Lenamon's Client, Last Defendant in $200 Million Medicare Fraud Trial, Faces Guilty Jury Verdict

This was a big deal: a $200 Million Medicare Fraud operation where around 40 people have been sentenced to prison time for doing things like submitting false invoices to Medicare for mental health services that never happened.

This week, a federal jury came back with a verdict on the last 2 defendants in this big Department of Justice investigation into this South Florida Medicare Fraud enterprise involving seven American Therapeutic Clinics scattered in different cities and lots of players.

The big guns have already been dealt with by the justice system and are behind bars.

Terence Lenamon represented one of the last two defendants in the sting — Roger Bergman, a 65 year old physician’s assistant, and Mr. Bergman was found guilty by the jury this week. Bergman and his co-defendant, a 55 year old patient recruiter named Rodolfo Santaya, will be sentenced by a federal judge at a sentencing hearing in the future.

SInce this is an ongoing case, Terry Lenamon’s position on Mr. Bergman’s situation in this complicated, immense fraud can best be described by language taken from Terry Lenamon’s Closing Statement in the trial (p. 1242):

Because what's really going on here is Roger Bergman is a physician's assistant trying to make a living. And when he's working day in and day out, he's not thinking about committing Medicare fraud or falsifying information, he's thinking about, you know, my car broke down this morning and I may not be able to make it in. And I got to make up for those files so I can dictate those files because what I do is very simple. This is what Roger Bergman does.

And don't let the government fool you about his responsibility. He's a physician's assistant. He takes the place of a physician legally. He interviews them. He does two things. He does a note and he does an initial evaluation. He gets paid $30 for the initial evaluation and $15 for a note. It may take him five minutes to do a note, it may take him ten, it may take him 15 to do an initial evaluation, it may take him 20.
But when he is done, he writes it on a yellow pad. Those yellow pads are kept, were kept and destroyed by the government. And then he dictates that information and it's supposed to be madeinto a chart. …

Prediction: Win on appeal.

 

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Watch Terry Lenamon in Dateline Episode "Mystery in South Beach" - the Escoto Trial

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Dateline NBC on May 11: Escoto Trial and Terence Lenamon Interview

This Sunday, May 11, 2014, Dateline NBC will show its latest crime investigation episode, "Mystery in South Beach," which covers the recent trial (and guilty verdict) for Michel Escoto.

Terence Lenamon, as stand-by counsel and later full-on defense counsel (Terry Lenamon gave the closing arguments), was interviewed for this episode.

Watch the show as it first appears on Sunday, or catch it later online at the Dateline NBC website.

 

 

 

 

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Dateline NBC on May 11: Escoto Trial and Terence Lenamon Interview

This Sunday, May 11, 2014, Dateline NBC will show its latest crime investigation episode, "Mystery in South Beach," which covers the recent trial (and guilty verdict) for Michel Escoto.

Terence Lenamon, as stand-by counsel and later full-on defense counsel (Terry Lenamon gave the closing arguments), was interviewed for this episode.

Watch the show as it first appears on Sunday, or catch it later online at the Dateline NBC website.

 

 

 

 

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Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year from Terry Lenamon!

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Terry Lenamon Shares His Thoughts About New Film "West of Memphis": Every Judge, Prosecutor, and Capital Defense Lawyer Needs to See This Movie

 

We've covered the case of the West Memphis Three here on the blog in a series of posts going back over the years and in the past month, we've had several posts urging people to see the documentary based upon this Death Row case out of Arkansas, "West of Memphis."  No need to go back over those details here. 

Today, Terry Lenamon shares with you his thoughts on this documentary, which he has already seen in an advanced screening up at the New York Law School.  The film is scheduled for a national release in late December.  Please go see it.

Now, from Terence Lenamon, his personal thoughts on this film:

________________

 

In a perfect world each of us has a guardian angel.  

Damien Echol’s angel is Lorri Davis.

Without her, Damien would have been a casualty of a flawed and imperfect justice system. He would clearly have been executed.  An innocent man -- a mere eighteen years old at the time of his sentence of death, and destined to be dead at the hands of the Arkansas justice system .

Tragedy passing at the expense of fear- driven justice, the new documentary “West of Memphis” tells that story.  I think that Amy Berg (Director), Peter Jackson, (Producer) and Damien Echols should provide this movie to every Judge, Prosecutor and Defense Attorney as a roadmap on both what should and should not be done in capital cases.  

Peter Jackson and Amy Berg do a wonderful job taking us on this long journey that begins with the horrific murder of three young boys and ends in the release of three innocent men almost two decades later.

It is an emotional roller coaster that highlights bad lawyering, overzealous law enforcement, a fear driven community bent on justice, good lawyering, and a very expensive, resource driven defense team that proves money does make a difference.

Both Dennis Riordan and Stephan Braga do a wonderful job at laying the foundation to obtain the release of these men. Barry Scheck lends a hand in helping create law related to DNA testing in Clintonville.

Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh selflessly provide a piece of their $300 million dollar net worth to sharpen the defense attack on injustice with the likes of Eddie Vedder, Johnny Depp, and company dirtying their hands in the face of controversy, never veering from the pursuit of justice.

In all, this deeply touching, yet frightening examination of a broken system, makes clear one undisputable point: when you mix the taking of a life by a justice system with imperfect human fragilities, you can expect nothing less than tragedy.  

For those who practice in my world let us not forget that Death is Different. Let us not forget.

-          -- Terry Lenamon | November 24, 2012

 

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Happy Thanksgiving from Terry Lenamon!

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Terry Lenamon Defends Josh Fulgham who Faces Death Penalty in Heather Strong Murder Case

Terry Lenamon is currently in trial defending another high profile defendant, Joshua Fulgham, who is accused of killing his wife Heather Strong (read the Wikipedia article on her murder here).  The trial is taking place in Marion County, Florida.

For blog readers who follow Terry's trial work, here are some links to the day's activities (as this post is being published, they are still in the middle of jury selection).

Jury Selection Photo Series (Ocala.com)

Gaineville Sun trial coverage

Joshua Fulgham faces the death penalty for the death of his wife Heather Strong, having been charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping.  Fulgham's girlfriend, Emilia Carr, has already been tried and convicted and is now setting on Florida's Death Row. 

If you are interested in criminal defense / true crime cases, then you might want to read Terry's memoir or "casebook" that covers almost a dozen of his past defense cases where his clients faced the penalty of death.  For more info on the book or to buy it as an ebook or paperback, just click on the link there in the left sidebar. 

New Book: The Death Penalty Indigent Defense Crisis: Representing the Poor When the State Wants to Kill Them and It's Paying Your Bill

 

Written by Terence Lenamon and Reba Kennedy, this short ebook (30,000 word count) is offered to anyone interested in the American criminal justice system, particularly in the areas of capital punishment and the right to counsel provided the poor under federal constitutional mandate as well as various state statutes. It is provided as an economical, hands-on resource written with the non-lawyer reader in mind.

Written by the co-authors of the blog, “Terry Lenamon on the Death Penalty,” in answer to questions from readers about how the system of indigent defense in death penalty cases works in the real world – and why -- the books gives a concise overview of the death penalty indigent defense crisis – where it originated, where it is today.

In a skipping stones approach to a complicated subject matter some areas necessarily aren’t addressed here and others are just touched upon. What this work provides is an overview with endnotes, resources lists, and hyperlinks, written to help non-lawyers learn more about indigent defense generally and its impact upon the death penalty today, specifically. Its intent is to provide a practical tool for those working toward finding real solutions to the tragic and mounting crisis of indigent defense funding in death penalty cases today.

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Terry Lenamon Interview: Orlando Sentinel TV Guy Hal Boedeker Talks Casey Anthony Chapter of Terry's New Book

Admist the Orlando Sentinel's column covering television - with the series finales of The Closer and the continued success of NCIS, TV Guy Hal Boedeker took the time to talk with Terry Lenamon about one chapter of his new book (see it there in the left sidebar).

Interestingly, Hal Boedeker was focused on one chapter of Terry's many different stories of death penalty cases in his book: the Casey Anthony representation.  (Terry covers many different instances where he represented people facing capital punishment; the Anthony case is just one section of this book.)

As those who follow this blog will recall, Terence Lenamon was the first death penalty qualified attorney who represented Casey Anthony after she was arrested and jailed.  What happened there?

Terry gives some information in the Orlando Sentinel interview.  For the full story, check out the book. 

 

 

 

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Terry Lenamon New Book Available at Amazon: Heinous, Atrocious and Cruel

 

 

Heinous, atrocious and cruel - these words describe the crimes that Terence ("Terry") Lenamon defends on a daily basis as one of Florida's select group of death-qualified attorneys.

Terry achieved national recognition as a death-qualified defense trial lawyer with his representation of some of Florida's most well-known and most reviled defendants. His cases have aired on the First 48, Caso Cerrado, Issues with Jane Velasuez Mitchell, and Nancy Grace.  His clients have included Casey Anthony, Yvette Yallico, Cesar Mena, and Harrell Brady, the infamous "Miami Strangler."

In this book, he has chronicled some of his most challenging cases.

These cases offer a fascinating insider's look at the workings of a death penalty prosecution. This is a world that most people never get to see, and a world that most people would like to pretend does not exist. Terry and his team take the reader on journeys to discover how their clients ended up facing death row.

These cases explore the much deeper issues of compassion, forgiveness, retribution, and revenge. The defense of people accused of horrific crimes often requires a deeply critical look at how we as a society treat some of our most damaged and weakest members. As their defender, Terry does not attempt to justify or excuse their crimes, but to offer sometimes disturbing insights into how these fellow human beings came to his figurative doorstep. No matter what your stance is on the death penalty, this book is a must read for those interested in the workings of our criminal justice system and capital crimes defense. These stories represent a fraction of his cases.

Terry is a Board Certified criminal defense attorney practicing in Miami, Florida. Terry has first-chaired over 100 jury trials in his 17 years practicing law. Terry Lenamon is also founder and the former Executive Director of the Florida Capital Resource Center, a non-profit organization that provides support to Florida death penalty attorneys.

For a looksie, please check out the preview made available at the Amazon website.  

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Terry Lenamon in the Media

Terry Lenamon has been extremely busy the past few months, juggling things like:

  1. finalizing his new memoir/ebook - which is being published in a matter of weeks by Telemachus Press;
  2. representing clients facing the death penalty;
  3. speaking with the press as founder of the Florida Capital Resource Center on the recent federal court ruling that the Florida death penalty law is unconstitutional; and
  4. giving his opinion both to the print media and on television as a featured expert on shows like Nancy Grace and Issues with Jane Velez Mitchell on the Casey Anthony trial and its aftermath.

Soon, we'll be posting details about these developments (we need the okay before uploading the TV videos, for example) as well as the final information on Terry's new book.

Stay tuned!  It's a busy (and hot!) summer!

- Reba Kennedy

 

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Blog on Hiatus This Month

For the month of June (and maybe longer), there will be no new posts here and we won't be responding to comments, because Terry and I will be busy finalizing books for publication and there's only so much time in the schedule ....

Perhaps this is the 21st Century version of hanging out a "Gone Fishin'" sign on the front door?

We'll be back and thank you for your patience,

Reba Kennedy, Esq.

 

 

 

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Invitation to Submit Guest Blog Posts For Terry Lenamon's Death Penalty Blog

More and more, we are receiving email requests from folk that would like to write a guest post here on the Death Penalty Blog.  Right off the bat, please know that we consider it an honor that anyone would be interested in taking the time and effort to write something for publication here. 

To all that have sent requests, thank you.

However, Terry has dedicated this site to capital punishment issues and he feels it's important that we keep to that important topic, in all its nuances.  Therefore, some of the requests must be declined because they delve into issues outside of the death penalty area.  However valid and valuable they may be, we must forego publishing these proposed articles - though again, thank you for your offer.  Sincerely.

SEE 2012 UPPATE BELOW FOR ADDITIONAL PREREQUISITE.

Guidelines for Guest Posts

For those who have an interest in writing about capital punishment or death penalty issues, both here or in other parts of the world, please feel free to join our new Guest Blogger roster.  We welcome writers who have something to say about the death penalty today and invite you to contact Reba Kennedy (contact info below) if you are interested in posting here at Terry's death penalty blog. 

Our posts appear twice a week, and are intentionally limited to certain topics.  Accordingly, we ask that any guest posts also follow these guidelines:

  1. You must have your own website, blog site, Facebook page, Twitter account, or other online presence that we can link with, for the convenience of our readers - we cannot accept anonymous guest post writers;
  2. You supply a brief biography (and we welcome a pix of yourself if you have one) to highlight who you are and why the readers can trust your article or opinion;
  3. Your post must be at least 250 words and no more than 1200 words;
  4. We respectfully reserve the right to edit all submissions; and
  5. Your post must be original and must include links to support its factual statements, etc. especially any quotes, as the parameters of the fair use doctrine and copyright law (e.g., plagarism) must be maintained.

Guest Blogger Roster Will Appear in the Sidebar

Those who have, and will, post here as guest writers will be spotlighted in the blog's sidebar as Guest Writers.  Their names within that listing will be linked to their website/blog/Facebook etc. for reader convenience. 

For more information or to discuss a possible guest post here, please feel free to contact Reba Kennedy at reba@rebakennedy.com.

2012 UPDATE:

This invitation is limited to those actively involved in some way with the issues surrounding the death penalty or capital punishment either in the United States or abroad.  The above-referenced website link must be connected to this topic, either pro or con.  

 

Thanks!

Terry and Reba

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Introducing Reba Kennedy, Lawyer/Writer

Since the inception of this blog, I have enlisted the services of Texas attorney and writer Reba Kennedy – not only because I don’t have the luxury of a set weekly schedule as a trial lawyer, but also because Reba understands things that I do not: using hypertext (what?), optimization for the search engines, all those web writing details. We’re both AV-Preeminent rated attorneys, so she understands the law part, but as a professional writer she also understanding things about blog writing that I don’t (and probably never will).

Reba and I are now in the midst of writing a book together dealing with indigent defense issues in capital cases which our publisher hopes to have available before the end of 2011. We’re also beginning to co-author magazine articles dealing with various aspects of capital punishment in the United States today.

It’s a new year. With this working collaboration, coupled with my trial schedule and growing commitment to my non-profit corporation, the Florida Capital Resource Center, we’ve agreed it is best if Reba becomes a recognized contributor to the Death Penalty Blog as of January 2011.

Rest assured that I’m not abandoning ship here. This remains Terry Lenamon on the Death Penalty. The only change is that Reba’s always been around, behind the scenes – she’s taking a more visible and active role now.    

Please make her welcome!

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I Am Honored to Accept Invitation to Speak at Vanderbilt Law School by Professor Owen Jones

More great news to share with you all:  I'm honored to have been invited to speak by Professor Owen D. Jones, who teaches a class at Vanderbilt Law School on Law and the Brain and is working with several of his colleagues at Vanderbilt in preparing a law school coursebook on the subject.

This April, I will be the guest speaker (and afterward, lead a discussion) to this group of Vanderbilt law students, sharing my experiences not only as a capital trial lawyer but also as a death-qualified advocate considered to be, in the words of Professor Jones, "...at the front line of law and neuroscience." 

Of course, one of the big issues on the table will be our recent victory against the death penalty in the Grady Nelson trial and our precedent-setting introduction of QEEG brain mapping technology into mitigation efforts during its penalty phase

To have anyone consider my life's work and label me as a leader on the front lines of law and neuroscience would be wonderful, but to have Professor Owen D. Jones of Vanderbilt University do so is rather humbling. 

Professor Jones is, after all, not only a full Professor of Biological Sciences at this prestigious university, he is also their New York Alumni Chancellor's Chair in Law as well as Director of the MacArthur Foundation Law and Neuroscience Project.

I am truly, truly honored to have received this invitation from a man of this stature, for whom I have such respect, and I am both excited and dedicated to sharing what I know about the intertwining of brain science and mitigating factors in death penalty trials with these students at Vanderbilt University.

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Attribution Policy for the Blog: Please Review if You Want to Quote from DPB

Awhile back, a reader wrote asking about the blog's attribution policy.  So better late than never, here it is, and thanks to Kathlb for helping us get this task done.

We will license the work shown on the Death Penalty Blog under the Creative Commons Public License as detailed below, the Attribution Without Derivatives license.  You may download posts from the DPB and share them with others IF you mention the DPB/Terry Lenamon as the source and include a link back to DPB.  The contents of the blog posts cannot be changed.  They cannot be used commercially. 

In other words, please feel free to quote from the DPB as long as you identify the content as a quote, include a hyperlink to the DPB, and don't try and make money off of it. 

 


THE WORK (AS DEFINED BELOW) IS PROVIDED UNDER THE TERMS OF THIS CREATIVE COMMONS PUBLIC LICENSE ("CCPL" OR "LICENSE"). THE WORK IS PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT AND/OR OTHER APPLICABLE LAW. ANY USE OF THE WORK OTHER THAN AS AUTHORIZED UNDER THIS LICENSE OR COPYRIGHT LAW IS PROHIBITED.

BY EXERCISING ANY RIGHTS TO THE WORK PROVIDED HERE, YOU ACCEPT AND AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THE TERMS OF THIS LICENSE. TO THE EXTENT THIS LICENSE MAY BE CONSIDERED TO BE A CONTRACT, THE LICENSOR GRANTS YOU THE RIGHTS CONTAINED HERE IN CONSIDERATION OF YOUR ACCEPTANCE OF SUCH TERMS AND CONDITIONS.

(continued)

Continue Reading...
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Dear Pavan -- My Letter to a British Student about the American Death Penalty

Recently, I received a very nice letter from a student in Great Britain who was studying capital punishment - specifically, the American Death Penalty.  She asked my take on things, generally speaking, and I was honored by the query and proud to be able to reply.  Having taken some of the language of my response from this blog, I thought it only fitting to share with its readers what I sent to Pavan last week.

Dear Pavan,

Thank you so much for writing me and asking my thoughts on the death penalty, as an American death penalty criminal defense attorney. I’m honored to be asked, and I hope that the following is helpful to you:

I've been practicing criminal law for a long time, and still I get asked on a weekly basis, why DO I defend what some call "the worst of the worst"? Just why is it that I defend those people that have been described on more than one occasion (and by more than one prosecutor) as the worst of the worst?

First, a word about what I do. I'm a private practice criminal defense attorney who focuses upon death penalty cases. In Florida, where I live and do most of my work, death penalty cases have two lawyers, known as first chair and second chair.

As first chair in a death penalty case, my job is concerned with the guilt finding of the defendant - the focus is judgment. As second chair, my job is to convince the jury to spare the life of the person if they are convicted – the focus is mercy. Here, arguing for mercy is legally known as "mitigation," a specialized area. Within that area, I have further specialized in mental health aspects of mitigation.

I represent young and old, the unknown and the infamous. Most recently, I was given extensive media coverage as the initial death-penalty qualified attorney in the Casey Anthony case. (I withdrew from the representation a long while back.)

"How can you represent those people?"

There are all the usual stock answers. "I am defending the Constitution." "The death penalty is not a cost effective solution." "There is no deterrent value." "As for retribution, is a life in a cage worse than death?" "The system is not perfect, and innocent people have been sentenced to death." "Death row is overwhelmingly populated by the poor and disadvantaged."

And all of these answers are true, but they don't tell you the whole story.

Fundamentally, I do this because I want to understand. Why did this happen? How did this person arrive at my figurative doorstep, accused of a horrendous crime? What are the factors, the background, the events that led this person here?

Every person has a story. There is always some underlying common humanity in even those convicted of the most brutal crimes. It is my job to bring these mitigating factors to the jury, to shed light on the darkest heart and most disturbed mind.

To help us all to understand WHY. 

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Casey Anthony Attorney Fees - Will the State of Florida Pay Casey Anthony Lawyer Fees?

Casey Anthony is back in the middle of a media controversy - this time, because the current defense team has filed a motion asking that the judge confirm her indigent status, essentially ordering the State of Florida to pay her legal defense fees and expenses

First things first, this shouldn't be a big surprise to capital defense lawyers.  Once the State of Florida put the death penalty back into the case, the financial cost of defending Casey Anthony skyrocketed. Lots of death penalty lawyers know how fast the money goes, and what it means to have a young, single woman with no visible source of income as the client. 

Casey Anthony is providing the nation with a prime example of what it costs to try a Florida indigent defense death penalty case.  That's good.  

This is not because Casey Anthony's case is something unusual (although there are many ways to characterize the trial for the murder of 2-year-old Caylee Anthony as not the norm).  Anytime that the prosecutor decides to pursue capital punishment when trying a defendant, then the state's attorney has defined how big the defense work will be.  Not the defense attorney. 

Here's why: in each case where the death penalty is at issue, the defense must prepare not only all the issues regarding (1) guilt vs. innocence, but also (2) life vs. death. The life vs. death phase of the trial is called the "sentencing phase," or "penalty phase," and it is here where the prosecution advances its arguments regarding aggravating circumstances, and the defense pursues its arguments regarding mitigating factors.

First issue: is the defendant Casey Anthony indigent?  Yes, according to the Orange County Clerk.

It has already been decided by the Orange County Clerk's office that Casey Anthony is indigent. Judge Strickland will approve this determination upon the defense's motion.  The Clerk's office makes it decision based upon affidavits and supporting documentation filed with the Clerk.  The Judge is having a evidentiary hearing on the matter of his approval of the decision.

Once an individual is found to be indigent under the law, then all those 'right to counsel' laws and court opinions -- all pursuant to the U.S. Constitution -- come into play.  Just like any other defendant facing a possible death sentence, Casey Anthony has an indigent's right to effective legal counsel. 

Second issue: will additional information on her financial status cause the Judge to rule differently than the Orange County Clerk on Casey Anthony's Indigent Status? 

In a hearing that is being televised by various media, including HLN (the same channel that brings us Nancy Grace and Jane Velez Mitchell), the judge is hearing argument and evidence on how much the State of Florida should pay for Casey Anthony's legal fees and expenses. 

You can watch the indigent defense cost hearing online at video provided by the Houston Examiner (examiner.com).  Judge Strickland is expected to rule tomorrow (Friday). 

Evidence is being provided about what money has been placed into the Casey Anthony defense coffers, and how much is left to defend the death penalty case (trial phase as well as any penalty phase).  The Judicial Administrative Commission (JAC) is recommending to the Court that Judge Strickland consider the defense's financial information in detail before making his decision. Others are calling into question why she's asking for indigent status now, when most defendants ask for this at the outset. 

How much is left in Casey Anthony's defense budget? That answer is clear: zero

How much has Anthony collected towards legal fees and expenses? Evidence shows that Anthony has received $200,000 from ABCNews; $70,000 from former defense counsel Californian Todd Macaluso, and $5000 from an anonymous donor.  This money has already been spent since Casey was first charged back in 2008. 

How was this spent? According to the evidence provided at the hearing, some of the lawyers are working for free (Kinney-Baden; newcomer Cheney Mason) and some have received some legal fees (Baez) and some have had their expenses covered (Lyon). 

What does the defense argue that the indigent defense money will cover?  Details on what the defense projects have been (and presumably will be) necessary to properly try this case through both phases will be provided to the Judge; however, it's clear that the usual suspects will be there: costs of experts, investigators, transcripts, subpoenas, travel costs, etc. 

Costs through the end of trial will continue to grow.  Experts at the guilt phase and at the penalty phase will be very different, because different issues are in focus depending upon the issue being addressed.  All these experts will be costly, billing by the hour as well as incurring travel time, etc.  Mitigating factors need a different kind of expertise than forensic fact-facting during a guilt phase.  Practitioners understand this already, without knowing the details of the case. 

Casey Anthony is providing a very much needed perspective into the current crisis in indigent defense, both in the State of Florida and across the country.  It is very, very expensive to try a death penalty case, no matter who the defendant may be.  And when that defendant is indigent, then every single dime of that cost comes out of the taxpayer's pockets. 

For more information on the crises facing indigent defense attorneys in death penalty cases ....

We've got a continuing series of articles dealing with the explosive growth of the legal right to counsel and the correlated expense that is entailed over at our JD Supra site.  If you're interested in this issue, then please check back there periodically as more articles on this topic are posted.

For even more information, please visit the new website of the Florida Capital Resource Center as it continually adds additional information to support defense attorneys representing defendants in Florida death penalty cases.

 

Happy to See Richard Wolfferts a Free Man, the Stone Crabs Just Icing on the Cake

As is being reported in the Miami Herald, my client Richard Wolfferts does have a past.  Twenty years ago, back in 1989, a bomb was placed in a car driven by Miami divorce lawyer Gino Negretti  - and Dick Wolfferts admitted to planting that bomb.  He served five years in prison, and he offered state's evidence against the man that he testified paid him to do the job. 

Now 67 years old and living in Key Largo, Richard Wolfferts has paid his debt to society and like many other senior citizens in our area, loves the sun and likes to fish. 

When Mr. Wolfferts was indicted this fall as part of "Operation Melon Smasher" (a DEA operation tracking down those individuals who were allegedly hollowing out melons to store cocaine in melon shipments from Panama to the US), I was happy to represent him.   And sure enough, despite what the grand jury may have believed, the two co-defendants in the Melon Smasher case told federal law enforcement authorities that Dick Wolfferts knew nothing of the cocaine enterprise.  Dick Wolfferts was in Panama getting money to fund a new commercial fishing operation.

On December 9th, fisherman Wolfferts was released.  Now, he could resume his plans for a new fishing boat, aptly named "the Resurrection." 

Seeing Richard Wolfferts a free man, instead of continuing to face charges for being partly responsible for sneaking cocaine into this country via hollowed out melons, was a great thing.  That's a good day in this job. 

When everyone in my office started bouncing around in excitement to see 20 fresh stone crabs being delivered, a gift from Richard Wolfferts, that was just icing on the cake. 

A happy client enjoying his freedom out on the streets, especially in time for Christmas, is a great thing.  20 stone crabs admist the usual poinsettias, fruitcakes, and chocolates?  Priceless.  (And tasty.)

Thanks for the gift, Richard Wolfferts -- and Happy New Year to everyone!!!!

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More on Trial by Media: Mark Fuhrman has a New Book Coming Out ...The Murder Business: High Profile Crimes and The Corruption of Justice

Granted, the end of the O.J. Simpson murder trial saw Detective Mark Fuhrman with a very spotted reputation. However, in the many years since that Trial of the Century, Fuhrman has worked hard to build a career, and a reputation, based upon solid facts and hard work. The Martha Moxley case comes to mind as one of his turning points.  His courageous book exposing the corruption of death penalty prosecutions in Oklahoma County, Oklahoma is well done, and well worth your time.

Today, many people respect what Mark Fuhrman has to say about crime -- and perhaps that will be to the benefit of everyone when his new book is released next month.

Entitled The Murder Business: High Profile Crimes and The Corruption of Justice, Fuhrman reviews several big criminal cases and how the media crosses the line from reporting the news to building an audience through spin and entertainment.  

He's talking about trial by media in the following cases, whose names you will recognize: Caylee Anthony, Drew Peterson, Melinda Duckett, Martha Moxley, Scott Peterson, JonBenet Ramsey, Vince Foster, and O.J. Simpson.

With a little tip of the hat to the irony of the media's coverage of Mark Fuhrman turning him into the household name that may help sell this book, it's still important to get as many people out there hearing this message as possible .

Trial by media is wrong.   I'm opposed to it and I've jumped on my own soapbox about it.  While freedom of the press must be protected, when it turns into a vehicle of entertainment and puffery just to boost advertising dollars, then a line needs to be drawn.  For the sake of justice -- something that a trial by media perverts, twists, and all too often, destroys. 

I look forward to reading Mark Fuhrman's new book when it hits the book stores on November 16th, and I hope you'll take a look at it too.

Sometimes You Need To Stop and Survey the Territory When You're a Criminal Defense Attorney Representing People Facing Death

I try to avoid personal posting here, because my intent is to provide legal information that deals with capital punishment in this country today, for the use of both laymen and lawyers. In fact, soon I will be adding precedent and statutes and all sorts of reference links. Make things available that I think are helpful, informative, and best of all - free and accessible online 24/7.

But we've just moved into new offices, and I've got a nice view, the kind that only Miami can provide, and there's still the smell of new carpeting. I set at my solid, wooden desk -- the one that started with me when I first started practicing law and like me, it's a little banged up with the passage of time. (My wife wants me to get a new one. I like this old, trusty desk with not enough drawers.)

And as I look out over the expanse outside these windows, I think about where I sit and where I live - in Florida, in the United States, and I'm humbled. I am humbled by the beauty of the horizon; I am humbled by the enormity of our country and all that we stand for; and I'm humbled that I've been allowed to advocate not just for the accused, but for those who are facing a sentence of death if convicted of the crimes for which they have been charged. Can there be any greater duty for an attorney of law?

I'm honored to serve as the advocate for these defendants, and I'm especially dedicated to serving them since they are unknown and indigent (the legal term for poor), facing a justice system all too ready to kill them in name of punishment. To that end, today I want to publish their names here on this blog.

These are the criminal defendants facing a sentence of death for whom I have the honor of defending in a Florida court of law:

Jeremy Sly
077000553F

Kemar Johnston
06CF19906B

Grady Nelson
F-05-000846

Ariel Hernandez
F-04-019972

Demetrius Cooper
F-04-015209

Vivens Delorme
07-20534-CR-UNGARO

Emmanuel Jean
F06-023563-A

Thomas Pennington
F-07-025418

Frantzy Jean Marie
F-07-31111D

Walter Sapp
F-91-000880.

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Terry Lenamon: Why I decided to have a blog

Welcome to my new blog.
I've been practicing criminal law for a long time, and my schedule has been so busy that it's been a while since I took time to think about why I do what I do. Launching this blog is an opportunity for such reflection.
Why DO I defend what some call "the worst of the worst"?
Just why is it that I defend those people that have been described on more than one occasion (and by more than one prosecutor) as the worst of the worst?
First, a word about what I do. I'm a criminal defense attorney who focuses upon death penalty cases. In Florida, where I live and do most of my work, death penalty cases have two lawyers, known as first chair and second chair. As first chair in a death penalty case, my job is concerned with the guilt finding of the defendant. As second chair, my job is to convince the jury to spare the life of the person if they are convicted. This job is known as "mitigation," a specialized area that I will talk more about in a later post. I have further specialized in mental health aspects. More on that later, too.
"How can you represent those people?"
There are all the usual stock answers. "I am defending the Constitution." "The death penalty is not a cost effective solution." "There is no deterrent value." "As for retribution, is a life in a cage worse than death?" "The system is not perfect, and innocent people have been sentenced to death." "Death row is overwhelmingly populated by the poor and disadvantaged."
And all of these answers are true, but they don't tell you the whole story.
Fundamentally, I do this because I want to understand. Why did this happen? How did this person arrive at my figurative doorstep, accused of a horrendous crime? What are the factors, the background, the events that led this person here?
Every person has a story. There is always some underlying common humanity in even those convicted of the most brutal crimes. It is my job to bring these mitigating factors to the jury, to shed light on the darkest heart and most disturbed mind.
And I'm publishing this blog, devoted to the topic of capital punishment, i.e., the death penalty, because I think that you may share the same core need that I have: the need to know WHY.

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