Landmark Criminal Defense Cases of the Law Offices of Richard W. Springer
These are some of the many cases of the Law Offices of Richard W. Springer, in which Mr. Springer and associate defense attorney Catherine M. Mazzullo did work for the individuals who hired them.
The following is a list of some of the cases Mr. Springer has handled at both of the appellate levels:
1. Bruce Belvin v. State of Florida, Florida Supreme Court Case Number SC07-32, 4th DCA Case Number 4D04-4235, Palm Beach Court Appellate Division Case Number 02-11 ACA02, Palm Beach County Trial Court Case Number 98-16779 TC A08. Belvin shows Mr. Springer's tenacity in proceeding on a case until it is won. In Belvin at the Trial Court level the Defendant was convicted of DUI The case was tried in 2002 and was governed by a law that went into effect in the early 1990's where the State was allowed to get a breathalyzer in evidence by merely presenting the arresting officer who would bring along an Affidavit from the breath technician who gave the Defendant the breathalyzer test stating that a good job was done on the giving of the breathalyzer test and the machine was properly maintained and setting forth the breath test results. Mr. Springer objected to the introduction of the breath during the trial based on the Confrontation Clause of the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Florida which gives defendants the right to confront and cross examine the witnesses against them. However, this rather unfair statute that was passed by the Florida Legislature's sternness on DUI attempted to take away rights of defendants by having the breathalyzer come into evidence based on a mere piece of paper that the Defendant could not cross examine. The court system allowed that unfair practice to go on for over ten (10) years. When the Defendant was convicted in the Trial Court Mr. Springer appealed to the Circuit Court which initially ruled in the Defendant's favor and indicated that the procedure was unfair because the breathalyzer operator in this particular case had left the State and no one could locate her. The Circuit Court before the opinion became final realized that the chaos that this would cause in the court system and changed its mind and withdrew its opinion and ruled against the Defendant. Mr. Springer did not give up and took the case to the Fourth District Court of Appeal which ruled in the Defendant's favor. The Forth District Court of Appeals certified the issue to the Florida Supreme Court as a matter of great public importance and the Supreme Court which also issued an opinion stating that Mr. Springer was correct. This case altered the course of every DUI trial in the State of Florida by being the first case in the history of DUI prosecution in the State of Florida where the Court ruled that the breath technician had to appear in every single trial. The decision became binding on every DUI trial court in the entire State of Florida.
2. State v. Clark - The Defendant was charged with D.U.I. Manslaughter, a second degree felony. This was one of the earliest D.U.I. Manslaughters in the State where the State attempted to use medical blood records. The records were suppressed by the Trial Judge as being unlawfully obtained but the Trial Judge ruled that the records could be used after proper notice was given to the Defendant and the records were subpoenaed a second time. The Defendant was thrown from a 1965 Mustang convertible with a nitrous oxide fuel system that went airborne when it hit a bump in the road at tremendous speeds and then struck a light pole. The Defendant survived the accident and the other occupant of the vehicle did not. The State had considerable difficulty proving that the Defendant was the driver and not the other passenger. The case was complex due to two expert medical examiners and one blood splatter expert testifying regarding proof or lack thereof that the Defendant was the driver as opposed to the passenger. The Defendant was convicted, the case was appealed and was one of the two leading cases in the State of Florida that determined that once medical records were unlawfully obtained, they could never be used. The Defendant's conviction and 11 year sentence was reversed and without the medical blood evidence, the State offered the Defendant 15 years probation with no incarceration, which was accepted. State v. Clark, 705 So.2d 1057 (4th DCA, 1998) (Palm Beach County Circuit Court, Criminal Felony Division, Case No. 94-5153-CF.)
3. State v. Tagner - The Defendant was charged with D.U.I. Manslaughter. The Defendant was going to go home from a bar and realized that he should not be driving home. He wanted to move his truck to a well-lit area of the parking lot and let someone else drive him home, and in the process backed over and killed an individual leaving the bar and going to her car. The Defendant had a .10 blood alcohol level and traces of cocaine in his system, and the victim had a .23 blood alcohol level. Due to trial preparation, the defense showed that the State could not prove a measurable effect of the cocaine on the Defendant and that due to the location at which the Defendant's car struck the victim, the accident may arguably have been the sole fault of the victim, thus negating a manslaughter charge. Due to said preparation, the State negotiated a probationary plea with no jail. (Palm Beach County Circuit Court, Criminal Felony Division, Case No. 94-004238 CF A02.)
4. State v. Christopher Walk, Case Number: 03-010173TCA99 and State v. Wayne Pyper, Case Number 01-029325MMA08. These cases both involved defendants who were over the legal limit at the time the breathalyzer test was given. Mr. Springer convinced both juries that the State could not prove that either individual was impaired and that even though the readings were over .08 at the time of the test, the State did not successfully prove that the individuals were over .08 at the time of the driving.
5. In State v. John Flanagan, Case Numbers 03-001731TCA02, 03-010123TCA02 and 05-TC018339AMB. Mr. Springer won trials for three separate D.U.I's for the same client. In the first two case numbers, Mr. Flanagan had two D.U.I's pending at the same time. One took place in January 2003 and one took place in April 2003. The first case was still pending when the second arrest took place. In the January arrest, Mr. Flanagan was found guilty by a jury but Mr. Springer convinced the Trial Judge to exercise the rarely used right of the Judge to act as the "seventh juror" to overrule and set aside the jury's verdict and grant a new trial. Mr. Springer convinced the trial Judge that even though the jury had found the Defendant guilty, that the evidence was insufficient to allow the conviction to stand. Mr. Springer thereafter proceeded to trial on the April 2003 arrest and Mr. Flanagan was found not guilty. Mr. Springer then proceeded on the retrial of the January arrest and Mr. Flanagan was found not guilty and therefore ultimately prevailed on both cases even though two were pending at the same time. He was arrested again for D.U.I two years later and was found not guilty again.
6. State vs. Ensign Roberts, Escambia County, Case Number 2002-26897. Ensign Spencer Roberts was a Navy Pilot in training at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida. He had been sleeping at the Navy Base when in the early morning hours some of his fellow pilots called him to pick them up from a downtown Pensacola bar since they knew they were too impaired to drive. Ensign Roberts drove from the Naval Base downtown to pick them up and consumed some alcohol at the bar before he left. On the way back to the Naval Air Base, as basically the "designated driver" he ran a red light where a City of Pensacola Police Officer was located and he was stopped for a DUI, took the breathalyzer test and received .140 and .152 results. He was told by the Navy that if he plead guilty to a first offense DUI and received the minimum punishments that while he could stay in the Navy, the Navy would take away his "wings" and never let him become a pilot. He also was faced with the dilemma that in conservative Escambia County Judges routinely give 30 days in jail on a first offense DUI if the individual goes to trial and is convicted. Ensign Roberts decided that his pilot's career was so important to him that he was willing to risk the jail even with his breathalyzer reading as the State referred to as "almost double the legal limit". He decided that he would not want to stay in the Navy and not be able to fulfill his dream of being a pilot. In spite of the breathalyzer reading, Mr. Springer's defense caused the jury to find Ensign Roberts not guilty after only 17 minutes of deliberation.
7. State v. Ussery - The Defendant was charged with a misdemeanor D.U.I. with a .29 blood alcohol level as obtained by subpoena of his medical records. This was another early case in the use of "medical blood" against the Defendant. The D.U.I. was dropped in the middle of the trial due to the defense convincing the Trial Judge to exclude the blood alcohol evidence due to the inability of the State to produce the person who tested the blood. (Palm Beach County Court, Criminal Felony Division, Case No. 95-3698 TC A04.)
8. State v. Whipple - When Mr. Springer was hired, it was after the Defendant had pled guilty and received a six year Department of Corrections sentence and a lifetime suspension. Mr. Springer successfully moved to withdraw the Defendant's plea since neither the Judge nor previous counsel realized that under the circumstances of the case, the Defendant could not legally have been given a lifetime suspension. As a result of Mr. Springer's motion and appellate work, the Defendant was released from his Department of Corrections sentence, was granted a new trial and ultimately received probation with no further jail and a three year driver's license suspension. State v. Whipple, 789 So.2d 1132 (Fla. 4th DCA, 2001)(Palm Beach County Circuit Court, Criminal Felony Division, Case No. 99-1236 CF A02.)
9. State v. Bilogan - Through prior counsel, the Defendant had entered a plea to his fourth D.U.I. and received a lifetime suspension at a time that a citizen with a lifetime suspension could apply for a permit after five years. During that five year waiting period, the Florida Legislature changed the law and eliminated a lifetime suspension recipient's ability to ever have a work permit. Mr. Springer moved to withdraw the Defendant's plea because the law change should not have been allowed to be retroactive. The Appellate Court forced the Trial Judge to grant an evidentiary hearing on the issue. The trial court vacated the plea and the entire punishment, including the entire suspension. As a result, the Defendant went from having a lifetime driver's license suspension to a full and complete and unrestricted driver's license. Bilogan v. State, 802 So.2d 459 (Fla. 4th DCA, 2001)(Palm Beach County Circuit Court, Criminal Felony Division, Case No. 95-3273 CF A02).
10. Southworth, Hubble and Griggs v. Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles - On all of the aforementioned cases the individuals received lifetime suspensions under a law that went into effect in 1998. All the individuals were denied a work permit on their lifetime suspension for their fourth D.U.I. On June 13, 2003, the Florida Supreme Court declared the work permit denial on a lifetime suspension unconstitutional as violation of the single subject rule. Mr. Springer obtained work permits for all of the above individuals enabling them to drive on a restricted basis which previously was impossible. See Southworth v. Court, Appellate Division, Case No. AP2002-9591 AY; Hubble v. Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Palm Beach County Circuit Court, Appellate Division, Case No. 2003-CA-007818 AY; and Griggs v. Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Palm Beach County Circuit Court, Appellate Division, Case No. 2003-CA-004494 AY.
11. State v. Wood - The Defendant was being investigated for D.U.I. Manslaughter since he was a .12 blood alcohol level, who struck an individual in another car who was driving with a .11 blood alcohol level. In pre-arrest representation, Mr. Springer cast doubt upon the State's ability to prove that the Defendant had any fault in the accident. As a result of the pre-arrest representation, the Defendant was charged with a misdemeanor D.U.I. (No citation - DUI Manslaughter never filed.)
12. State v. Cantone - The Defendant was charged with D.U.I and a post-arrest video tape showed that the Defendant coughed prior to the breath test. At the Trial Court level and on appeal, Mr. Springer successfully argued that Florida law requires that law enforcement observe an individual for twenty minutes before a breath test to make sure that nothing takes place that could cause the breath test results to be invalid. Mr. Springer successfully argued that the twenty minute rule was violated and the D.U.I. charge was ultimately dropped. (Palm Beach County Circuit Court, Criminal Appellate Division, Case No. 95-77 AC A02.)
13. State v. Townsend - In another twenty minute observation period case, Mr. Springer successfully argued in the Trial Court that the breath test was not admissible because while the officer observed the Defendant, he did not personally keep track of the time and had no record of when the twenty minute time period began and ended. They believed that twenty minutes took place, but there was no record of the beginning and ending of the alleged twenty minute time period. (Palm Beach County Court, Criminal Division, Case No. 96-13112 TC A02.)
14. State v. Woods - In another twenty minute observation period case, law enforcement recorded on their own video tape that two times during the key twenty minute observation period, the law enforcement in charge of observing the Defendant briefly left the room on two occasions. (Palm Beach County Court, Criminal Division, Case No. 90-024986 TC A04.)
15. State v. Walters - The Defendant was charged in a rear end accident with having over a .20 blood alcohol level. At the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office he asked for a blood test which is allowed under Florida law only if one agrees to take a breath test. Mr. Walters did in fact take the breath test. The trial court wrongfully ruled that Mr. Walters request for the independent blood test at a hospital was premature and that he had to make the request after complying with the request for the breath test. The trial court was reversed on appeal and a new trial was ordered with the breath test results excluded. See State v. Walters, Palm Beach County Court, County Court Criminal Division Case No. 98-22105 TC A02 and Palm Beach County Circuit Court, Appellate Division, Case No. 01-98 AC A02, opinion filed May 19, 2003.
16. State v. Stazzone - The breath test results were ruled to be admissible because while there were five readings over the legal limit, while only two are required, the technology of the breathalyzer machine did not explain why the readings were erratic and the Trial Court suppressed the readings and the D.U.I. was dropped. (Palm Beach County Court, Criminal Division, Case No. 96-36325 TC A02.)
17. State v. Barsky - The Defendant was found sleeping in a parked vehicle and was charged with D.U.I. under the theory of "actual physical control" which is defined as being in or on the vehicle with the ability to operate and control the vehicle whether or not that ability is being used at the time. With Mr. Springer's famous "sofa defense" he successfully argued to the jury that deliberated for approximately 8 minutes that in spite of the wording of the law the vehicle became a "sofa" at some point as opposed to a vehicle even though the technical requirements of the law to find the Defendant guilty were present. See State v. Barsky, Palm Beach County Court, Case No. 03-006690 TC A02, verdict August 12, 2003.
18. State v. Pedreira - Ms. Pedreira was charged with solicitation to commit first-degree murder involving her husband. She was accused of involving her boyfriend in killing her ex-husband. The law enforcement agency based their case on controlled phone calls where they listened to a series of phone conversations between the boyfriend and Ms. Pedreira where he alledgedly discussed killing Mary's ex-husband. The police knew what the boyfriend was saying because they were standing next to him while listening to his end of the conversation. Once Mr. Springer obtained discovery, he listened to the recordings and had transcripts made. It became apparent that the boyfriend had an extreme lisp and while police could understand what he was saying because they were standing next to him, the defendant could not. When the boyfriend was talking about "finishing the job" he was talking about killing the defendant's ex-husband. It was obvious that when the defendant was speaking to the boyfriend about "finishing the job" she was complaining that the boyfriendhad not finished paiting her fence. Upon being confronted with this evidence, the boyfriend recanted the testimony he made about Mary's statements other than the recordings and as a result the state nolle prossed and completely dismissed the case. The state had then been seeking a sentence of 30 years for the defendant. St. Lucie County, Case No. 2010CF002899AXXXX.
19. State Of Florida v. Rodriguez-Perez - MS. Rodriguez was charged with manslaughter by negligence of a child. She worked at a day-care and was alledgedly a supervisor who was responsible for checking the vans bringing the children to school. A 2 1/2 year old child was left in the van in August and died as a result of being subjected to 130 degree heat. Mr. Springer prepared a viable defense and the state negotitaed a sentence of ten years probation and a withholding of adjudication (conviction) for Ms. Rodriguez. Palm Beach County, Case No. 502010CF00967XXXMB.
20. State v. Korb - The Defendant was the comptroller of a large charitable organization that ran a school and camp program. She was charged with steeling in excess of $100,000 by debiting her personal credit cards with the charitable organizations funds. It was alleged that since she was the comptroller she was able to hide this process for a number of years. The case appeared to be readily provable by the State because of the credit card records. The State guidelines due to the alleged theft in the amount in excess of $100,000 called for approximately three years in prison. Mr. Springer negotiated with the State pointing out to the State that his client was willing to pay restitution over 10 years. Mr. Springer pointed out to the State that if he was forced to trial and he prevailed the victim would receive nothing in restitution. He further pointed out that if he did not prevail the client would be sent to prison and the victim again would receive no restitution. After those negotiations a probationary sentence of 10 years was negotiated with a withholding of adjudication meaning that the Defendant received no conviction on her record and will be eligible for a records sealing upon successful completion of the probation, therefore being able to deny even the arrest or fact of the charges. See State v. Korb, Palm Beach County Circuit Court, Case No. 02-7144 CF A02.
21. State v. Joseph Sinatra, Joseph Sinatra was charged with grand theft in excess of $100,000.00 and organized scheme to defraud in excess of $100,000.00. He was alleged to have stolen $205,000.00 from his employer who made aluminum hurricane shutters and sold them to Home Depot and Lowes. He is alleged to have accomplished the theft by stealing shutters and selling them and keeping the money and also contacting suppliers of his employer and convincing them to bill his employer for packaging materials that were never received. For example, he would tell a supplier to deliver 900 items and charge for 1000 and he would split the stolen funds with the supplier. The employer had so much business that it took the company two years to realize that the thefts had taken place. In and approach similar to the Court case listed as #20 above, Mr. Springer negotiated with the state for a 20 year probationary sentence. He was required to pay $500.00 a month toward the restitution, with the additional agreement that the probation be terminated early if he paid off the funds.
22. State v. Bruce. In another example of pre-arrest representation in a sexual offender case. The defendant was investigated for sexual battery, sexual activity and lewd molestation on his minor daughters. The investigation was commenced in 2008 involving his then 14 year old daughter. That daughter later recanted the allegations in a letter to the Defendant. That charge was temporary put on hold by law enforcement. Thereafter new allegations by his other daughter who was 10 were made against the Defendant in both Palm Beach County and Volusia Counties. The new allegations revived the investigation of the initial 2008 allegation. Law Enforcement informed the defendant his arrest was imminent. Mr. Springer was involved in pre-arrest representation of Mr. Bruce. He negotiated with the State and convinced the State that the initial recantation would taint all charges and the State overruled law enforcement and all charges were no filed and Mr. Bruce was never arrested.
Palm Beach County Case No. 10WA000556; 10WA001630
23. State v. Donald Dunlap, St. Lucie County Case Number 02-4416CF. Mr. Dunlap was charged with the offense of sexual battery on a child under 12 years of age after being accused by his granddaughter of the offense. He was charged with sexual battery on a person less than 12 years which is a capital felony punishable by a mandatory life sentence with no chance of parole. The Defendant was arrested. In Florida a police officer can arrest someone for a felony but the officer has to take the police reports to the State Attorney's Office for them to decide to file the charges. Mr. Springer initially convinced the State to hold off on filing the charges to give him an opportunity to display to the State the evidence that existed to convince the State that the victim was lying and the charges should not be filed. The granddaughter was living with the grandparents and fabricated the charges. Her parents had been divorced and in essence she was angry at them and struck out at her father's father, the Defendant. After lengthy negotiations the State dropped the charges completely without filing them and the Defendant was discharged.
24. State v. Alphonse and Rousseau: The Defendants were charged with conducting an illegal dog fight, a felony in the State of Florida. The State's plea offer involved several years in the Department of Corrections. The crime was uncovered by a search warrant that was executed on the Defendant's property while the dog fight was going on. Based on the motion to suppress filed by Mr. Springer's office, all evidence was suppressed and the case was dismissed because of a technicality in the law that a search warrant for an animal cruelty case cannot be executed after sunset. The search warrant was executed approximately an hour after dark. The Sheriff's detective who handled the case was not aware of that technicality. (Palm Beach County Circuit Court, Criminal Felony Division, Case No. 00-7850 CF.)
25. State v. Santacruz - Roberto Santacruz was charged with Trafficking in Cocaine and was facing 30 years incarceration with a mandatory minimum sentence. Law enforcement had obtained a search warrant by confiscating the Defendant's garbage and although no cocaine was located, a trained K-9 unit alerted to wrappers in the Defendant's garbage, thus convincing law enforcement that the Defendant had cocaine in his residence. During the execution of the search warrant, a law enforcement officer accidentally killed one of the co-defendants in the Defendant's residence.
The drug agent who killed the co-defendant testified that while he was struggling with him in the opening of the sliding glass doors with vertical blinds his gun accidentally went off shooting the co-defendant in the back of his head without the agents finger on the trigger. Mr. Springer purchased the exact model gun carried by the agent and hired an expert in firearms to prove that it was impossible for this firearm to discharge accidentally without the trigger being pulled. He also uncovered that the blood splatter on the blinds started at the bottom, went up and then dripped down proving that the co-defendant was likely shot in the back of the head while he was laying face down on the ground.
Under the felony murder law, the Defendant was not only charged with Trafficking in Cocaine but also Second Degree Murder because of the killing of his co-defendant by law enforcement. In obtaining the search warrant, law enforcement failed to reveal to the Judge that issued the search warrant and they believed that the wrappings which the dog alerted to had tested negative for cocaine. Mr. Springer moved to suppress the cocaine because of the illegalities in obtaining the warrant. The motion was granted and as a result, not only the cocaine charge but the felony murder charge and all charges against the Defendant had to be dropped by the State. (Palm Beach County Circuit Court, Criminal Felony Division, Case No. 88-16808-CF.)
26. State v. Kane - The Defendant was charged with Robbery. The Defendant was charged with assisting his wife in a robbery of his father-in-law's liquor store. The Defendant gave an oral confession to the West Palm Beach Police Department that was not tape recorded. The Defendant's wife and at least one other co-defendant pled guilty and testified against the Defendant. The Defendant was found not guilty. (Palm Beach County Circuit Court, Criminal Felony Division, Case No. 76-967 CF A02.)
27. State v. Simon - The Defendant was charged with Kidnapping. The Defendant was charged with participating in the kidnapping of a patron of the Palm Beach Mall and driving her to Daytona Beach. The Defendant alleged that she was coerced to commit the crime because of her fear of the co-defendant in a "Patty-Hearst"-type defense. As a result, the Defendant was convicted of significantly lesser charges. (Palm Beach County Circuit Court, Criminal Felony Division, Case No. 80-3921 CF A02.)
28. State v. Suddeth - The Defendant was charged with Burglary with a Firearm, Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon and Kidnapping with a Firearm. He was found Not Guilty at trial. The Defendant was alleged to have burglarized and terrorized the victim while wearing a mask. The alleged motive was that the victim had abused children. The case resulted in a Not Guilty verdict because the victim was caught in tremendous inconsistencies with the crime scene evidence, specifically the location of the bullet holes on the inside of the residence. (Palm Beach County Circuit Court, Criminal Felony Division, Case No. 97-6516 CF A02.)
29. State v. Midcap - The Defendants were charged with Burglary of a Business. The victim claimed that they had seen the Defendants at their business and before the Defendants were able to get to their get-away car, the victims had pulled the tag of the vehicle off of the same and given it to law enforcement as proof of the Defendant's involvement. Mr. Springer successfully convinced the jury to find the Defendants not guilty in that it was successfully argued that the victims had tried to file a false insurance claim and in fact had stolen the vehicle's tag from a parking lot where the Defendants' father worked approximately two miles from the victim's business. (Palm Beach County Circuit Court, Criminal Felony Division, Case No. 97-501 CF A02.)
30. State v. Buckner - The was an alleged fence or dealer in stolen property who ran a burglary ring in which juvenile burglars brought him the fruits of the crime. He was alleged to have killed one of his aforementioned employees. The Defendant was found not guilty. (Palm Beach County Circuit Court, Criminal Felony Division, Case No. 78-1095 CF A02.)
31. State v. Clark - The Defendant was charged with First Degree Murder and was alleged to have killed his roommate, chopped off his head, arms and legs, all of which were located in various dumpsters in the City of Lake Worth. The torso was never recovered. Through investigation of the case, Mr. Springer established through the Medical Examiner that the State could not prove the cause of death in that the body was severed after the individual had already died, due to their being no hemorrhaging in the wounds. The State had to bring in a second Medical Examiner who contradicted the County's Medical Examiner. Without proof of cause of death, the Defendant's confession may not have been admissible during trial. The State, recognizing the same, negotiated a plea to Second Degree Murder which, at that time, carried with it an appropriate eight year actual sentence. (Palm Beach County Circuit Court, Criminal Felony Division, Case No. 79-000164 CF A02.)
32. United State vs. Montiero 1975. The Defendant was charged with smuggling aliens. The only evidence against the defendant was the testimony of the aliens. They were caught after they had long since exited the boat on which the defendant allegedly brought them to this country. Whether or not they were deported was up to the UnitedStates government and Mr. Springer used that to impeach the witnesses. That together with the fact that Mr. Springer pointed out that none of the aliens fingerprints were located on the defendant's boat caused the jury to find the defendant not guilty. [The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. 1975.]
33. State vs. Doyle. The defendant was charged with two direct sales to federal undercover agents. Thereafter law enforcement obtained a search warrant and the agents found in the shed in the back yard of the residence where the defendant lived with his parents and brother 370 grams of marijuana packaged in small quantities for sale. Through cross examination of the federal agents Mr. Springer pointed out that while law enforcement had tested the marijuana in the shed to prove it was marijuana, they had not tested the bags in which the marijuana was located for fingerprints. Since Mr. Doyle lived at the residence with three other family members the Government could not prove the possession of this larger quantity of marijuana to the satisfaction of the jury. [The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.]