Forrest County v. Derrick Steverson: NOT GUILTY

In March 2013, Derrick Steverson was found NOT GUILTY of DUI in Forrest County Court. The trial, which was appealed from Forrest County Justice Court, was tried before a jury in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. After a day filled with testimony by law enforcement and the Defendant, and 2 hours of deliberation by the jury, a verdict of NOT GUILTY was returned on the charge of driving under the influence of alcohol. The trial was conducted by lead counsel William Barrett.

USA v. Flowers: CASE DISMISSED

In 2009, Tamara Flowers was charged in a federal cocaine conspiracy case in the Southern District of Mississippi, Jackson Division. In January 2013, after pretrial investigation and discussion with the United States Attorney’s Office by lead counsel William Barrett, the Government dismissed all charges against Flowers.

Barajas receives probation in federal illegal hiring case

Barajas Receives Probation

Barajas Receives Probation

Read v. Chapman: VERDICT FOR DEFENDANTS

Link to Court Order: Final Judgment

In June 2012, after a 3 day bench trial in Harrison County Court before the Honorable Robin Midcalf, the Court found in favor of our clients Andy and Marianna Chapman. The lawsuit brought by Read concerned an alleged breach of contract by the Chapmans. Lead counsel William Barrett entered many exhibits into evidence and conducted extensive examination of the witnesses. Ultimately, the Court found in favor of our clients on all claims and awarded no damages to the Plaintiff.

Lunch with the Eat Jackson Team

Had a great lunch at Mint in Ridgeland, MS with the nice folks from Eat Jackson. Take a look at the story on their website: Link

Bill Barrett

Mike Gillich dies at 82

Mike Gillich Jr., a Biloxi man known for his role in the 1987 murders of Judge Vincent Sherry and wife Margaret Sherry, died Saturday April 28 of cancer.  Gillich was a pivotal figure in the murders of the Judge and his wife, and later assisted prosecutors in securing the conviction of former Biloxi Mayor Pete Halat.

A significant part of my law partner’s (and dad’s) career was spent investigating and trying the cases known to me as the Sherry Murder Trials.  I was a child during the two trials, but I can still remember my father spending a lot of time and effort dedicated to prosecuting those cases. Mike Gillich was an important figure in bringing the investigations and trials to an end, eventually helping to convicted those responsible for the murders.

The stories my dad tells about the investigation and trials are legendary and have always fascinated me.  Even today, as Peter and I practice criminal defense law together, I still have older lawyers who know my dad tell me about what they remember about the case or about my dad’s role in the trials.  If you want to learn more about the case then I suggest reading the books “Dream Room: Tales of the Dixie Mafia” or “Mississippi Mud”.

Bill Barrett

Effective lawyer right now extends to plea deals

Source: Thompson Reuters – News and Insight

It has long been recognized by the Courts of the United States that a criminal defendant is entitled to “effective assistance of counsel” at a jury trial. That is, your lawyer’s performance, or lack there of, must not change the outcome of your case. However, the Supreme Court has recently ruled that criminal defendants are now entitled to effective assistance of counsel in plea negotiations. The Supreme Court cases are Lafler v. Cooper, No. 10-209, and Missouri v. Frye, No. 10-444.

This ruling by the Supreme Court is especially important because the majority of cases throughout the country are resolved via plea agreements. Because of this fact, it is especially important for a lawyer to be competent in negotiating a plea and communicating any plea offers to the defendant.

It is important that your lawyer is well acquainted with the charges, possible sentencing issues, and the tendencies of the judge. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you with your case, no matter how big or small the charge.

Bill Barrett

Do you really want to plead guilty?

As I sat in court a few weeks ago waiting for my case to be called, I saw something that happens in courtrooms across this state every day. A case ahead of me was a felony plea to possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. The factual basis for the plea indicated that the amount of marijuana was .22 grams. There was no actual sale or any other indicator that there was any intent to sell, with the exception of a statement by the arresting officer that the defendant admitted that he may give some of the marijuana to another person. In short, it appears that the defendant was entering a felony plea to what should have been, at best, a misdemeanor.

The judge spent a great deal of time going over the factual basis for the plea. At one point the judge said “are you sure you want to plead guilty to this?”, or a statement to that effect. The defendant, after consulting with his lawyer, persisted with his felony plea. The court reluctantly accepted the plea.

I don’t know if there were extenuating circumstances, but this case, on its face, was clearly something that should have been disposed of as something less than a felony. The consequences of a felony plea are devastating. A person convicted of a felony loses many rights, including the right to vote and the right to carry a firearm. Further, a felony adds serious impediments to gaining meaningful employment.

When you are faced with a charge like the one described above, it is important to consult an experience criminal defense attorney to explore all your options and fully understand the consequences of a felony conviction. And most importantly, ask yourself: Do you really want to plead guilty to drug possession with intent to distribute for having ¾ of an ounce of weed?

Peter Barrett

Consent to search your body: Where is the limit?

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the ruling of a District Court Judge where the consensual full body search of a man, including his crotch area, lead to a drug possession conviction.  The drug charges were a result of a full body search at an airport in 2010.  The defendant was pulled aside by law enforcement and asked for his consent to pat down his body, to which he consented.  In the course of the pat down, a law enforcement officer felt the defendant’s groin area which felt “hard and unnatural”.  Ultimately, law enforcement discovered 700 Oxycodone pills in his underwear and arrested him.

The legal issue with this case is an important one in criminal cases: does the consent to a body “pat down” include having your crotch searched?  The answer is not so clear.  The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said that the defendant in this case consented to the search, and was never under arrest during the search, meaning that he was free to leave at any time.  The Court ruled that he could have withdrawn his consent before law enforcement searched his crotch.  In his appeal to the 9th Circuit, the defendant in this case cited to a 1989 case which stated that consent to search did not include a crotch search.  The Court distinguished between the two different cases based on specific facts and actions of law enforcement officers in the two different cases.  As a result of the 9th Circuit’s opinion in this case, it seem that the specific facts of each encounter with law enforcement will govern if a consent to search includes a crotch search.

Ultimately, you are within your rights to refuse to give consent to search your body when you are not under arrest.  If you have been arrested and your body has been searched you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights.

Bill Barrett

Source: http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Court-OKs-Sea-Tac-crotch-search-2443626.php

Client Avoids NASA Debarment; Signs Adminstrative Agreement

*** Press Release – Re: Client Avoids NASA Debarment; Signs Adminstrative Agreement ***