The story of Ukranian Freedom and the Louis Gonzalez case: a man falsely accused of rape and kidnap
The Los Angeles Times featured Jay Leiderman’s case involving a man falsely accused of rape and kidnap: Part 1: Could this be happening? A man’s nightmare made real and Part 2: In this assault case, the puzzle pieces don’t fit. Leiderman, a State Bar Certified Criminal Law Specialist, had never seen anything like this case. Talk about the deck being stacked against you. It looked so bad at first, and in a mere 83 days his client went from facing 72 years plus several life sentences to released. Since they took all of his client’s clothes for DNA processing, he was given a donated shirt by the jail. Leiderman states: “We were almost out of the jail building when I looked at the purple shirt. It had Cyrillic and English writing on it. I can read Cyrillc, albeit slowly. I was trying to read what it said when my client pointed out that there was English at the bottom of the shirt. “Ukrainian Freedom” it said. How perfect. Are you kidding me? How perfect. Justice was served. Freedom. Freedom.” Talk about a successful defense.
Ukrainian freedom. Freedom for all from injustice
“Leiderman thought it was not enough that the government dropped charges. He wanted the criminal justice system to recognize Gonzalez’s innocence affirmatively. There is such a thing as a declaration of factual innocence, he explained to Gonzalez. A judge can grant it. It is exceedingly rare – so rare that many cops and lawyers go a career without seeing one. It means not just that prosecutors couldn’t make a case against you, but that you didn’t do the crime. The case remained on the docket of Ventura County Superior Court Judge Patricia Murphy, who had earlier ordered Gonzalez held without bail. Leiderman petitioned the judge, trying not to get his client’s hopes up. He laid out the case, pointing out the holes in West’s story and the numerous alibi witnesses. Prosecutors did not want Gonzalez declared innocent. They knew a jury wouldn’t convict him but said they couldn’t be positive of his innocence. [ ] Ventura County’s chief assistant district attorney, later explained their reasoning: The attack West described was “improbable, but it wasn’t physically impossible.” In January 2009, nearly a year after Gonzalez’s arrest, Leiderman called him excitedly: The judge had sided with them. Gonzalez was soon holding a certified copy of the judge’s order declaring him factually innocent.”