Almost 70,000 people have signed Corvain Cooper Petition

Petition for review pending before U.S. Supreme Court

Almost 70,000 people (as of October 8, 2018) have signed a petition requesting that Corvain Cooper be released from prison. He has been sentenced to life in prison for non-violent marihuana offenses under the “Three Strikes” law.


Currently, the U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether to hear Cooper’s appeal (the procedure is called “grant a writ of certiorari”). The petition was filed by his attorney Patrick M. Megaro, who is doing all the work pro bono (as service to the community). The procedure before the Court is that the petition is being distributed and reviewed among the Supreme Court Justices. Each of the Justices of the Supreme Court receives a copy of the petition. The Justices will then decide whether to grant the petition and agree to hear the appeal, or not.


Many people support Corvain Cooper. His lawyer Patrick Megaro created a petition that almost 70,000 people have signed. See https://www.change.org/p/donald-trump-release-corvain-cooper-from-life-imprisonment-without-parole-for-marijuana


Attorney Megaro has simultaneously petitioned President Donald Trump for executive clemency and commutation of his sentence of life imprisonment without parole.


Megaro explains: “This is a particular disturbing case, and I felt compelled to help Cooper and his family. He has two little daughters who miss him dearly. This case has broader implications, it is estimated that there are about 2,000 people … men and women, fathers and mothers, in prison for life for non-violent drug offenses, oftentimes involving very small amounts of such substances. This punishment does not fit the crime. Marijuana is now legalized, decriminalized, or approved for medicinal use in one form or another in the majority of States. Fundamental fairness is at the heart of this case.”


The background is as follows. Corvain Cooper was charged in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana, and conspiracy to commit money laundering and structuring transactions. A special information was also filed against Cooper, alleging two prior felony convictions for possession of drugs (one for marijuana, one for codeine cough syrup) in the California state courts. The filing triggered a mandatory life sentence without parole. The reason for the unusually harsh sentence is the so-called “Three Strikes” law. These laws require a person guilty of committing a drug felony and two other previous drug felony convictions to serve a mandatory life sentence in prison. The “Three Strikes” law significantly increases the prison sentences of persons convicted of a felony who have been previously convicted of two or more violent crimes or drug felonies, and limits the ability of these offenders to receive a punishment other than a life sentence.


Cooper tried appealing his conviction and sentence, arguing that the sentence of life for non-violent crimes was against his Eighth Amendment (Amendment VIII) of the United States Constitution which prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, excessive fines, or cruel and unusual punishments. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld the case.


The State of California enacted Proposition 47 in 2014, which re-categorized several non-violent offenses as misdemeanors. Prior to enacting Proposition 47, possession of marijuana was considered a felony. This also allowed people who had prior felony convictions under the old statute to vacate them.


Proposition 64 (the Adult Use of Marijuana Act) was enacted on November 9, 2016, by the State of California which legalized the use of recreational marijuana. This Act permitted certain people who had been convicted of marijuana felony offenses to apply to vacate those convictions and reclassify them as misdemeanors.

“I have been representing Mr. Cooper and I have said from day one that I am in this fight to represent Corvain Cooper no matter how long it takes,” comments his attorney Patrick Megaro.


About the Corvain Cooper Case


According to a press release of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, “from in or about 2004 through January 2013, Cooper was involved in a drug conspiracy that trafficked marijuana from California to the Charlotte area. Court records show that Cooper was charged with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute at least one thousand kilograms of marijuana as well as money laundering conspiracy and structuring financial transactions through banking institutions to avoid IRS reporting requirements. Cooper, along with two co-defendants, Evelyn LaChapelle and Natalia Wade, were convicted of all charges on October 18, 2013, following a three-day trial.” He was sentenced to life in prison on June 18, 2014. See https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdnc/pr/california-drug-trafficker-sentenced-life-prison-drug-conspiracy-and-related-charges


A link to the online Supreme Court docket can be found at 

https://www.supremecourt.gov/search.aspx?filename=/docket/DocketFiles/html/Public/18-5222.html


The petition is at https://www.supremecourt.gov/DocketPDF/18/18-5222/52544/20180706170004149_Petition%20for%20Writ%20of%20Certiorari%20and%20Appendix%20FINAL%20PDFA.pdf


Join the other supporters of Corvain Cooper who have signed the petition at:

https://www.change.org/p/donald-trump-release-corvain-cooper-from-life-imprisonment-without-parole-for-marijuana

Sign the Corvain Cooper Petition

Many people support Corvain Cooper. His lawyer Patrick Megaro created a petition that almost 70,000 people have signed. See https://www.change.org/p/donald-trump-release-corvain-cooper-from-life-imprisonment-without-parole-for-marijuana

The Orange County Register published a detailed analysis of the case of Corvain Cooper.

Orange County Register publishes Expose about Corvain Cooper

Only hope is a clemency grant by President Trump or a review by the U.S. Supreme Court

Orange County, California (September 2018) – On September 10, 2018, The Orange County Register published a detailed analysis of the case of Corvain Cooper, whose only hope to ever get released from prison is a clemency grant by President Trump or a review by the U.S. Supreme Court. While such dire prospects would indicate that the most violent crimes are involved, Cooper’s offenses are non-violent marijuana offenses. But he had two prior offenses, which resulted in the application of the “three strikes law.”


The Orange County Register article was researched and written by journalist Brooke Edwards Staggs, who is a general assignment reporter with a focus on covering the politics, business, health and culture of cannabis. For this article, Staggs interviewed the mother of Corvain Cooper, other family members, and Cooper’s attorney, Orlando-based Criminal Defense Lawyer Patrick Megaro. Patrick Megaro has represented Cooper pro bono since 2014. Megaro has ceaselessly pursued justice for Cooper, but now it is down to two options – President Trump or the U.S. Supreme Court.


The article quotes Megaro: “I’m just hoping that somebody, somewhere — whether that’s in the White House or across the street at the Supreme Court — sees that this particular sentence is complete madness.”


The article then summarizes the appeals that Patrick Megaro has initiated on Cooper’s behalf:


“Megaro appealed Cooper’s case to the U.S. Supreme Court, but in 2016 the justices declined to hear it. Still, two decisions made by California voters while Cooper has been in prison serve to give Megaro and Cooper hope. First, in 2014, voters approved Proposition 47, reducing many drug crimes to misdemeanors. Under that new law, Cooper’s conviction for possession of cough syrup with codeine was downgraded from a felony to a misdemeanor. Then, in November 2016, voters approved Proposition 64. In addition to legalizing the recreational use of cannabis, the measure reduced or eliminated nearly every marijuana-related crime. And in May 2017, Cooper’s felony marijuana charge from 2009 was reduced to a misdemeanor. Earlier this year, Megaro went back to federal appeals court in North Carolina and explained that Cooper’s two prior felonies were no longer strikes. But they refused to reconsider his sentence. In July, Megaro filed a new petition with the Supreme Court. And, last month, they got one bit of potentially encouraging news, when Solicitor General Noel Francisco requested more time to submit the government’s response to Cooper’s petition. … As they wait to hear back from the Supreme Court, Megaro is also appealing Cooper’s case to the White House — for the second time.”


It all began when Corvain Cooper was charged in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana, and conspiracy to commit money laundering and structuring transactions. A special information was also filed against Cooper, alleging two prior felony convictions for possession of drugs (one for marijuana, one for codeine cough syrup) in the California state courts. The filing triggered a mandatory life sentence without parole. The reason for the unusually harsh sentence is the so-called “Three Strikes” law.  These laws require a person guilty of committing a drug felony and two other previous drug felony convictions to serve a mandatory life sentence in prison.  


The “Three Strikes” law significantly increases the prison sentences of persons convicted of a felony who have been previously convicted of two or more violent crimes or drug felonies, and limits the ability of these offenders to receive a punishment other than a life sentence.


Background


The underlying court cases are United States v. Cooper, 624 Fed.Appx. 819 (4th Cir. 2015), and United States v. Cooper, 714 Fed.Appx. 259 (4th Cir. 2018). According to a press release of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, “from in or about 2004 through January 2013, Cooper was involved in a drug conspiracy that trafficked marijuana from California to the Charlotte area. Court records show that Cooper was charged with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute at least one thousand kilograms of marijuana as well as money laundering conspiracy and structuring financial transactions through banking institutions to avoid IRS reporting requirements. Cooper, along with two co-defendants, Evelyn LaChapelle and Natalia Wade, were convicted of all charges on October 18, 2013, following a three-day trial.” He was sentenced to life in prison on June 18, 2014. See https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdnc/pr/california-drug-trafficker-sentenced-life-prison-drug-conspiracy-and-related-charges


The Orange County Register article is available online at https://www.ocregister.com/2018/09/10/this-man-will-spend-life-in-prison-for-a-marijuana-conviction-unless-donald-trump-or-the-supreme-court-helps-him/


A Wikipedia article on Three-Strikes Law is at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-strikes_law


An online petition urging the President to grant Corvain Cooper clemency and release him from prison is at https://www.change.org/p/donald-trump-release-corvain-cooper-from-life-imprisonment-without-parole-for-marijuana


About Patrick Megaro


Patrick Michael Megaro is an attorney at Halscott Megaro PA. His primary areas of practice are criminal defense, criminal appeals, post-conviction relief, civil appeals, and civil rights litigation.


Website: https://www.appealslawgroup.com/our-attorneys/patrick-megaro-esq/
The Megaro Criminal Law Library:https://themegarocriminallawlibrary.com/
Attorney Profile: https://criminal-defense-attorney.squarespace.com/patrick-michael-megaro-esq/
Linkedin Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/patrick-michael-megaro-%E2%AD%90-877b284/
Attorney Profile: https://solomonlawguild.com/patrick-michael-megaro 

Learn More

The Orange County Register article was researched and written by journalist Brooke Edwards Staggs, who is a general assignment reporter with a focus on covering the politics, business, health and culture of cannabis. For this article, Staggs interviewed the mother of Corvain Cooper, other family members, and Cooper’s attorney, Orlando-based Criminal Defense Lawyer Patrick Megaro. Patrick Megaro has represented Cooper pro bono since 2014. Megaro has ceaselessly pursued justice for Cooper, but now it is down to two options – President Trump or the U.S. Supreme Court.

Criminal Law News

Writing Competition - Submission Deadline Extended to September 15

ORLANDO, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES, August 29, 2018 /EINPresswire.com/ -- Submission Deadline extended to September 15! Criminal Defense Attorney Deron Castro departed this Earth too soon and too suddenly in late July 2018. He will not be forgotten by his family, his children, his colleagues whose respect he earned, and his many grateful clients whom he served in over 24 years of his law practice. He sought justice for many unjustly accused. He took more than 90 criminal cases to trial, winning the vast majority of them.
 

Only days earlier, in early July 2018, Deron had a major win in the Queen’s County Supreme Court when the judge agreed to throw out evidence against the defendant in a murder case after a pre-trial hearing. The District Attorney sought to introduce statements of the defendant made during an interrogation by homicide detectives. After carefully cross-examining the detective at the hearing, Castro was able to persuade the judge to suppress the evidence by citing past cases where similar evidence was tossed out. It is quite unusual for a judge to suppress a defendant's own statements, let alone to have them suppressed in a murder case. Few attorneys could accomplish such a feat in court. Deron was one of them.
 

In his honor, Halscott Megaro, P.A. will be hosting its Annual Essay Writing Competition, which is open to all current full-time and part-time enrolled students in an ABA accredited law school. One winner will be selected and will receive a $1000.00 scholarship award from the Deron Castro Memorial Scholarship.
 

Deron Castro, Esq. was a personal friend and colleague of Patrick Michael Megaro. Mr. Castro started his career at The Legal Aid Society, Criminal Defense Division, in Queens, New York as a public defender before going into private practice. Mr. Castro and Mr. Megaro also later cooperated criminal cases, such as the successful appeal in People v. Small (2011), see https://caselaw.findlaw.com/ny-supreme-court/1565846.html.
 

Mr. Castro was well-known and respected as one of the most successful and skilled criminal defense attorneys, securing acquittal after acquittal for his clients. A fearless advocate, he provided nothing but the highest caliber of representation to his loyal and dedicated clientele.
 

States Mr. Megaro, “If I or anyone in my family was charged with a crime, I would have hired Deron Castro. He was hands down one of the best trial attorneys in New York and in the country. Castro won with his skill, preparation, and fighting spirit. He was highly respected by other criminal defense lawyers and feared by prosecutors.”
Outside of the courtroom, Deron Castro was a loving and devoted father of three and caring husband. Always involved in his children’s activities, one could find Mr. Castro running from basketball practice to dance recitals at night and on the weekends. He was known for his kindness, generosity, and perpetual positive attitude which impacted all those around him.
 

This Scholarship is dedicated to the memory of one of the great lawyers in New York City, and the United States, to ever grace a courtroom with his presence.
 

Eligibility:
 

The scholarship is open to all current full-time and part-time matriculated students in an ABA accredited law school.
 

How to Apply:
 

For applying the essay contest, the candidates must write a 1000 word or fewer essay on the following topic:
 

What makes the difference between a good and a great criminal defense attorney?
 

Deron certainly was one of those great attorneys, but what exactly makes a criminal attorney “great”? Here is a starting point. One criminal defenses attorney suggests that four qualities are necessary to be at least “good”: “[1] The single most important thing a criminal defense lawyer can do is over-investigate their case. It is the probably the biggest single difference in lawyers, how much independent investigation they do. …. [2] Everyone knows that criminal defense lawyers must be strong negotiators. … There are really only two factors that should be considered in negotiation: what does this person deserve and what is the likelihood of conviction if the case proceeds to trial (what is the strength of the case). … [3] Third, provide a technical legal defense. This is the kind of thing you learn in law books. Read the discovery. Read the law. Reread the discovery. Reread the law. There is usually something to argue about. … [4] In my opinion, the toughest skill, is being able to win at trial. Not many lawyers will take tough cases to trial. …” Robert King, “What makes a good criminal lawyer?”, see https://www.robertkinglawfirm.com/blog/2017/may/what-makes-a-good-criminal-lawyer-/ (2017)
 

Submission Details:
 

Your essay must be submitted via email to info@appealslawgroup.com and must be in Word or PDF format. In the alternative, applicants may submit a 5-minute or less video essay. The video must be a closeup of the applicant, giving their essay as a lecture or speech, addressing the camera directly and must have a green screen in the background. Editing is permitted.
 

The essay must be submitted along with a short bio on the applicant, a passport-style photograph of the applicant, and a release permitting publication of the photograph and the essay (or video) by Halscott Megaro, P.A., its agents or assigns.
 

Award Amount:
 

The $1000.00 scholarship will be awarded to the winning candidate.
 

Application Deadline:
 

Submission Deadline extended to September 15, 2018!
The winner will be announced September 30, 2018
 

Halscott Megaro, P.A. is a law firm dedicated to the pursuit of justice, focusing on criminal and civil appeals, post-conviction relief, criminal defense, clemency advocacy, and civil rights advocacy.
 

References
 

References
 

Website: https://www.appealslawgroup.com/our-attorneys/patrick-megaro-esq/
 

News at: https://hype.news/patrick-megaro-attorney/n-ba064c55-8ee2-42b7-ba81-cf7edd4d175f/stories
 

Attorney Profile: https://criminal-defense-attorney.squarespace.com/patrick-michael-megaro-esq/
 

Linkedin Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/patrick-michael-megaro-%E2%AD%90-877b284/
 

Attorney Profile: https://solomonlawguild.com/patrick-michael-megaro
 

Better Business Bureau Profile: https://www.bbb.org/central-florida/business-reviews/attorneys-and-lawyers/appeals-law-group-in-orlando-fl-90326269
 

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/patrickmichael.megaro.9
 

Blog: https://patrickmegaroblog.blogspot.com/

Patrick Megaro
Halscott Megaro, P.A.
(407) 255-2164
email us here

Petition filed with Supreme Court challenging life sentence

Corvain Cooper, marihuana offenses

The Law Firm of Halscott Megaro, P.A. has announced that attorney Patrick Megaro has filed a petition in the United States Supreme Court to challenge Corvain Cooper’s sentence of life without parole under the Federal “Three Strikes” law. The petition was filed by Cooper’s attorney in the Supreme Court on July 6, 2018, asking the Court to stop the injustice of mandatory life sentences for non-violent drug offenders.

Explains Corvain’s attorney who filed the petition, Patrick Megaro: “In the legal realm, you have to present the issue as a legal query. In this case, the official query presented to the U.S. Supreme Court is ‘Whether a Petitioner Who Was Sentenced to Life Without the Possibility of Parole, Which was Enhanced By Two Later Invalidated State Convictions, May Apply for Resentencing …’ The reality of the situation is that drug law reform, especially marijuana reform, is at the forefront in many state legislature’s agendas. Marijuana is now legalized, decriminalized, or approved for medicinal use in one form or another in the majority of States. Due Process and fundamental fairness are at the heart of this case. Boiled down to its essence, the question for this Court is whether a sentence of life without parole is justified for a person who now has no predicate felony convictions.”

Corvain Cooper was charged in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana, and conspiracy to commit money laundering and structuring transactions. A special information was also filed against Cooper, alleging two prior felony convictions for possession of drugs (one for marijuana, one for codeine cough syrup) in the California state courts. The filing triggered a mandatory life sentence without parole. The reason for the unusually harsh sentence is the so-called “Three Strikes” law. These laws require a person guilty of committing a drug felony and two other previous drug felony convictions to serve a mandatory life sentence in prison. The “Three Strikes” law significantly increases the prison sentences of persons convicted of a felony who have been previously convicted of two or more violent crimes or drug felonies, and limits the ability of these offenders to receive a punishment other than a life sentence.

Mr. Cooper tried appealing his conviction and sentence, stating that the sentence of life for non-violent crimes was against his Eighth Amendment (Amendment VIII) of the United States Constitution which prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, excessive fines, or cruel and unusual punishments. However, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld the case, and the Supreme Court declined to even hear the case. 

The State of California enacted Proposition 47 in 2014, which re-categorized several non-violent offenses as misdemeanors. Prior to enacting Proposition 47, possession of marijuana was considered a felony. This also allowed people who had prior felony convictions under the old statute to vacate them.

Proposition 64 (the Adult Use of Marijuana Act) was enacted on November 9, 2016, by the State of California which legalized the use of recreational marijuana. This Act permitted certain people who had been convicted of marijuana felony offenses to apply to vacate those convictions and reclassify them as misdemeanors.

Adds attorney Patrick Megaro, “I have been representing Mr. Cooper and I have said from day one, that I am in this fight to represent Corvain Cooper no matter how long it takes.  Today, is yet another example of my strong commitment.” Mr. Megaro went on to add, “We need to quit playing political games and allow the sentence to fit the crime, as both of these Propositions (47 and 64) favor individuals, such as Corvain Cooper.” 

Patrick Megaro has also simultaneously filed a petition for commutation of sentence with President Donald Trump on Corvain Cooper’s behalf, and has started a petition on Change.org in support of the petition that already has over 3,000 supporters.

The “Petition for Certiorari” filed on behalf of Corvain Cooper with the U.S. Supreme Court should be available soon on the Court’s website at https://www.supremecourt.gov under “Docket Search.”


A Wikipedia article on Three-Strikes Law is at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-strikes_law

Background

The underlying court cases are United States v. Cooper, 624 Fed.Appx. 819 (4th Cir. 2015), and United States v. Cooper, 714 Fed.Appx. 259 (4th Cir. 2018). According to a press release of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, “from in or about 2004 through January 2013, Cooper was involved in a drug conspiracy that trafficked marijuana from California to the Charlotte area. Court records show that Cooper was charged with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute at least one thousand kilograms of marijuana as well as money laundering conspiracy and structuring financial transactions through banking institutions to avoid IRS reporting requirements. Cooper, along with two co-defendants, Evelyn LaChapelle and Natalia Wade, were convicted of all charges on October 18, 2013, following a three-day trial.” He was sentenced to life in prison on June 18, 2014. See https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdnc/pr/california-drug-trafficker-sentenced-life-prison-drug-conspiracy-and-related-charges

For more information, contact:

Patrick Michael Megaro, Esq.

Halscott Megaro, P.A.

1300 North Semoran Boulevard, Suite 195

Orlando, FL 32807 USA

Phone: (407) 255-2164

pmegaro@halscottmegaro.com

http://www.halscottmegaro.com

Please check out our latest Change.org petition, and sign and support this worthy cause:

https://www.change.org/p/donald-trump-release-corvain-cooper-from-life-imprisonment-without-parole-for-a-non-violent-drug-crime

Learn More

The Orange County Register publishes analytical Expose about Corvain Cooper, life sentence for marijuana offenses

Attorney Patrick Megaro prevails in Appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit.

Court improperly granted immunity to police officer

Court of Appeals largely agreed with the arguments of Patrick Megaro

Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Patrick Megaro prevailed on appeal in a case where a police officer stopped the vehicle of Mr. E.L. without justification. The Law Firm of Halscott Megaro PA announced that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit largely agreed with the arguments of Mr. Megaro, that the police officer had no good reason (“probable cause”) to stop E.L. The opinion of the three judges of the Court was unanimous (“per curiam”).


The underlying criminal case arose out of a traffic stop. According to the police officer’s testimony, E.L. was driving somewhat erratically, including multiple lane changes. When the officer stopped E.L., the testimony whether E.L. appeared intoxicated was contradictory.

The officer arrested E.L. for violating the Traffic Control Devices (changing lanes); for the violation Required Position and Method of Turning at Intersections (for turning into a middle lane instead of the nearest available lane); and finally, for Driving Under the Influence (DUI). 

Later testing revealed that the client had 0.0% of blood alcohol concentration, and absolutely no drugs in his system. Despite the testing results, the police officer maintained that the client appeared to be intoxicated. 

On behalf of his client, Megaro filed a 42 U.S.C. §1983 action (civil rights violations), claiming that this was a false arrest. In the trial court, the judge granted the police officer qualified immunity and thus summary judgment (a decision on the pleadings, without a formal trial). 

Attorney Patrick Megaro appealed, and the Court agreed with the key arguments. On the issue of the multiple lane changes, the Court found that the applicable law does not prohibit such multiple lane changes, and it seems there were no solid yellow lane lines or solid double white lane lines. Thus, E.L.’s lane changes do not create a reason to arrest him. As to E.L.’s left turn into the middle instead of the nearest available lane, again the applicable law does not require that the turn be made to the extreme left hand lane lawfully available. There, based on the available information, the police officer did not have probable cause to stop and then arrest E.L. 

Attorney Patrick Megaro comments: “First, let me say that we support the police who are dedicated public servants sworn to protect public safety. For that we are truly grateful. However, everybody, even police officers, must follow the law. We applaud the Court’s ruling that no reasonable police officer could have believed that my client’s conduct at the time of the stop was DUI.” 

Mr. Megaro notes in particular that the police officer was “not entitled to qualified immunity on the false arrest claim …. because … no reasonable police officer could have believed that [E.L.]’s conduct at the time of the stop constituted driving under the influence.”

The Court sent the case back to the trial court for a proceeding on the false arrest claim.

The underlying case is Llorente v. Demings, No. 17-14452 (11th Cir. 07/30/2018).


About Attorney Patrick Michael Megaro


Mr. Megaro is a native of New York where he played Division I college football and rugby at Hofstra University before graduating from Hofstra Law School. While at Hofstra Law, Mr. Megaro found his calling in life as a litigator and courtroom attorney. In law school, he interned at The Legal Aid Society in Queens, New York City and practiced criminal defense at the Criminal Justice Clinic at Hofstra Law School, representing real clients prior to graduation.

Patrick Megaro began his legal career at The Legal Aid Society Criminal Defense Division in Manhattan, New York City as a public defender. At Legal Aid, Mr. Megaro represented hundreds of clients charged with misdemeanors and major felony offenses, gaining invaluable trial experience fighting in court daily for the rights of clients in the area of criminal law. 

Mr. Megaro entered private practice as a criminal defense attorney in 2004 as an associate at a high-profile criminal defense law firm in New York City before forming his own firm in 2007. In private practice, Mr. Megaro represented clients in New York, New Jersey, Florida, and various Federal courts around the nation, concentrating on criminal trial defense, sentencing advocacy and mitigation, criminal appeals and post-conviction relief. In private practice he handled many high-profile criminal cases in New York City, earning a reputation as a fierce litigator in the area of criminal law. He continued to practice criminal law and appellate law in New York and New Jersey until 2014.

Since 2014, Mr. Megaro has been a partner at Halscott Megaro PA, based in Orlando, Florida, focusing in criminal defense, criminal appeals, post-conviction relief, and civil rights litigation. In his current position, he represents clients in legal appeals, post-conviction litigation, and at the trial court level. At the law firm of Halscott Megaro PA, Mr. Megaro joined forces with Orlando criminal defense attorney Jaime T. Halscott, Esq., bringing more than a decade of experience to Halscott Megaro PA in the area of criminal law.

Learn More

Court of Appeals finds that lower court improperly granted immunity to police officer who falsely arrested the Plaintiff.

Court of Appeals schedules oral hearing in case of shooting

Additional Information

The law firm of Halscott Megaro announced that an appeal involving the shooting of Jayvis Benjamin will be heard by the Court of Appeals. In January 2013, Lynn Thomas, a police officer in Decatur, Georgia shot and killed an unarmed 20-year-old black college student, Jayvis Benjamin. Benjamin had allegedly stolen a car and crashed it in a residential front yard. Officer Thomas shot and killed Benjamin after he exited the vehicle through the window because the door would not open. The facts as to what exactly happened when Benjamin exited are in dispute. The police cruiser’s dashboard video of the incident is inconclusive, the shooting took place off-camera.

A civil grand jury recommended officer Lynn Thomas be indicted for Benjamin’s death. In March 2016, however, the District Attorney decided not to charge the police officer, supposedly because its investigation concluded that a struggle had ensued. See news report https://decaturish.com/2016/03/reports-avondale-estates-officer-will-not-be-charged-for-shooting-unarmed-man/

Officer Thomas was subsequently promoted to Police Chief in 2016. See the news report at https://decaturish.com/2016/07/avondale-estates-officials-defend-hiring-police-chief-who-shot-unarmed-man/

With the assistance of attorney Patrick Megaro, Benjamin’s mother filed a lawsuit over the death of her son in May 2016 pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (civil rights violations) in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia, alleging Excessive Force, Negligent Hiring/Training/Retention of Employment Services, and Wrongful Death against Avondale Estates Police Department (AEPD) Sergeant Lynn Thomas, Officer Thomas Gillis, Chief Gary L. Broden, and The City of Avondale Estates. All of the defendants except for Lynn Thomas were dismissed from the case. Lynn Thomas successfully moved for summary judgment (a decision based on the pleadings and available evidence before an actual trial), resulting in an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

The Court of Appeals determined on August 3 that oral argument is necessary in this case. The issues in the case are essentially as follows: whether there are material facts in dispute that preclude summary judgment, especially where the issue is excessive force, and whether deadly force was justified under the circumstances in which Jayvis Benjamin was not being arrested for a violent offense, was not armed, and did not attack Lynn Thomas.

Patrick Megaro, the attorney for Benjamin’s family, noted that he appreciates the opportunity to explain the disputed issues to the Court. “This case has been controversial and divisive. Facts are in dispute. Hopefully the hearing before the Court will clarify the issues for a just resolution of the matter.”

 

This incident has been widely reported and commented on in the press. Based on the published articles and opinions, it appears that to this day the facts are still controversial and disputed. The many news articles about the incident include, apart from the two articles referred to above: 


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “DeKalb DA: Cop won’t be charged in controversial shooting,” https://www.myajc.com/news/crime--law/dekalb-cop-won-charged-controversial-shooting/Rf5YuWCDyIY321rHX2m8GN/

New York Daily News: “King: A Georgia cop gunned down unarmed black student Jayvis Benjamin nearly three years ago — so why no grand jury hearing?,” http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/king-georgia-won-indict-fatally-shot-black-man-article-1.2466691

The appeals case is MONTYE BENJAMIN, and on her own behalf as administratrix for the estate of her Son Jayvis Ledell Benjamin v. LYNN THOMAS, Court of Appeals Docket #: 18-10204 (United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit).

About Attorney Patrick Megaro

Patrick Michael Megaro is a partner at Halscott Megaro PA. His primary areas of practice are criminal defense, criminal appeals, post-conviction relief, civil appeals, and civil rights litigation.

Learn More

U.S. Court of Appeals schedules oral hearing in case of controversial shooting of unarmed, 20-year-old Jayvis Benjamin.

Attorney publishes his first article in his series of Instructional Articles, self-defense laws.

Instructional Article by Patrick Megaro on Self Defense

Additional Information


In his first article in his instructional series, veteran criminal defense attorney Patrick Michael Megaro comments on Martin v. State, an appellate decision from the Second District Court of Appeal of Florida, dealing with recent changes to Florida’s self defense laws.


Florida legislature’s amendment to section 776.032 marks an important shift in self defense laws in the state of Florida. As the Martin court explained “[t]he Florida Legislature's amendment to section 776.032 added the following provision: (4) In a criminal prosecution, once a prima facie claim of self defense immunity from criminal prosecution has been raised by the defendant at a pretrial immunity hearing, the burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence is on the party seeking to overcome the immunity from criminal prosecution provided in subsection (1).” The Martin court went on to explain that “as it now stands, the State bears the burden of disproving, by clear and convincing evidence, a facially sufficient claim of self-defense immunity in a criminal prosecution.”

This is obviously a very important change in criminal cases involving self defense claims. Before the amendment, criminal defendants in Florida who wished to assert self defense had the burden of proof. It was the defendant that had to convince the jury that their actions were justified due to self defense. After the amendment, the defendant only has to present a facially sufficient claim of self defense, a very low bar. The burden of proof now rests on the prosecution to show that there was no justification for self defense, and the burden is by clear and convincing evidence, one step below beyond reasonable doubt, but still a very significant hurdle.

Martin case went on to address whether the amendment applies only to cases going forward or retroactively to all existing criminal cases. “Statutory amendments may take one of three forms: substantive, which are usually applied prospectively, or procedural or remedial, either of which may apply retroactively to pending proceedings”, the Martin court explained. The court discussed that “[i]n the context of criminal cases specifically, ‘substantive law is that which declares what acts are crimes and prescribes the punishment therefor, while procedural law is that which provides or regulates the steps by which one who violates a criminal statute is punished.’” 

Martin court noted that “[i]n Florida, statutory changes to the burden of proof—the change at issue here—are invariably deemed procedural in nature for purposes of retroactive application.” Therefore, “[s]ubsection (4) now ascribes to the State what had, under common law precedent, been the defendant's burden of proof. That is not a substantive change. Neither the substantive rights of a successful claim of immunity nor the necessary elements of proof to establish a claim of immunity were altered by the June 9, 2017, amendment.” Thus, the amended standard of proof in self defense cases applies not only to future cases, but also to existing cases and even those cases under appeal. The case is Martin v. State, Case No. 2D16-4468, (Fla. Dist. Ct. App., 2nd District, May 4, 2018), available at https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=5709431534236501779&q=martin+v+state+&hl=en&as_sdt=4,10&as_ylo=2017.

The article will be published in full on the Blog of Mr. Megaro, https://patrickmegaroblog.blogspot.com/

Learn More

In his first article in his instructional series, veteran criminal defense attorney Patrick Michael Megaro comments on Martin v. State, an appellate decision from the Second District Court of Appeal of Florida, dealing with recent changes to Florida’s self defense laws.

“The Megaro Criminal Law Library,” a public service of Criminal Defense Lawyer Patrick Megaro.

“The Megaro Criminal Law Library,” now updated

Additional Information

“The Megaro Criminal Law Library” is available online. Recently, the library has been updated with articles and videos, including an instructional series.


“The Megaro Criminal Law Library” is a public service created by criminal defense lawyer Patrick Megaro. Mr. Megaro is a Criminal Defense Attorney with offices in Orlando, Florida. The library contains all of Mr. Megaro’s Criminal Law articles and videos. There is also a “search” feature that allows users to search the videos and articles by keyword. The Library is organized by different sections, Videos, Articles, News and an Archive. 

Patrick Megaro is providing all this information as a public service, free of charge. “I have focused on this area of law for more than 20 years, and at this stage in my life and experience, I would like to share with the public, law students, and my peers all the knowledge I have acquired. I sincerely hope that some of my esteemed colleagues in the profession will find the materials useful for their own law practice.” Mr. Megaro explains the idea of the Library. He started out with a Blog with his written articles and commentary, but eventually it became too unwieldy and difficult to search. He therefore decided to organize all of the information more efficiently, and use an index service so that users can search the information by keyword.

The newest addition to the Library is Mr. Megaro’s “instructional series.” In his first article in his instructional series, veteran criminal defense attorney Patrick Michael Megaro comments on Martin v. State, an appellate decision from the Second District Court of Appeal of Florida, dealing with recent changes to Florida’s self-defense laws. Florida legislature’s amendment to section 776.032 marks an important shift in self-defense laws in the state of Florida. As the Martin court explained “[t]he Florida Legislature's amendment to section 776.032 added the following provision: (4) In a criminal prosecution, once a prima facie claim of self-defense immunity from criminal prosecution has been raised by the defendant at a pretrial immunity hearing, the burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence is on the party seeking to overcome the immunity from criminal prosecution provided in subsection (1).” The Martin court went on to explain that “as it now stands, the State bears the burden of disproving, by clear and convincing evidence, a facially sufficient claim of self-defense immunity in a criminal prosecution.”

This is obviously a very important change in criminal cases involving self-defense claims. Before the amendment, criminal defendants in Florida who wished to assert self-defense had the burden of proof. It was the defendant that had to convince the jury that their actions were justified due to self-defense. After the amendment, the defendant only has to present a facially sufficient claim of self-defense, a very low bar. The burden of proof now rests on the prosecution to show that there was no justification for self-defense, and the burden is by clear and convincing evidence, one step below beyond reasonable doubt, but still a very significant hurdle.

The Court went on to address whether the amendment applies only to cases going forward or retroactively to all existing criminal cases. “Statutory amendments may take one of three forms: substantive, which are usually applied prospectively, or procedural or remedial, either of which may apply retroactively to pending proceedings”, the Martin court explained. The court discussed that “[i]n the context of criminal cases specifically, ‘substantive law is that which declares what acts are crimes and prescribes the punishment therefor, while procedural law is that which provides or regulates the steps by which one who violates a criminal statute is punished.’” 

Finally, the court noted that “[i]n Florida, statutory changes to the burden of proof—the change at issue here—are invariably deemed procedural in nature for purposes of retroactive application.” Therefore, “[s]ubsection (4) now ascribes to the State what had, under common law precedent, been the defendant's burden of proof. That is not a substantive change. Neither the substantive rights of a successful claim of immunity nor the necessary elements of proof to establish a claim of immunity were altered by the June 9, 2017, amendment.” Thus, the amended standard of proof in self-defense cases applies not only to future cases, but also to existing cases and even those cases under appeal. The case is Martin v. State, Case No. 2D16-4468, (Fla. Dist. Ct. App., 2nd District, May 4, 2018).

The article will be published in full in The Megaro Criminal Law Library at https://themegarocriminallawlibrary.com/ and on the Blog of Mr. Megaro, https://patrickmegaroblog.blogspot.com/

Learn More

 “The Megaro Criminal Law Library” is a public service created by criminal defense lawyer Patrick Megaro