Jonathan Majors' Sentence: Marvel actor asks judge to void domestic violence conviction, citing judicial error, insufficiency of evidence

Jonathan Majors' Sentence: Marvel actor asks judge to void domestic violence conviction, citing judicial error, insufficiency of evidence
  • Jonathan Majors is seeking to void his December domestic violence conviction prior to sentencing.

  • His 41-page effort cites judicial error and insufficiency of evidence.

  • Majors faces up to one year in a NYC jail at a sentencing set for April 8.

Jonathan Majors' 41-page motion to void his December domestic violence conviction was made public Wednesday, and it cites judicial error and insufficiency of evidence as grounds.

It's a statistical longshot for the Marvel actor, as this kind of pre-sentencing effort, known as a "330.30 motion" in reference to New York state criminal procedure law, rarely succeeds.

But its filing, which was obtained by Business Insider, shows Majors is aggressively challenging the career-crushing misdemeanor conviction.

The actor faces up to one year in a city jail at a sentencing set for April 8. A Manhattan jury convicted Majors on December 18 of misdemeanor reckless assault charge and a lower-level charge of harassment.

The charges stemmed from a midnight fight last March on the streets of Chinatown with then-girlfriend Grace Jabbari.

Majors is seeking to void the conviction on two grounds allowed under 330.30: reversible judicial error relating to the reckless assault, and a lack of sufficient evidence concerning that charge and the harassment violation.

Jonathan Majors; Grace Jabbari
Jonathan Majors; Grace Jabbari.AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews; AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

The reckless misdemeanor assault

The jury in December acquitted Majors of the original charge of intentional assault, and it's on this point that Majors' attorney, Priya Chaudhry focused her 330.30 effort.

She argues that Judge Michael Gaffey improperly, and over defense objections, gave jurors an alternate choice of finding Majors assaulted Jabbari recklessly or unintentionally.

Prosecutors contended throughout the trial that Majors' assault on Jabbari was intentional. By offering jurors an alternative of "reckless" assault, the judge improperly gave prosecutors a "second bite at the apple," Chaudhry wrote.

Prosecutors presented an "intentional or bust" assault case but no evidence that the assault could have been unintentional or reckless, she wrote. "And for that reason, the reckless assault charge should never have been presented to the jury at all."

Neither eye-witness described "recklessness"

There were only two witnesses to the couple's physical fight inside a moving Cadillac Escalade, Chaudhry reasoned in her filing: their chauffeur and Jabbari herself.

Neither described a reckless assault in their testimony, the motion argues.

Instead, Jabbari "gave testimony that, if credited, supported only that Mr. Majors physically assaulted her and caused these two specific injuries with the unambiguous intent to cause her physical injury," meaning a cut to her ear and a broken finger, Chaudhry wrote.

Majors was "just trying to make me feel pain," Jabbari testified on direct examination, describing Majors twisting her right arm behind her back in the car, during a tussle over the actor's cellphone. "I felt pressure on my hand, like he was just trying to hurt me."

On cross-examination, she continued to describe an intentional attack. "It felt like he was trying to make me react," she told jurors. "He was trying to make me feel pain."

The chauffeur, meanwhile, "testified that Mr. Majors did not assault Ms. Jabbari in the Escalade in which they were riding (and indeed that it was she who assaulted Mr. Majors)," Chaudhry wrote.

"What did you see the defendant do," the chauffeur, Naveed Sarwar, was asked on the stand. "He was not doing anything. She was doing everything," the chauffeur answered.

Because neither eyewitness described recklessness, the conviction on that charge of reckless misdemeanor assault is unsupported, Chaudhry wrote.

Prosecutors presented scant evidence "bookended" by "pattern of abuse" claims

Chaudhry also argues that rather than provide sufficient evidence of any assault, prosecutors instead offered jurors claims about Majors' "pattern" of abusing his ex-girlfriend that proved nothing about what happened during the dispute itself.

That evidence included damaging testimony that Majors told Jabbari she needed to act like Michelle Obama and Coretta Scott King and make sacrifices for him.

Majors has maintained that he was the victim, not the aggressor, of his fight with Jabbari and his defense had argued at trial that surveillance camera footage from a bar and sidewalk prove her injuries — the broken finger, and cut on her ear — were caused when she fell hours of drinking later, while alone in his apartment.

Grace Jabbari, center, shows no apparent injury just eight minutes after Marvel actor Jonathan Majors, right, after Manhattan prosecutors allege he broke a finger in her right hand and cut her right ear during a dispute in March.
Grace Jabbari, center, shows no apparent injury just eight minutes after a March dispute inside a chauffeured car with Jonathan Majors. A jury found Majors had recklessly assaulted her after she testified he'd cut her right ear and broken a finger in her right hand.Insider/Manhattan Criminal Court

"The people bookended the trial with loud accusations of a deliberate pattern of intentional bad conduct by Mr. Majors," Chaudhry wrote.

"They relentlessly pressed a narrative of deliberate and calculated abuse," she wrote.

Read Jonathan Majors' motion to void his domestic violence conviction here.

Prosecutors have until until March 5 to respond to the 330.30, and his lawyers have until March 12 to respond to that response.

A spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said, "The Court has already heard and rejected the arguments supporting this motion when the defense originally raised them during the trial. The jury then convicted Mr. Majors of Assault in the 3rd Degree and Harassment in the 2nd Degree. We will respond in detail in court papers."

This story has been updated with additional detail from the defense filing.

Read the original article on Business Insider