Case Results at Trial

IMG_2935bAttorney James (Jim) Sullivan has represented more than 3,000 clients in criminal and juvenile courts in Harris and surrounding counties.  The trial cases listed in the graph below and the detailed accounts that follow represent just a small fraction of those by James Sullivan.  The cases listed in the graph cover just those that were set for trial since January 2008.

Notes:

1° = 1st Degree Felony, 2° = 2nd Degree Felony, 3° = 3rd Degree Felony, SJF = State Jail Felony

A = Class A Misdemeanor, B = Class B Misdemeanor

OFFENSERESULTCASE #
ASSAULT FAMILY VIOLENCE (A)JURY TRIAL SETTING: DISMISSED BY STATE (Client allegedly committed an assault against his adult daughter)1941000
MURDER (1° Felony)JURY TRIAL SETTING: PLED TO 15 YEARS ON FELONY MURDER (Client fired a handgun to scare off 7 thugs and accidentally killed an acquaintance in the darkness)1399446
AGGRAVATED SEXUAL ASSAULT OF A CHILD (1°)JURY TRIAL: NOT GUILTY (15 year old client was accused of digital penetration of his 2½ year old niece and her older 4 year old brother was an alleged eyewitness. Client absolutely denied it and the jury agreed)JUVENILE
ASSAULT (A)DISMISSED PRIOR TO 2nd TRIAL SETTING (Teenage client allegedly attacked another student at school and captured on video. Client claimed self-defense)1791719
INJURY TO A CHILD (3° Felony)DISMISSED PRIOR TO 3rd TRIAL SETTING (Client accused of giving an 11 year old boy a “black eye” after the boy had beaten up her 9 year old son)1315112
FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION (SJF)TRIAL SETTING: SENTENCED TO 2 YEARS TDC AFTER ORIGINALLY FACING 2-20 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON (Client agreed to the minimum on an enhanced state jail felony habitual offender based on prior penitentiary trips.  Client accused of moving several times and not registering for more than 1 year.)1319150
INDECENCY WITH A CHILD BY EXPOSURE (3° Felony)PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE: RECEIVED 2 YEARS DEFERRED ADJUDICATION PROBATION AFTER FACING 5 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON ON A FELONY ENHANCED TO A 1° FELONY (Client accused of exposing himself to teenage stepdaughter)1319350
ROBBERY (2° Felony)JURY TRIAL SETTING: REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR ASSAULT (Client accused of stealing cell phone after attacking his girlfriend)(State only offered 4 years in prison before trial)1306891
MOTION TO ADJUDICATE GUILT (THEFT)(SJF)PROBATION REVOCATION HEARING: REVOKED AND SENTENCED TO TIME SERVED  (100 days HCJ under §12.44a after first facing 6 months to 2 years in state jail)(Client had a reasonable due diligence argument regarding the failure of the police to arrest the defendant soon after the violation of probation)926980
ASSAULT FAMILY VIOLENCEJURY TRIAL SETTING: DISMISSED BY STATE (Client allegedly committed an assault against her spouse)1736017
AGGRAVATED ASSAULT (2° Felony)JURY TRIAL SETTING: SENTENCED TO 5 YEARS TDC AFTER FACING 5 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON (1° Felony enhanced from 2° Felony based on prior penitentiary trips)(State only offered 10 years prior to trial)1281492 & 1281493
AGGRAVATED ASSAULT (2° Felony)PSI HEARING: RECEIVED DADJ PROBATION (Client with mental illness stabbed his girlfriend in the arm and upper back.  State only offered prison time.  Complainant also testified)1287564
SEXUAL ASSAULT (2° Felony)JURY TRIAL.  JURY RECOMMENDED PROBATION (Client received 5 years of probation from the jury after being found guilty. Prior to trial, State only offered 5 years at TDC.  Client was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman in the year 2000)1072069
AGGRAVATED ASSAULT (2° Felony)JURY TRIAL SETTING: REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR ASSAULT AT PRE-TRIAL HEARING.1265758
AGGRAVATED ASSAULT (2° Felony)JURY TRIAL: NOT GUILTY (Client believed he was about to be robbed by 2 men outside a bar; client claimed self-defense)Expunged
POSSESSION OF MARIHUANA (B)JURY TRIAL SETTING: DISMISSED AT PRE-TRIAL HEARING (Police searched Client’s vehicle without a warrant and without probable cause)1728531
CARRYING A WEAPON (A)JURY TRIAL SETTING: DISMISSED AT PRE-TRIAL HEARING.1728532
ASSAULT FAMILY VIOLENCE (Felony Habitual enhanced facing 25 years to Life in TDC)JURY TRIAL SETTING: REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR ASSAULT AFTER FACING 25 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON1290473
ASSAULT FAMILY VIOLENCE BY CHOKING (3° Felony)JURY TRIAL SETTING: DISMISSED BY STATE (Client allegedly committed an assault by strangulation against his spouse)1285290
ASSAULT FAMILY VIOLENCE (A)JURY TRIAL SETTING: DISMISSED BY STATE (Juvenile client allegedly committed assault against his older brother)JUVENILE
AGGRAVATED ASSAULT (Felony Habitual enhanced facing 25 years to Life in TDC)JURY TRIAL SETTING: DISMISSED BY STATE AT PRE-TRIAL SETTING (Client faced 25 years to Life in prison as a true felony habitual)1239044
UNAUTHORIZED USE OF A MOTOR VEHICLE (SJF)JURY TRIAL SETTING: DISMISSED BY STATE (Client allegedly drove car from Dallas to Houston without the owner’s permission)JUVENILE
SEXUAL ASSAULT OF A CHILD (2° Felony)JURY TRIAL SETTING: DISMISSED BY STATE AT PRE-TRIAL SETTING (Client accused of raping a 16 year old girl who had run away from home and forcing her into prostitution. Client faced a lifetime of sex offender registration)1220515
COMPELLING PROSTITUTION OF A CHILD (Felony Habitual)(2° Felony)JURY TRIAL SETTING: SENTENCED TO 5 YEARS TDC AFTER FACING 25 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON AS A TRUE FELONY HABITUAL (Client allegedly forced an underage runaway girl into prostitution)1220516
INDECENCY WITH A CHILD (Felony Habitual enhanced facing 25 years to Life in TDC)JURY  TRIAL SETTING: SENTENCED TO 2 YEARS TDC AFTER FACING 25 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON AS A TRUE FELONY HABITUAL (Client allegedly fondled an underage girl)1202760
INDECENCY WITH A CHILD (3° Felony)JURY TRIAL SETTING: DISMISSED BY STATE AT PRE-TRIAL SETTING (Mentally disabled client was accused of exposing himself to an underage girl)1063539
UNAUTHORIZED USE OF A MOTOR VEHICLE (State Jail Felony)JURY TRIAL SETTING: DISMISSED BY STATE AT PRE-TRIAL SETTING1251123
AGGRAVATED ASSAULT (2° Felony)JURY TRIAL SETTING: REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR DEADLY CONDUCT AND GRANTED 6 MONTHS DEFERRED ADJUDICATION1226099
Possession of a Controlled Substance (SJF)JURY TRIAL SETTING: SENTENCED TO 6 MONTHS STATE JAIL AFTER FACING 2-20 YEARS IN TDC AS A STATE JAIL FELONY HABITUAL OFFENDER1222195
ROBBERY (4 separate cases)(Felony Habitual enhanced facing 25 years to Life in TDC)JURY TRIAL SETTING: SENTENCED TO 10 YEARS TDC AFTER FACING 25 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON (Client was on parole and still had 10 years of parole left. Client allegedly committed 4 separate robberies within 48 hours of being released on parole after serving 15 years of a 25 year sentence for a burglary of a habitation)1185502
ASSAULT FAMILY VIOLENCE (A)JURY TRIAL SETTING: DISMISSED BY STATEJUVENILE
BURGLARY OF A HABITATION (2° Felony)JURY TRIAL SETTING: REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR TRESPASS TO HABITATION AT PRE-TRIAL HEARING SETTING AFTER FACING 2-20 YEARS TDC1200321
AGGRAVATED ASSAULT FV (2° Felony)JURY TRIAL SETTING: REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR ASSAULT AFTER FACING 2-20 YEARS TDC1183601
AGGRAVATED SEXUAL ASSAULT OF A CHILD (2 cases in Montgomery County)(1° Felony)JURY TRIAL SETTING: DISMISSED BY STATE (Client allegedly molested his two young daughters. Allegations arose when wife sought a divorce. Client had faced 5 years to Life in Prison and a Lifetime of Sex Offender Registration)08-03-03138 CR
MANSLAUGHTER (4 cases)(3° Felony)COMPETENCY TRIAL: 4 CASES DISMISSED BY STATE AFTER CLIENT WAS RULED UNFIT TO PROCEED AT TRIAL (Client crashed car into tree, killing 4 child passengers including his 5 year old sister and causing himself irreversible brain injuries)JUVENILE

AGGRAVATED ROBBERY

James Sullivan represented a 25 year old man accused of 2 separate armed robberies, including a home invasion across the street from the South Houston Police Department. The chief of police and another police officer testified in trial that they positively identified Sullivan’s client as one of the three armed robbers who fled on foot from the scene. The police initially suspected his client because his vehicle was left behind at the scene. After the jury returned a not guilty verdict, the prosecutor dismissed the second aggravated robbery. If convicted of either robbery case, the accused faced 25 years to life in prison. Sullivan then represented his client at a parole revocation hearing and his client was kept on parole.

VERDICT: NOT GUILTY

NEGLIGENT HOMICIDE

James Sullivan defended a 21 year old man accused of killing a young man in a head-on car accident on Eldridge Parkway in northwest Houston. The accused allegedly had traces of cocaine in his system, was driving over the speed limit in the rain, on the wrong side of the road, and with “bald” tires. The force of the impact caused the engine from one of the cars to be ejected and thrown about 50 feet from the car. Unfortunately, the sports car the decedent was driving did not have air bags, and the driver was killed instantly when his head hit the steering wheel.

The accused denied using drugs and testified he was on his way to work for a local service station. The accused had auto insurance. Sullivan hired a drug toxicologist expert who conducted his own lab tests and questioned the validity of the blood tests conducted by the Houston Police Lab. Photographs of the accused’s tires reflected that they had sufficient tread and the inspection sticker was current on his car. Due to the heavy rain, his car hydroplaned across lanes and struck the decedent’s car head on. A witness testified he was going 5-10 miles above the speed limit. To be guilty of negligent homicide, Sullivan argued to the jury, requires gross negligence and not simple negligence. After about 10 minutes of deliberation, the jury returned a not guilty verdict.

VERDICT: NOT GUILTY

AGGRAVATED SEXUAL ASSAULT OF A CHILD

James Sullivan represented a 40 year old man accused in two cases of sexually assaulting his 6 year old daughter in Montgomery County.  The accusations arose one week after the accused contacted an attorney to file for divorce. The outcry witness, the child’s mother, had threatened her husband not to leave her or he would never see his children again.  By viewing the child’s videotaped interview from the Children’s Assessment Center and carefully observing her demeanor, body language and the manner in which she responded to the questions of the forensic interviewer, Jim could tell that the child had been coached.  Sullivan also interviewed several witnesses who corroborated the motivation for the mother to file false charges.

JURY TRIAL SETTING: BOTH CASES DISMISSED

BURGLARY OF A HABITATION

James Sullivan represented a 14 year old boy who–along with six others–was accused of breaking into a home and stealing a safe containing about $15,000 in cash. A police officer arrested his client, took him to the police station and obtained a signed confession from him. Sullivan’s client said the officer browbeat a false confession out of him and that he was actually swimming at a YMCA at the time of the burglary. In addition to his alibi witnesses, Sullivan also subpoenaed to trial the five teenagers who had actually committed the crime and who were already on probation.

VERDICT: NOT GUILTY

AGGRAVATED SEXUAL ASSAULT OF A CHILD

James Sullivan represented a 15 year old boy facing a determinate sentence who accused of using his finger to penetrate the sexual organ of his then 2½ year old niece while in the presence of her then 4 year old brother.  Two years later, on the fourth jury trial setting, the trial began.  The outcry to the girl’s mother was made the day after the alleged assault.  The medical examination revealed two abrasions consistent with the alleged abuse.  After a lengthy and thorough investigation, Sullivan discovered major inconsistencies in the children’s story as well as the mother’s interview with police.  Based on this and other defensible theories raised by the evidence, Sullivan was able to overcome what the State considered to be insurmountable evidence and secure an acquittal for his juvenile client.  Prior to trial, the State was convinced they would prevail because of the medical evidence.  “We have injuries,” the prosecutor insisted.  “Do you know how rare that is for a child sex case?”  The State failed to consider the extreme suggestibility of the children at such a young age and that the injuries were equally consistent with non-abusive behavior or may have pointed to a different perpetrator.  After 10 minutes of deliberation, the jury returned a not guilty verdict.

VERDICT: NOT GUILTY

ASSAULT

James Sullivan represented a large 13 year old boy accused of attacking his behavioral adjustment teacher and seriously injuring her in the hallway outside her classroom. The Houston Press covered the trial in an article entitled “School Scam? Did a teacher fabricate a student assault to collect disability?” After finding his client not guilty, the jury asked Sullivan how charges could be filed against the teacher for perjury and insurance fraud.

VERDICT: NOT GUILTY

POSSESSION OF A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE

James Sullivan represented a 13 year old girl accused of possession between 1-4 grams of cocaine. She was at an apartment with her boyfriend and two other teenage couples. One of the couples got into a fight. That girl called a friend who in turn called the police. When a police officer arrived at the door, that couple jumped out the back window and ran away. The officer entered the apartment without a warrant, claiming he heard what he thought were the sounds of a body being dragged across the floor. In a suppression hearing, Sullivan elicited from the officer that he did not hear any such sounds at all. Hence, there was no valid emergency to justify his warrantless search and seizure. The judge granted Sullivan’s motion to suppress evidence of the possession.

SUPPRESSION HEARING: CASE DISMISSED

AGGRAVATED SEXUAL ASSAULT OF A CHILD

James Sullivan represented a 34 year old pregnant woman who–along with her live-in boyfriend–was charged with sexually assaulting her 12 year old daughter. The daughter was interviewed on two separate occasions at the Children’s Assessment Center. In the first interview, the girl said that her mother was involved, but in her second interview, she suggested that her mother was not involved. Sullivan attended the trial of her boyfriend who was represented by another attorney and was found guilty by the jury. Sullivan was prepared to represent the mother at trial the following week.

JURY TRIAL SETTING: FELONY CASES DISMISSED ON THIRD JURY TRIAL SETTING

AGGRAVATED SEXUAL ASSAULT OF A CHILD

James Sullivan represented a 19 year old man accused of repeatedly molesting his 14 year old half- sister over a period of several years. In the same videotaped interview at the Children’s Assessment Center, the half-sister also accused her uncle of raping her at his mobile home while his wife was outside attending a party. Her physical exam came back as normal. Through a thorough investigation, Sullivan was able to show that the complainant had falsely accused at least one other teenager of sexually assaulting her. Sullivan was also able to show clear bias and other motivation for her false charges.

JURY TRIAL SETTING: CASE DISMISSED

SEXUAL ASSAULT

James Sullivan represented a 16 year old boy accused of raping a 17 year old girl at her home. After a lengthy investigation, Sullivan was able to cast doubt on the credibility of his accuser in several ways, including the fact that his client did attend football practice at the time that his accuser claimed that he had followed her home and raped her.

JURY TRIAL SETTING: CASE DISMISSED AT A PRE-TRIAL HEARING SETTING

AGGRAVATED SEXUAL ASSAULT OF A CHILD & INDECENCY WITH A CHILD

James Sullivan represented a 16 year old boy accused of molesting his six year old half-sister. After a thorough investigation of the home environment, Sullivan was able to show that–if the girl had been molested–the stepfather, a convicted drug user, was the likely perpetrator.

JURY TRIAL SETTING: FELONY CASES REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR ASSAULT

AGGRAVATED ASSAULT AGAINST A PUBLIC SERVANT (POLICE OFFICER)

James Sullivan represented a deranged woman who walked up to a police officer in a grocery store and lunged at him with a butcher knife. Fortunately, the officer was able to subdue and arrest her without either of them being physically injured. It was soon learned that the woman had a lengthy documented history of mental illness. In the first hearing, Sullivan persuaded a jury to find his client incompetent to stand trial with no substantial likelihood of regaining competency. His client was then committed to a state hospital for treatment. In a later court trial, Sullivan persuaded the court to find his client not guilty by reason of insanity.

TRIAL SETTING: NOT GUILTY BY REASON OF INSANITY

INDECENCY WITH A CHILD

James Sullivan represented a 14 year old boy accused of touching a 13 year old girl in her genital area against her will behind the bleachers in the school gymnasium. After interviewing several eyewitnesses and taking photos of the scene, Sullivan was able to cast doubt on the girl’s version of events.

JURY TRIAL SETTING: FELONY CASE REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR ASSAULT

FELONY THEFT

James Sullivan represented a middle-aged businessman accused of felony theft for allegedly fencing over $60,000 in stolen inventory from a local business. Through an intensive investigation, Sullivan learned that the co-defendant knowingly sold the inventory at a steep discount through his client to a distributor who had to have known the inventory was stolen. Sullivan was able to present his client as a naive broker who only received $8,000 in what he thought was a legitimate fee from the transaction. On the second trial setting, the State agreed to reduce the charges to a misdemeanor, allow his client to receive deferred adjudication probation so that he would not receive a conviction, and allow his client to pay back only $8,000 in restitution.

JURY TRIAL SETTING: FELONY REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR ON SECOND TRIAL SETTING

AGGRAVATED ASSAULT

James Sullivan represented a woman who was accused of biting off her ex-boyfriend’s tongue. Through an investigation, Sullivan was able to show that she probably acted in self-defense as he was attempting to rape her while high on drugs.

JURY TRIAL SETTING: FELONY REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR AT PRE-TRIAL SETTING

AGGRAVATED ASSAULT

James Sullivan represented a 40 year old woman who allegedly stabbed her wheel-chair bound husband in the chest with a kitchen knife. The woman had a long history of mental illness and allegedly had stabbed him on a previous occasion. Through a lengthy investigation, Sullivan learned that he had a lengthy crack cocaine addiction and had been brain-injured in a prior car accident.  Sullivan was prepared to present a compelling justification argument of self-defense.

JURY TRIAL SETTING: FELONY REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR AT PRE-TRIAL SETTING

ASSAULT AGAINST A POLICE OFFICER & EVADING BY MOTOR VEHICLE

James Sullivan represented a 16 year old boy who was accused of two felony charges: Assault on a Police Officer for allegedly striking an undercover police officer with his car and Evading by Motor Vehicle for continuing to drive away. At the jury trial, Sullivan argued that his client had just been jumped by two teens and was trying to drive away when a guy walked up with a gun drawn that he believed was trying to car jack him. The gun man was an undercover police officer who flashed his ID card and identified himself. In his pain and confusion, his client understandably did not believe him and drove off. The passenger side mirror on his car struck the officer. After several hours of deliberation, the jury could not reach a verdict. The State then agreed to dismiss the felony assault charge, reduce the felony evading case to a misdemeanor and let his client receive deferred prosecution so that he would not receive a conviction.

VERDICT: HUNG JURY

ROBBERY (4 CASES)

James Sullivan represented a 40 year old man with a lengthy felony criminal record dating back 15 years. His client had a severe drug problem. He previously had served 8 years of a 25 year sentence as a habitual felon for burglary of a habitation. Two days after being released from prison on a drug case, he was arrested on four cases of robbery and was suspected in at least four other cases. He allegedly snatched purses from women causing minor injuries while driving his father’s truck which, along with him, was later identified by witnesses. Facing 25 to Life as a habitual felon for the second time, he opted for trial. He had 10 years left on his parole.

JURY TRIAL SETTING: 10 YEARS TDC AFTER FACING 25 YEARS TO LIFE IN TDC