Facing a life sentence – All Charges Dismissed in Commonwealth v. Court

FAIRFAX, VA: On February 2, 2011, The Honorable Donald P. McDonough, the Chief Judge of the Fairfax County General District Court, presided over the Preliminary Hearing of the government’s evidence against Kevin Court. Mr. Court was accused of arson, along with four other felonies associated with the allegedly intentional fire. Mr. Court was facing a maximum sentence of life in prison.

The prosecutor presented four witnesses to the court. Ms. Marina Medvin, Mr. Court’s attorney, cross-examined each witness. Ms. Medvin made it very clear with each subsequent witness that the government had absolutely no evidence even remotely linking Mr. Court to the alleged act of arson, nor any of the other alleged acts. At one point, Ms. Medvin asked Fire Investigator Lt. Brock if he had any evidence that Mr. Court intentionally started the fire, to which Lt. Brock replied, “None, but I have my thoughts and opinions.”

While the standard of proof at a Preliminary Hearing favors the Commonwealth (the standard of proof is about 40% at the Preliminary Hearing, as opposed to 99% at the trial stage), Defense counsel was able to convince the Judge that the evidence, in this case, was so strongly lacking that this case should not proceed to the trial stage. Judge McDonough dismissed the arson charges, and the prosecutor decided to drop the related charged on his own just seconds after that ruling.

Mr. Court and Ms. Medvin are very pleased with this outcome, but they were not surprised. Ms. Medvin’s trial preparation had uncovered significant problems with Lt. Brock’s reports and analysis, in addition to uncovering strong evidence proving Mr. Court’s innocence. Ms. Medvin believes that Mr. Court would have been vindicated at the trial even if this case passed a Preliminary Hearing.

The Fire Investigator had no comment and did not provide an apology to Mr. Court for pursuing the baseless charges. Mr. Court stated that he was very relieved to know that the justice system does work and that innocent people don’t have to go to jail based on accusations alone.

Attorney Jesse Binnall, a partner at Bronley & Binnall, was present throughout the entire hearing. Mr. Binnall commented: “It is almost unheard of to have a case dismissed at the Preliminary Hearing stage.” No stranger to the Fairfax criminal courtrooms, Mr. Binnall was pleasantly surprised by the result and hopeful that other unsupported cases would be likewise dismissed in the Virginia justice system.

Best Lawyers in Virginia - Criminal Defense and DUI Law