prisoner is handcuffed in the trial court in front of the judge

Amy Senser appeal: did she know she hit someone?

Most everyone in Minneapolis knows about the Amy Senser trial, and while some people thought it may have ended, the appeals have only recently started. A three-judge panel has 90 days to determine whether her vehicular homicide conviction should stand. It is up to her criminal defense attorney to show that Senser did not know and had no reason to know that she had hit someone standing near a freeway entrance in 2011.

What is particularly interesting is that the family members of the man who ultimately died after being struck by Senser’s vehicle do not wish for Senser to be punished anymore. The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Senser which they settled before the criminal trial began, but they believe Senser has been punished enough. They still come to the trials only because they don’t want anyone to assume they don’t care.

What Senser’s attorney is arguing is two-fold: both that there was not sufficient evidence supporting the jury’s verdict, and that Senser was unaware that she had hit someone. The first argument looks at a note that the jurors delivered to the judge with their verdict. In it, they said that they believed that Senser thought she had only hit a vehicle, not a person, but they still found her guilty. Whether that note indicates that the jury truly did not believe she knew she had hit someone is something the appeals court will need to determine.

The second argument looks to a previous Minnesota Supreme Court case in which a man’ s vehicular homicide conviction was overturned when it was clear that he was asleep at the wheel. Although Senser was awake, her attorney says that she was distracted and, thus, was as unaware as this other defendant was when he caused his fatal accident.

Overcoming a conviction for vehicular homicide can be incredibly difficult and requires an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Source: Star Tribune, “Appeals Court panel grills both sides during Amy Senser’s appeal,” Abby Simons, May 2, 2013

He has won jury trial cases in misdemeanor and felony cases and in DWI’s and non-DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. He is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Involve a criminal appeal attorney soon after you learn the prosecution is appealing your sentence. Your attorney will walk you through the involving and confusing sentencing guidelines. An attorney's involvement will also help you develop a defense strategy for the appeal.