On April 22, 2014, Houlon Berman was able to obtain the release of its 24 year old client after a Post-Conviction hearing. In 2009, the client, who was only 18 years old at the time and had no prior record, was convicted of Robbery with a Deadly Weapon and First Degree Assault at a jury trial in the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County. He was represented by a Public Defender at trial and received an 18 year sentence.
Houlon Berman’s managing partner, Richard A. Finci, was retained to seek Post-Conviction relief for Ineffective Assistance of Counsel at trial (IAC).
A series of trial errors were alleged which violated the client’s 6th Amendment right to counsel including failure to make a competent opening statement and closing argument focusing on the State’s burden to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt, the importance of the presumption of innocence and that the Defendant has no burden of proof. In this case, none of those concepts were even mentioned. Additional arguments as to 4th Amendment issues and the failure to request critical jury instructions were also alleged.
In the end, the client elected to accept a conclusion of the case for time served rather than face a new jury trial. While the process took a great deal of work and time, the client walked out of the courtroom a free man after having spent the last 4 ¾ years at the medium security Roxbury Correctional Institution in Hagerstown.