fourth-degree felony vehicular assault, and first-degree misdemeanor driving under the influence. He was sentenced to a five-year prison term, a seven-year suspension of his driver's license, and a fine of $5,000.

The defendant, who was represented by other attorneys for his bench trial, decided to appeal the trial court's judgment. Attorneys Friedman and Nemecek argued that their client's previous defense lawyers were ineffective and that the trial court had improperly allowed the admission of prejudicial evidence in his trial—an anonymous letter that violated his Constitutional rights. The writer of the anonymous letter claimed that the defendant had been drinking and was intoxicated on the night of the accident.

The trial court allowed the letter to be presented in the first trial despite the fact that the defense team objected that: 1) the letter had not been shared with the defense prior to the trial, 2) it included hearsay and 3) the defendant's rights would be violated since his lawyers could not cross-examine an anonymous witness. The prosecutor challenged these objections by suggesting that the court allow the evidence to be presented and then just avoid using it as evidence that would affect the judgment (something made easier since the case was not being tried before a jury). The trial judge permitted the use of the letter.

The Court of Appeals judges ruled in favor of the defendant, and noted that they could not be certain beyond a reasonable doubt that the anonymous letter did not end up tipping the scales toward a guilty verdict. The judges also stated that because the defendant waived his right to a jury trial, this did not give prosecutors the right to admit evidence that would normally be considered inadmissible.

The Court of Appeals decided to reverse the trial court's judgment and ordered that the defendant receive another trial. Because of the successful appeal the defendant was released from prison. Attorney Friedman, Attorney Nemecek, and the rest of their defense team are preparing for the man's new trial.

Our legal team is proud that Attorneys Friedman and Nemecek were able to successfully protect this defendant's Constitutional rights. If you are dealing with a criminal case, do not hesitate to contact Ian N. Friedman for high-quality defense!

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