A Bronx NYPD captain accused of helping an off-duty detective avoid DWI charges was acquitted Friday of official misconduct and obstructing governmental administration charges.
Capt. Naoki Yaguchi, the NYPD’s first Japanese-American captain, was charged with purposefully delaying a Breathalyzer test for off-duty detective Efrain Medina after he was involved in a two-car collision on Fordham Road on April 22, 2017.
In a bench trial, Bronx Justice Judith Lieb cleared Yaguchi, a 14-year veteran cop, of all charges.
“It’s not easy for anyone to be charged with a crime, wrongfully or not,” said Eric Franz, Yaguchi’s lawyer. “He was an innocent man and I believe we proved that today.”
“Hopefully, the district attorney’s office has learned that they should not micromanage the police department.”
Prosecutors charged that Yaguchi, a duty captain the night of the incident, purposefully delayed Medina’s trip from the 46th to the 45th Precinct stationhouse following the collision. Medina was to take his Breathalyzer test at the 45th Precinct.
Breathalyzer tests conducted two hours after an incident are considered to less reliable.
“He chose to wait and wait and wait when time was of the essence,” Assistant District Attorney Jason Navia said in his closing arguments at the bench trial.
“If detective Medina was treated as any other civilian, we wouldn’t be here today.”
Bronx prosecutors decided Medina’s Breathalyzer test was insufficient to use in his case. Medina later pleaded guilty to driving while impaired.
Capt. Yaguchi’s lawyers argued that the delay in processing was a result of good faith deliberation and police work, and that their client was simply exercising caution before issuing an arrest.
“He was accused of being a dirty cop,” Franz said. “And it simply wasn’t true.”
STAND YOUR GROUND TRIAL
Dec 24, 2017
Member Eric Franz recently traveled to West Palm Beach, Florida and won an acquittal for his client who was charged with aggravated assault with a firearm and discharge of a weapon, despite the fact that the entire incident was captured on video surveillance. His client was facing a mandatory minimum of 20 years imprisonment. Despite the circumstances described below, it was no defense under Florida law that the weapon fired accidentally.
Following a verbal dispute with a bar patron who threw a glass at the defendant (which missed striking him), the defendant, the manager of the bar, left the premises and returned with a firearm. Upon his return the defendant pointed his weapon at the patron who was now outside of the bar and then pursued the patron outside where a struggle ensued. During the struggle, the gun discharged and the patron suffered a gunshot graze wound to the head. In addition to the video surveillance footage and the testimony of the complainant, Franz also had to combat the fact that his client had made numerous recorded statements to the police which were disputed by the evidence— including that the video surveillance system was inoperable, that he never left to retrieve his firearm, and that he never displayed the firearm while still inside the bar when the complainant was already outside.
Franz’s attempt to have the case dismissed, following a “stand your ground” hearing in Florida, was unsuccessful, since there was no dispute that his client did not “stand his ground”. Video footage clearly showed that the defendant left and then returned, with firearm in hand and proceeded to point the firearm at the complainant, even though the complainant had already walked out of the bar. Franz proceeded to trial on the theory that the defendant was faced with a startling, horrifying event (having a glass hurled at his head by the complainant) and had to make a split second decision of whether he should seek safety for himself, or selflessly consider the safety of the remaining patrons who remained inside the bar — where no security personnel were employed. Franz told the jury that once the complainant threw the glass at his client that his client had every reason to be concerned about what actions the complainant might take next. He argued that his client was justified in his actions returning to the bar with a weapon in order to remove the complainant from the premises and to protect his patrons and a female bartender (the ex-girlfriend of the complainant) from whatever the complainant might do next. With regard to the claim by the State that the complainant had retreated by leaving the bar — Franz countered that the complainant may have left, but he was not really “gone” — since he remained in the outside dining area of the bar.
The case was fought in court for over two years, and despite being denied his motion to dismiss based on Florida’s “stand your ground” law, Franz was ultimately successful in convincing the Florida jury that his client’s actions were a justified use of deadly force.
Atticus Volume 29 Number 1 Winter 2017 New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
A PSYCHIATRIST IS UNDER ARREST — DID SHE BRAINWASH HER COUSIN TO KILL HER EX-LOVER?
PARENTS OF BROOKLYN MAN KILLED IN DWI CRASH ASK DRIVER TO LECTURE STUDENTS ABOUT DRUNK DRIVING
Apr 7, 2011
The merciful parents of a promising Brooklyn man mowed down by a boozed-up driver asked his killer Thursday to honor their son’s legacy by teaching students about the perils of drunken driving.
ICE-T HAS CHARGES STEMMING FROM JULY ARREST DROPPED IN PACKED MANHATTAN COURTROOM
Aug 17, 2010
That is what I’m talking about – dismissed!” the “Law & Order: SVU” star bellowed as he strutted out of a packed courtroom.
CHARGES AGAINST ICE-T DISMISSED IN CRIMINAL COURT DUE TO DMV CLERICAL ERROR
Aug 17, 2010
“Ice did absolutely nothing wrong,” said Eric Franz, Marrow’s attorney.
Mar 28, 2010
The case led to a Police Department trial, in which a prime piece of evidence was a computer-generated database of Mr. Lewis’s phone records. Only it turned out the records were inaccurate. “In their quest to get an individual, they lose sight of the purposes of their job,” said Eric Franz, one of the lawyers. In this case, they did incomplete investigations, put forth shoddy evidence and turned a blind eye to exculpatory information.
COP CLEARED OF TAX CHARGES SLAMS NYPD FOR FIRING HIM
Mar 19, 2010
I’m finally vindicated,” he said. “It was an absolute witch hunt.” Lewis was cleared after it was revealed that the department falsified records of phone calls between him and the bar owner.
DAY CARE INDICTMENTS
Mar 4, 2010
Nassau prosecutors yesterday unveiled an indictment of the owner and manager of a Hicksville school where a 2-year-old girl choked on a carrot and later died at a hospital last year. “This is preposterous,” said Eric Franz, a Manhattan attorney for Cordaro. It’s an abuse of power by the government.
JURY FINDS EX-NYPD SGT. DIDN’T HIDE $140K FROM IRS – HE TOOK IT OUT OF BANK TO HIDE IT FROM EX-WIFE
Mar 18, 2009
An NYPD sergeant kicked off the force five days before his federal trial was acquitted Thursday of trying to hide $140,000 from the Internal Revenue Service.
COPS’ VIDEO SHOCK GRAB CASH IN RAID
Feb 2, 2009
Charges against two were dropped… “The only thing more incredible [than the raiders’ testimony] is the testimony of witnesses from Internal Affairs,” said Franz.
FATIMA HENRIQUEZ’S LAWYER WEAKENS EVIDENCE OF PROSECUTION
Oct 9, 2008
With an aggressive style that has given him success as a lawyer throughout his career, the attorney for businesswoman Fatima Henriquez Diaz…has managed to weaken the evidence presented by the prosecution, one of them a receipt of payment by $200,000 that the feds would be considered conclusive.
JERSEY POL IN N.Y. PONZI BUST
Nov 8, 2007
…as one of three New Jersey lawyers charged in a $40 million real-estate Ponzi scheme…Mongelli’s lawyer, Eric Franz, said his client…did not receive a single percentage of any of the underlying real-estate transactions that they’re alleging were schemes.
COURTING THE MEDIA
Nov 30, 2006
Public Relations For The Accused And The Accuser By Margaret A Mackenzie “[Eric Franz] says that he views media attention as taking place on a “chessboard” with the plaintiff’s lawyer on one side and the defendant’s on the other. Between the Crowe matter and the Slater arrest, Franz demonstrated that he’s on his way to becoming a chess master.”
EX-DETECTIVE IN DRUG CASE IS CLEARED IN ’03 KILLING
Aug 9, 2006
“He has always been adamant that he had no involvement in this homicide,” Mr. Franz said, adding that his client has provided information on criminal acts by other police officers.
2 DETECTIVES ACQUITTED IN BRIBERY CASE
Jun 27, 2006
Two veteran police detectives accused of taking bribes from a Chelsea street peddler last year were acquitted yesterday by a Manhattan jury, their lawyers said.
‘BRIBE’ POLICE FIGHTING BACK
Jun 14, 2006
“He never even approached the line of being a dirty cop,” said Eric Franz, lawyer for the second cop.
A FUNERAL HOME INVESTIGATION CONSIDERS THE MACABRE
Oct 31, 2005
Though no charges have been filed, the case has had an impact on Wall Street.
DIGGING UP THE TRUTH
Oct 9, 2005
The FDA also is investigating body parts trafficking in New York […] “Nelms and Johnson had nothing to do with any illegal operation by Biomedical tissues,” Franz added. They are cooperating with the DA’s office, and they are not involved in any criminal activity.
RASSLIN’ RUSSELL’S ‘STAY HOM’ POUT MAY WIPE OUT SWEET PLEA DEAL
Sep 22, 2005
It was really Estrada’s civil lawyer, Eric Franz, who negotiated a six-figure settlement for his client, who labeled Crowe a menace.
ACTOR SLATED TO REDEEM HIS REP
Sep 21, 2005
His lawyer Eric Franz calls it, “a successful resolution.” This Eric Franz has newly shot up out of nowhere
LAW’S PAWS OFF SLATER – JUDGE JUNKS GROPE CASE AGAINST STAR
Sep 20, 2005
“I’m thrilled!” Slater exclaimed when it was over, and he bounded over to his lawyer, Eric Franz. “I’m really happy.”
METRO BRIEFING | NEW YORK: MANHATTAN: CHARGES AGAINST ACTOR DROPPED
Sep 20, 2005
Prosecutors in Manhattan agreed yesterday to drop the charges against the actor Christian Slater, left, if he stays out of trouble for six months…Eric Franz, said, “The case is dismissed, and we are very pleased with the outcome.”
PROSECUTORS TO DROP SLATER GROPING CHARGES
Sep 19, 2005
Slater’s lawyer, Eric Franz, said, however: “I think the fact that this case was dismissed speaks for itself. I think it suffices to say we are relieved.
CROWE’S GET-OUT-OF-JAIL CARD COSTS $11M
Aug 14, 2005
A British newspaper reports today that bad-boy actor Russell Crowe is set to pay $11 million to the SoHo hotel clerk he hit with a telephone.
SLATER KOS BUTT-FEEL DEAL
Jul 15, 2005
“This case warrants dismissal,” defense lawyer Eric Franz told a Criminal Court judge.
SUIT VS. CROWE TO FLY
Jun 28, 2005
CINDERELLA MAN” STAR Russell Crowe is expected to get hammered this week with a massive lawsuit that will provide a blow-by-blow account of his alleged June 6 telephone rage assault against a downtown hotel clerk. Estrada’s attorney Eric Franz would say only, “I’ll do my talking through the legal process.”
A DETERMINED WINNER
with knowledge and experience!
First, I want to thank Eric Franz! My felony assault case took place in a county that is notoriously know as a prosecutor friendly court system, Nassau County Long Island! Eric Franz not only won my felony assault case…