Notable Cases

In Decem­ber 2009, Teresa won an out­right acquit­tal in a homi­cide case of a woman defend­ing her­self against her abuser. DeE­bony Smith was charged with the mur­der of her estranged boyfriend whom she stabbed dur­ing an argu­ment out­side her apart­ment. Teresa estab­lished that her client was the vic­tim of domes­tic vio­lence and pre­sented evi­dence of restrain­ing orders, police reports and records from hos­pi­tals and local agen­cies, doc­u­ment­ing the ongo­ing com­plaints of domes­tic abuse for the year pre­ced­ing her abuser’s death.

Big ver­dicts come from petite attor­neys some­times, but only when the attor­ney is a “feisty pit bull” too. At least that was the assess­ment of the SF Weekly when report­ing on a rare ver­dict in San Fran­cisco: Not Guilty in a gun case where the defen­dant admits to fir­ing the weapon.

In April 2009, Teresa won a hard fought, emo­tion­ally drain­ing case in which the future of a 21 year old man (and his wife and two small chil­dren) hung in the bal­ance. Under Cal­i­for­nia statutes, Hag­gag Mohsin could have gone to jail for life for fir­ing into an occu­pied vehi­cle. Today Mohsin is a free man because Teresa’s spir­ited defense con­vinced a jury to unan­i­mously acquit him of all charges after con­clud­ing he acted in self-defense.

Per­haps Teresa’s most well-known case is her work rep­re­senting LaShaun Har­ris, a men­tally ill mother who was accused of triple mur­der in the death of her three chil­dren. After throw­ing her chil­dren into San Fran­cisco Bay, Har­ris told police that God had promised her the chil­dren would be safe with him.

Amidst a hail­storm of media cov­er­age and pub­lic out­cry con­demn­ing the actions of the schiz­o­phrenic mother, Teresa suc­cess­fully brought in a team of experts who estab­lished that Har­ris had a his­tory of schiz­o­phre­nia, audi­tory hal­lu­ci­na­tions and past hos­pi­tal­iza­tions. Teresa exposed the break­downs of the men­tal health and social ser­vice sys­tems that failed to pro­vide Har­ris with the treat­ment she des­per­ately needed prior to the incident.

Har­ris was found not guilty by rea­son of insan­ity of three counts of first-degree mur­der, and was sen­tenced to a psy­chi­atric hos­pi­tal until she regains her san­ity. You can read more about it in this San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle arti­cle.