Criminal Defense Clinic: Changing a Mind to Change a Life and Winning the Second Effort

CDC-Our Cases
Adrienne Irmer, ’23 and Jamie Halper, ’23

Adrienne Irmer and Jamie Halper had the honor of representing an incredible 59-year-old man who had worked hard to turn his life around. Alongside AFPD Lisa Ma, we learned and communicated our client’s story in an early termination of supervised release motion. Our client had already excelled based on his earlier compassionate release from prison during the Covid-19 pandemic. Our motion, filed in the 27th month of his 60-month supervision term, documented that he was a true model of recovery and rehabilitation. He had completed the Residential Drug Abuse Program while in federal prison. Once released, he maintained stable housing, close family relationships, and employment. He also became a leader in his
church’s ministry and had been clean and sober since his arrest, years before. Despite this, the government maintained a chokehold on his life, causing undue hardship: his job would not promote him while he was on supervised release. At the hearing, in the face of the judge’s inclination to deny the motion, we persuaded him that the job promotion restriction was more than a mere inconvenience. He requested additional documentation—which Lisa Ma was able to procure promptly from the client’s employer. The judge granted the motion just days before Thanksgiving. Our client was able to spend the holiday traveling throughout California, reuniting with family and attending gatherings he would have otherwise missed.

In state court, Adrienne and Jaime represented a client who was stopped while eating lunch as a passenger in a friend’s truck. Police stopped the truck due to expired registration. They quickly recognized our client from past interactions and embarked on a mission to interrogate him for drug possession that had nothing to do with the traffic stop. We moved to suppress the evidence in the case, arguing that one officer had prolonged our client’s detention while the other transformed the initially valid stop into an unlawful seizure. The court rejected our constitutional challenge, ruling that our objections to the officers’ conduct would hold the police to an untenable standard. We were disappointed in this ruling because of our strong conviction that our client’s rights had been violated, which should outweigh the interests that the judge identified. In a second effort, we requested misdemeanor judicial diversion, which would result in dismissal upon successful completion, and would not subject our client to searchable probation. After some negotiation, the judge granted our request. In several months, our client will return to court and request that the judge dismiss his case.