Yesterday, I ran into Assistant State Attorney Mark Interlicchio as he stepped into the elevator I was riding. Between the 12th and 7th floors, he mentioned that a domestic violence case he was handling was about to get JOA'd in Judge Richard Conrad's courtroom. I was training a volunteer, so I got her situated in a courtroom on the 7th floor and went back up to Judge Conrad's a few minutes later.
But what happens if the prosecutor leaves the courtroom for a few minutes to research caselaw and fails to return?
JOA is legalese lingo for Judgment of Acquittal. After the State has presented its case in a trial, the jury is excused and the Defense makes a motion for Judgment of Acquittal, citing the areas in which they believe the State failed to prove their case. The judge then decides, based on the facts presented thus far, whether or not the jury will deliberate on the charges as presented. Sometimes a charge is reduced (for instance, if someone is charged with grand theft but the State fails to prove the value of the items stolen reached a certain threshold, the charge might be dropped to petit theft). Sometimes a charge is dropped altogether. Most of the time, the Motion for JOA is denied.I'll tell you what happens. The judge grants the defense motion.
At 1:25 pm the jury was excused, the Motion for JOA was heard, and Mr. Interlicchio was given 5 minutes to produce caselaw to support his argument.
At 1:40 pm I arrived in the courtroom wherein the defendant, his attorney, court deputies, the court reporter and the judge were patiently awaiting the prosecutor's return.
At 1:48 pm Judge Conrad asked the court reporter what time they had recessed. He expressed his extreme irritation at the prosecutor's failure to return.
At 1:57 pm the judge asked Defense Counsel, Mark Lippman, if he had a motion. He reiterated his Motion for JOA and it was granted because, as Judge Conrad noted for the record, "the Assistant State's Attorney has absented himself to research an issue he should have researched the night before."
The defendant, Andrew Michael Phillips, age 35, had his case dropped.
There was back slapping and smiles at the defense table.
I left a few moments later.
CourtWatch finds Mr. Interlicchio's behavior extremely irresponsible. He was not adequately prepared for trial and he disrespected his colleagues by not returning in a timely manner (or notifying the court of his status).
Finally, Mr. Interlicchio taught Mr. Phillips that the courts will not hold him accountable for his crimes.
Just to provide a little perspective, here's some history on the defendant:
1/8/09 offense: Osceola County case 2009-MM-000175
Charged with misdemeanor battery. Jury found defendant guilty. Sentenced to 28 days jail + probation. A Violation of Probation was charged in October and dismissed in February.
1/29/09 offense: Orange County case 2009-MM-001093-A-O
Charged with misdemeanor battery. Case dismissed.
4/14/09 offense: Orange County case 2009-CF-005484-A-O
Charged with Felony Battery but pled to misdemeanor battery & sentenced to 12 months probation, 25 hours community service, and to write an apology letter to the victim.
A Violation of Probation is pending for this case and a DUI case.
9/19/09 offense: Orange County case 2009-CF-015403-A-O
Charged with Felony Battery - Motion for JOA granted. Prosecutor's antics noted above.
10/10/09 offense: Osecola County case 2009-MM-004175
Charged with Battery-DV and Battery. Victim filed a declination of prosecution and case was dropped 2 weeks later.
PS: I learned that Mr. Interlicchio subsequently returned to the courtroom after I left.