By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
By Jeff Balke
By Angelica Leicht
By Jeff Balke
By Sean Pendergast
By Sean Pendergast
By Jeff Balke
"He picks up a lot of stuff just by standing around sometimes," Podlesney says. "I don't think it's because he wants to be like Judge Standley. I think it's because he can't sit there."
Aimee Flood reports that her husband is similarly compulsive out of court.
"He hated bosses. He hated to be at work on time. He hates to use an alarm clock, and he hates having anyone tell him what to do," she says.
"He doesn't like schedules. He doesn't like consistent approaches to things. He's bored by doing the same thing every day. He's bored by doing the same thing every evening. He doesn't want to put the kids to bed at the same time every night. He doesn't want to eat dinner at the same time every night. You see his office. He's got to have five different forms of media going at all times. And that's how he is. He rarely has quiet time."
Flood keeps his phone switched on and at the side of the bed to field late-night calls from both pranksters and people with lights flashing in the rear-view mirror. Household projects — the alarm system, a new row of trees — will be randomly conceived and completed in a single day. He takes up 80 percent of the large bedroom closet. Aimee has one drawer in the bathroom. Her husband? "Drawer-ssssss." His monthly CVS tab for things like hair products and deodorant is through the roof.
When one morning about six months ago Flood walked into the bathroom in his fancy new glasses, it gave his wife pause. Then she thought: "Well...it is criminal law. You can wear those glasses. I think the thing about criminal law is it lets Tyler be who he is."
Flood struck out on his own intending to run a civil practice and took criminal cases just to pay the bills. After some felony losses that resulted in serious jail time, like many lawyers he decided the relatively lighter consequences of DWI made it a better way to learn the ropes. (Flood has yet to try a case resulting in serious injury or death.)
At first, he was terrified of trial and hoped his clients would decide to plead. He eavesdropped and hustled because he was scrambling to learn as he went. And then he was hooked. DWI involves everything from toxicology and physiology to grilling officers on the stand. Trial brings competition and a rush.
Flood soon learned that the more he went to trial, the more he won, and the more he won the better his chances of getting cases dismissed. He says most lawyers — prosecutors and defense attorneys alike — just want to reach a deal and go home. So Flood always comes pushing for court.
"It doesn't do any good to talk to the DAs about why it's good to go to dismissal," he says. "People that argue are the ones that are scared."
Even when Flood is off his game, as he was during a recent trial, with Podlesney on vacation, the result might be the same as the initial plea deal. "Why wouldn't I go to trial?" Flood said after the loss.
On another day he was forced to swallow a particularly generous guilty plea; the prosecution seemed eager to sweeten the pot.
"Tyler, I know how conflicted you are," the chief prosecutor said. "I know you wanted to go to trial."
And Flood has found that even seemingly hopeless cases can be won by showing the jury that the state overplayed its hand. An officer might incorrectly demonstrate a sobriety test, then penalize someone for following his lead. (Flood keeps a video of a state trooper who stumbles twice and almost falls during his demonstration.) There are eight categories on the walk-and-turn; missing two means you fail. Cops sometimes even exaggerate evidence on the stand, he says — as in Kevin Thomas's case, where the video showed him friendly and cooperative, albeit likely drunk, while police claimed he was violent and combative.
"And then, we go to trial on bad cases and we win," Flood says. "And that fuels your fire also. You kind of want to push the envelope."
Tukanov was lonely on the night he was arrested in November of 2006. He and his wife of 15 years had divorced. He'd fallen in love with his girlfriend, blond, petite and pretty Lena, whom he hoped to marry. Lena, though, wanted to break up.
Tukanov bought a dozen roses and a bottle of champagne and drove to Lena's house to win her back.
The evening at first went according to plan. Tukanov and Lena each drank a couple of glasses of champagne. Then they got into a screaming fight.
"I don't know how to say. She could bring any man to crazy. And she did," says Tukanov, who lives in a condo with a kitten named Lisa that follows him around when he walks outside.
It was nearing midnight when the jilted Tukanov returned to his car. He sat in place for ten minutes, because his hands were shaking with rage. Finally he began to make his way down the dark and tree-lined street.