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October 2013 Archives

John Burke Gets Excellent Result in Felony Sex Case

Attorney John Burke of Zerillo Law, LLC got an excellent result for a Client today accused of Patronizing Prostitution of a Minor and Assault.  This felony charge related to a situation in which the alleged minor claimed to be an adult.  Our client believed the alleged victim to be an adult, and John Burke was able to establish that the belief was reasonable.   As a result, he got our client out of a felony and a 10 year sex offender registration, all for a small fine.You don't get results like this by chance.  There was a lot of hard work that went into this.  Investigations, sometimes polygraph examinations and more go into proper pre-trial preparation.  That is also what gets you the best results.  Congrats to John Burke and our Client.--------------------------
Timothy E. Zerillo has been included in every edition of New England
Super Lawyers since 2010, for his Super Lawyers page click here. Timothy E. Zerillo has a 10 out of 10 rating from AVVO.com, for his ratings page, click here.

 
For more on Tim Zerillo and Zerillo Law, click here.

Big Win for Client in Child Sexual Abuse Case

No one likes child sexual abuse.  Child sexual abuse is awful.  We often represent sexual abuse victims, and we often represent the accused in criminal court.  Representing victims and representing the accused gives you perspective related to child sex cases.
 
What I want from these cases is fairness.  And for years I have made a study as to the errors made by police and others in child sexual abuse investigations, examinations and interviews.  So, whether I am suing for a sexual abuse victim, or defending someone accused of sexual abuse of a child, I always try to study the investigation and the child's development as they relate to the case.
 
Our Client here was accused of sexually abusing her young child.  I didn't believe it.  There are too many factors for me to explain why I didn't believe it here, but it smelled funny.
 
Before our client was charged we spoke to the police and the prosecutor.  The prosecutor agreed not to prosecute.  That was job one and was a big win.
 
Then we appealed the substantiation decisions of abuse by DHHS.  We had a testimonial hearing, and the Administrative Hearing Officer found that we were correct, that there was no credible evidence of sexual abuse of the child.  This was after I cross-examined medical professionals from Spurwink and DHHS, and took testimony from our own witnesses.
 
First off, credit goes to the Hearing Officer who had the guts and intellect to recommend reversal of an ugly child sexual abuse case.  He was correct.  Second, this is what can happen when you keep working in the trenches in these cases.  This was the right thing to do.  As we revealed in cross-examination of their witnesses, the forensic interview process was flawed, and the parents on the opposing side had motivations to suggest abuse to the alleged victim.  In this case, the interview was so flawed that the DHHS caseworker agreed with me that the police officer lead the child in the interview, was suggestive to the child, and, in general, that he fouled things up. 
 
I understand that children are abused.  When they are, it is horrible and life-changing. 
 
It is also horrible and life-changing when you are falsely accused based on bad interviewing techniques, suggestiveness and interviewer bias.
 
We are not out of the woods on this one, but this was a great victory for our client.
 
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Timothy E. Zerillo has been included in every edition of New England
Super Lawyers since 2010, for his Super Lawyers page click here. Timothy E. Zerillo has a 10 out of 10 rating from AVVO.com, for his ratings page, click here.
 
For more on Tim Zerillo and Zerillo Law, click here.

Interesting Editorial on Bail Issues in Criminal Cases in Maine

From the Portland Press Herald:

Our View: Bail decisions should reflect risk to community

Too many people are sitting in jail unnecessarily, waiting for a court date.


A growing majority of Maine's county jail inmates have not been convicted of a crime and pose little risk to the community. So why are they sitting in a jail cell, costing taxpayers $100 a day or more?

click image to enlarge
Cumberland County Jail inmates meet with visitors in a June 14 file photo. About 75 percent of inmates in Maine's county jails have not been convicted of a crime; they are in jail awaiting trial.
2013 File Photo/Derek Davis
The answer has to do with the ineffective bail system used here and in most other states, as well as with the court system's institutional reluctance to adopt new standards.
There is hope that the tide is changing, however, both in Maine and across the country. A commission here is reviewing the issue as part of an effort to solve the budget crisis at Maine's 15 county jails, which are facing a 75 percent revenue shortfall.
The commission, by way of its eventual recommendation, could help the state take a step toward changing a system that costs taxpayers millions and unnecessarily jails thousands of Mainers charged with petty crimes.
Fifteen years ago, less than half of the state's county jail inmates were there awaiting trial. In the next decade, as the overall jail population surged, so too did the pretrial population, only at a higher rate. The total number of inmates increased 89 percent in those 10 years, and by 2007, more than 60 percent of inmates were awaiting trial. Today, that it is closer to 75 percent.
The same holds true nationwide, where 62 percent of inmates are being held pretrial, up from 56 percent in 2000.
The main factor keeping pretrial inmates behind bars - both in Maine and throughout the United States - is money. Most of the accused can't meet even the low bail that comes with charges related to minor, nonviolent crimes.
So the defendants await trial in jail, at a significant financial and social cost. Nationally, $9 billion a year is spent on housing pretrial inmates, and even short stints of detention disrupt work, education and family life. Life is made significantly harder for the defendant upon release, and recidivism rates increase by as much as a factor of four.
On the other hand, there is a risk to letting a defendant go without bail. The trick is to get that risk as low as possible, using assessment tools that factor in criminal history, substance abuse, housing and mental health, among other criteria.
Pretrial services that are now done on a limited basis in Maine help courts determine which defendants can be released, and whether bail and supervision are appropriate.
The savings are significant. At a commission meeting last week, Capt. Marsha Alexander, the Kennebec County jail administrator, said her facility saves about $2 million a year from fewer prisoners as a result of pretrial screenings, at a cost of $130,000.
And the assessments now being used nationwide are accurate enough so that public safety does not suffer. Research shows that when proven assessment tools are applied correctly, defendants deemed to be a low risk very rarely commit an offense while free.
Maine needs to develop, test and implement a uniform assessment tool successfully in all county court systems. A pilot project developed at Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset aimed to do just that, but the project failed to spread to other counties.
That's where the commission comes in. The Board of Corrections should be given the authority and resources to find the right assessment tools, put them in place statewide and put an end to the wasteful spending.
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Timothy E. Zerillo has been included in every edition of New England
Super Lawyers since 2010, for his Super Lawyers page click here. Timothy E. Zerillo has a 10 out of 10 rating from AVVO.com, for his ratings page, click here.

For more on Tim Zerillo and Zerillo Law, click here.

Aggravated Criminal Mischief Felony and Reckless Conduct with a Dangerous Weapon Dismissed

Attorneys Tim Zerillo and John Burke of Zerillo Law, LLC were able to get a dismissal of Felony Aggravated Criminal Mischief and Felony Reckless Conduct with a Dangerous Weapon in favor of a Driving to Endanger misdemeanor for 4 days in jail and a fine.  The initial offer to our client was pleas to felonies for 2 years and probation.  We are very pleased to get this result for our client, which included driving speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour, and a 2 car accident that destroyed a CMP utility pole.
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Timothy E. Zerillo has been included in every edition of New England
Super Lawyers since 2010, for his Super Lawyers page click here. Timothy E. Zerillo has a 10 out of 10 rating from AVVO.com, for his ratings page, click here.

 
For more on Tim Zerillo and Zerillo Law, click here.