RICHARD C. JONES, APPELLANT,
UNITED STATES, APPELLEE
Submitted September 29, 2014
Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. (CMD-17628-12). (Hon. Robert E. Morin, Trial Judge).
Nicholas Q. Elton was on the briefs for the appellant.
Ronald C. Machen Jr., United States Attorney at the time the brief was filed, and Elizabeth Trosman, Elizabeth H. Danello, and Ann K. H. Simon, Assistant United States Attorneys, were on the brief for appellee.
Before FISHER and BECKWITH, Associate Judges, and FARRELL, Senior Judge. OPINION by Associate Judge BECKWITH. Concurring opinion by Associate Judge BECKWITH at page 12.
Beckwith, Associate Judge.
Appellant Richard Jones was convicted, after a 2 bench trial, of attempted threats for a statement he made toward his daughter's guardian ad litem following a contentious family court hearing. Mr. Jones claims four errors: that the trial court erred by denying his motion for a new trial, that attempted threats is not a valid offense under D.C. law, that the record contains insufficient evidence to support his conviction, and that he was denied his right to a jury trial when the government amended the information from charging misdemeanor threats to attempted threats just moments before trial. We affirm.
Dennis Eshman, the complainant in this case, represented Mr. Jones's daughter as her guardian ad litem in a family court matter for nearly four years. At a hearing in June 2012, Mr. Eshman recommended that Mr. Jones's visits with his daughter be supervised. Mr. Eshman testified that when he left the courtroom, Mr. Jones stopped him in the hallway and said, " I'm going to smack the shit out of you." The statement was made " in pretty close to a normal tone of voice, maybe just a little bit elevated." Mr. Jones then expressed his displeasure with Mr. Eshman's recommendation of supervised visitation, and " his voice escalated so that he got to the point where he was yelling at" Mr. Eshman. Mr. Eshman was initially " taken aback" and eventually came to believe that his physical safety was " in jeopardy."
The defense countered with testimony from Khadijah Ali, an attorney who witnessed the incident while passing through the hallway of the courthouse. Ms. Ali testified that she saw Mr. Jones " very angry and he was quite loud and he was arguing with" Mr. Eshman. But she also testified that she could " hear clearly what was being said" and she did not hear any threats. Specifically, she testified that she did not hear Mr. Jones say, " I'm going to smack the shit out of you."
The trial judge found that both witnesses were credible and that their testimony was not actually inconsistent. The judge found that while Ms. Ali did not hear any threat, her attention was not drawn to
the scene until Mr. Jones became angry and loud, which occurred after he had already uttered the threat in a normal tone of voice. The court convicted Mr. Jones of attempted threats. Mr. Jones filed a motion for a ...