News & Insights

Sher Tremonte Wins Full Dismissal of Federal Charges

On June 13, 2023, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York dismissed all charges against Sher Tremonte’s client, Howard Campbell.

Partner Noam Biale was appointed to represent Mr. Campbell through the Eastern District’s Criminal Justice Act (“CJA”) Panel, which provides court-appointed counsel to indigent defendants. The representation is part of Sher Tremonte’s robust commitment to public interest litigation, through our pro bono work and membership on the CJA Panels of both the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York.

Mr. Campbell was arrested on narcotics and firearms charges in August 2018. Initially represented by Federal Defenders of New York, Mr. Campbell won a motion to suppress evidence of a gun found near where he was arrested. The court denied the motion with respect to crack-cocaine and marijuana found on Mr. Campbell’s person, crediting the testimony of two police officers that they had seen him engage in a hand-to-hand drug transaction.

Noam was appointed to the case in June 2019, and with Michael Tremonte, former associate Alexandra Elenowitz-Hess, and paralegal Samantha Luevanos, represented Mr. Campbell at a week-long trial that resulted in a split verdict – with a conviction on an attempt charge and an acquittal on the marijuana charge.  During trial, the defense established numerous reasons to disbelieve the officers’ testimony and to question their handling of the investigation. At sentencing, the government sought a firearm enhancement based on the suppressed gun. Sher Tremonte proved through a comparison of testimony, body-cam videos, and physical evidence, that the officers could not have found the gun where they claimed. Based on this evidence, we moved to reopen the suppression hearing as to the drugs. The district court found the officers not credible but denied the motion.

Sher Tremonte then pursued the issue on appeal. In March 2022, the Second Circuit vacated Mr. Campbell’s conviction and directed that the lower court reopen the suppression hearing. Back in district court, the government declined to re-call the officers – one of whom the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau had subsequently found lied during an internal investigation. After the district court suppressed the drug evidence and ordered a new trial, the government moved to dismiss the indictment on June 5, 2023, leading to Mr. Campbell’s exoneration.

Sher Tremonte is committed to working to end mass incarceration and systemic racial bias in the criminal justice system, particularly through representing individuals who, like Mr. Campbell, continue to be targeted by the government’s failed War on Drugs. In addition to obtaining dismissals and other favorable dispositions and sentences, the firm has been a leader in securing compassionate release under the First Step Act, reducing by years our clients’ excessive sentences of imprisonment.