A Grand Jury no billed (dismissed) an Injury to a Child charge based on a defense packet by Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer James Sullivan. The client was referred to Sullivan by the court-appointed lawyer who represents him in the related CPS case.
Upon meeting with his client, James Sullivan explained how he intended to fight the case at the grand jury level and try to get his case dismissed quickly. Like most people, his client had never heard of this process, so it took a while for him to understand it and the advantages. His client said that he previously had talked to several other lawyers who were going to charge him a minimum fee of $20,000 (which did not include a jury trial) and none them had suggested this strategy to him. Sullivan charged a fraction of that amount and got his case dismissed in three months time.
About one year earlier, the client and his wife noticed that their infant son was very irritable and fussy. They did not know what was wrong with their child. The next day they took their son to be examined at the local children’s hospital. The doctor discovered that the child had a broken leg and several ribs that had been fractured one to two months earlier and were in the process of healing. The parents could not explain how the child received the injuries, although the father was the only parent caring for the child at the time of the injuries. The doctor opined that only the coordination of an adult could have caused the leg fracture. CPS got involved and removed their three children from the home and placed them with grandparents.
About one year later, after the CPS case was set for trial, the DA’s office charged the father with the serious first degree felony of Injury to a Child. The father faced between five years to a lifetime in prison. After posting bond, the father hired James Sullivan to represent him. Sullivan immediately called the prosecutor to hold the case from the grand jury so he could prepare and present a defense packet.
Attorney James Sullivan conducted extensive medical research and learned that osteogenesis imperfecta (O.I.)(brittle bone disease) was a possible explanation for the child’s injuries. However, the child was too young to be tested for it. Sullivan’s research also indicated that the few medical tests that the doctor performed at the hospital do not diagnose the condition.
One month after being retained, James Sullivan turned in his 20 page defense packet for the grand jury. The prosecutor was surprised to even receive it, believing that the case was indefensible. Upon reading it, the prosecutor realized that she would need to get the full medical records from the hospital in case the grand jury had any questions. Because the hospital lost the first subpoena for records, it took a full two months to obtain them and to then present the case to the grand jury.
Both the client and his wife were willing to testify before the grand jury. Without hearing from them, the grand jury did the right thing and voted to no bill (dismiss) the case. Now, the father can get his criminal records expunged.
The father has been forced to live separately from his wife and children for over a year. He has had only limited supervised visitation with them. CPS sought to terminate his legal rights. Before Jim Sullivan was hired, the father and mother were led to believe that their only hope was for the father to relinquish his rights to his children so that they could be placed with the mother. What an impossible choice to make–to give up your children forever because of a false and heinous accusation made against you.
The father can now get his criminal records expunged and the government ought to do the right thing and dismiss the CPS case against them. The case was prosecuted in the 184th District Court of Harris County in cause number 1340646. It was no billed on August 17, 2012.
Attorney James Sullivan regularly gets felony cases no billed by the grand jury. Unlike other attorneys who only try to negotiate the best plea bargain, Sullivan fights to get his clients’ felony cases dismissed at the grand jury level. If the case has already been indicted, then he fights the case at trial. As seen by this case, he thinks outside the box and seeks creative solutions to his clients’ problems.