Mark J. Mahoney - Successes
Mark Mahoney has been defending criminal cases for over 30 years. Early in his career many of the trials were homicide cases which he took as an "assigned counsel." In many of these he was expressly asked to accept the case by the judge owing to the difficulty of the case or difficulties the client had with other counsel. With time the profile of Mark's cases has gradually shifted from cases involving violent crimes to cases involving what is generally regarded as "White Collar" cases, with the exception of our deep immersion in the defense of capital cases following New York's reintroduction of the death penalty in 1996.
In numerous multi-defendant cases Mark has acted as the "lead counsel" for all the defendants. What follows are some of the more significant matters handled recently, and successfully by Mark Mahoney. We point out, however, that any success in past cases cannot be used as a predictor of what will happen in the next case. And, no attorney can, or should, give any guarantee or promise as to the outcome of a case.
"White Collar" — United States v. John Rigas, et al.: The "Adelphia" Trial
In one of the "Top Cases of 2004" , after a 5 months of trial in a Manhattan federal courtroom, Harrington & Mahoney walked out with the only client acquitted of all 23 counts of an indictment alleging billions of dollars in Securities Fraud, Wire Fraud, Bank Fraud and Conspiracy. The defendants were John Rigas, the founder of Adelphia Cable Company, the sixth largest cable company in the country, his two sons, Tim and Michael, and our client, Michael C. Mulcahey. There were over 12 million documents in the case, and 11,000 exhibits marked for trial which was conducted in a "hi-tech" courtroom relying on electronic displays, all managed by nationally known litigation support (DOAR) and forensic accounting (Navigant) firms.
This acquittal went against a tidal wave of convictions of corporate officers following the Enron and Arthur Andersen investigations, and was based on our proof of the actual innocence of the accused and overreaching by the government. Incidentally it is regarded as the first time a Buffalo attorney has appeared in, and won, a trial in New York City since the great Frank G. Raichle made several trial appearances there in significant cases over 35 years ago.
People v. Michael Grinnell. The District Attorney in Batavia, NY, had bragged about the local history of hangings and electrocutions, arguing that capital punishment "has been a traditional and commonplace form of punishment throughout the long history of Genesee County." And so, when Michael Grinnell and Jake Russell were charged in the brutal slaying of two other young coworkers in their traveling magazine sales crew, in 1996, it was no surprise that the death penalty was sought. This case was among the first cases brought under the new statute, and it was the first to actually be scheduled for a trial. Because the killing was accomplished literally by "stoning" the two to death, it had very dark undertones. Mark Mahoney was appointed as the lead counsel in the case for Grinnell.
His groundbreaking efforts to set a procedure for jury selection in death penalty cases became the model for cases which followed [Mark had written a chapter on jury selection for the Capital Defender Office's manual]. But his pretrial motions attacking the indictment and his extensive preparation for th trial resulted in the state agreeing to forego the death penalty against Grinnell, despite the fact that his co-defendant had agreed to testify against him.
Because of our appellate experience, we are frequently asked to prepare briefs in significant cases to advance the position of a party appearing as "Amicus Curiae" ("Friend of the Court"). In a rare recent example the New York Court of Appeals reached out to the criminal defense bar, on very short notice, to submit an amicus curiae brief in a matter where the defendant before the court had no attorney, and where important constitutional principles, involving police search and seizures, were involved. We helped prepare the brief, and the New York Court of Appeals adopted our position that an arrest outside a police officer's area of jurisdiction is not valid, and that such an officer cannot claim that they were merely making a "citizen's arrest" to avoid the limits of their geographic jurisdiction. People v. Jason Williams, 4 N.Y.3d 535 (2005).
Pro Bono Publico
When Governor George Pataki refused to allow attorneys defending death penalty cases seek payment for the time expended by associates and paralegals in their firms, it was not just an affront to the Court of Appeals, which had approved rates of compensation for such staff (based on Mark Mahoney's published papers on the subject) It was also an assault on the taxpayers, because it would cost far more to have the appointed attorneys perform work that could be capably done by their staff billing at a lower rate.
Accordingly Harrington & Mahoney commenced an action against the governor. After four years of litigation, involving an initial appeal by us when the trial judge erroneously ruled that we had proceeded with the wrong type of action, and another appeal after the trial judge, hearing the matter again, finally ruled in our favor, we prevailed in a unanimous decision against the Governor in, Mahoney v. Pataki, 98 N.Y.2d 45 (2002).
After a conviction is affirmed on appeal, it is most difficult to succeed in any further post-conviction proceedings. Harrington & Mahoney has had experience and success in the past in federal and state post-conviction matters. The a recent example of these was the case of People v. Brian Sherk, 269 A.D.2d 755 (4th Dept. 2000) in which the trial judge's denial of a motion to vacate the conviction (CPL Art 440), on ineffective assistance grounds was reversed, resulting in the order of a new trial.
Because our close association with the Innocence Project we are often called upon to assist in cases where prisoners seek to have access to DNA testing, and other relief, in an effort to establish their innocence. While we have successfully gotten relief for a number of these prisoners just by a motion to the trial court, we have also succeeded on appeals in securing the DNA relief that we have sought. People v. William Hayes, 284 A.D.2d 1008 (4th Dept. 2001) (affirming 440 motion for DNA testing) leave to appeal denied, 97 N.Y.2d 641(2001)