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Haggerty, Saraceno win District Court trial

Attorneys Eliza Haggerty and Nick Saraceno won a trial Oct. 13 in Clark County District Court for a client accused of denting a car door.

The client was charged with malicious mischief in the third degree, a gross misdemeanor.

He was cited in 2021 after the alleged victim called 911 and reported that she saw him intentionally ram the door of his van into the door of her Ford Escape and then drive away. The client and alleged victim lived in the same apartment complex, where the client was employed as a maintenance worker.

A Vancouver police officer photographed two indents on the front passenger side door of the alleged victim’s vehicle and questioned the client, who said he may have accidentally made contact with the Ford Escape because there wasn’t much space between the vehicles. He said he did not cause any damage and refused to exchange his insurance information with the alleged victim.

At trial, the alleged victim said she received a repair estimate for more than $1,9000 for the damage done to the Ford Escape, which she no longer owned. She said she never reported the damage to her insurance company. It also came out that there was other damage to the vehicle that the alleged victim, her husband and her daughter (who was the primary driver of the car) could not explain except to say it happened in other parking lot incidents. The family ended up scrapping the car a few months after this incident for $200 because they didn’t want to pay for the repairs.

Haggerty argued in closing that the witness's stories lacked consistent details and the officer's investigation was not sufficient to prove the charge against the client.  On cross examination, details regarding the car's positioning, the unexplained damages, as well as discrepancies between testimony and the evidence provided by the investigation created important questions for the jury. How could his driver’s side door have caused damage against a front passenger side door if the vehicles weren’t facing the same direction? Also, no one could explain why the dents were spaced so far apart, how could a door hit in different places if it never moved? It also didn’t make sense that her client would damage a vehicle at the apartment complex where he worked, putting his job in jeopardy.

Haggerty suggested the alleged victim had a financial motive between the three family members, since she had asked for nearly $2,000 in restitution and bought a new car a couple months after the incident.

A jury deliberated for less than two hours before returning a verdict of not guilty.

Tags: criminal law, not guilty, Clark County, malicious mischief

Jeffrey D. Barrar, P.S.: Vancouver Defenders Jeffrey D. Barrar, P.S.
Vancouver Defenders