John DeGasperis got a felony indictment dismissed in a criminal case. The case was pending in upstate Columbia County, New York. John represented a man who was charged with aggravated harassment of a correctional employee. John’s client maintained his innocence so they went to trial, and won. The indictment was dismissed because the prosecutor failed to address every element of the crime in their opening statement. John’s client walked away an innocent man and maintained his liberty. This was a major victory for John and his client.
This was John’s first felony trial in about 7 years. As a personal injury trial lawyer, John is accustomed to being the prosecutor and carrying the burden of proof. Being a criminal defense lawyer, John had to go on switch hats and go on the defense. “You are innocent until proven guilty,” John reminded the jury. The defendant does not need to prove or disprove anything in a criminal case—the burden rests with the People, who must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of each and every element of the crime.
After trial, John noted another distinction between criminal trials and civil trials is jury selection. In a civil trial, there are 6-8 jurors, but in a criminal trial, there are 14 jurors. Jury selection lasted 3 days for this criminal trial, and John enjoyed the process.
Katherine Farley, trial paralegal with Basch & Keegan, played a critical role during jury selection. According to John, “It’s difficult to select 14 people alone. It’s important to have someone taking notes and looking at non-verbal communication.” Katherine continues to play an integral role in selecting favorable jurors for trials of all matters.