The case against David DeCosta has been dismissed. Here is the story, and here is the minute entry. I haven’t seen the state’s motion to dismiss, but Arizona Criminal Attorney Russ Richelsoph tells me the state moved to dismiss without prejudice because there was “no reasonable likelihood of conviction.”
I summarized the facts of the case here, but Mark Bennett explained it best: DeCosta was set up by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and the Phoenix Police Department, and he was almost certainly factually innocent. When I found out the criminal case against DeCosta was dismissed, my first thought was “it’s about damn time.” My second thought was “what’s he going to do now?”
In my daily practice, I see how destructive criminal charges can be. I see what they do to my clients’ families, friends, and careers. Whether the end result is a conviction or not, things rarely end happily for someone accused of a crime. Charges result in the expense of a lawyer, a significant loss of income, and damage to the reputation of the accused that may never be undone. The direct and indirect costs of a criminal case are enormous for many of my clients. I see how very real they are each and every time a client experiences them, and they feel very real when I think about DeCosta having to endure them. I can’t begin to imagine what he’s gone through.
If he hasn’t done it already, I hope DeCosta gets his practice up and running soon. I want him to get through this. As far as I can tell, he’s still an active lawyer, and nothing that’s happened seems guaranteed to bar him from the practice of law. Even when the news stories were against him, DeCosta’s friends and colleagues unanimously rallied to his defense. Every lawyer who mentioned DeCosta to me, whether in person or online, had nothing but great things to say about him. I don’t know him, but that makes me think he’s the kind of lawyer the profession should feel happy to include among its ranks.
DeCosta was falsely accused in a flurry of publicity, yet he was exonerated in relative obscurity. The dismissal of the case against him hasn’t received nearly enough press. It’s shameful that multiple news outlets would jump all over the case when it’s filed then ignore the dismissal altogether. It’s shameful that the first page on Google when you search for his name still includes an article containing the blatantly false claim that he admitted to receiving sexual favors as incentive.
I doubt anyone in the news media is going to pick up the story if they haven’t already. Unfortunately, that’s often the bitter reality of how criminal charges work. It’s hard to see clients endure it, and it’s no easier seeing it happen to a colleague. I truly wish DeCosta the best and hope he’s able to bounce back.