The Worthington Law Centre building

Thomas S. Worthington

Notable Cases:

FELONY CHARGES OF ASSAULT WITH GREAT BODILY INJURY AGAINST A YOUNG MAN WITH AUTISM REDUCED TO A MISDEMEANOR—NO JAIL TIME!

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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We were retained to represent a boy just over eighteen years of age who has a history of acting out as a result of his autism. During a one on one special education class held at a public library, our client became overwhelmed by the stress of activity going on around him and the demands placed on him by the teacher. Suddenly, he bolted from the library, running at full speed in a straight line towards his dad’s car. Unfortunately, an older woman was standing in his way, and he knocked her down, causing injury. After careful review of the entire medical and mental health history, and a thorough evaluation by a forensic psychologist specializing in autism, we were able to persuade the District Attorney that our client had not formed any criminal intent. In his mind, it was as if he was running from a fire, and would have run into anything in his way, because his mind was unable to process the need to change direction to avoid hitting the woman. Charges were reduced to a misdemeanor, probation granted, and our client was authorized to leave the State of California to enter an educational program uniquely suited to his special needs.

NOT GUILTY VERDICT FOR DISTRICT ATTORNEY INVESTIGATOR CHARGED WITH PERJURY

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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Our client had devoted eighteen years to law enforcement–first with a local police department and then with the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office, Financial Crimes Unit. In late 2013, our client was transferred to the Joint Narcotics Task Force in the county where he began working under the supervision of much more experienced narcotics officers. After one “controlled buy” conducted by a confidential informant, our client wrote a sworn affidavit for a search warrant establishing probable cause. He wrote the affidavit without any input from more experienced people in the unit, and complaints about the content arose only after it had been cleared by the District Attorney’s Office and a judge. The California Attorney General was assigned to investigate and prosecute a case, and filed a charge of perjury based on alleged material errors and omissions in the affidavit. During the jury trial, which spanned three weeks, our client testified that he had made mistakes in preparing the affidavit, but they were honest errors and omissions which were never intended to mislead the magistrate. After two hours of deliberation, the jury found our client not guilty.

NOT GUILTY Verdict for a Flower Wholesaler Accused of Multiple Counts of Grand Theft and Conspiracy

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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Mr. Worthington’s client had been in the wholesale flower business for many years and entered into an agreement to buy orchids in quantity. He dealt with the chief salesman for the supplier and purchased hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of product over a period of years. When the salesman did not pay the money over to the company, both the salesman and our client were charged with multiple counts of grand theft, embezzlement, and conspiracy.

The District Attorney offered evidence that the total value of the product received exceeded $3,000,000.00 based on the prices posted by the company. Our client said that the pricing was much lower and that he did not steal or embezzle from the company.

After a two week trial, a jury found our client not guilty of all counts.

King City Police Chief Charged with Felony Embezzlement and Perjury: Charges Reduced to Misdemeanors

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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During a massive investigation of alleged misconduct in the King City Police Department over a number of years, several officers were charged with various crimes. A chief of police at the time was accused of transferring a police vehicle to an individual, a police officer, without City Council approval.

When he testified about his actions and intentions at a preliminary hearing, he was then charged with an additional count of felony perjury. After a two week jury trial, in which he along with a handwriting expert testified that some of the signatures on various documents were not his, and that he never intended for the vehicle to be transferred personally to the police officer under his command, and the jury deadlocked 7 to 5 in favor of acquittal. Thereafter, to avoid the expense and stress of a re-trial, our client agreed to plead No Contest to two misdemeanor charges and was granted probation with no time in jail.

MR. WORTHINGTON OBTAINS PROBATION FOR A MAN ACCUSED OF RAPE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE BY CO-WORKER ‘GIRLFRIEND’ —SEVEN FELONIES REDUCED TO ONE MISDEMEANOR

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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Our client was accused by a co-worker, who also claimed to be our client’s girlfriend, of seven felony counts of rape and domestic violence with injuries. The woman claimed he had beaten her on multiple occasions and raped her once. One of the beatings, she claimed resulted in “…bruises from head to foot…” Others, she said, resulted in serious injuries but were unreported. We located two police officers who had responded to one of the supposed assaults, and they were prepared to testify that there was no evidence of a struggle and absolutely no injuries, let alone “bruises from head to foot.” Seven felony charges were dismissed and our client plead to one minor misdemeanor and our client was granted probation.

CHARGES DISMISSED--FELONY ASSAULT AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CHARGES DISMISSED—TWICE

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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A woman suffering from schizophrenia accused our client—her former husband—of assaulting her on the street in broad daylight in front of numerous witnesses. The supposed incident was not reported for three days at which point the woman did have serious injuries. Multiple felony charges were filed against our client. We located a police officer and ambulance attendant who were prepared to testify that a year earlier, the woman had claimed our client had knocked her down and kicked her in the lobby of a bank. The responding officer had seen no injuries and pointed out to the woman that the bank lobby would have security cameras. She changed her story and said it happened in front of the bank. The officer said there would be security cameras in front also. She changed her story again and put the scene a block away from the bank. At that point the ambulance attendant took the officer aside and said in previous 911 calls, the woman made unsupported claims of being beaten. After more than a year of court battles, the District Attorney dismissed all charges but then refiled and finally dismissed for the second and last time.

MR. WORTHINGTON OBTAIN DISMISSAL FOR LOCAL BUSINESS MAN ACCUSED OF SEXUAL BATTERY

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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Our client was a flower wholesaler. One woman customer accused him of sexually battering her when she went to pick up flowers one day. A secret recording was made by the police in which our client apologized but denied any intent to touch her improperly. Charges were filed in court. A few days before trial, we located a woman—another customer–who said the supposed victim had called her and asked her to report that our client had done the same thing to the other woman. She said, “…there’s money in it for you.” Mr. Worthington turned over this information to the district attorney. All charges were dismissed on the eve of trial.

CARMEL “UN”-BOMBER

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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At the start of the AT&T Golf Tournament, with celebrities pouring into Carmel-by-the-Sea, a man left a suspicious package at a downtown business, saying he would be back later to pick it up. When he didn’t return, the business owner called the police who evacuated a 4-block area of Carmel and called in the bomb squad. After much debate, the bomb squad blew up the package. Thankfully, no bomb. When our client returned a day later to find his belongings blown up, he became quite irate and appeared irrational to the police. The police felt he was a danger to himself and “gravely disabled” and they put him on a 72-hour psychiatric hold. We were retained by the man’s tight-knit and responsible family, and a close cousin flew to California from our client’s home state. While we were putting together our case—which showed, among other things, an honorable discharge from the Marines—the hospital psychiatrists extended the hold for up to 14 days. We demanded a hearing and won our client’s release.

PRUNEDALE MAN CHARGED WITH BATTERY RECEIVES A NOT GUILTY VERDICT

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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In a recent case in Monterey County Superior Court, our client was charged with battery on a construction contractor who had been hired to dig a leach field on our client’s property. The instrument used was a 200 pound role of filter fabric, and all evidence supported the inference that our client was strong enough to wield it as a club. Tom Worthington tried the case before a jury. The “victim” had made two big mistakes in the things he said before trial: To the 911 dispatcher, he said the suspect “tried” to hit him with the role of filter fabric, but he got in his truck “just in time” and locked the doors. To the sheriff, he said he was blocked from leaving by a large pile of gravel that had just been dumped at our client’s direction. Unfortunately, the pile of gravel was nowhere to be seen in the crime scene photos, and the deputy on scene said, “It wasn’t there. We would have photographed it if it was.” “NOT GUILTY” after an hour of deliberation.

ALL CHARGES DISMISSED FOR WOMAN CHARGED WITH FIRST DEGREE MURDER AFTER HER HUSBAND DIED IN HER ARMS AFTER BEING STABBED IN THE NECK

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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Because of modern investigative techniques and the availability of forensic evidence–like cell phone records, DNA, hair sample comparisons, recorded statements of witnesses and suspects–we rarely see “who-done-it” cases any more. This case is an exception. All four of these kinds of evidence, and many more, were collected in this case, and first degree murder charges were filed against our client.

Our client and her husband lived with a roommate in a small house in a rural farming town. The husband had been previously married and had one son by that marriage. He kept in touch with his former wife and his son. On one otherwise uneventful summer night, a neighbor saw him on his cell phone, pacing back and forth, and then reentering the house. That is the last she saw him alive. The roommate described him as quiet that night. His ex-wife would later say he had told her on the cell phone call that he was leaving his wife and coming back to her, but our evidence would show that he, instead, went to bed and made love to his wife.

Less than two hours later, our client made a desperate 911 call, screaming for help and crying that someone had come in, hit her over the head, and stabbed her husband in the throat. The dispatcher asked her where they went, and our client can be heard repeating the same question to someone in the room. In the background, the roommate’s voice can be heard saying “they ran out the front door.”

When the police and paramedics arrived, the husband was lying in a pool of blood in the master bedroom. In his hand was a tuft of hair that the prosecution contended he pulled from our client’s head during a struggle. (We offered photographs and evidence that she commonly brushed her long hair in the adjacent bathroom, and that air circulation carried her hair to the same corner of the master bathroom where her husband had died with an outstretched arm and hand resting among other strands of hair.) Our client was standing in the same room in her bra and panties, covered with blood, which she said got on her when she cradled her husband’s head in her arms as he died.

The police could find no sign of forced entry, but our client had left a sliding door unlocked so that a workman could come in the next day when she was at work. (We showed that the door would lock automatically if a person entered from outside and then closed the door once inside, and we produced phone records and the workman who testified that he had indeed planned to come to the house the next day to make some repairs, and that he had called the night before to remind her to leave the door unlocked for him.)

In the hallway leading to the front door, the police found bloody shoe prints which ended at the sidewalk. Close by, the police found an iron bar that the experts agreed could have been used to inflict the wound to our client’s head. The shoes left a pattern in the blood that was traced to a particular brand and size. Although the size would have fit our client, there were no similar shoes found and no records of her having ever purchased or possessed such a shoe, and the stride and location of the bloody prints indicated at least one person ran out the front door, just as the roommate said.

Our client fully cooperated with the police, giving a lengthy recorded statement at the station shortly after being released from the hospital where she had received stitches to the wound to the back of her head. The recording of her statement was later erased, and the officer prepared a report casting great suspicion on her. The prosecutor argued that the erasure of the recorded statement was accidental, but Mr. Worthington retained one of the leading computer forensic experts in the country, and after an exhaustive examination of the computer, he testified that the recording had been intentionally “scrubbed.”

On the eve of the first scheduled trial, after approximately four months of investigation and preparation for trial by both sides, the defense demanded a speedy trial, but in a move to gain them more time, the District Attorney’s Office, dismissed all charges and immediately re-filed. Three more months of preparation were required prior to the second scheduled trial; and shortly before that trial was to begin, the District Attorney received a final report from the state lab that was doing the DNA testing on various blood samples. The lab reported that at least one bloody handprint found on the wall of the hallway leading to the front door contained traces of DNA belonging to an unidentified male subject. Policemen, firemen, paramedics, and other males who may have been in the house were all eliminated as possible contributors of the DNA. We contended that the DNA likely was left by the unidentified intruder. A motion to dismiss a second time was granted, and our client walked from the courtroom a free woman.

PROBATION GRANTED FOR FATHER CHARGED WITH VEHICULAR MANSLAUGHTER IN THE DEATH OF HIS SIX YEAR OLD DAUGHTER

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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Our client was the devoted husband and father of five young children. After losing his construction job in the recent recession, he returned to college to improve his skills. One day his motorcycle was stolen from the college garage. After reporting to the theft to the police, he called his wife for a ride. She brought all five children. Minutes later, our client’s wife spotted a pickup truck with the motorcycle loosely tied in the bed. Our client jumped out of the car at an intersection, telling his wife to drive on to a point of safety for her and the children. He tried to stop the truck, but the driver sped up and hit him, and, according to one witness, knocked him into the air. He came down on his head, and described confusion and seeing stars. The witness said he was staggering, and that he was surprised the man was able to get up at all. He told his wife to move over, took the wheel and gave chase. In perhaps the most tragic case in Mr. Worthington’s 44 year career, the car went out of control and flipped over, ejecting the six-year-old child, and causing fatal injuries. Mr. Worthington negotiated a plea that allowed probation, and in a heart rending sentencing hearing where our client’s wife and the mother of the children testified to her husand’s devotion to the children, the court granted probation.

LOCAL PHYSICIAN CHARGED WITH FORCIBLE SEX ACTS HAS CONVICTION REVERSED ON APPEAL

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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A Carmel physician of excellent reputation in his profession was charged with forceable sex acts with a woman. The evidence was undisputed that both he and the woman drank excessively at a bar, and the woman accompanied him alone to his home where the acts occurred. Thomas Worthington and Carolyn Keeley conducted a two-week jury trial basing the defense on the argument that the woman had consented, and no force was used. After the evidence concluded, the judge insisted on giving the jury instructions that would allow the jury to convict if they felt the woman was so intoxicated that she did not have the capacity to consent, even though there was no charge of rape of an intoxicated woman. In spite of the defense’s objections, the instruction was given and the jury ultimately convicted. On appeal by another law office, the objections we raised in the trial court were presented to the District Court of Appeal. In a lengthy opinion analyzing the evidence that had been presented to the jury, and the error contained in the judge’s instruction, the Court of Appeal reversed the conviction and sent the case back to the trial court. After the case was set for a new trial, the District Attorney agreed to reduce the charges, and the physician was released from custody with credit for time served.

CASES OF INSURANCE FRAUD AND CONSPIRACY CHARGED BY THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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109 Felony Counts of Insurance Fraud and Conspiracy – DISMISSED; Physician’s Assistant agrees to Civil injunction.

A local Physician’s Assistant was charged along with two managers at the Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation with numerous offenses alleging worker’s compensation fraud, insurance fraud and conspiracy. After several amendments of the complaint, ultimately 109 felony counts were charged against the three. Thomas Worthington represented the Physician’s Assistant. After a preliminary examination hearing that lasted over a span of two years, and a Motion to Suppress Evidence and Dismiss for Outrageous Governmental Conduct, the two managers pled no contest to several misdemeanors and were sentenced to small fines and restitution and twenty-nine days of community service work. As to the Physician’s Assistant represented by Mr. Worthington, the entire criminal case was dismissed. The Physician’s Assistant and his company agreed to a civil injunction to close the matter.

Multiple Felony Counts of Insurance Fraud—DISMISSED; Chiropractor Agrees to Plead “No Contest” to three misdemeanor violations of Business and Professions Code

In another case arising out of the same facts, a local chiropractor who had years of experience doing “corporate wellness” programs accepted six patients from Smurfit Stone to provide individual treatments for general aches and pains. Even though five of these patients were being treated for their alleged industrial injuries by the company’s network provider—and the sixth never claimed to have an industrial injury at all—the District Attorney charged sixteen felonies related to supposed workers compensation fraud—the same kind of charges as had just been dismissed in the previous case. After two years of litigation, our client agreed to plead “no contest” to three minor misdemeanors having to do with false advertising. The pleas were entered under a provision of California law which allows a person to plead “no contest” because he cannot afford to continue the litigation, even though he denies any wrongdoing. The court granted probation, imposed fines and restitution, and 29 days of community service.

NOT GUILTY VERDICT FOR PROFESSOR FROM U.C. BERKELEY SUFFERING FROM BI-POLAR DISEASE INVOLVED IN FATAL TRAFFIC ACCIDENT.

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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A brilliant professor from U.C. Berkeley suffered for years with bi-polar disease. She had been under the treatment of a physician and was stable and symptom free as long as she took her medication.

Unfortunately as happens with many patients suffering from this disease, they often believe they no longer need the medication. This patient went off her medication and within days was in a manic phase staying up all night long, with all the lights in her house blazing, going on shopping sprees where she purchased untold numbers of items that she did not need, and ultimately driving her car to try to visit a friend in Monterey County. For unknown reasons, she left that friend’s house and decided to drive Highway 1 through the Big Sur area. In a delusional state, she crossed over the center line, forcing an oncoming car to swerve and go off a cliff. The driver of that car died and our client was charged with vehicular manslaughter.

Mr. Worthington presented a defense based on her altered mental state and brought in expert witnesses who established that her mental functioning was so impaired that she was nearly unconscious of her acts. After a four day jury trial, the jury accepted this defense and brought back a verdict of not guilty.

COMPUTER EXPERT SUFFERING FROM BI-POLAR DISEASE IS COMPELLED BY VOICES TO COME TO MONTEREY COUNTY TO DETERMINE WHO IS FOLLOWING HIM.

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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Mr. Worthington represented many clients over the years suffering from bi-polar disease, and his most recent such case was reminiscent of the movie “A Beautiful Mind.” Our client was a technology whiz holding a responsible job with a large tech company in the Silicon Valley where he lived. Voices compelled him to travel to Monterey where—he believed–he could access the internet to find out who was following him and spying on him. Arriving at a hotel that had internet access, he had to ask the desk clerk for an Ethernet cable because wireless was not available. When she came to the room, he “frisked” her for a listening device which he “knew” women would carry under their breasts. Charged with sexual battery, we entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. After reviewing the reports of two court-appointed experts, the Court agreed that our client was insane at the time of the offense and ordered him to continue his current outpatient treatment for one year. At the conclusion of the year, the court found that he was restored to sanity and discharged him from further proceedings in Monterey County.

NOT GUILTY BY REASON OF INSANIY FOR YOUNG WOMAN SUFFERING FROM SCHIZOPHRENIA AFTER ATTEMPTED MURDER OF HER FATHER

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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A young woman from a prominent Carmel family suffered from adult on-set schizophrenia. As a young woman, she had a number of run-ins with the law including an incident where she ran from the police in her car and ultimately tried to run over at least one police officer when she was finally stopped. She was committed to various mental hospitals on several occasions, but after each period of treatment, her parents always tried to continue to make a home for her and tried to take care of her as an outpatient. After one such commitment and release, her parents took her home, but she curled up in the back seat of the car in the fetal position and would not come out. Her parents went to bed, and later in the night she snuck into the house and, in a delusional state, took a kitchen knife, entered her parents’ bedroom and, thinking her father was the devil who was going to harm her mother, she stabbed him in the arm causing a severe wound.

Mr. Worthington entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity and a had a psychiatrist and psychologist appointed by the Court to examine her. Both agreed that she was insane. The Court agreed to accept the reports and find her not guilty by reason of insanity which allowed the Court to send her to a State Hospital instead of State Prison. After many years at the State Hospital and hearings regarding restoration to sanity, the psychiatrists at the State Hospital rendered an opinion that she was no longer a danger to herself or to others and could be released for outpatient treatment. She was released and now lives in sheltered housing where she probably will get treated for the rest of her life.

TOUR DE FRANCE CYCLIST FACING 80 YEARS IN PRISON RECEIVES GRANT OF PROBATION

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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A famed Tour de France cyclist was charged with ten felony counts of child molestation after accusations by a sixteen-year old girl that improper contact had occurred over the course of several years. In addition to ten felony counts by the District Attorney in California, there was a risk of prosecution in another state. Mr. Worthington obtained psychological evaluations of his client and was able to negotiate a plea of guilty with a grant of probation and a sentence of one year in County Jail.

NOT GUILTY VERDICTS FOR BUS DRIVER FACING YEARS IN PRISON AND LIFETIME REGISTRATION REQUIREMENT

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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Our client was a 41 year old bus driver who had never in his life been in trouble, found himself charged with three counts of child molestation. For years, he had had frequent contact with children with never a suggestion of misconduct. After a contentious separation from a girlfriend, the girlfriend’s teenage daughter accused him of molesting her. Our client denied all allegations, and although offered misdemeanor resolution, insisted on a trial. After a three day court trial during which the girl and her mother both testified, and our client testified, the judge found him not guilty on all counts.

PROBATION GRANTED FOR YOUTH PARALYZED FROM WAIST DOWN IN CAR ACCIDENT WHO ENGAGES IN IMPROPER CONTACT WITH A 15 YEAR OLD GIRL

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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Our client had been the student body president and captain of the soccer team at his local high school, and had always engaged in exemplary behavior. Shortly after his graduation from high school, he was involved in a tragic automobile accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Unable to continue relationships with young woman his own age, he turned his affection to a 15-year-old girl who was in a youth group at his church. After the relationship broke off, the improper activities were reported to authorities, and our client was charged with three felony counts of child molesting. After a thorough psychological examination, Mr. Worthington was able to persuade the District Attorney and judge that charges should be reduced to a non-registerable offense so that our client would not be hindered with the stigma of registering as a sex offender for the rest of his life. He entered a plea of guilty and was granted probation. Later, charges were reduced to misdemeanors; and after the successful completion of probation, all charges were dismissed.

POLICE OFFICER CHARGED WITH ATTEMPTED MURDER IN BIZARRE INCIDENT INVOLVING HIS PARENTS; RECEIVES A GRANT OF PROBATION

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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Our client was a police officer with a completely clean record who had worked up to a high position of responsibility. Stresses of overtime and constant danger facing the small police force where our client worked caused him to begin abusing substances. One night when he was in charge of the entire police force on duty, two of his officers had to chase armed suspects down a dark alley, in obedience to orders issued by our client. One of the officers was shot in an ensuing gun battle, and our client could never forgive himself. His mental condition deteriorated until one night he entered his parents’ home with a rifle. Clearly delusional, he aimed the rifle at them, but his father managed to wrest it away and call the sheriff. Our client was arrested and charged with attempted murder and assault with a firearm and faced a lengthy prison term if convicted. After getting a preliminary psychological work-up, we were able to obtain bail, and our client entered into a residential alcohol treatment program. After successful completion of the program, Mr. Worthington negotiated misdemeanor pleas. He was granted probation, which he successfully completed.

FELONY PROBATION GRANTED FOR A YOUNG MAN FACING CONSECUTIVE LIFE SENTENCES

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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Our client was a young man from a good family who had worked hard at odd jobs throughout his school years. Unfortunately, he became involved with gangs and found himself in the position of having to testify against a gang member. Having violated the “code of silence,” he and his family became a target of the gang, and he eventually started carrying a gun to protect himself. One evening in Monterey, California, he and some friends were confronted by some gang members. Believing he was in mortal danger, he got his gun and fired it at the individuals threatening him. One was hit in the neck, and the bullet nearly caused death. Our client was charged with multiple counts of attempted murder, assault, use of a firearm, great bodily injury, and gang activity. Conviction would have resulted in consecutive life sentences. We did an exhaustive social study of our client’s background and explained the reasons he felt he was in mortal danger and acted in self-defense. The charges were eventually reduced to two counts of assault with a firearm, use of a firearm, and great bodily injury, but our client was granted felony probation.

ALL CHARGES DISMISSED FOR TRUCK DRIVER CHARGED WITH ASSAULT AND GREAT BODILY INJURY ON ANOTHER TRUCK DRIVER.

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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Our client was an African-American truck driver who got in an altercation with another driver over use of a loading dock for their respective semis. The two men came to blows, and the other driver later claimed the injuries he suffered—including a broken jaw—were caused by our client supposedly using a deadly weapon. His claims of a broken jaw, made six days later, however, were inconsistent with what he told paramedics right after the incident. Moreover, his employer said that 85 to 90 percent of all complaints his trucking company received involved that particular driver, he was always complaining and yelling and hollering and accusing people of things, and the employer believed he had made other false workers’ comp claims. The man was about to lose his job, but he told people he didn’t care because he was going to make a half million dollars off his case (against our client), using a racial slur in the process. We notified the District Attorney of the evidence of his “victim’s” unsavory past, and on the eve of trial, the District Attorney dismissed all charges.

PROBATION AND FINE OF $500 FOR CORRECTIONAL OFFICER

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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Our client was a correctional officer who had been in no trouble in the past. In at least one previous argument with his wife, he himself had called the police, but in another conflict, that also involved her sister, both wife and sister accused him of battering them and endangering a baby, and they added that he attempted to dissuade both of them from testifying. He was charged with two counts of battery, dissuading a witness, child endangerment and violation of a restraining order. Mr. Worthington conducted a three day jury trial, he was acquitted of all counts except the violation of the restraining order, which he admitted did occur. He was placed on probation, fined $500.00 and allowed to return to his job as a correctional officer.

ALL CHARGES DISMISSED FOR FAMILY MAN ACCUSED OF THREE COUNTS OF FELONY ASSAULT

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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Our client was an accountant who lived a law-abiding life but was associated with a family in which there was substantial discord. On an occasion when he accompanied his brother in law to be present as a witness during an exchange of children who were subject to child custody and visitation orders, our client was falsely accused by a sheriff’s detective and other family members of assaulting three women with a deadly weapon, to wit, a motor vehicle. He pled not guilty to all charges, and our office began a thorough investigation. Before the matter even went to preliminary hearing, we were able to convince the District Attorney to dismiss all charges, and our client walked free.

ALL CHARGES DISMISSED FOR TEENAGER ALLEGED TO HAVE HAD IMPROPER SEXUAL CONTACT WITH A YOUNGER CHILD

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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Mr. Worthington represented this young man in two stages of the proceedings. When he was first accused of improper contact with a twelve-year-old boy, we assisted the family in getting him into counseling, and the investigating agency asked for no charges. After a year of successful counseling, for reasons which were never disclosed to us, the District Attorney’s Office decided to, and did, file four felony charges, which, if convicted, could result in a lengthy prison sentence and sex registration for life, ruining this young man’s life. By this time, our client was in college out of state, and we were again able to get him into counseling and persuaded the District Attorney that the conduct amounted to experimentation between two immature boys, not a crime. All charges were dismissed.

THE RAPE OF INEZ GARCIA: WOMAN KILLS HER RAPIST AND AFTER TWO TRIALS IS ACQUITTED

Attorneys: Thomas S. Worthington represents woman's accomplice, Freddie Medrano

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During the infancy of the women’s rights movement, when the violent nature of rape was often minimized in courts of law, Mr. Worthington represented the accomplice in a case where a woman shot and killed her rapist. Famed attorney, Charles Garry (who later represented the infamous Jim Jones, founder of the Peoples Temple in San Francisco and of Jonestown in Guyana, South America) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1i59rc80tFY represented the woman. The woman was Inez Garcia and her accomplice was her roommate, Freddie Medrano.

On March 17, 1974, Garcia was taken into an alley behind the apartment where she lived with Freddie Medrano and was raped by two local Soledad men. The two men left the scene of the rape and went to a neighbor’s house where they called Ms. Garcia laughing, taunting, and threatening her life. Garcia armed herself with her son’s .22 rifle and she and Freddie Medrano drove the six blocks to the residence where the two men were located. Ms. Garcia shot one of the men and the other escaped into a nearby park.

When police arrived, Medrano and Garcia surrendered to them without incident and were both charged with first degree murder.

Together, Mr. Garry and Mr. Worthington argued to the jury that a woman’s right to self defense extends even after the rape is completed, but before the perpetrator is caught.

The jury was unable to reach a verdict as to Mr. Worthington’s client resulting in a hung jury. The District Attorney reduced the charge to manslaughter and the court granted probation to Mr. Medrano. However, Ms. Garcia was convicted of second-degree murder, sentenced, and spent two years in prison before her appeal was granted and her case was sent back for retrial. Ms. Garcia was exonerated during her second trial.

MURDERS OF SEASIDE FAMILY REMINISCENT OF TRUMAN CAPOTE'S "IN COLD BLOOD"

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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Four female family members, ranging in age from 6 to 74, were murdered in a blood bath chillingly reminiscent of the murders described in Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. A 19-year-old male member of the family and his 14-year-old girlfriend were accused of the murder.

The prosecution was at a time when law enforcement had just begun the regular—but amateur—use of hypnosis of witnesses in unsolved cases. The defendants made admissions about their involvement, but their motives and the possible involvement of at least one of the hypnotized witnesses left the true facts a mystery to this day. Mr. Worthington represented the 14-year-old-girl and sought the assistance of Dr. Martin Orne, a psychiatrist specializing in the use and abuse of hypnosis as an investigative tool.

In another first, the prosecution enlisted the assistance of an anthropologist who claimed she could identify a person using various anatomical measurements. In this case, the “anatomical measurements” were bare, bloody footprints left behind by both the victims and the accused. Mr. Worthington objected to the introduction of this new “science,” but the judge overruled his objection and the “expert” was allowed to testify.

Mr. Worthington fought vigorously in her defense and although the young woman was convicted by the judge of three counts of first degree murder and one count of second degree murder, Mr. Worthington was able to convince the judge to treat her with compassion and she was sent to the Ventura School for Girls.

At Ventura, she finished high school and then for two years was given furloughs to attend the local junior college. After less than four years she was paroled and attended University of California San Diego on a scholarship where she graduated with honors. She later married and had her own children.

Mr. Worthington authored an article published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis and for several years after the trial, Mr. Worthington worked with California Attorneys for Criminal Justice to achieve a change in the law regarding the use of hypnosis in court cases. California law now strictly limits the testimony of witnesses who have had their memories “enhanced” by hypnosis.

WOMAN CHARGED WITH THE ATTEMPTED MURDER OF HER NEWBORN INFANT AFTER SUFFERING POST-PARTUM DEPRESSION

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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A young woman from a devout Catholic family was charged with the attempted murder of her newborn infant after placing him in a dumpster at the apartment building where she lived. The young woman hid her pregnancy from everyone, including herself–the evidence introduced at trial showed she was in denial of her pregnancy. In fact, she lived in the apartment with the father of the infant and he did not know she was pregnant.

When she began having “stomach pains” which she thought was indigestion, she sent her boyfriend out to get her some Pepto Bismal. In the short time the boyfriend was gone, she delivered the infant on the toilet. She wrapped him in a blanket and placed him in the dumpster. When the boyfriend returned from the store he heard what he thought were cats in the dumpster. He opened the dumpster and there was the baby. Not knowing the baby was his, he returned to the apartment with the baby where he found her in bed. He called 911. When the paramedics and the police arrived they could immediately see there was something wrong with the young woman and discovered evidence that she had just delivered a baby.

At trial Mr. Worthington represented her and successfully invoked the “post-partum depression defense” at a time when the syndrome had only recently become a part of the medical/legal lexicon. http://www.webmd.com/depression/postpartum-depression/postpartum-depression-topic-overview

The jury acquitted on the attempted murder charge and rendered a verdict of attempted voluntary manslaughter.

VIET NAM WAR REFUGEE CHARGED WITH PARENTAL KIDNAPPING AFTER A GEORGIA JUDGE GIVES SPONSOR FAMILY CUSTODY OF HIS EIGHT YEAR OLD

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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During the final evacuation of Saigon in 1974, a Vietnamese Air Force officer managed to climb onto a helicopter and pull his infant daughter aboard but then a hail of gunfire forced the helicopter to lift off, knocking down his pregnant wife with the propeller backwash, leaving her behind.

For eight years after the end of the Vietnam War, the man and his daughter lived as refugees with a sponsor family in the State of Georgia. After several attempts, the man was finally able to bring his wife and then seven year old daughter to the United States.

After his wife and youngest daughter finally arrived in America, a Georgia State judge, over the objection of the family, established a legal guardianship of the oldest daughter in the sponsor family—leaving the man and his family only visitation rights with their daughter and again separating this family.

Not knowing the laws of the United States, the man brought his family to Monterey, California where they had other friends. He enrolled his children in school and got a job. Within a week, the FBI tracked him down, picked up his children from the school bus stop, and arrested him on the charge of kidnap. Mr. Worthington was able to get the criminal charges against the man dismissed in California and he represented the family in the custody matter in Georgia.

The deck seemed hopelessly stacked against this poor Vietnamese family, given that both the foster family and the judge were white Southern Baptists, but after a protracted hearing, the judge ruled that the family could be reunited and returned to California–on three conditions: 1) that the family must post a bond in Georgia; 2) that the family must return the child to Georgia at their own expense for visitation with the sponsor family; and 3) that the child should be given Christian religious training, “. . .as our forefathers contemplated. . .” The family had no money to post the bond, so Mr. Worthington posted it himself, shepherded the family onto an airplane, and flew them to the relative safety of California.

But that wasn’t the end of the story. When the appointed time came for the visitation back in Georgia, the family complied. Within a few hours of disembarking from the plane, the sponsor mother snatched the child and went into hiding. Mr. Worthington had to hire a lawyer and investigators in Georgia to locate the child and to conduct yet another hearing in court. This time, the judge ordered the child permanently reuited with her family. They returned to California where they have lived good lives ever since.

WOMAN CHARGED WITH CAPITAL MURDER AND FACING POSSIBLE DEATH PENALTY AFTER KILLING HER HUSBAND ON CHRISTMAS EVE, RECEIVES VERDICT OF INVOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER

Attorneys: Thomas S. Worthington and Mr. James Michael

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On Christmas Eve a woman shot and killed her husband in front of the Hollister home that they shared with their five children. The testimony showed that after years of abuse inflicted at the hands of her husband, she had a heightened sensitivity to danger. When arguments would occur, her husband would take her out of the house to his truck where he would have control over her outside of the presence of their children. Inside the truck, he would berate and physically abuse her. On one occasion, he actually pulled her from the truck through an open window.

Over the previous few months, the woman became more and more distraught over the deterioration of her marriage and the abuse she was enduring. She was not sleeping well and was losing weight. She sought help from friends and even went to the District Attorney for help.

On Christmas Eve morning 1994, after going most of the night without sleeping, she tried to go out to do last minute shopping for her children. Unable to concentrate, she went back home. Upon returning to the house an argument began and consistent with the usual pattern her husband insisted that she come out to the truck to continue the “discussion.” Knowing what had happened in the past, she got a gun from their closet and put it in her purse. Once in the truck, the argument escalated until he angrily exited his side of the truck. Believing that he was going to come around to her side to once again drag her from the vehicle, she got the gun out and pointed it at him. She later testified that she was shaking so hard that the gun went off accidentally.

Mr. Worthington and his co-counsel James A. Michael did something very unusual for a defense team: They put on a “shotgun” defense. A shotgun defense is one where the defense puts before the jury all plausible explanations of what has happened and asks them to choose. Here, Mr. Worthington and Mr. Michael proposed four defenses:

  1. Diminished mental capacity due to lack of sleep and emotional turmoil: She put a gun in her purse because her thinking was becoming irrational and overtaken by fear.
  2. Battered woman syndrome: She got into the car with him even though she anticipated what might happen.
  3. Self-defense: She pulled the gun out and pointed it at him because she thought he was going to come around to her side of the truck and pull her out.
  4. Accident: She was shaking so badly that the gun went off accidentally. Expert testimony showed the gun had a “hair” trigger.

A shotgun defense is not usually successful, but in this case the jury was convinced that she did not intend to kill her husband and brought back a verdict of not guilty of murder and guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

The judge sentenced her to four years on the involuntary manslaughter and an additional 10 years under a new California law regarding the use of a firearm which had just been signed by the Governor 15 days before the homicide.

Mr. Worthington took an appeal, the conviction was reversed, and after a retrial, the sentence was reduced and she was granted parole.

SKELETAL REMAINS FOUND UNDER FAMILY RESIDENCE AFTER 16 YEAR OLD SON GOES MISSING

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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When the new owner of a home in North Salinas crawled under the house, she found a tennis shoe sticking up from the dirt. When she pulled on the shoe, she discovered the skeletal remains of a body.

The remains were of a 16-year-old boy who had disappeared from the home a decade before–the home he shared with his mother, sister and step-father. The step-father was ultimately arrested. Mr. Worthington represented the step-father and after a two week trial, which featured the testimony of an FBI profiler and the uncovering of police misconduct, the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict.

As part of their case, the Monterey County District Attorney used an FBI profiler who testified that it was an inside job by a person who had a motive based on interpersonal conflict. Mr. Worthington put on evidence that this same profiler had been part of the FBI profiling team that had recently profiled a case in San Diego where they had named the brother of a victim and had said it was an inside job. When another murder occurred under similar circumstances, the FBI admitted that their profiling in the San Diego case had been wrong. Under Mr. Worthington’s cross-examination, the FBI agent admitted to his part in the San Diego profiling.

Months after the body was discovered the police conducted an additional search of the garage where defendant and the boy’s mother had been living before the body was found. The police took various items from the garage, one was a baseball cap that the boy’s mother said belonged to the defendant. Suspiciously, within days after that, evidence envelopes containing trace evidence that had been collected, sealed, and stored at the Salinas Police Department in the evidence locker, were sent to the Department of Justice for analysis. As to one of them, the analyst reported the envelope had been opened and resealed “by persons unknown.” In that very envelope, and only that envelope, they found a hair that matched the defendant’s hair.

Under cross-examination by Mr. Worthington, the lead investigator admitted that he had opened the envelope and resealed it but denied he had placed anything in the envelope and said he had only opened it to see what was in it. He also claimed he had properly documented the fact that he had opened the envelope, but Mr. Worthington confronted him with his copy of the evidence log which contained no such documentation. Mr. Worthington demanded the police department’s evidence be ordered to produce the original evidence log. The Court made the order, telling the detective to bring the evidence officer and the original log to court after the noon recess.

After lunch, the evidence officer produced the original log and testified to its authenticity. Excused from the witness stand, she quickly left the courtroom, and Mr. Worthington recalled the detective. He began testifying confidently that all entries on the log were authentic until he got to the very last one–the critical entry concerning the opening of the envelope. The detective stopped in his tracks; that entry had apparently been backdated as it was off by one calendar year.

The jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict and the case resulted in a hung jury.

RAPE CHARGES DISMISSED

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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An African-American man was charged with the rape of a white woman visiting from Scotland. Mr. Worthington’s defense of this man included an investigation which spanned two continents. From information collected from other places the woman had traveled, the defense was able to present evidence at trial that she had made allegations of sexual assault on at least 19 previous occasions. After a trial that resulted in a hung jury, the District Attorney dismissed all charges.

CHARGES DISMISSED FOR MAN CHARGED WITH RAPE OF AN 8 YEAR OLD

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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A man from a prominent Carmel family was charged with the rape of an eight year old girl. The girl, then 15, had not reported the alleged rape for seven years and then only after claiming to have had “flashbacks” recalling the details. Mr. Worthington, along with the finest memory experts in the United States—Dr. Elizabeth Loftus, the leading authority on “recovered memory” (http://faculty.washington.edu/eloftus/) and her colleague Dr. Jeffrey Younggren, a professor at UCLA who had begun his clinical practice of psychology when he was a Captain in Viet Nam treating soldiers who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/) —were able to show that the claim of “recovered memory” could not be supported in this case and 10 days before trial, the District Attorney dismissed all charges.

MOLEST VICTIM CHARGED WITH ATTEMPTED MURDER OF HIS ASSAILANT RECEIVES PROBATION

Attorneys: Thomas S. Worthington and Carolyn "Charlie" Keeley

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After years of being molested and being introduced to marijuana by a state prison parolee who had moved into his neighborhood, an 18 year old young man who had never been in any kind of trouble in his life confronts his molester in the same garage where the molestations had occurred. Seemingly unprovoked at the time, the young man punched and knocked the man down and then began to kick him. The man suffered a brain injury and was in a coma for 45 days.

After the assault the young man, himself, called 911 and waited for the authorities. He was arrested on attempted murder charges.

Previously unable to tell anyone of the trauma he had suffered at the hands of his molester, the young man was finally able to tell his story of how he had been repeatedly taunted and molested in that dimly lit garage.

Mr. Worthington and his co-counsel, Mrs. Keeley, along with experts in the field of “Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome” (http://definitions.uslegal.com/c/child-sexual-abuse-accommodation-syndrome-csaas) and “Post-traumatic Stress Disorder” (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/) mounted a defense and presented to the District Attorney convincing evidence that the young man had no intent to kill and had acted irrationally and out of character as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The District Attorney’s Office and the Court agreed to accept a plea to assault and the Court granted probation with no time in jail.

In an update to this case: After serving his entire probationary term, during which he asked for no special treatment by the court or the probation department, Mrs. Keeley filed a Petition to Dismiss all Charges under Penal Code Section 1203.4. Both the Monterey County Probation Department and the Monterey County District Attorney’s office completely supported the motion. The Motion was granted by Honorable Terrance Duncan.

26 YEAR OLD MAN FACING OVER 7 YEARS IN PRISON RECEIVES PROBATION

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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Thomas Worthington was retained to handle the sentencing hearing for a 26 year old man who was convicted of possession of marijuana for sales with an enhancement for specific intent to benefit a street gang, and street terrorism. The trial was handled by another firm, and Mr. Worthington was hired after the conviction. The young man was also on probation for assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury, and therefore technically ineligible for probation. He was facing seven years and eight months in state prison.

Mr. Worthington, with the assistance of two other attorneys in the Worthington Law Centre, Brian Worthington and Chester J. Phillips, prepared an extensive sentencing memorandum which not only contained legal argument but also presented other mitigating evidence. Mr. Worthington marshaled the support of no fewer than twenty people–family, friends, former employers–who wrote letters attesting to the young man’s good character and came to court to support him. During the sentencing hearing, the young man took the stand, admitted his error for selling marijuana, but denied any gang involvement.

After lengthy argument by both Mr. Worthington and the District Attorney, who argued for a five year prison sentence, the judge–acknowledging the community support and emphasizing that our client’s supporters were themselves good citizens–ruled she had the discretion to grant probation and did so. The young man will receive probation and an opportunity to rehabilitate himself.

NOT GUILTY VERDICTS FOR CARMEL VALLEY MAN FALSELY ACCUSED OF RAPE

Attorneys: Thomas S. Worthington and Brian M. Worthington

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After a six day trial, a Salinas jury brings back not guilty verdicts on all charges against a Carmel Valley contractor falsely accused of rape.

What began as many other Friday nights for this 30 year old single man from Carmel Valley–a night out with some friends–turned out to be a nightmare. After meeting some friends for drinks in Carmel Valley, the accused and his friends went to a bar in Carmel where they met three women–one of whom had been a schoolmate of one of the accused’s friends. The men partied and danced with the three women until the bar closed and they were invited back to one of the women’s apartment.

At the apartment, one of the women engaged in a strip tease dance and invited all three men to have sex with her. When all the others had either gone home or gone to bed, our client and the woman engaged in sexual activities. But the next morning when they woke up, she immediately started screaming at him pretending not to know who he was and accused him of raping her. She began chasing him around the apartment with two knives that she got from the kitchen. All the while the others in the apartment were telling her who the man was, that they had spent the evening together, and that she did know him. He was asked to leave. He left and within minutes, the cab he was in was stopped by the police and he was arrested for rape.

He was charged by the Monterey County District Attorney with rape and sexual battery of an unconscious woman. The young man steadfastly maintained his innocence. Tom and Brian Worthington along with their defense team, including another Worthington Law Centre associate, Carolyn Keeley, and the firm’s investigator, Richard Lee, were able to prove to the jury that the woman was lying on more than one relevant point: Although four people, testified to the contrary, including her good friend, the woman denied ever having an interest in any of the men at the apartment; denied having stripped down to her bra and panties and performing for the men; denied inviting them to have sex with her. She lied to the jury about what she had told two police officers; she lied to the jury about what she was wearing to bed that evening.

In the three months it took to bring this case to trial, the woman was interviewed by two investigating officers, an examiner at the hospital, an investigator with the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office, and a deputy District Attorney. But it was not until she took the stand, under oath, that she told a story of how she was too intoxicated to consent or know what had happened to her. But this testimony was inconsistent with laboratory testing of her blood drawn just hours after the events that showed she had 0% alcohol in her system. After some suggestion that she may have taken Ecstasy, the defense presented additional laboratory tests showing that same blood sample was negative for all common “sex” drugs.

In her two day testimony, the defense completely discredited this witness. The defense argued to the jury that this woman had come to town for a “girls’ weekend,” leaving her fiancé behind. She engaged in activities that she certainly did not want her fiancé to find out about. And that when waking the next morning in her friend’s apartment with a man other than fiancé, she lied to protect her relationship.

After 45 minutes of deliberation, the jury came back with verdicts of not guilty on all counts.

To read more about this case, please see the story published in the The Carmel Pine Cone.

46 YEAR OLD HOLLISTER MAN FACING LIFE IN PRISON FOR ALLEGED CHILD MOLESTATION FOUND NOT GUILTY OF ALL CHARGES

Attorneys: Thomas S. Worthington and Brian M. Worthington

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In December, 2009, a Hollister man with no prior record was accused of having molested his niece when she was between the ages of three and eight. The niece is now 14 years old and was claiming she had seizures caused by post-traumatic stress disorder (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/ ), as a result of repressed memories of childhood sexual abuse (http://faculty.washington.edu/eloftus/). For at least six weeks she discussed with her mother and neighbor dreams she was having that she had been abused as a young child. After six weeks of these conversations she determined these were not dreams, but memories of true events. She claimed her uncle was the perpetrator.

Despite a report being made to law enforcement in January, 2010, no criminal charges were filed until summer, 2010.

Brian Worthington and Tom Worthington spent nearly two years investigating the case and developing the defense theory. The investigation and defense involved review of the entire family’s background, family court records, child protective services records, medical records, and school records. The man participated in a polygraph examination administered by a former FBI agent. He passed the examination. Preparation of the defense also involved consultation with a number of expert witnesses in the fields of diagnosis and treatment of sex-offenders, repressed memory, suggestibility of child witnesses, misuse of psychiatric diagnoses in court proceedings, and the motivations that can cause an adolescent girl to intentionally fabricate allegations of sexual abuse against a family member.

The defense investigation uncovered a wealth of medical records—none of which documented any seizure or diagnosis of PTSD. At trial Messrs. Worthington presented evidence and argument that these were fabricated medical issues used as an excuse to get out of school, and that the girl had used her “medical situation” and the child abuse story to convince her mother to be less restrictive with her boyfriends. Moreover, she had been inconsistent in her story when talking to friends and family members–with some, she denied it occurred at all; with others, she claimed another person had abused her at a different time in her life. Finally, it was discovered that the girl and her mother had destroyed documentary evidence that the Court had ordered them to maintain.

As a result of the investigative findings and the favorable polygraph examination, the Worthingtons demanded the case should be dismissed. When the District Attorney initially refused, the defense team produced a pretrial brief, complete with summaries of medical records and declarations from proposed expert witnesses, that was hundreds of pages long and renewed the demand to dismiss. After the District Attorney again refused, the case was set for trial.

The trial began October 31, 2011 and lasted nine days. During this time, the defense presented three expert witnesses and a number of character witnesses. Among the character witnesses were school teachers and a well known pediatrician in San Benito County. Each of the character witnesses testified the defendant was a good, honest man who would never harm a child. It took the jury less than three hours to deliberate before the man was found not guilty of all nine charges.

21 YEAR OLD COLLEGE STUDENT FACING YEARS IN PRISON AND LIFETIME REGISTRATION AS A SEX OFFENDER RECEIVES PROBATION AND NOT REQUIRED TO REGISTER

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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Mr. Worthington’s client was a 21-year-old college student who had had a younger girlfriend for several years. When the girl turned 15, they engaged in consentual sex on multiple occasions which can be charged as a felony under California law. The girl’s mother had approved of the relationship, but when her father found out about it, he insisted that the Monterey County District Attorney prosecute the young man. The young man was charged with multiple felonies and faced years in prison and registration as a sex offender.

After more than a year of investigation into all the surrounding circumstances, Mr. Worthington was able to convince the Monterey County District Attorney to allow the young man to plead to one count of unlawful sexual intercourse. The young man received probation, a minimal jail sentence which he was allowed to complete by doing community service; but most importantly, was not required to register as a sex offender (http://meganslaw.ca.gov/sexreg.htm).

HARTNELL COLLEGE STUDENT CHARGED WITH MURDER IN THE STABBING DEATH OF HIS BROTHER RECEIVES PROBATION

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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In the fall of 2007 two brothers came from Texas to Hartnell College where they were stars in football and basketball. The brothers came from a very religious family and they themselves were religious. During the last week of October of their first year away from home, they were expecting a visit from their mother. On the night of October 26, 2007, the older brother had just returned from choir practice and started working on a paper that was due the next day; an argument ensured over use of the computer and the younger brother wound up with a single stab wound that pierced his heart. The older brother immediately called for help and cradled his bleeding brother in his arms begging for the fire department to respond faster. When medical help arrived they tore the brothers apart and made a decision to fly the younger brother to a hospital in San Jose. By the time he arrived there he had died of his wounds and the older brother was under arrest for murder, facing life in prison.

Within three days Mr. Worthington was able to arrange bail and the young man was allowed to return home to his family in Texas. Over the next two and a half years, Mr. Worthington tirelessly prepared a defense based on absence of intent to kill. He was able to develop forensic evidence consistent with the young man’s statement that the brothers had been struggling over the computer, had fallen to the floor, and that the younger brother was holding the older brother on the floor and that he was unintentionally stabbed during the struggle.

The court ultimately allowed a plea of no contest to involuntary manslaughter and in May of 2010, after an emotion-packed sentencing hearing, the court granted probation with 365 days to be served in the Monterey County Jail. Even with good time credits the young man would not be released until January, 2011. On December 23, 2010, Mr. Worthington filed a motion for early release which the Court granted. On Christmas Eve, the young man boarded a plane in time to spend Christmas with his family.

ALL CHARGES DISMISSED FOR A LOCAL DOCTOR WHO WAS CHARGED WITH DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND FACING LOSS OF MEDICAL LICENSE AND JAIL TIME

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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Mr. Worthington represented a local physician with an impeccable reputation in his profession and a clean past record. After a series of domestic disputes, the physician was charged in court with domestic violence. After nearly a year of negotiations with the District Attorney, Mr. Worthington achieved a dismissal of all charges on the day of trial.

D BOY SPARED THE DEATH PENALTY

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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19 year old boy faced the death penalty in the stabbing of a Taco Bell employee. In October, 2007, a Taco Bell restaurant in a rural part of Monterey County was closing up when two masked men entered with guns and knives and demanded money. During the robbery, one of the employees sought safety by running into a walk-in freezer, but one of the masked men followed him and stabbed him–he later died of his wounds.

Our client previously worked at that Taco Bell and was later identified by the store manager who miraculously escaped death when the gun that was aimed at him by the other masked man misfired.

Mr. Worthington had the young man submit to a SPECT exam (http://www.mesotheliomaweb.org/mesothelioma/diagnosis/spect/ ) (a brain scan that tests for mental function and impairment) and a battery of neurological and psychological testing. Mr. Worthington was able to give demonstrative evidence, particularly in the form of images of the young man’s brain developed during the SPECT exam, to the District Attorney and the Court that there was significant impairment of the young man’s cognitive functioning, his ability to reason and to exercise good judgment, and to understand the consequences of his acts.

The District Attorney agreed to drop the death penalty in exchange for a plea to life without the possibility of parole.

ATTEMPTED MURDER OF A POLICE DETECTIVE REDUCED TO ASSAULT

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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The step-son of a local Monterey County Sheriff Detective, was arrested for attempted murder in the shooting of his step-father.

A troubled young man who struggled with alcohol and drug abuse for many years lapsed into a paranoid and delusional state and entered the family home in the middle of the night. When the step-father heard the noise in the home and got up to investigate, the defendant shot him in the face. The shot miraculously glanced off of his temple causing serious but not fatal injury.

With the support of his mother and step-father who stood by him in spite of the serious injury, Mr. Worthington was able to get the charge reduced to assault and he was sentenced to six years in prison.

PROBATION GRANTED TO WOMAN ACCUSED OF DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE FORCING A PARAMEDIC TO LEAP OFF A BRIDGE 20 FEET TO SAFETY

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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A Seaside woman was arrested on charges of felony drunk driving after seriously injuring a paramedic. The paramedic who had responded to a previous accident and was loading an injured person into an ambulance jumped off of a highway bridge 20 feet to the ground to avoid being pinned between the defendant’s car and the ambulance.

The woman was a retired educator in Monterey County with no previous record. She was a member of her local church and did charitable work through her church and other organizations. She had been a teetotaler her entire life.

A few weeks earlier while visiting her granddaughter, she was given a sweet alcoholic drink whose taste the woman liked.

On the day of the accident, while at her home in Seaside, the woman, decided to make herself one of the drinks she had had with her granddaughter. Not knowing the concentration of alcohol in this drink or its potential effects, she got into her car and drove a few miles before the accident.

She was arrested on felony drunk driving, causing serious injury to the paramedic. She immediately admitted to her wrongdoing and expressed genuine remorse. Mr. Worthington marshaled all of the mitigating circumstances surrounding this tragic event and the woman was granted probation.

NOT GUILTY--23 COUNTS OF INSURANCE FRAUD AND PERJURY

Attorneys: Thomas S. Worthington and Mr. James Michael

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After a two week jury trial the two men charged were found not guilty of 23 counts of insurance fraud and perjury. Mr. Worthington and James A. Michael, another prominent Salinas Attorney teamed up to represent one of the two men accused.

After winning a $425,000 jury verdict in a civil case they had against Kawasaki Motorcycle Company for product liability, two men were charged criminally with subordination of perjury and insurance fraud for allegedly staging the accident that resulted in the civil verdict.

After some potentially new evidence came to light, Kawasaki filed a motion for new trial in front of the Honorable Harkjoon Paik, the judge that had presided over the civil trial.

The Santa Monica law firm that had won the civil verdict against Kawasaki entered into an agreement with Kawasaki that if the two men prevailed at the criminal trial, they would drop their motion and pay the judgment in full.

After entering into this agreement, the Santa Monica law firm hired Mr. Michael and Mr. Worthington to represent one of the accused.

During the two week jury trial, the defense team brought in experts in accident reconstruction, metallurgy, mechanical engineering and geology to prove that the accident occurred when, where and how the two men testified.

The two men were acquitted of all 23 charges against them and Kawasaki paid up.

AFTER A YEAR OF INVESTIGATION BY THE DEFENSE TEAM, WORTHINGTON GETS CASE DISMISSED FOR A YOUNG MAN CHARGED WITH WEAPON CHARGES WITH GANG ENHANCEMENTS

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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After a year’s worth of work, including an exhaustive investigation by the defense that the prosecution had not done themselves, the defense presented the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office with evidence that proved the defendant in this case could not have committed the crime. In fact, the defense handed to the District Attorney the identity of the two men that did commit the crime.

The accused was a young adult male, who as a youth had been involved in gang activities, convicted of a felony resulting in one strike under California’s Three Strikes Law (http://www.lao.ca.gov/analysis_1995/3strikes.html ) Here, the young man was charged with felon in possession of a firearm, possession of a stolen firearm, evading the police, gang enhancements. He was identified by a Salinas Police officer who testified that he was “positive, unless he has a twin brother.” After an extensive nine month investigation, the defense found the “twin brother,” a man whose facial appearance was indistinguishable from that of the defendant and who was associated with the driver of the car.

The defendant had proclaimed his innocence from the moment of his arrest at his home in Monterey more than 30 days after the crime had occurred. With the assistance of one of his co-workers, and a forensic computer expert, the defense was able to show proof positive that the defendant was using his computer and telephone in his office in Monterey at a time that would make it impossible for him to have been committing a crime in Salinas, 29 miles away.

After Mr. Worthington presented his 300 page investigative report to the District Attorney and after a three week delay of the previously scheduled jury trial, a motion to dismiss all charges against the young man was granted by the Court.

The defense then filed a Petition for Finding of Factual Innocence which the judge initially denied saying it was still “possible” that he could have committed the crime. That was the wrong standard, and Mr. Worthington appealed. The Court of Appeal reversed the decision and sent the case back to the court for reconsideration. The judge then spent months rewriting the opinion to satisfy the Court of Appeal. Distancing himself from his original conclusions—which were not supported by the law or the evidence—the judge denied the Petition. Mr. Worthington appealed again, but this time the Court of Appeal affirmed the judge’s decision.

19 YEAR OLD DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED MEXICAN IMMIGRANT CHARGED WITH FORCIBLE RAPE AND FACING PRISON AND DEPORTATION, RECEIVES MISDEMEANOR TREATMENT AFTER ATTORNEYS ARGUE HE HAD BEEN DENIED DUE PROCESS OF LAW

Attorneys: Thomas S. Worthington -- Research and Legal Writing Prepared By: Brian M. Worthington

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Mr. Thomas Worthington represented a 19-year old Mexican immigrant with low grade developmental disabilities charged with statutory rape of a 14-year old girl. The sex act was not forcible. The girl became pregnant as a result. The young man was facing a lengthy prison sentence, mandatory deportation, and lifetime registration as a sex offender, despite the girl’s desire to have him involved in the child’s life.

The case involved lengthy pretrial negotiations aimed at preventing mandatory deportation so that the young man could assist in raising his child. After these negotiations failed, Mr. Worthington assigned the task of drafting a motion to dismiss the charge for Denial of Due Process to his then-law clerk, Brian Worthington. Mr. Brian Worthington drafted the motion, arguing that refusal to consider the young man’s immigration consequences was a violation of Due Process when other “collateral consequences” are often considered in pretrial negotiations.

After Tom Worthington submitted the motion, the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor. The young man avoided deportation and a prison sentence.

Since Brian Worthington drafted this motion, other attorneys have approached him about using his research and arguments. Versions of his brief have been filed by other criminal defense and immigration attorneys in Monterey County Superior Court, the Sixth District Court of Appeal, and the Washington State Supreme Court.

SOUTH MONTEREY COUNTY MAN RELIEVED OF LIFETIME SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION REQUIREMENT

Attorneys: Thomas S. Worthington -- Research, Legal Writings and Argument by: Brian M. Worthington, who, at the time was a “Certified Law Student” in his second year of law school.

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A man from South Monterey County had been previously convicted of a sex crime that did not involve touching a child or possession of child pornography. The offense included mandatory lifetime registration as a sex offender (http://meganslaw.ca.gov/sexreg.htm), despite the lack of any previous convictions.

In his second-year of law school, Mr. Brian Worthington, petitioned the California State Bar for “Certified Law Student” status. This status allows second and third year law school students to handle matters in court under the supervision of a licensed California Attorney. His request was granted.

In his first assignment at the Worthington Law Centre, Mr. Worthington was to research and argue for post-conviction relief. After extensive research, Mr. Worthington petitioned the Monterey County Court to relieve the man from the registration requirement. During a lengthy hearing before Honorable Gary Meyer, during which the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office objected to any relief, Mr. Worthington argued that mandatory sex offender registration for this crime violated the man’s right to Equal Protection because statutory rape and oral copulation did not require mandatory sex offender registration, despite the aggravated nature of those offenses. Mr. Worthington’s motion was granted and the man was relieved of the requirement to register as a sex offender.

It is believed Brian Worthington’s was the first motion of its kind granted in Monterey County, and among the first in Northern California. Since this time, numerous other attorneys in Monterey County have contacted Mr. Worthington for guidance on handling this issue.

PRISON GUARD STABS AND KILLS HUSBAND, FACES CHARGES OF FIRST DEGREE MURDER AND A POSSIBLE SENTENCE OF LIFE IN PRISON, RECEIVES 7 YEARS IN PRISON

Attorneys: Thomas S. Worthington and Brian M. Worthington

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As a result of a domestic dispute on New Year’s Day, a 24 year old prison guard stabbed her husband in the chest in front of his two young children. The man later died. The woman faced life in prison. Tom and Brian Worthington teamed up to defend this young woman.

With the assistance of experts in the field of forensic pathology, biomechanics and Intimate Partner Battering (more commonly known as “battered woman syndrome”), Messrs Worthington developed a defense based on Intimate Partner Battering (http://www.rainn.org/get-information/effects-of-sexual-assault/battered-woman-syndrome) and argued to the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office that the history of abuse in the relationship caused the woman to arm herself during an argument, in hopes that the presence of a weapon would make her husband stop abusing her. They also argued that the kinetics of the event showed the stabbing could not have been intentional and premeditated, but was instead reflexive and a product of her fear of abuse.

Days before the case was to go to trial, the Monterey County District Attorney agreed to reduce the charge of first degree murder to a charge of voluntary manslaughter. The woman was sentenced to seven years in prison.

COACH FROM ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON SCHOOL CHARGED WITH MURDER OF HIS DAUGHTER'S BOYFRIEND CONVICTED OF LESSER OFFENSE OF VOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER

Attorneys: Thomas S Worthington and Carolyn Keeley

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A well known and respected coach at Robert Louis Stevenson School was charged with the murder of his daughter’s boyfriend. The man’s daughter and boyfriend had a tumultuous relationship. They had been living together off and on for two years. They had an infant son together. On many occasions the daughter called her father for assistance in resolving arguments or to help her in move out of the residence she shared with her boyfriend. The man always came to her aid. At the same time, because the boyfriend was the father of his grandchild, the man repeatedly set aside his ill feelings and tried to give guidance to the young man. But there were also angry confrontations, including on the day of the homicide.

After receiving a disturbing call from his daughter asking him to come pick up the baby, he arrived at the apartment his daughter and the young man shared. He believe his daughter was in distress and wanted to help. He left his wife, and two grandchildren in the truck while he went to the apartment in an attempt to talk to the boyfriend and to see what was happening. The daughter followed him. When he got into the apartment, the boyfriend charged the man with a baseball bat. In fear of his life and the life of his daughter and grandchildren, the man went to his pickup and got a gun. The young man continued to come at him with the bat. The man fired the gun several times and hit the young man in the forehead with one bullet. Paramedics were called to the scene, but it was too late, the young man was already dead. The police were called and the man was arrested on charges of first degree murder, a charge that carried a potential sentence of life in prison for this man who had never been in trouble with the law.

Mr. Thomas Worthington and his associate, Mrs. Carolyn Keeley, waived jury trial and went to a court trial in front of Honorable Terrance Duncan. The defense made many pretrial motions which would ultimately affect the results of the case, one of which was researched and written by Brian Worthington: A motion to oppose the District Attorney’s theory that the man could be charged with “second degree felony murder.” Brian Worthington wrote a motion arguing that there was no such charge, specifically not on the facts of this case.

After a three day court trial during which the defense maintained that the shooting had been in defense of the man and his daughter–that he had acted in protection of his daughter as any father would–the judge reached a verdict of the lesser offense of voluntary manslaughter. The man was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

ALL CHARGES DISMISSED AFTER MAN CHARGED WITH MURDERING A WOMAN 15 YEARS EARLIER

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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In 1987 a man was charged with the 1972 murder of a young woman in Carmel Valley. At the time, it was the oldest case ever brought to trial in California. Mr. Worthington represented the man and notwithstanding a supposed “jail house confession” the jury voted 10 to 2 for acquittal. The District Attorney later dismissed all charges.

Within a short time of the girl’s disappearance, her partially decomposed body was uncovered in a Carmel Valley riverbed. Mr. Worthington’s client was a suspect from the beginning because he had a romantic relationship with the young woman. However, no arrest occurred until 15 years later, when our client was in jail on a minor offense and supposedly made a jailhouse confession.

The prosecution’s theory was that our client and the victim had engaged in sex and then he killed her; but one piece of evidence found at the scene was torn panties, and the defense’s theory was that the girl had been raped by someone else and killed. The murder occurred long before DNA evidence, and no samples remained by the time of trial to exonerate our client or identify the true perpetrator.

By the time the case was brought to trial witnesses had spread all over the country. In fact, one was in the military stationed in Guam. Mr. Worthington’s legal team conducted a yearlong investigation to round up the witnesses and bring them to California to testify. The defense witnesses and the defendant, himself, testified that he had had a romantic relationship with the deceased girl and had never wished her any harm.

The trial occurred at the height of a scandal over manufactured jailhouse confessions. Inmates desiring favorable treatment in their own cases had developed a cottage industry in the California jails and prison system—often aided and abetted by police detectives anxious to close out cases—where the inmate would get just enough information about a crime to then “drop a dime” on the target inmate. Mr. Worthington’s cross examination of the informant in this case showed how the process worked, and the defendant denied that he had made any such confession to the other inmate. After two days of deliberations, the jury was deadlocked. Because the vote was 10 to 2 for acquittal, and because of the serious credibility problems with the informant, the District Attorney dismissed all charges without a retrial.

MAN CONFESSES TO MURDER, JURY FINDS HIM NOT GUILTY

Attorney: Thomas S. Worthington

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In Santa Cruz County, a transient man was charged with the brutal murder of a well-known dentist and with assault and attempted murder of a houseguest of the dentist. The man’s fingerprints were found at the scene and on multiple occasions he confessed to his girlfriend of committing, not only this crime, but of committing other murders–one in a prison in Michigan and at least one while serving in Viet Nam. Mr. Worthington was able to show that the man had never been in Michigan and had never served in Viet Nam.

In his representation of the man, Mr. Worthington gathered strong evidence showing the likelihood that another person actually committed the crime and successfully invoked the “Compulsive Confessor” defense.

On the witness stand, the defendant admitted that he was present and that he had confessed to committing the murders. He also admitted to the jury—as he had to the police—that on multiple occasions he had confessed to his girlfriend. But he said he had only “confessed” to impress her.

There were four key pieces of evidence in the case: The “confessions” by the defendant; testimony from the surviving victim that the perpetrator had bad teeth; testimony from a neighbor that a car with a loud muffler had fled the scene; and, testimony by a jail inmate that a cellmate had confessed to him.

The defendant did have bad teeth and, when added to the confessions, the District Attorney thought he had an airtight case. That’s not how it worked out.

The jailhouse snitch told our investigator that while incarcerated in Santa Cruz, his cell mate admitted he had done the murder. The man said he had shared this information with the police but they were not interested in hearing it. This information presented the mirror image of a case only three years earlier where Mr. Worthington successfully challenged the reliability of supposed “jailhouse confessions,” and so the defense embarked on an arduous investigation seeking corroboration. By the time the defense assembled sufficient corroboration, the man had been transferred to a prison in Oklahoma. Mr. Worthington went to Oklahoma to talk to him. He agreed to testify, and was transported in custody across the country back to Santa Cruz. On the stand, he repeated the story he had told to the police and to our investigator.

Next, Mr. Worthington brought in the person who had made the “jailhouse confession.” Although he took the Fifth and refused to testify, Mr. Worthington got an order from the judge that he show his teeth to the jury. He did so. His crooked teeth were exactly like those described by the living witness.

Finally, we completed the circle with evidence about the car with the loud muffler. Several hours after the homicide, the police had taken pictures of a car abandoned within two miles of the scene. One picture just happened to show a hole in the muffler. We brought to the witness stand the neighbor who told about “a car with a loud muffler” speeding away in the middle of the night. Then we introduced DMV records. The car was registered to the same man as Mr. Worthington called to the stand for the display of his bad teeth.

After two hours of deliberation, the jury acquitted on all counts. Several jurors shook the defendant’s hand as they left the courtroom, and two female jurors hugged him and wished him well.