A Palm Beach County jury on Wednesday acquitted a local defense attorney who went from lawyer to client in a 2016 case where he was accused of kicking a Palm Beach County Fire Rescue captain in an alleged road rage incident.
West Palm Beach attorney Andrew D. Stine, whose list of previous clients includes fake teen doctor Malachi Love- Robinson and one of several defendants implicated in a Loxahatchee slaughterhouse case, found himself potentially facing jail time on misdemeanor assault and battery charges.
But prosecutors were unsuccessful in their efforts Wednesday to convince jurors to hold Stine criminally accountable in the Nov. 6, 2016 confrontation between him and Fire Rescue Captain Roy Morgan near the intersection of East Harlena Drive and Seminole Pratt Whitney Road. That is where Morgan said he had to stop so abruptly he was almost thrown from his bicycle after Stine ran a stop sign in his white Mercedes convertible.
“I think I said something to the effect of, ‘hey, nice stop,’ ” Morgan recalled on the witness stand Wednesday.
What both sides agreed on is that Stine responded by telling Morgan in no uncertain terms that he was in no mood for his remarks.
“I told him not today buddy,” Stine said Wednesday, testifying in his own defense.
Stine also said that he told Morgan in the same breath that he was with his daughter, who was then 11 years old and seated in the car.
The child’s presence became a key factor in the case, as Stine and his attorney, Jack Fleishman, argued that Stine acted in protection of himself and his daughter. Stine’s daughter, now a teenager, also testified in the day-long trial, saying Morgan threw his bike down on the floor and came charging at her father in a fit of rage.
Morgan told jurors that it was Stine who was enraged as he got out of his car. After he saw the lawyer refused to back down, Morgan said, he leaned his bike on its kickstand and braced himself for a fight.
The fight never happened, Morgan said, because Stine noticed his car was rolling down the road. Morgan claimed Stine gave him a quick kick to his knee, got in his car and drove away.
Stine, in response, brought in a mechanic who testified that his Mercedes would have automatically locked into park once he opened the car door, although he did say on cross examination that he’d never tested whether the feature would work with a car left in neutral.
As for whether he kicked Morgan, Stine neither confirmed nor outright denied the allegation but explained it this way:
“I had my hands up, and I had my foot six inches of the ground in a defensive posture. Whether he could have ran into it somehow, I do not know,” he said.
A Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputy who met with Morgan after he called 911 said he saw what appeared to be a smudge of dirt on his knee, but couldn’t determine whether it was because he’d been hit.
Stine hugged Fleishman and thanked him after the not guilty verdict and also shook hands with prosecutors, telling Assistant State Attorney Kristen Clark “no hard feelings” after Palm Beach County Judge Marni Bryson adjourned court.
Stine declined to comment on the verdict on his way out of the courthouse, but Fleishman said his fellow defense attorney took the case to trial because he was confident the justice system would work correctly in his case.
Fleishman, who told jurors that any other father would have responded the same or worse in Stine’s predicament, said his client was innocent.
“He was literally protecting himself and his daughter. He used the least possible force defending himself. And he certainly meant no harm to the alleged victim,” Fleishman said.
If convicted, Stine could have faced up to two years in the Palm Beach County jail.