Client acquitted of assaulting father
Attorney Gregger Highberg won an acquittal in Clark County District Court last week for a client who was accused of assaulting her father.
Had it been up to the client’s father, the case would have been dismissed. But, as an assistant Vancouver city attorney repeatedly told jurors, this was a case the state was pursuing over the objections of the alleged victim.
The father testified during the Sept. 21 trial that any contact his daughter made with him was accidental.
The assistant city attorney may not have believed him, but jurors did. The jury deliberated approximately 30 minutes before returning the “not guilty” verdict.
The father testified that his daughter had shown up at his house, upset. She was flailing her arms and the father said he approached her in the driveway and grabbed her arms to try and help her calm down. The client’s daughter was watching the confrontation between her mother and grandfather from inside the house, and she called 911.
At trial, the daughter said she called 911 because she saw her mother hitting her grandfather. She said she couldn’t tell, however, whether the contact was accidental or intentional.
Other family members the prosecutor called to testify told jurors they didn’t see the incident.
The father testified that he told responding officers from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office that he didn’t want his daughter to be arrested. He said he also told his advocate at the Domestic Violence Prosecution Center, as well as the assistant city attorney, that he didn’t consider himself a victim and wanted the charge dismissed.
Highberg argued to jurors that they should give the alleged victim’s testimony the most weight, because he – not an officer who responded later, or a family member watching from inside the house – was the only person to know how he was feeling at the time and whether he was scared or thought his daughter was intentionally trying to hurt him.
In a pre-trial interview, the father said his daughter has a history of mental illness and so that gave him insight into her behavior the day of her arrest. Highberg argued that the jury should be allowed to hear that, because it would help them understand the father’s perspective, but a judge said the client’s mental health history was not relevant and could not be mentioned.
The client was acquitted of fourth-degree assault domestic violence, a gross misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.