Life Sentence Overturned, New Trial Granted . . . Joshua Howard proceeded to trial, while represented by a lawyer not affiliated with our firm, wherein he was ultimately convicted and sentenced to life in state prison. As a result of our firm’s legal efforts, Judge Kemba Johnson Lewis granted Mr. Howard’s 3.850 ineffective assistance of counsel 3.850 motion. Judge Lewis vacated Mr. Howard’s life sentence and ordered a new trial. State v. Joshua Howard, Pasco County Circuit Court Criminal Case Number: 12-CF-2438. Rachael E. Reese, Esquire was the lead attorney.
40 Year Prison Sentence Overturned, New Trial Granted . . .Uthman Jalabi, while represented by a lawyer not affiliated with our firm, entered into a negotiated plea agreement with prosecutors that called for him to serve 40 years in state prison for murder. After a full evidentiary hearing, Hillsborough County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Barber found that Mr. Jalabi’s prior counsel was ineffective and ruled Mr. Jalabi’s guilty plea was not freely and voluntarily made. Judge Barber vacated Mr. Jalabi’s forty-year sentence and ordered a new trial. State of Florida v. Uthman Jalabi, Hillsborough County Circuit Court Criminal Case Number: 16-CF-14393. Rachael E. Reese, Esquire was the lead attorney.
26 Year Prison Sentence Overturned, Client is Home . . . Brian Cuevas, while represented by a lawyer not affiliated with our firm, was originally sentenced to 26 years in state prison on two separate cases but was resentenced because he was under the age of 18 at the time of his original sentencing. Mr. Cuevas’ original release date was February 13, 2029. Due to our firm’s negotiation, Mr. Cuevas was released from the state prison after on April 29, 2019. State of Florida v. Brian Cuevas, Hillsborough County Circuit Court Criminal Case Numbers: 06-CF-17508 and 06-CF-17657. Rachael E. Reese, Esquire was the lead attorney.
15 Year Prison Sentence Vacated . . . Jamarcus Lucas was originally sentenced to 15 years in state prison, to be served day for day, as a Prison Releasee Reoffender. On appeal, we argued that Mr. Lucas was not a Prison Releasee Reoffender because technically he never went to state prison after pleading guilty to a sentence that at the time prosecutors believed qualified him for Prison Releasee Reoffender status. The Supreme Court of the State of Florida agreed. Mr. Lucas was ordered to be resentenced. Our firm negotiated a sentence of 7 years (less than ½ of what he was originally sentenced to). State of Florida v. Jamarcus Lucas, Second District Court of Appeals Case Number: 2D17-345. Rachael E. Reese, Esquire was the lead attorney.
Attorney Mark J. O’Brien Obtains Not Guilty Verdict . . . The United States of America accused Andrew Jackson of Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute or to Distribute 5 kilograms or More of Cocaine, a Quantity of Cocaine Base, and a Quantity of Marijuana. Additionally, the government charged Mr. Jackson with Possession of 500 grams or More of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute. The government alleged Mr. Jackson was the cocaine and marijuana source of supply for a federal drug conspiracy based in both Florida and Georgia. 15 of the 16 defendants named in the indictment – all except Mr. Jackson – pleaded guilty to government sponsored plea agreements and cooperated. Several of Mr. Jackson’s co-defendants testified as government witnesses against him. At the conclusion of Mr. Jackson’s trial, a federal jury of five men and five women returned a verdict of not guilty on all counts of the indictment. Mr. Jackson’s jury deliberated for approximately 90 minutes before issuing his acquittal. Mark J. O’Brien, Esquire was the lead trial attorney. United States v. Jackson, 2:18-CR-14-LGW-BWC.
Media Coverage of the Trial from “The Brunswick News” on January 30, 2019 . . . “Andrew Jackson, the only person named in a 16-defendant federal indictment to proceed to trial, sat at the defense table, his arms wrapped around his slim frame, and his knee bouncing in anticipation as he waited for the jury to enter the courtroom at the United States Courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia. A significant portion of the next decade-plus of his life hung in the balance. If convicted of count 1 of the federal indictment, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distributing 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, a quantity of crack and a quantity of marijuana, Mr. Jackson faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years to life in federal prison. The second charge, count 29 of the federal indictment, was possession of 500 grams or more of cocaine with intent to distribute. Count 29 carried a minimum of five years and up to 40 years in federal prison. The jurors filed in, and he and his attorney, Mark J. O’Brien of Tampa, Florida, stood to receive the verdict, which came clearly in an otherwise silent courtroom. Not guilty on Count 1. Not guilty on Count 29. Mr. Jackson immediately hugged Mr. O’Brien. As United States District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood gave closing instructions to the jury, Mr. Jackson covered his face with his hands and wept tears of joy. He continued to wipe tears from his eyes as the jurors left the courtroom. He then hugged Mr. O’Brien again and listened intently as Mr. O’Brien addressed him in private before rejoining his family to celebrate his acquittal. After the jury left the courtroom, Mr. O’Brien addressed the media who covered the trial. “While we respect the government, I am pleased the jury acquitted Andrew of all charges. We thank the jury for their diligent work in reaching its not guilty verdict.”
Second District Court of Appeal Grants Our Appeal . . . Polk County Circuit Court Judge Wayne M. Durden sentenced Michael G. Kania to state prison after a jury convicted him of unlawful use of a two-way communication device. Even though Mr. Kania’s public defender did not object, and thereby preserve the issue, the Second District Court of Appeal found fundamental error, vacated Mr. Kania’s conviction for use of a computer to solicit a child and remanded the case for resentencing. In doing so, the Second District cited to State of Florida v. Shelley, 176 So.3d 919 (Fla. 2015), a case successfully argued before the Supreme Court of the State of Florida by firm Attorney Victoria E. Hatfield. Attorneys Mark J. O’Brien and Rachael E. Reese handled this case for the firm. Michael G. Kania v. State of Florida, 5D17-1079.
Man Who Threatened Congressman Given Probation… Charles Zachary Howard left the following on then United States Congressman (and current Fox News contributo) Jason Chaffetz’s office voice mail: “Hey Jason Chaffetz, you’re a Masonic Free Mason Nazi cocksucking faggot. Hey did you know that the KKK evolved from Free Masonary? Do you know who Albert Pike is? The grand architect of three world wars! I suggest you prepare for the battle motherfucker and the apocalypse. ‘Cause we’re going to hunt your ass down, wrap a rope around your neck, and hang you from a lamp post, you worthless piece of dog shit.” Mr. Howard’s family retained O’Brien Hatfield Reese, PA. After analyzing considerable expert evaluation and Title 18 United States Code 3553(a) mitigation, Orlando District Court Judge Carlos E. Mendoza varied downward and sentenced Mr. Howard to federal probation. Attorney Mark J. O’Brien handled this case for the firm. United States v. Howard, 6:17-CR-261-ORL-41-DCI.
United States Postman Spared Felony and Prison… Keenan Louis Sims was arrested for stealing gift cards from the mail while acting in his capacity as United States Postman. After extensive negotiations, the government ultimately agreed with attorney Mark J. O’Brien about how Mr. Sims should be punished. Mr. Sims accepted a plea agreement to a federal misdemeanor. At sentencing, United States Magistrate Judge Mark Pizzo sentenced Mr. Sims to one year of probation. Attorney Mark J. O’Brien handled this case for the firm. United States v. Sims, 8:17-CR-565-T-MAP.
Federal Case Dismissed… Hector Luis Alers, an executive with Bloomin’ Brands, moved to the United States from Puerto Rico over thirty years ago. On February 14, 2018 Mr. Alers felt anything but love from the United States Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, when he was awoken by federal agents pounding on his door with an arrest warrant and a search warrant. Claiming that Mr. Alers was not actually Hector Luis Alers, and instead a Domincan Republic citizen who was illegally in the United States, federal agents working at the directive of President Trump arrested Mr. Alers and brought him to federal court for his first appearance. Mr. Alers’ wife retained O’Brien Hatfield Reese, PA. Working with firm investigator Jerry Rivera, attorney Mark J. O’Brien was able to prove he was set up by a disgruntled ex-wife who had previously filed a false death claim in an attempt to cash in on a life insurance policy and was in fact Hector Luis Alers. Within days, the government dismissed all charges against Mr. Alers. Attorney Mark J. O’Brien handled this case for the firm. United States v. Alers, 8:18-MJ-1144-AAS.
Downward Variance of Over Ten Years to Minimum Penalty in Federal Child Porn Case… Jason Wacker walked into Chief District Court Judge Merryday’s courtroom facing 188 to 235 months in federal prison. He walked out with the minimum sentence allowed by law. After considering a sentencing memorandum and hearing from several expert witnesses, Judge Merryday agreed with the defense argument and varied downward approximately eleven years pursuant to Title 18 United States Code 3553(a). Attorney Mark J. O’Brien handled this case for the firm. United States v. Wacker, 8:17-CR-224-SDM-AEP.
Downward Departure of Nearly Nine Years in Federal Meth Case… Judge Sheri Polster Chappell departed nearly nine years from the federal sentencing guidelines from 151 months and sentenced William Rollerson to 51 months for a methamphetamine conspiracy. Attorney Mark J. O’Brien handled this case for the firm. United States v. Rollerson, 2:16-CR-81-FTM- 38- CM.
Fifth District Court of Appeal Ruled In Our Favor… Osceola County Circuit Court Judge Jon Morgan originally denied Vincent Klaus’s 3.850 motion. As a result of our efforts, the Fifth District Court of Appeal granted our appeal of this denial, overturned Judge Morgan’s ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings at the circuit court level. Attorney Rachael E. Reese handled this case. State of Florida v. Vincent Klaus, 5D17-1079.
And Then They Did It Again… Orange County Circuit Court Judge Heather Higbee denied Anthonique Pamphile’s 3.850 motion. As a result of our efforts, the Fifth District Court of Appeal granted our appeal of the denial, overturned Judge Higbee’s ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings at the circuit court level. Attorney Rachael E. Reese handled this case. State of Florida v. Anthonique Pamphile, 5D16-3195.
State 3.850 Motion Granted… We filed a 3.850 motion on behalf of April Hupe after Marion County Circuit Court Judge Hale Stancil violated her plea agreement by imposing a consecutive, and not concurrent as agreed upon by the parties, sentence in the second of her two open cases. Marion County Circuit Court Judge Anthony Tatti granted our 3.850 motion, ruled Ms. Hupe was entitled to a concurrent sentence and reduced her sentence by five years. State of Florida v. April Hupe, 2012-CF-776 and 2012-CF-4009.
Client Freed From Prison… Shortly after we filed a 3.850 motion on behalf of Alfredo Salazar, Hillsborough County Circuit Court Judge Nick Nazaretian ordered an evidentiary hearing. We knew going into this hearing that Mr. Salazar cared about only one thing: getting released from state prison as fast as humanly possible. Armed with this bottom line, we negotiated Mr. Salazar’s release from state prison in exchange for dismissing the evidentiary hearing and extending his probationary term, both of which Mr. Salazar readily agreed to do. Rachael E. Reese handled this case. State of Florida v. Alfredo Salazar, 2009-CF-2766 and 2009-CF-2767.
State Motion to Suppress Granted… The State of Florida charged Daniel Diner with 100 counts of child pornography, all of which were in enhanced to second degree felonies because he possessed more than ten images and videos. Mr. Diner faced a maximum sentence of 1,500 years in prison. Mr. Diner’s family retained our law firm after Mr. Diner was initially represented by the Office of the Public Defender. After careful consideration, investigation and analysis, Ms. Hatfield filed a motion to suppress alleging five separate instances of unlawful police conduct. Hillsborough County Circuit Court Judge Kiser conducted a four-hour suppression hearing wherein he listened to testimony and argument from both parties. Judge Kiser reserved ruling for three weeks wherein he set a hearing to reveal his decision. Shocking the courtroom, Judge Kiser ruled in favor Ms. Hatfield and granted the motion to suppress and promptly dismissed all 100 charges against MR. Diner. Case dismissed. Mr. Diner is a free man. Attorney Victoria E. Hatfield handled this case. State v. Diner, 2016-CF- 013503.
Successful Violation of Probation Evidentiary Hearing… The State of Florida charged Lenny Camara with violating his first degree punishable by life robbery probation with the new offense conduct of a drive by shooting. After a full day of testimony by ten State witnesses, including the victim of the shooting, Hillsborough County Circuit Court Judge Laura Ward reserved ruling for two days, scheduled a hearing and announced that the State of Florida was unable to prove by a preponderance of the evidence (a standard much lower than beyond a reasonable doubt) that Mr. Camara was the shooter in question. Judge Ward dismissed the probation violation. Attorney Victoria E. Hatfield handled this case. State v. Camara, 2011-CF-017186.
25 Year Prison Sentence Vacated… The Second District Court of Appeal, after a full briefing and oral argument, sided with O’Brien Hatfield Reese, PA in a recent direct appeal. While represented by an attorney unaffiliated with our firm, a jury convicted Marcus Sanders of trafficking 200 grams of methamphetamine and sentenced to twenty-five years by Judge Steinbeck in Lee County, Florida. Judge Black, along with Judge Wallace and Judge LaRose, ruled the circuit court judge erred in denying Mr. Sanders’ motion for judgment of acquittal and reversed his judgment and sentence and remanded him for discharge. Mr. Sanders is a free man. In reaching his decision Judge Black opined: “In short, the only evidence presented by the State to establish possession was Sanders’ close proximity to the bag containing contraband and his “unusual” behavior. This court has repeatedly held that such evidence is insufficient.” Attorney Rachael E. Reese handled this direct appeal. Sanders v. State, 15-2360 (2nd DCA 2017).
State Motion to Suppress Granted… In a twist, Hillsborough County Judge Samantha Ward granted an O’Brien Hatfield Reese, PA motion to suppress… but only after first denying it eight hours earlier. Angel Alicea was charged with possession of heroin with intent to sell after a traffic stop. After a hearing, Judge Ward initially denied our motion to suppress, even though she found the arresting officer not credible. After reviewing the court’s order, we filed a motion for a rehearing. Approximately eight hours after issuing a denial, Judge Ward reversed course without a hearing and issued a new order granting Mr. Alicea’s motion to suppress. Case dismissed. Attorney Victoria E. Hatfield handled this case. State v. Alicea, 16-CF-006626-A (2017).
O’Brien Defends Bubba the Love Sponge… Attorney Mark J. O’Brien successfully fought a trial subpoena served upon Bubba the Love Sponge Clem by defendant Gawker Media in the Hulk Hogan v. Gawker Media civil trial in Pinellas County, Florida. Mr. O’Brien filed a motion to quash that asserted Mr. Clem’s constitutional privilege against self-incrimination pursuant to the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Federal Life Sentence Vacated… Attorney Rachael E. Reese won a 28 U.S.C. Section 2255 post-conviction motion in the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division. Antonio “Tampa Tony” Alls, while represented by an attorney not affiliated with O’Brien Hatfield Reese, PA, lost at trial and was sentenced to mandatory life in federal prison pursuant to 21 U.S.C. Section 841 and 851. After successfully vacating one of the prior convictions used to enhance Mr. Alls’ sentence, Ms. Reese filed a timely, non-successive 2255 post-conviction motion. After reviewing submissions by Ms. Reese and the government, the district court ruled in Mr. Alls’ favor and freed Mr. Alls from his life sentence.
State Life Sentence Vacated… Attorney Rachael E. Reese won a Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850 post-conviction motion. Willie David, while represented by an attorney not affiliated with O’Brien Hatfield Reese, PA, lost at trial and was sentenced to life in state prison. After a 3.850 hearing on the merits of the motion, during which Ms. Reese cross-examined Mr. David’s prior attorney, the circuit court ruled that Mr. David received ineffective assistance of counsel. He vacated Mr. David’s judgment of conviction and set aside Mr. David’s sentence of life in prison. Mr. David’s case will return to the trial docket and he will start his life anew.
Federal 2255 Motion Granted… Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, District Court Judge Mary S. Scriven initially denied our federal 2255 motion. After considering our motion for reconsideration, Judge Scriven reversed course and granted our federal 2255 motion. Judge Scriven ordered our client’s Armed Career Criminal status removed, revoked his original sentence and ordered a resentencing. Attorney Rachael E. Reese handled this federal 2255 motion. Miller v. United States, Case No.: 8:14-CV-2181-MSS-JSS.
State Direct Appeal Granted… The Fifth District Court of Appeal upheld a circuit court decision granting our client’s motion to suppress evidence. After a motion to suppress hearing, the circuit court granted our client’s motion to suppress evidence of a gun. As a result of this ruling, the State of Florida was forced to dismiss the case against our client. However, before doing so, the State of Florida appealed the circuit court’s decision to the Fifth District Court of Appeals. After careful review, the Fifth District Court of Appeals cited to the case we argued in our appellate brief (State v. Cable, 51 So.3d 434 (Fla. 2010)) as controlling precedent and sided with our client. Further, the Fifth District Court of Appeal issued a per curiam affirmed decision thereby prohibiting the State of Florida from appealing to the Supreme Court of the State of Florida. Our client is forever free on these charges.
Federal Resentencing Yields Credit for Time Served Sentence… Chaka K. Miller walked into District Court Judge Mary S. Scriven’s courtroom serving a prison sentence of 188 months. Thirty-seven minutes later he walked out a free man. After hearing Title 18 United States Code 3553(a) variance arguments, Judge Scriven sent Mr. Miller home to his family. Attorney Mark J. O’Brien handled this case for the firm. United States v. Miller, 8:13-CR-134-MSS-35-MAP.