Terry Lenamon knows what he’s doing in a courtroom, and here – from the opinion that just came down from the Florida Supreme Court, reversing the death sentence of Wadada Delhall which is making the national news along with international media coverage — is a great example of Terence Lenamon’s expertise at work.
It’s more than education or past experience. Lawyers in trial have to be focused, have to be alert, especially in criminal trials and even more especially, in death penalty cases. It’s not a job just anyone can do.
So, picture Terry Lenamon (with the responsibilities of running an office, working with his non-profit Federal Capital Resource Center, his duties to other clients, his commitment to his home and family) as he listens carefully to the questioning taking place during trial and makes an objection that the trial court judge does not sustain but which the appellate court determines was not only a valid objection but one that results in reversible error.
This all happened in less time that it took you to read this post, what Terry did. Congrats to Terry!!!!
From the opinion in Wadada DelHall v. State of Florida, No. SC09-87, Supreme Court of Florida per curiam July 12 2012 (Lenamon’s words highlighted):
"Q. You couldn‟t find Conroy Turner so you killed Richie B [Bennett] his best friend unless Richie told you where Conroy was to be found?
MR. LENAMON [DEFENSE COUNSEL]: Objection, sidebar.
A. No, sir. Who Richie B?
Q. Richie B‟s best friend was Conroy Turner. Conroy Turner ripped you guys off for some dope and your brother agreed to kill Richie B because Richie B wouldn‟t say where Conroy Turner could be found so that Conroy Turner could pay you back for the dope that he ripped off.
A. I don‟t know who that was Conroy Turner.
Q. You know who Richie B was?
A. After they start showing me pictures of the dude.
Q. After your brother took the contract to kill him and after your brother killed him?
Q. Your brother killed him right in that auto shop right there that day with his shirt off showing his tattoos, something you don‟t have, right.That‟s why they knew it was your brother and not you?
Q. You don‟t have those kind of tattoos that your brother has?
Q. He has tattoos all over his back, doesn‟t he?
Q. Across his back?
A. He has one tattoo from what I remember.
Q. An[d] once, once you found out and your brother found out that he was wanted by the police in Miami Dade County and there was a warrant for his arrest for the murder of Richie B, someone actually cared that Richie B was killed, you didn‟t figure on that did you, Mr. Delhall?
A. I don‟t know nothing about what you talking about.
MR. LENAMON [defense counsel]: Objection, I have a motion to make.
THE COURT: Do you. Come sidebar.
[Thereupon, counsel for the respective parties approached the Bench and conferred with the Court outside the hearing of the jury and the following proceeding was held:]
THE COURT: What‟s the motion?
MR. LENAMON: Judge I‟m moving for a mistrial. Miss Levine is indicating my client was involved in another homicide.
THE COURT: She never said that.
MR. LENAMON: I think she did.
THE COURT: She did not.
MR. LENAMON: I believe she did.
THE COURT: I believe she didn‟t. Is that the motion?
MR. LENAMON: That‟s the motion. I‟m going to have a continuing objection to anything about my client having any involvement in any other homicide.
THE COURT: Okay motion is denied.
… (emphasis added). After failing to recognize that the prosecutor had, in fact, stated that Delhall was involved in the Bennett murder, the trial court denied the motion for mistrial. Where, as here, counsel simultaneously objects to an improper comment and moves for mistrial without obtaining a ruling on the objection, the standard of review of denial of the mistrial is abuse of discretion. Poole v. State, 997 So. 2d 382, 391 n.3 (Fla. 2008) (citing Dessaure v. State, 891 So. 2d 455, 464-65 n.5 (Fla. 2004)). “A motion for mistrial should be granted only when the error is deemed so prejudicial that it vitiates the entire trial, depriving the defendant of a fair proceeding.” Wade v. State, 41 So. 3d 857, 872 (Fla. 2010) (quoting Floyd v. State, 913 So. 2d 564, 576 (Fla. 2005)).
The strong implication during cross-examination that Delhall was involved in Bennett‟s murder was improper."
Congratulations on a job well done, Terry!