Reading PeopleDimitrius & Associates past cases

Jury Convicts Paul Flores

Dimitrius & Associates was proud to work with the prosecution on this case.

A jury convicted Paul Flores of murdering college student Kristin Smart in 1996

The last man seen with Kristin Smart was convicted Tuesday of killing the college freshman, who vanished from a California campus more than 25 years ago, but his father was acquitted of helping him conceal the crime.

Jurors unanimously found Paul Flores guilty of first-degree murder. A jury in a separate trial found his father, Ruben Flores, not guilty of charges of being an accessory to murder after the fact. The conflicting verdicts were read moments apart in the same courtroom.

Read the full article on NPR »

Brazil probe violated ex-President Lula’s rights

Dimitrius & Associates was honored to be part of Lula’s legal team.

U.N. committee finds Brazil graft probe violated Lula’s rights

The U.N. human rights committee said on Thursday that Brazil graft investigators violated due process in bringing a case against former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva that led to his imprisonment and barred him from running for office in 2018.

The finding follows a decision last year by Brazil’s Supreme Court to annul his corruption conviction, allowing him to run for president again in this October’s election.

Read the full article on Reuters »

Kyle Rittenhouse found not guilty on all counts

In one of the final trials of 2021, Dimitrius & Associates was honored to assist Mark Richards and Corey Chirafisi in the defense of Kyle Rittenhouse.

Kyle Rittenhouse found not guilty on all counts

A Wisconsin jury on Friday found Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty in the fatal shooting of two men during protests in Kenosha last year, capping a trial that touched on issues of gun rights and race.

Rittenhouse, 18, from nearby Antioch, Illinois, was cleared on all five charges related to his actions on Aug. 25 last year, during protests over the shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, by a white Kenosha police officer.

Read the full article on NBC News »

Jury Awards Singaporean Plastics Co. $14.5M

Dimitrius & Associates was proud to be a part of this victory for SinCo.

Ropers Majeski Secures $14.5M Jury Verdict for Tech Manufacturer in Trademark Infringement Case

Ropers Majeski, a multi-national law firm representing clients in litigation and transactions internationally, secured a $14.5 million trademark infringement jury verdict in the U.S. Court for the Northern District of California (N.D. Cal) on November 17 for client SinCo Technologies (SINCO), a Singapore-based supplier to tier-one OEM consumer electronic tech companies. Litigation Partner Lael Andara led the Ropers Majeski trial team.

“We’re grateful that the jury unanimously and clearly understood and agreed with our assertion that initial interest confusion occurred,” said Andara. “Ultimately, such willful behavior stifles innovation, slows product development, chills entrepreneurialism, and has the potential to impact the end consumer experience negatively. Hopefully, this substantial verdict serves as a deterrent to similar activity in the future.”

SINCO sued its contract manufacturer Sinco Electronics (Dongguan) Co. (subsidiary of Jinlong Machinery & Electronics Co., Ltd.), now called “XINGKE,” for trademark infringement on Sept. 22, 2017, in N.D. Cal. XINGKE claimed an affirmative defense of abandonment. SINCO initially granted its contract manufacturer XINGKE a geographically limited license to use its trademark in China within the scope of work for SINCO before 2016. XINGKE was acquired by a competitor of SINCO in 2016, under the direction of Mui Liang Tjoa.

Shortly after the acquisition, SINCO learned its employees Mark Liew and Cy Ng, who were stationed in China to oversee SINCO’s interests at the factory, had traveled to the United States to meet with SINCO’s customers—without the knowledge and permission of SINCO. Before resigning from SINCO, defendants Liew and Ng introduced Tjoa to SINCO customers in the U.S. during several unauthorized visits in 2016 and 2017. XINGKE and its agents used SINCO’s trademarks registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the previous relationship of its employees to divert SINCO’s business to China. In 2018, Federal Judge Edward Chen issued a preliminary injunction banning the defendants from using “SinCo” and “SinCoo.”

Read the full article on Yahoo! »

Good Morning America: Deciding Derek Chauvin’s Fate

A diverse jury made up of five men and seven women of varying ages and races will decide if the former officer is responsible for the death of George Floyd. ABC News Senior Legal Correspondent and Analyst Sunny Hostin and jury and trial consultant Jo-Ellan Dimitrius discuss the charges the jury is considering and signs to look out for as they deliberate.

Dimitrius & Associates consults on George Floyd Civil Suit

In the largest pre-trial civil rights wrongful death settlement in US history, the City of Minneapolis and police officers settled the George Floyd civil lawsuit for $27 million. A portion of the settlement, $500,000, has been set aside to enhance the memorial site where George Floyd died. Dimitrius & Associates is proud to have been retained and consulted by the George Floyd legal team.

Court TV on the Death of George Floyd Murder Trial

Dr. Jo-Ellan Dimitrius discusses jury selection for the death of George Floyd murder trial.

Who Is That Masked Witness?

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted conversations in the legal community covering methods in which all participants (litigants, judges, lawyers, jurors and witnesses) can be potentially protected from an unseen virus.  The conversation, however, hasn’t included the rights of those litigants to have a fair evaluation of witnesses speaking for or against them.  It also hasn’t included the defendant’s rights under the Sixth Amendment’s confrontation clause of the U.S. Constitution.

None of us have been exempt from the mask wearing travails of our current time.  How many of us have been at a grocery store, post office or bank with our mask on trying to communicate with others?  How many times have you heard “I’m sorry can you repeat that again”, or “can you speak louder I can’t hear you” or “what did you just say” (improperly implying that you said something inappropriate)?

As the courts begin to reopen there have been a lot of suggestions as to how to protect all courtroom participants.  One of the most egregious has been the suggestion that all witnesses who testify should don a mask.  What in the world are those people thinking?  Let’s just go ahead and put the witness on the stand with a paper bag over their head.  What ever happened to following jury instructions dealing with the credibility of a witness?

1.7 of the Federal Model Criminal Jury Instructions say:

“In deciding the facts in this case, you may have to decide which testimony to believe and which testimony not to believe.  You may believe everything a witness says, or part of it, or none of it.

In considering the testimony of any witness, you may take into account:

(3) the witness’s manner while testifying;”

The “witness’s manner while testifying” clearly means the demeanor of the witness.  Demeanor incorporates appearance, behavior, facial expressions, body language, intonation (vocal tone), etc.

Let’s look at the pure physics of having a witness wearing a mask.   In essence, the mask acts as a physical barrier between the voice and facial expressions of the witness and the ears and eyes of the jurors.  How will that mask impact how a soft-spoken witness is perceived?  How will it impact a mumbling witness?  One can certainly argue that the mask can potentially conceal significant deviations in the witness’s vocal traits.

The recipient(s) of the testimony would also not have the advantage of seeing potential “tells”.  By tells, I reference nervous smiling, mouth agape, biting the lip, licking the lip, etc.

How can one clearly judge another with a mask on?  The mask hides the mouth, nose and the lower ½ of the face.  Are the jurors’ mind readers who can assume what position the mouth is in while that person testifies?

Sadly in attempting to protect the health of the witness, the ability for a jury or judge to evaluate the credibility and veracity of a witness is significantly reduced if not voided.   The normal ability to see the entirety of a witness’s face eliminates the ability of a juror or judge to decode facial clues.  Ultimately, there is a clear denial of a defendant’s right to confrontation of a witness.

In a fascinating and timely article by Scott Grubman for Law 360 (July 9, 2020), the author talks about factors previously considered by courts as they relate to facial disguises.  The first was a ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (United States v. Nasser) in which the court allowed six undercover intelligence officers to testify with wigs and “light makeup” in order to protect their identities.  The court indicated that the officers could only do so if the makeup and wigs didn’t restrict the jury’s or defendant’s ability “to view the witnesses’ full facial expressions.”

Let’s take a quick test with a witness wearing a mask:

Is this photo illustrative of someone with a slight frown?

Is this photo illustrative of someone with a sneer?

Is this photo illustrative of someone with a slight smile?

Is this photo illustrative of someone in shock?

Is this photo illustrative of someone sticking their tongue out?

As Paul Harvey would say, here’s the rest of the story:

Trial lawyers in both criminal and civil cases will need to seriously discuss these issues with the court in which their trials will convene.  Ultimately, the courts need to balance the perceived health and safety of witnesses with the Sixth Amendment guarantee of a defendant’s right to confrontation of witnesses.

Photos: Chazz Layne

Considerations for Home Jury Service

The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees that an “accused shall enjoy a speedy
and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been
committed.” The COVID-19 pandemic has created the potential for an environment in which
courts are seriously considering home jury service as an option to bringing jurors into the
courthouse. In fact, a recent Texas court conducted a non-binding arbitration in which all the
jurors used a Zoom online platform for their “courtroom.” The jury selection and trial were
conducted solely online in one day.

The impartial jury over the years has come to mean a jury that is a fair cross-section of the
community or community conscience within the particular venue of the trial. Historically,
lawyers have filed a Challenge to the Array motion if there is a foundation/belief that a jury
panel is not representative of the community. Traditionally, demographic characteristics such
as gender, age and ethnicity have been cited as either missing or being unrepresented in these
types of motions. The remedy has been to disqualify and release the entire jury panel and
begin the process of jury selection once again which is time consuming and costly to a court
system that is already stretched too thin.

In addition to demographic factors, there may now exist a basis to challenge an entire panel on
use of computers and the internet at home. Shouldn’t a true cross-section of the community
include a juror/jurors who don’t have use of the internet within the home? According to a 2019
Pew research study, “10% of adults in the United States don’t use the internet.” This was a
longitudinal study from March 2000 to January 2019 in which 102 surveys and 237,421
interviews were conducted among the general public in the United States.

There are a number of considerations related to computer/internet usage that the courts
should take into account when making decisions about reopening the courts to jurors or not.
First, the geography of the venue should be analyzed. Studies have shown that individuals that
live in rural settings are much less likely to have computers in their home much less use the

Second, demographic factors should also be contemplated in the courts’ analysis. It is generally
known that seniors are much less likely to go online. Education as a demographic factor is also
an important consideration. As of 2019, 29% of individuals in the United States with a less than
high education didn’t use the internet.

Third, it’s important to note in the Pew research study that 32% of the internet non-users
indicated that it was “too difficult to use.” And the court system is now considering online jury
service wherein a platform such as Zoom is being suggested as the manner in which jurors can
serve their civic duty?

Finally, what hasn’t been addressed aside from the representativeness argument is the lack of
outside influences from a juror who might be serving jury duty from home. What occurs when
a family member or family pet wanders into the room in which the juror is watching court
proceedings on a computer screen? What may the juror be looking at onscreen as they’ve
minimized the “court viewing screen?” The juror could potentially be having multiple email or
text conversations while the trial is taking place. Perhaps they’re looking up litigant or lawyer
information in direct conflict with a judge’s instructions? How is a judge to reprimand a juror
who manages to take a much longer break away from the screen for either the morning court
break, lunch, or the afternoon court break? In addition, the juror’s attention span will be
significantly lessened due to so many distractions that occur within the home. Imagine the
travails of a multi-day/week online trial with twelve jurors plus alternates. This is an absolute
recipe for disaster.

Should courts decide to go the route of home jury service, trial lawyers, particularly in criminal
cases, may be remiss in not exploring the use of Challenge to the Array motions based on the
potential lack of jury members representing community consciousness.

Court TV with Ashleigh Banfield and Dr. Jo-Ellan Dimitrius

Dr. Jo-Ellan Dimitrius discusses the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia.