Houston Criminal Law Blog

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Dr. Michael Brown’s Assault Case Hinged on Witness Credibility

http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Who-to-believe-Jury-deliberates-in-Brown-assault-2178728.php

Dr. Michael Brown gained notoriety for inventing an outpatient procedure to eliminate carpal tunnel syndrome. He built a large clinical practice and became extremely wealthy. In a portrait of a happy and successful family he and his wife, Rachel, had children together, made the rounds with the Houston socialites, gave to charity, and appeared on television commercials. However, not everything was as it seemed in the household of Dr. Brown, and his wife brought charges of assault against him after an altercation in their household.

Dr. Brown and his wife, Rachel, had private issues that have turned public with his trial for felony assault on a family member, a third degree felony with a punishment range of probation to ten years in prison. The charge centers around an altercation between Dr. Brown and his wife that was witnessed by their children and broken up by a bodyguard. The assault is charged as a felony because Dr. Brown previously pleaded guilty to assaulting his former wife, for which he received a ten year probation and a fine.

This morning, after hearing all the evidence from the State and the defense, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty after a five hour deliberation. In the end, the jury found that Dr. Brown’s wife, Rachel, lacked the credibility in her story in order to overcome the burden of reasonable doubt.  Dr. Brown’s defense team, which featured local defense attorney legends Dick DeGuerin and Brian Wice, attempted to discredit the testimony of Rachel Brown by presenting evidence that she had changed her story several times before she testified at Dr. Brown’s trial. While on the stand Rachel Brown denied that she ever changed her story. The defense presented four theories to discredit Ms. Brown: (1) she was a former dancer and “gold digger” who wanted to gain the upper hand in a divorce that she was going to seek; (2) her version of events couldn’t be trusted due to her history of panic attacks; (3) she had recanted her story several times; (4) she started the conflict when she confronted Dr. Brown about his purported infidelity. The State responded by telling the jury that the defense should stick with just one theory. However, by presenting multiple theories on how the evidence could be tainted or flawed, or providing alternative theories on what happened the defense sought to cast doubt on the credibility of the State’s complaining witness.

In Texas state court a person charged with a felony must be convicted by a unanimous jury of twelve people. Sometimes jurors who are not willing to believe one theory of the defense may go on to believe an argument in the alternative. This presumes that the jury is able to compartmentalize multiple defensive theories and reason in the alternative. By providing multiple reasons why the evidence could be flawed due to the manipulation of the State’s witness Dr. Brown’s defense team provided multiple avenues for members of the jury to find that there was reasonable doubt that Dr. Brown was criminally culpable for assault.

In most, if not all, cases involving the credibility of witnesses there are multiple theories on how a witness could be fabricating the truth or merely mistaken about the events underlying the charge. The only way for a defense attorney to present these theories is to adequately research the witness, gather evidence that may be presented to the jury, and enter that evidence in the trial. This requires dedication to the case and attention to detail.

At The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp we recognize that every case, no matter how big or how small, deserves attention. Defenses must be investigated and all theories must be explored when preparing for trial. If you have been charged with a crime in Houston then you need competent and zealous representation to protect your legal rights. Call us today for a free consultation about your case.

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