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  • Writer's pictureAttorney Michael Horowitz

Court of Appeals Win

In Gump v. State, Attorney Horowitz won a Court of Appeals reversal of our client’s conviction for violating a protection order.

The prosecution’s trial case was based on a manipulative ex-boyfriend trying to get our client thrown in jail so that boyfriend could take their mutual child to Seattle to live with him and his new girlfriend. Basically, ex-boyfriend moved out of state and left the child with client, but somehow got a court to issue a protective order requiring that client only had supervised contact with the child. Somehow, ex-boyfriend was given the authority to approve supervisors and drivers. This was obviously a recipe for abuse and manipulation, as the child was left in client’s care full-time. So, after a disagreement about the child moving with ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend, ex-boyfriend waited outside client’s house until she left on public transportation to take the kid to daycare. Client called the police before she left and reported that client “was about to violate a protective order.” Police asked why ex-boyfriend couldn’t adequately supervise the child if he was near the house, but ex-boyfriend argued that police needed to come investigate the alleged violation. Ultimately police found client and her child riding in a community transportation van and charged client with violating the protective order.

At trial, client argued that ex-boyfriend had previously approved the community transportation drivers as adequate supervision. Ex-boyfriend argued that he had not, and the trial court erroneously excluded all of the evidence of ex-boyfriend’s reasons to set up client (i.e., taking the child to Seattle to live with his new girlfriend). The trial court event excluded text messages where ex-boyfriend threatened to have client put in jail if she didn’t let him take the kid to Seattle. Without all of that crucial bias evidence, the jury convicted.

On appeal, the Alaska Court of Appeals ruled that “By prohibiting Gump from introducing this evidence, the district court impermissibly limited Gump’s ability to impeach him with evidence of potential bias and thus, also limited the jury’s ability to fully evaluate the credibility of his testimony and the viability of Gump’s defense.” The court further explained that “evidence of ex-boyfriend’s bias and interest in the outcome of the case would have ultimately informed the jury’s determination of the only disputed element at trial — whether Gump recklessly disregarded the fact that her conduct would violate the protective order.”

Happily, justice and client prevailed on appeal. Client was also very fortunate to have competent and zealous trial counsel that made and preserved the objections that allowed her to raise these arguments on appeal.

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