Jamie Mena was convicted of stabbing a man outside a bar and sentenced to prison. I did not represent Mr. Mena at trial and took the case on appeal.
The victim had no recollection of the events in question and was taken, by the prosecution, to a hypnotist to see if his memory could be retrieved. Present at the hypnotic session were the prosecution, the police and the hypnotist, an employee of the government. No one for the defense was present and there was no recorded nor transcribed record of what took place at the session.
This seemed terribly unjust to me. Doing legal research I found that there were no cases in the United States dealing with this issue. Next I did scientific research and found that we are tremendously susceptible to suggestion while hypnotized and that not just the form of a question but the tone of voice in which it is asked can influence the answer that is given.
In my appellate brief to the Arizona Court of Appeals I argued, on my client’s behalf, that he had been denied his right to confront and cross examine the witness against him in violation of the freedoms guaranteed him by the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution and by the Constitution of the State of Arizona. The Court of Appeals upheld the trial Court’s ruling.
I took the case to the Arizona Supreme Court, which reversed the Court of Appeals and trial Court, holding that the victim’s identification of Mr. Mena had been tainted by an illegal pre-trial identification procedure.
Mr. Mena was released from prison.
The State did not appeal the Arizona Supreme Court’s decision to the United States Federal District Court.
One of the outstanding moments of my career was when Jamie Mena telephoned to tell me that he was free, thanking me for what I had done to help him.
If you are interested you can read the Arizona Supreme Court’s decision. The legal citation is 128 Ariz. 226, 624 P.2d 1274 (1981).
After the decision was made public, I received telephone calls from defense attorneys around the country who wanted to know what I had done so that they could use my information to help their clients. I was interviewed telephonically by Time and Newsweek. Most importantly, Courts around the country followed the Arizona Supreme Court’s lead, handing down decisions in line with State v Mena, extending the Sixth Amendment protection he was given across the United States.
I am proud of what I was able to accomplish for Mr. Mena and promise you that I will apply the same dedication and resourcefulness for you should you choose me as your attorney.