No Guilty

On October 13th, after five days of trial, a jury in federal court in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas returned a “not guilty” verdict for my client who had been charged with defrauding the IRS.

The client, along with his two brothers, were charged with conspiring to file false corporate tax returns. The government alleged the tax returns were false because they claimed fuel tax credits that, if true, would have meant the brothers made approximately five round trips to the moon and back every year for three years. If convicted, the client faced approximately five years imprisonment under the United States Sentencing Guidelines.

Candidly, I had reservations about whether a trial was in the client’s best interest. Nevertheless, the client repeatedly voiced his confidence in me. More importantly, the client who had been born in another country, told me he had total trust in the American jury system. In the end, this confidence in the jury system was well placed.

The case was prosecuted by two experienced prosecutors from the United States Attorney’s Office. We had a great senior judge, Judge Royal Ferguson, who gave us a fair trial and refused to give a very insidious “deliberate ignorance” charge to the jury even though it was requested by the prosecution. The jury deliberated about 3 ½ hours before acquitting my client. The jury returned a “not guilty” verdict for another brother the following day. The third brother did not go to trial and is pleading guilty to tax fraud charges.

People often talk about the high conviction rate in federal court and they are right. From March 31, 2008-March 31, 2009, prosecutors had an 85% conviction rate at jury trials in federal court. Nevertheless, this case is a testament to a belief in the jury system and, is one of the 15%.

It is important that, if you are charged with an offense in federal court, you retain a law firm that is not afraid to take on federal prosecutors. I am proud that, of the federal cases I have tried, prosecutors have only obtained final convictions in 32% of the cases and I have not lost a federal jury trial since 2004. See a sample of Broden and Mickelsen’ results in both federal and state courts.

At Broden & Mickelsen, LLP, we believe in aggressive and zealous representation for our clients. I recently read an advertisement from another law firm, comprised mostly of former prosecutors, where the lawyers talk about how important it is to get along with prosecutors and one states that his goal is to have “everyone” happy at the end of the day. It may surprise that law firm, but prosecutors don’t usually like “not guilty” verdicts. At Broden and Mickelsen, our job is to be sure our clients are happy at the end of the day!

Mick Mickelsen is a nationally recognized criminal trial attorney with more than 30 years of experience defending people charged with white-collar crimes, drug offenses, sex crimes, murder, and other serious state and federal offenses.