One of my clients who had been wrongfully accused of, and charged with, Failure to Report Child Neglect recently received a significant monetary award resulting from a jury verdict in her lawsuit against the city of Tulsa for malicious prosecution.
A few years ago, I wrote a post regarding Laura Fox's criminal case and subsequent dismissal. Laura and her husband had contacted me in need of representation. She maintained that she was wrongfully accused, and I believed her. Acting quickly, I was ultimately able to get the charges dismissed. We then moved forward with expunging the case from her record.
Earlier this month, the situation came around full circle, as she was awarded $225,000.00 from the city of Tulsa in her lawsuit for malicious prosecution.
I know this has been a long, hard road for Laura, and I am so happy that the judicial system has finally acknowledged the pain and suffering she endured as a result of unfair and unfounded allegations which threatened to ruin her reputation and good name.
I had the pleasure and honor of testifying on Laura's behalf. It is always difficult to be subjected to cross-examination and the scrutiny of the judicial system. Still, I was very happy to be able to assist. As I tell everyone who hires me: "Once a client...always a client."
It is not easy, by any stretch of the word, to prevail on a claim of prosecutorial misconduct. I only practice criminal law, so I have never personally filed a civil lawsuit like Laura's; regardless, I have had other clients who have tried with varying levels of success and defeat.
Even though Mrs. Fox has been vindicated to a certain degree, the pain and embarrassment of being arrested and charged with a crime never truly go away, and no amount of money can fix the lasting impression a criminal investigation can cause. Even to this day, the original news story of her arrest is still available online. In fact, it is the first result that shows when you search for her name.
Sure, the Tulsa World was professional and respectful enough to put a link updating any potential readers to her jury verdict and award, but that does not mask the sting. After all, how many people actually click on the story when the search result gives you a snippet to start with?
At the end of the day, Laura Fox now has not only a dismissal and expungement of the wrongful allegations levied against her by the City of Tulsa and the Tulsa County District Attorney's Office, but she also has a jury verdict showing that her peers and fellow citizens of Tulsa County acknowledged that she was wrongfully charged and prosecuted. It will never completely erase the past, but it is about all you can ask for in a situation like this.
It is important to note that not every criminal case which is dismissed will result in a monetary award. It is extremely rare that a malicious prosecution lawsuit will end in a settlement, much less a jury verdict in favor of the criminally accused. This has been an ongoing battle for Laura and her civil attorney. They faced the government, and they won.
Sadly, that does not happen every day. It doesn't even happen every time it should. Too many cases fall through the cracks, and too many people are bullied and pressured into giving up.
Regardless, Mrs. Fox's case is a great example of why I do this job, and why I love my career. Criminal defense lawyers are just another part of the system; however, with hard work, dedication, and diligence, we are able to right the wrongs and make a real difference in the lives of good people caught in bad circumstances.