Huge congratulations to APD Sara Yousuf and former APD Amy Weber for getting Judge Miguel DeLaO to grant their postconviction Motion to Vacate Judgment and Sentence yesterday winning a new trial for their client who had been convicted in 2013 of 2nd Degree Murder, Attempted 1st Degree Murder and Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Felony.
This was an incredible victory that is a testament to the perseverance, commitment, legal skill and creativity of Amy Weber and Sara Yousuf. They put in months of work preparing this motion, tracking down witnesses, conducting the hearing and making outstanding argument to get a wrongfully convicted man freed. They interviewed witnesses and pulled jail calls and phone records, among myriad other work, to essentially prove that someone else committed the crimes charged.
To his credit, Judge DeLaO heard all testimony and recordings with great patience and attention and wrote the most thoughtful and detailed order I’ve seen (35 pages worth) to fairly grant a postconviction motion based on newly discovered evidence of actual innocence and Brady violations by the prosecution.
Public Defender Pride!!
Here is the order:
There are a few here. First, for perseverance and for never quitting on their client, Sara Yousuf and Amy Weber. Yousuf and Weber have set the bar for what criminal defense attorneys should strive to be. Never quit, never surrender, never never never. Well done, well done indeed. They are the truly the best of the best for doing what they did. They saved a man's life. Take a well deserved bow.
Judge De la O, who heard the trial is also a hero here. As he pointed out in his extremely thoughtful motion, the judge denied the motion for judgment of acquittal and sentenced the defendant after the trial to fifty years in prison. But as the judge points out, "facts matter." And it takes a very big person to change their mind when the facts change. It takes a person of wisdom and experience and who is dedicated to nothing more than the simple concept of justice. In summary, it takes a judge, a real judge, to do what Judge De la O did.
There is a well thought out discussion of the problems with eyewitness testimony that every judge and prosecutor should read. The prosecutors probably won't, but judges should. At least, real judges should.
And then a hero comes along….