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Not Guilty Jury Verdict In Interference With Emergency Call Case

APRIL 2014

Sad story in Williamson County involving a husband and wife going through a breakup, an argument gets heated, 911 is called perhaps inadvertently, and police arrive. Another example of how de-escalation on the part of the police often involves taking someone to jail. Russ’s hard work in pointing out the contradictions in the wife’s statements at the scene compared with her trial testimony, and in preparing the client’s strong testimony resulted in an ideal outcome.

Both husband and wife are professionals – he works in high-tech project management, and she works in a law-enforcement support position. He went out of town, and she wouldn’t answer his calls so he could talk with the child. When he returned, he was upset about the issue of the call, and she was upset about undone chores around the house.

The client started to do some of the unfinished chores, and the verbal argument began. The wife punched the client in the face, and the client pushed her away from him. She started to dial 911, and he asked her why she would do that since she assaulted him and not the other way around. He momentarily took the phone from her so that she would not get herself in trouble. Because she worked in a law enforcement support position, her job would have been in jeopardy if she had been arrested.

When he set the phone down and continued working on chores, she got the phone and texted a friend about the incident but did not call 911 back.

The police arrived and interviewed both parties, then arrested the client for assaulting his wife when he pushed her back and for interfering with an emergency call when he took the phone from her. The client was never interested in taking any plea deal and in fact refused to apply for the pretrial intervention because an admission of guilt is required.

At trial, the prosecutor did not feel comfortable trying the assault case because the wife had hit the client first, so we instead tried the interference with the emergency call case. The jury found the client not guilty because he only held the phone a brief time; he intended to get the wife to rethink making the call that he believed would likely result in her being arrested and because she never made any effort to redial 911 despite the fact that she had possession of the phone.

After the trial, the prosecutor dismissed the assault case and agreed to early expunction of both charges so that the client would have a clean criminal history.

Court: Williamson County Court 1