Robert Britton Released After 19 Years for Wrongful Conviction

On November 5th, a jury acquitted Robert Britton of the sexual assault charges brought against him in 1995.

Robert Britton had already been incarcerated for over 10 years before Loevy & Loevy learned about his case and began working with him in his post-conviction proceedings, arguing ineffective assistance of counsel. His original defense counsel, Anthony Basile, failed to investigate the accuser’s story and psychiatric history, and did not point out the obvious inconsistencies between her story and the hard evidence. (Mr. Basile’s law license was suspended in 2000, after the disciplinary board concluded that he was a cocaine user, frequently missed court dates and generally failed to meet his obligations as an officer of the court. It has never been reinstated.)

Loevy & Loevy attorneys, Gayle Horn, Tara Thompson, and Elizabeth Wang worked endlessly to get Mr. Britton a trial he deserved. Eventually, after years of appeals and court hearings, the court was persuaded that Mr. Britton did not have a fair trial and in November 2011, the court vacated the prior conviction and granted him a new trial. Such a result is rare, and the Loevy & Loevy team wanted to make sure Mr. Britton was adequately represented this second time around. In the end, the team agreed to represent him in the criminal case.

In early November 2014, Ms. Horn and Ms. Wang defended Mr. Britton in his retrial. The case was anything but typical. Some of the witnesses, including the accuser, died years ago. At the retrial, the State insisted on presenting the testimony of the accuser from Mr. Britton’s first trial. This, of course, made things particularly difficult for the defense because Mr. Basile did not effectively cross examine the accuser at the first trial, due in part to his failure to investigate her extensive and serious history of psychiatric illness. Ms. Horn and Ms. Wang were able to overcome this hurdle by presenting the testimony of a forensic psychiatrist who examined hundreds of pages of the accuser’s medical records spanning decades and was able to testify that the accuser had a long history of hallucinations, delusions, personality disorders, and psychotic episodes. Ms. Horn and Ms. Wang also pointed to the suggestive lineup (three teenage boys and Mr. Britton, who was in his late 30’s at the time) during the officer’s testimony and effectively cross examined the state’s expert, who attempted to downplay the accuser’s mental capacity at the time. After two days of evidence and testimony, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty.

Mr. Britton is now a free man! You can read more about his 20-year journey to freedom on the National Registry of Exonerations.

Loevy & Loevy continues to be inspired by Mr. Britton’s story and work to free and achieve justice for those who have been wrongfully convicted.

If you know someone who has been wrongfully convicted and needs legal assistance, you can contact us by email or by phone at 888-644-6459.


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