Phillip A. Linder
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by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization

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Guilty, times two

Earlier this week, a Southlake man was found guilty of bank fraud. The significance of this situation is that this is not the first time in the past two years that the defendant has been found guilty. It's the second time since 2013.

Mistakes made by the prosecution led to the new trial, where a verdict was rendered on Nov. 5. The same federal judge presided over both trials and found earlier this year that the prosecutor in the first trial “exhibited a reckless disregard for her duties and conducted the proceedings in an irresponsible manner.”

It's fairly well-known that being found guilty of federal bank fraud is a serious conviction. But, when a judge finds fault in the prosecution’s case, it can be a positive development for the one accused of the crime. Unfortunately for the Southlake man, he still awaits sentencing. That is scheduled for February 2015.

The 2014 trial involved the same evidence from the 2013 trial. So, what went wrong in the first place to cause the first trial to be thrown out? One simple thing: failure to provide all documentation to the defense counsel.

In federal trials, prosecutors turn over evidence. This means all evidence must go to the defense counsel. However, in this particular situation, the defense argued that a specific document that could have helped the defense's argument was not handed over.

Now, the prosecutor awaits her fate and her future. If it is found that she violated the law, she could be forced to pay for the defendant's legal expenses for the second trial.

This situation shows you how intricate and complex the federal trial process actually is. Prosecutors are not immune to mistakes, and no one should be convicted on faulty evidence or because of technical errors. Choosing legal counsel is important, and truly can have an effect on the outcome of a trial.

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