KABC radio host, Doug McIntyre interviews Raymond Lee Jennings, a man who spent more than a decade in prison after being wrongfully convicted of murdering a young girl. Also interviewed, Jeffrey Ehrlich, Mr. Jenning’s defense attorney, who explains what went wrong that led to convicting an innocent man, and the legal process involved in the exoneration of Mr. Jennings.
A note on the recent NBC Dateline special on the Ray Jennings case: Dateline did a remarkable job of telling a complex story, which has so far spanned 16 years. They had a lot of ground to cover. As a result, they were unable to get into the details of our critique of the prosecution’s case against Ray. We hope that viewers of the program understand that there is much, much more evidence that demonstrates that Ray is innocent than what was presented on the show. We are optimistic that all the information will be made public by early 2017. When it is made public Michelle O’Keefe’s murder will remain a tragedy; but it will not remain a mystery.
PRESS RELEASE The Ehrlich Law Firm 16130 Ventura Boulevard, Suite 610 Encino, CA 91436 Website: www.ehrlichfirm.com Phone: (818) 905-3970 Fax: (818) 905-3975 July 1, 2016: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Social-media campaign raises thousands for wrongfully convicted Iraq-war vet Los Angeles, CA – When Sergeant Ray Jennings came home from Iraq in 2005, he was arrested at gunpoint and falsely accused of […]
Los Angeles, CA – The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office today accepted the recommendation of its newly-created Conviction Review Unit (CRU) and has agreed to ask a court to release Raymond Jennings, who was convicted of murdering 18-year old Michelle O’Keefe in a Palmdale, California parking lot on February 22, 2000.
Jennings’ attorney, Jeffrey I. Ehrlich of the Ehrlich Law Firm in Encino, California, first requested that the CRU vacate Jennings’ conviction in October 2015. In April 2016, the CRU agreed to re-open the investigation of the O’Keefe murder, and is now actively pursuing a murder investigation focusing on new suspects.
On June 9, 2016, the California Supreme Court decided Nickerson v. Stonebridge Ins. Co., which I argued in April. The Court unanimously held that so-called “Brandt fees” in insurance bad-faith cases could be included in the calculation of punitive damages. Thanks to my co-counsel, Bill Shernoff, his team, and my son Clint Ehrlich, who helped me on the briefing. It’s an honor to be making new bad-faith law with Bill Shernoff.
The May 2016 issue of “Valley Lawyer” featured Jeff Ehrlich and four other successful lawyers practicing in the Valley who have argued in the U.S Supreme Court.
For information about Mr. Ehrlich’s SCOTUS victory, see UNUM Life Ins. Co. of America v. Ward, 526 U.S. 358 (1999).
On December 12, 2010, Douglas Zerby was sitting on the pack porch steps of his friend’s apartment, holding a hose nozzle. A neighbor saw him, and called 911, reporting that a man was holding a gun. The Long Beach Police Department responded to the call, and had multiple officers watching Zerby from 20 to 30 feet away for more than five minutes. Without giving him any warning, they shot him multiple times. Garo Mardirossian and Tom Beck, representing Douglas’s father, obtained a wrongful-death verdict of $2 million in federal court in Orange County. They have retained Jeffrey Ehrlich to handle the appeal in the Ninth Circuit.
Greg Rizio of Rizo & Nelson obtained a $58 million verdict ($14.5 million net) for Timothy Herman, who was involved in an auto accident that left him catastrophically injured. The defense sought a new trial, based primarily on an argument that the $58 million verdict was excessive. Mr. Rizo retained Jeffrey Ehrlich to prepare the opposition to the new-trial motion, which was denied. Mr. Ehrlich was retained to handle the appeal.
Ricardo Echeverria of Shernoff Bidart Echeverria Bentley LLP and Scott Howry of Young Woolrich obtained a wrongful-death verdict on behalf of the minor children of Tiffany Paregien, who was run over by a large truck while she was crossing a street in Bakersfield. The accident was recorded on security video at the accident site. Ms. Paregien’s children were 11 years old and 4 months old at the time of her death. Because she had no work history, Mr. Echeverria sought only non-economic damages, and was awarded $7.5 million for each child. The defense appealed, arguing that the trial court had improperly excluded evidence that Ms. Paragein was high on methamphetamine at the time she was killed, and that the verdict was excessive. In an unpublished opinion, the Court of Appeal affirmed the verdict in its entirety, finding that the video of the accident confirmed that Ms. Paragien’s intoxication was irrelevant since she was run over from behind while walking normally in the crosswalk, and that the verdict – which the defense claimed was the highest award of non-economic damages in a wrongful-death action in California – was not excessive as a matter of law. Paregien v. Perez (Cal. Ct. App., Mar. 5, 2015, F067517) 2015 WL 1014194.
Plaintiff Mohamad Harb, MD, suffered a stroke while driving home from the hospital and was involved in a single-car accident. The Bakersfield police officer who responded to the scene was convinced that Dr. Harb was drunk or on drugs, and refused to allow an ambulance to transport him to the hospital. As a result of the delay, Dr. Harb suffered catastrophic brain damage. At trial, the City proposed a confusing, redundant police-immunity instruction, and also convinced the trial court to instruct on comparative fault. This allowed the City to argue that Dr. Harb alone was responsible for his condition, since he failed to take his blood-pressure medicine. The jury returned a defense verdict. In a published opinion, the Court of Appeal reversed.
The Court agreed that it was prejudicial error to give the police-immunity instruction, and that it was also improper for the court to instruct on comparative fault based on Dr. Harb’s pre-treatment negligence. In a case of first impression, the Court held that in California, medical providers and first responders cannot ask the jury to weigh their negligence in providing substandard care against the circumstances that caused the need for care in the first instance. Harb v. City of Bakersfield (2015) 233 Cal.App.4th 606, 183 Cal.Rptr.3d 59,
Success on appeal in California depends on many things — the facts that underlie your case, the legal positions you can take in light of the state of the law, your skill in selecting and presenting the issues to the appellate court in a persuasive way, and the beliefs and proclivities of the appellate judges who will hear your case. But before any of these factors can have an impact on the appeal you plan to bring, you must first satisfy the most elemental aspects of any appeal — you must get the appeal on file timely, and you must provide the court with an appropriate record for appellate review. Unless you can accomplish these two basic tasks your appeal will fail. This article will explain how to satisfy these most basic of appellate rules.
The rules governing filing appeals and designating the record are technical, and involve some deadlines that are jurisdictional. This article provides an overview, but before any lawyer tries to file and proceed with an appeal, he or she should carefully review the relevant sections of the California Rules of Court, and would do well to consult an appellate treatise (or an appellate lawyer.) It’s not exactly a “don’t try this at home” situation; more like, “don’t try this without making sure you do it right.” The problem is not that it is particularly hard to comply with the rules; it is that if you fail to do so, for whatever reason, the result can be catastrophic for the case.
After her Toyota Camry was struck in a traffic collision by Olga Bello, Noriko Nori’s foot became trapped behind the brake pedal and was pressing on the accelerator pedal, causing her car to accelerate to 100 mph.
Ms. Nori was unable to control the vehicle and was killed when her car crashed into a tree. The jury awarded her heirs $10 million, and the defendants have appealed.
Getting a case from the pleading stage through trial can be like trying to walk through a minefield. There are always procedural traps lurking to snare the unwary trial lawyer. Here are 10 easy, and distressingly common mistakes for a trial lawyer to make, which can have disastrous consequences on appeal. Happily, they are easily avoided, if you know what to look for.
Mistake 2: Failing to make appropriate evidentiary objections on summary-judgment motions, or to respond to the other side’s objections
A motion for summary judgment or summary adjudication of issues must be supported and opposed by admissible evidence. (Code Civ. Proc., §§ 437c, subd. (b)(1), and (d); Garibay v. Hemmat (2008) 161 Cal.App.4th 735, 741, 74 Cal.Rptr.3d 715, 719.) As explained in the article in this issue by Justice Moore and Steven B. Stevens, objections to evidence in support of or in opposition to a motion for summary judgment or adjudication must follow the format in California Rules of Court 3.1352 and 3.1354.
Rule 8.121 (a) requires the appellant to file in the trial court a designation of the record on appeal within 10 days of filing a notice of appeal (although the designation can be combined with the notice of appeal). The rule contemplates a single document designating both the oral proceedings and the documents, usually the RT and a CT or Appendix. There is a Judicial Council form, APP 003, which is optional.
The notice designating the record must state when the appeal was filed, the form of the record of Superior Court documents (CT or Appendix), and the form of the oral proceedings (RT). If the appellant uses an RT, the designation must designate what proceedings it will contain. Rule 8.130(a)(1) requires that the notice specify the date of each proceeding to be included in the RT. Hence it is improper to designate “all oral proceedings”. A local rule in the Second Appellate District requires even more specificity — L.R. 3(a)(1) requires not only the date of each proceeding, but also the department, the name of the court reporter or electronic-recording monitor, and the nature of the proceeding.
The designation may specify the portions of designated proceedings that should not be transcribed. (Such as voire dire, or specific witnesses whose testimony was not relevant to the issues raised on appeal.) But if not all testimony will be designated, the notice must specify the points to be raised on appeal. (Rule 8.130(a)(2).) This enables the respondent to determine whether additional parts of the record must be transcribed. Designating less than all testimony limits the scope of appellate review to the points stated in the designation notice. (Rule 8.130(a)(2).) Copies of the notice of designation must be served on all other parties, and on all known court reporters.
If the appellant designates only part of the oral proceedings, then the respondent may file a notice of designation of additional proceedings within 10 days of service of the appellant’s designation. (Rule 8.130(a)(3).)
The designating party (that is, both the appellant and the respondent making a designation of additional proceedings) must make at the time the designation is filed a deposit for the approximate cost of transcribing the designated proceedings. There are two ways to compute this: (1) obtain a written estimate from the court reporter in advance, or (2) using the amounts specified in Rule 8.130(b)(1)(A) and (B): $325 for each proceeding of less than 3 hours, and $625 for each proceeding longer than 3 hours.
If the appellant files a notice electing to proceed via a Clerk’s Transcript, the respondent can trump that election by filing an election to use an appendix in lieu of the Clerk’s Transcript within ten days of the appellant’s election. (Rule 8.124.) At that point, the appeal will proceed using an appendix unless the Superior Court orders otherwise on a motion to oppose the election. (Id.)
If the appellate elects to use a Clerk’s Transcript, the election must designate the items to be included, specifically identifying each document by title and filing date. (Rule 8.122(a)(1).) It is sufficient to collectively designate all minute orders or all jury instructions given, refused, or withdrawn. (Rule 8.122(a)(1).) The designation may also specify parts of a document that need not be included — which can be handy if there are duplicates of other documents.) (Id.)
Optional documents in a Clerk’s Transcript or an Appendix include any document filed or lodged in the case in the Superior Court; any exhibit admitted in evidence, refused or lodged; any jury instructions submitted by a party or given or refused. (8.122(b)(3).)