Criminal Defense Clinic: Early Termination Motion Granted and Case Dismissal

Jessica Seamands, ’23, and Angela Liu, ’24


Angela Liu and Jessica Seamands worked with AFPD Angela Hansen on an early termination motion for a hard-working grandfather who embraced Christianity while incarcerated and turned his life around. Our client had 15 months left on supervision but had already served over a decade in federal prison.

In many ways, our client exemplfied reform. Since his release to a halfway house in 2019 he had completed his bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministries and started on his master’s degree in Divinity. He aspired to ministry work in the future. He quickly completed the Laborer’s Union apprenticeship program and was recently promoted. He had also met and married his wife. It was clear to us that our client had transformed his life. We gathered letters of support from our client’s family and workplace to illustrate the strength of his community as well as the extent of his devotion and dedication to
his new life.

In order to succeed, our motion had to overcome some legal obstacles. Unfortunately, our client had violated the terms of his supervised release on two separate occasions: testing positive for marijuana and traveling out of state without permission. We pointed out that these mistakes did not diminish his incredible accomplishments, nor did they imperil public safety. We were also forced to counter the argument that our client was not suffering from the formal definition of “undue hardship” under supervision. In order to fight the uphill battle for early termination, we highlighted our client’s display of honesty and genuine dedication to self-improvement. Our client spoke eloquently to the court about his remorse for breaking the relationship of trust he had established with his probation officer.

We urged the court to recognize that our client had outgrown supervision and was already doing the vital work of reintegration through his faith and family connections. Judge White was concerned
about the violations but ultimately respected our client’s candor and was convinced that supervision was hindering our client’s progress. We convinced the judge that while our client was not perfect, he had demonstrated exceptional progress and no longer needed the support of supervision. The court granted early termination, and we shared a joyous moment with our client and his family outside the courtroom.


Angela and Jessica also represented a San Jose man who had been cited for possession of pepper spray during a traffic stop for driving with expired registration tags. Despite the fact that our client had a valid driver’s license and ownership documents for the car, the officer decided to order him out of the car to search him, finding pepper spray after lifting our client’s sweater. We filed a motion to suppress the evidence. We argued that the officer was not justified in searching our client, that his search unlawfully prolonged the stop, and that his search under the sweater exceeded the scope of what was permissible. The case was ultimately dismissed before the hearing as a result of a plea deal arranged by the client’s public defender, who was representing him on another charge.