As a result, James Sullivan has been successful at trial in what others term “hopeless” cases. In his very first felony jury trial in April 1997, in the 209th District Court in Cause Number 745708, Sullivan represented a 21 year old black man accused of killing a young white man in a head-on car accident on Eldridge Parkway in northwest Houston. The decedent attended Texas A&M and belonged to a wealthy family. A large group of white male retirees from the victim’s rights organization Justice for All attended every court setting. A successful black prosecutor, who later became an Assistant U.S. Attorney (federal prosecutor), handled the prosecution.
The accused insisted that he did not do drugs and that it was just an accident that resulted in the death of the decedent. Even so, if the State had offered him probation, he said he would take it so that he could continue to work to support his family. Because the State only offered prison time, five years at TDC, the accused chose to go to trial. Other attorneys, including the original attorney appointed to represent him, predicted a guilty verdict and 10 years in prison, the maximum prison sentence available.
The accused denied using drugs and testified he was on his way to work for a local service station. The accused had auto insurance. Sullivan hired a drug toxicologist expert who conducted his own lab tests and who questioned the validity of the blood tests conducted by the Houston Police Lab. Photographs that crime scene investigators took of his client’s tires (and which did not surface until the day of trial) reflected that they had sufficient tread and the inspection sticker was current on his car. The defendant’s stepfather, a local mechanic, testified as to the tire tread. Due to the heavy rain, the client’s car hydroplaned across lanes and struck the decedent’s car head on. On cross examination, a State’s eyewitness testified the accused was only going 5-10 miles above the speed limit. The accused and his wife testified that he did not use drugs.
Right before closing arguments, the large courtroom in the former criminal courthouse (now the Harris County Juvenile Justice Center) filled up with high school students who were visiting the courthouse that day. No pressure. To be guilty of negligent homicide, Sullivan argued to the jury, requires gross negligence and not simple negligence. What happened to the accused could have happened to any of us–an unforeseeable accident tragically claims the life of a young man. A tragedy yes, a crime no. The case belonged in the civil courthouse, not the criminal. After about 10 minutes of deliberation, the jury returned a not guilty verdict.
Houston Criminal Lawyer James Sullivan went on to win acquittals and dismissals in many other serious felony criminal and juvenile cases. As a Christian, Sullivan strives to be affordable to most people and counsels his clients to get on a better path. In fact, many of his clients have overcome their difficulties in life and become successful in their chosen endeavors. Sullivan may not see the end results and how the lives of his many exonerated clients unfold, but he strives to do well for all of his clients and get the best results possible. If you need a defense attorney, call Sullivan at 281-546-6428.
As one of the late, great religious leaders who courageously struggled and died for social justice and in whom Jim Sullivan was greatly inspired once said,
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well… We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the Master Builder and the worker. ~Archbishop Oscar Romero (1917-1980)
On March 24, 1980, while performing a funeral mass in the Chapel of Divine Providence Hospital, Archbishop Oscar Romero was shot to death by a paid assassin. Only moments before his death, he had reminded the mourners of the parable of wheat. His prophetic words:
Those who surrender to the service of the poor through love of Christ will live like the grain of wheat that dies… The harvest comes because of the grain that dies… We know that every effort to improve society, above all when society is so full of injustice and sin, is an effort that God blesses, that God wants, that God demands of us.
|James Sullivan at age 20 in Nicaragua in the summer 1988|
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