You know, when the Houston Press names someone the Best Criminal Defense Attorney, we expect that the high honor will result in further good works -- it's the whole Obama-Nobel Prize train of thought.
So it should come as no surprise this morning that recent winner Brian Wice won a slam-dunk victory in a high-profile case, getting the Court of Criminal Appeals -- of Texas, no less -- to vote 9-0 that his client deserved a new hearing on the punishment given her.
The client? Susan Wright, a woman who killed her abusive husband, a woman whose trial featured a prosecutor tying a fellow prosecutor to a bed in the courtroom and then pretending to stab him 200 times.
The CCA, not the world's most sympathetic forum for defendants, agreed that Wright's trial lawyer had rendered what they call "ineffective assistance of counsel" during her case. By, for instance, not stopping the farcical melodrama staged by prosecutors.
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Wice says he hopes to negotiate an agreed punishment with the DAs office, meaning a court hearing won't be necessary.
"I'm hoping I can sit down with the DAs office and work out a fair and just punishment," he says.
One thing working in his favor: the stab-happy prosecutor in the trial, Kelly Siegler, was the bitter opponent of DA Pat Lykos in the 2008 race. So the current DAs office doesn't have to be all defensive about the trial tactics.
Wright received 25 years in prison on her murder conviction. Wice won't say what he'll be looking for, but in the past he has said he's looking for probation, or "something in the two to 20 years" range of a manslaughter charge.