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Trifecta Thursday

Allison Widney’s dismissal on Oct. 20 was followed that day by wins from fellow criminal defense attorneys Katie Kauffman and Whitney Hawke, who each won not-guilty verdicts for clients in Clark County District Court.

In Hawke’s trial, her client was charged with charged with fourth-degree assault domestic violence for allegedly kneeing his girlfriend in the face. Hawke argued to jurors the alleged victim’s black eye was caused by her client accidentally hitting his girlfriend in the face with his knee while he was struggling to get away.

Her client, she said, acted in self-defense after a verbal fight turned physical when his girlfriend came toward him in an aggressive way. He grabbed her arms to try and stop her, Hawke said, and then they struggled. 

Jurors heard from the alleged victim, who gave a version of events that didn’t match what she told the Vancouver police officer who took her statement after Hawke’s client had called 911.

On the witness stand, the alleged victim described the fight as much more violent than what she had told the officer. But as Hawke pointed out to jurors, the woman didn’t have injuries consistent with her claims. And she hadn’t even been the one who called 911.

The officer who responded had noted that the girlfriend didn’t appear particularly upset when he was speaking to her, and she refused to provide a written statement.

The jury deliberated about 35 minutes before returning the “not-guilty” verdict.

Fourth-degree assault, a gross misdemeanor, has a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

In Kauffman’s trial, she was representing a client charged with malicious mischief in the third degree domestic violence. The alleged victim was the client’s ex-girlfriend, who claimed that he dented her vehicle and broke a headlight when he kicked it.

The case was he-said, she-said. They’d got into an argument at a gas station, but disagreed about whether the kick was malicious or only done in self-defense.

The client’s version of events was that his ex-girlfriend reversed her car toward him and he stuck his foot out and kicked the front bumper to try and stop it. She testified that he had just walked up to her vehicle and kicked it.

The jury heard that the couple’s relationship ended when the defendant had been unfaithful, and Kauffman asked the woman about the bad break-up, knowing the jury could see it as a reason she might be trying to get her ex in trouble.

Another helpful factor was that the prosecutor failed to ask the investigating officer about the one statement the client did make that indicated he acted with malicious intent and not in self-defense: The client had reportedly told his ex, “Enjoy the dent.” But since the prosecutor didn’t ask the officer about the statement during his direct examination, it wasn’t part of the evidence the jury received.

Kauffman asked the investigating officer if he’d checked whether the gas station had video footage of the incident or if he had tried to find witnesses. He hadn’t, and said the defendant had been very cooperative. 

The jury deliberated an hour and 20 minutes before returning the “not guilty” verdict.  

Tags: criminal law, not guilty, assault, domestic violence, Clark County, malicious mischief

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