Skip to main content
Johnson Citronberg defends your freedom


Acquittals, Dismissals & Reductions

Area Lawyer Cleared of Charge
By Rob Seal, | 978-7265

A judge dismissed the case against the local defense lawyer Deborah C.Wyatt on Wednesday, saying it would be a “grave injustice” for her case to go to trial.

The perfect storm: Family tragedy plays out in court

“Everyone in this courtroom agrees Raelyn Balfour killed Bryce Balfour,” said prosecutor Elizabeth Killeen when the three-day trial began January 23. “This little boy’s life did not have to end this way on a hospital gurney. That constitutes criminal negligence.”

United States of America v. Christopher Ferguson
Record No. 05-4460

Amazing Victory In Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Christopher Ferguson was convicted of one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute at least 1,000 kilograms of marijuana and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. He was also acquitted of a third count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. The district court then imposed a sentence of 235 months for the marijuana conspiracy count and a concurrent sentence of 235 months for the money laundering conspiracy count. John Zwerling won this appeal after he argued that the district court failed to instruct the jury properly as to their finding of the threshold quantity of drugs for which Ferguson was responsible. He also argued that Ferguson’s sentence was improperly enhanced on the basis of acquitted conduct (possession of a “dangerous weapon”).

Commonwealth of Virginia* v. Richard Bryan Allen
269 Va. 262, 609 S.E.2d 4 (2005)
Record No. 041454

Supreme Court upholding trial court decision victory in which Commonwealth failed to meet its burden of proof to commit defendant as a sexually violent predator and commit him to a mental hospital.

US v. Maskeny
R 609 F.2d 183

This happened because from the outset some of the participants unwittingly had been dealing with an undercover government agent who had been kept informed of everything that went on. Indeed, these conspirators were so gullible that an agent had no difficulty in leading them to believe that He was the owner of the publicly owned Sylvania airfield. While most everybody has heard of wooden nutmegs and of the Brooklyn Bridge, two of the conspirators actually paid the agent $2,000, cash in advance, for the privilege of landing their clandestine cargo on “his” airfield. The defendant who had initiated the scheme with the government agent, and who handed over the $2,000 supplied by one of the others, quickly saw that he was irretrievably caught in the jaws of the lion, so he pleaded guilty. He testified for the prosecution, corroborated everything that the agent had sworn to, and wobbled only as to whether it was in November or December that he had received his first contact from one of the other conspirators, an immaterial matter in light of the evidence in the case. Defendant Kraince also pleaded guilty. The proof was annihilating but the remaining ten men stood trial to a jury. They were represented by skilled and tenacious trial counsel, who generated towering columns of smoke despite the absence of useful combustibles. Whatever else may be said of this case, the defendants did not suffer for the lack of counsel who were both competent and energetic. The presence of so many defendants and so many lawyers generated a bloated trial record. After oral argument and an exploration of that record we are altogether convinced that the judgment of the District Court must be affirmed.

US v. Buschel
Motion to Suppress Granted

On balance, the Court finds inescapable the conclusion that officers Reidy and Harlin acted without probable cause in effecting the warrantless arrest of defendant Hein. While it is a closer question whether there may have been sufficient articulable suspicion warranting an investigatory stop, it is clear that that is a course of action these officers elected not to pursue. Having opted to arrest rather than simply question Hein, their actions can only be justified upon a finding of probable cause. Because probable cause was lacking, the arrest itself was unlawful and the fruits derived therefrom must be suppressed.

It is so Ordered.
U.S. v. Buschel
594 F.Supp. 942

Court suppresses two searches 6 tons of marijuana

Where it was clear that a search warrant could have been obtained once law enforcement agents corroborated informant’s tip by viewing certain property and where it appeared that it would not have been difficult to obtain a search warrant and, once the house was surrounded, no exigencies required a warrantless entry, warrantless search of house was not sanctioned by any exception to the warrant requirement and, therefore, the fruits of the search were subject to suppression.

Joseph Wayne Eastridge, Et Al., Petitioners, V. United States Of America, Respondent
Civil Action No. 00-3045 (RMC)
United States District Court For The District Of Columbia

Three defendants exonerated – Conviction vacated by federal judge

  • United States Of America v. John Notarianni
    Case No. 03-405-A
    Eastern District of Virginia
  • Carl Burnes Gordon v. Commonwealth
    568 S.E.2d 452 (Va.App. 2002)(Court analyzes difference between territorial jurisdiction and venue in case where client was convicted of transporting marijuana in violation of Virginia Code Sec. 18.2-248.01.)
  • James Harvey v. Robert F. Horan
    278 F.3d 370 (4th Cir. 2002)Court held that a prisoner’s lawsuit filed under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 seeking access to evidence for DNA testing which was not available at the time of his trial and conviction is not the proper vehicle for seeking such relief.
  • United States v. David Ratcliff
    245 F.3d 1246
    (11th Cir. 2001)The Court reversed the client’s convictions and 17 year sentence for conspiracies to import and to possess with intent to distribute marijuana based on speedy trial violation.
  • Murphy v. Commonwealth of Virginia
    November 23, 1999Brian J. Murphy (“appellant”) was tried by jury for manufacturing marijuana for his own use, in violation of Code Sec. 18.2-248.1
  • Commonwealth v. Valentina Djelebova
    No. 97-472 (Circuit Court for the City of Charlottesville, Virginia, 1998)Countess Valentina Djelebova Arstrunik was acquitted of murder, robbery and grand larceny.
  • Wilson v. Wright
    998 F.Supp. 650 (E.D. Va. 1998)Court denied defendant’s summary judgment motion on claim of deliberate indifference where plaintiff, prison inmate, was raped by another inmate.
  • Jarvis v. Department of Justice, et al.
    Civil Action No. 93-2303
    (United States District Court for the District of Columbia, 1993)Government injoined from indicting client.
  • Eckstein v. Cullen
    803 F.Supp. 1107 (E.D. Va. 1992)
    Affirmed by Eckstein v. Melson, 18 F.3d 1181 (4th Cir. 1994)Following execution of search warrant and seizure of obscene and non-obscene material, plaintiff, the owner of independent bookstore, sued the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia claiming, inter alia, that seizure of non-obscene material violated the Fourth Amendment and deprived plaintiff of her Fifth Amendment right against deprivation of property without due process of law. Court held that this claim withstood a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and ordered return of seized material pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41(e).
  • United States v. Apple
    915 F.2d 899 (4th Cir. 1990)Court vacated wife’s conviction and sentence and vacated husband’s sentence for narcotics offenses. The district court failed to make factual findings that would support enhancement of the defendants’ sentences for possession of a firearm during the commission of a drug offense. In addition, the government failed to comply with 18 U.S.C. Sec. 3504(a)(1) in denying defendant’s prima facie claim that she had been an aggrieved party on a wiretap.
  • United States v. Jureidini
    846 F.2d 964 (4th Cir. 1988)Court remanded case to district court to fashion appropriate remedy that would ensure defendant received expected benefit of his plea bargain.
  • United States v. Holmes, et al.
    722 F.2d 37 (4th Cir. 1983)Court reversed defendants’ narcotics convictions because of the violation of their rights under the Jencks Act (18 U.S.C. Sec. 3500).
  • United States v. Hubbard, et al.
    493 F.Supp. 209 (D.D.C. 1979)
  • United States V. William R. Palumbo
    897 F.2d 245 (1990)
  • Drug Paraphernalia law halted pending hearing
    The Free Lance-Star (1981)