Los Angeles Federal District Court – Jury Acquittal of Felony Assault
Our client was charged with a violation of 18 USC 113(6) – Felony Assault Causing Serious Bodily Injury – an accusation that carries a sentence of up to ten years. This incident was a dispute between passengers on a Southwest Airlines flight from LAX to San Francisco.
The victim, who was seated behind our client, reclined her seat before takeoff. Our client asks her to return her seat up, but she ignored our client's request to put her chair in upright position, as legally required, prior to takeoff. The victim once again reclined her seat just after takeoff. Our client again attempted to start a conversation, which turned into an argument, where the victim then called our client an expletive.
During this argument, our client assaulted the victim. Witness testimony at trial showed that our client either choked or punched her head, or took hold of her shoulders and aggressively shook her out of frustration. The federal prosecutors presented testimony the victim sustained a concussion, including symptoms of headaches, nausea, anxiety, and loss of memory.
We called to the stand five witnesses: The EMT/fireman who examined the victim on the plane; a passenger who described the assault as shaking the victim from her shoulder area, and also two character witnesses know our client on a personal and professional level. They both offered testimony about his good overall character, that includes character traits for non-violence and being a law-abiding citizen.
Our client also testified on his own behalf. In the end, the jury acquitted our client of felony assault, which was the original indicted charge. They did find him responsible for simple misdemeanor assault, a violation of 18 USC 113(5), which carries a maximum sentence of six months. The case was covered in the media.