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A California teenager was arrested for assaulting a police officer following a fireworks show in 2003. The case was unique because the arresting officer was also the complaining witness during the trial process. Due to the youth’s age, the legal proceedings were handled by a juvenile court. His trial took place in 2006, at which the police officer/victim testified that the defendant had thrown rocks and beer bottles at him after the fireworks, and that one of the beer bottles smashed into a car, causing shards of glass to ricochet into his face. His criminal defense attorney was unable to challenge this testimony, resulting in a verdict of guilty.

Following the conviction, but prior to sentencing, his defense attorney located in evidence the beer bottle that had allegedly caused the officer’s injuries—the beer bottle that supposedly shattered in order to cause the injuries—but the bottle remained perfectly intact. His attorney then successfully petitioned the court to vacate the conviction and dismiss the charges. The evidence that proved a teen’s innocence went unexamined for more than three years, showcasing the important distinction between a defense attorney and a diligent defense attorney.

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