Archive for the ‘Criminal Justice System’ Category
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder‘s speech to the NAACP the other day was all about how we need to get rid of these “stand your ground” laws. The convention erupted in applause.
Stevie Wonder stays he won’t perform another concert in Florida until the Sunshine state repeals its “stand your ground” law.
“Stand you ground” simply means you don’t have an obligation to retreat if attacked. You have a right to “stand your ground” and defend yourself.
In George Zimmerman‘s case, “stand your ground” did not apply because he was on his back. Trayvon Martin was on top performing “ground and pound” MMA style.
There was no place for Zimmerman to retreat to — which is why Zimmerman never used “stand your ground” in his defense. He invoked simple self-defense — which is a valid legal defense in all 50 states.
In some states, the law requires you to try to retreat (run away) before using deadly force.
In Massachusetts, if your home is being invaded, you are required to attempt to flee your home before shooting the criminal. Though, if you can’t flee, shooting the criminal is permissible.
Prudence, of course, advises that it’s always best to try to retreat and call 911 rather than fight, if possible. But most states don’t require that. Classic self-defense legal doctrine allows you to defend yourself if attacked. That’s really all “stand your ground” is.
It also turns out African-Americans in Florida have benefitted the most from the “stand your ground” law.
Black Floridians have made about one third of the “stand your ground” claims in the state — which is nearly double the percentage of black Americans who live in Florida. The majority of these claims have succeeded, while most “stand your ground” claims by white Floridians have not succeeded.
So Zimmerman haters should be careful what they wish for when crusading against “stand your ground” laws.
Of course, Holder’s, Obama’s, and the Left’s real agenda is to outlaw firearms ownership completely, if they can. They don’t like gun ownership, the Second Amendment, or self-defense.
Like the Duke Lacrosse case, Zimmerman’s prosecutors should be jailed for withholding key evidence and for prosecutorial abuse.
Florida State Attorney Angela Corey and the three prosecutors who handled the prosecution of George Zimmerman (Bernie De La Rioanda, John Guy, and Richard Mantei) should now be jailed for these three reasons:
1) The prosecution deliberately hid evidence favorable to George Zimmerman, just like district attorney Michael Nifong in the Duke lacrosse case.
There will soon be a hearing concerning likely sanctions (punishment) against the Zimmerman prosecution for hiding key evidence that could have helped George Zimmerman in his trial.
An employee of the Florida State Attorney’s Office, Ben Kruidbos, has testified that prosecutors withheld images from Trayvon Martin’s cell phone that shows Martin smoking marijuana, boasting about street fights he’s been in, and deleted text messages regarding Trayvon’s efforts to purchase a firearm. “U got heat?” he wrote to a friend in one of the text messages. In another, a friend answered Trayvon’s thuggish boasting with this: “So you just turning into a lil hoodlum.”
Kruidbos, an IT expert, testified that he delivered the 900-page report to the prosecution in January of 2013, but that the prosecution did not turn this evidence over to the defense, as required by law, until mid-June, a few weeks before the trial.
The defense was then unable to use these images and text messages in the trial because they were not given enough time to verify their authenticity.
Kruidbos said that 2,958 photos were in the report given to the defense but that his report contained 4,275 photos. Kruidbos also said that he has been told to not put specific case-identifying information into internal e-mails.
The Florida state’s attorneys office has now fired Mr. Kruidbos for blowing the whistle on them.
This is exactly the offense the infamous prosecutor Michael Nifong was jailed for in the Duke Lacrosse case — withholding key evidence favorable to the defendant.
In criminal cases, both sides are required by law to show the court and the other side all their evidence — including evidence that is exculpatory or favorable for the defendant’s case.
In addition, State Attorney Angela Corey last year secured a second degree murder indictment against Zimmerman with a misleading (false) affidavit to the judge that did not include photos showing Zimmerman’s broken nose and injuries to his head — as she was required to do by law. Prosecutors are required to include all evidence when making a case to a judge for indictment, including all evidence favorable to the accused . . . so the judge can make an informed ruling.
She not only withheld important evidence from the judge, but likely committed perjury in doing so.
2) Prosecutors are ethically bound to bring cases they are near certain to win.
This was a classic case of overcharging (which happens all too often in America today).
George Zimmerman never should have been on trial for second degree murder.
There was not one shred of evidence that he had ill will, spite in his heart, or malice toward Trayvon Martin — a required pre-condition for second degree murder.
And there was not one shred of evidence to refute George Zimmerman’s story — his self-defense claim.
Chris Serino, the lead detective in the case interviewed George Zimmerman extensively. Police detectives are expert lie detectors. They know how to trip you up if you are lying.
Detective Serino was convinced, and remains convinced, that Zimmerman was telling the truth.
Serino also testified that when he played the recording of the 911 call that featured the scream and the gunshot for Trayvon’s father Tracy Martin, Mr. Martin said the scream was not his son’s.
This is why the police released Zimmerman and no charges were initially filed against Zimmerman.
The police believed, after an extensive investigation, that George Zimmerman’s self-defense claim was likely true.
Prosecutors are ethically bound to only bring cases to trial they feel in their mind they are near-certain to win.
That’s why most good prosecutors win 99 percent of their cases.
The reason this principle is important is the state has near-limitless resources to spend on a prosecution.
The ordinary citizen has very little resources.
The prosecution clearly spent millions of dollars on the prosecution of George Zimmerman.
Zimmerman’s defense must have cost at least $1,000,000. Good criminal defense lawyers charge $300 to $1,000 per hour. Zimmerman’s lawyers worked nearly full-time on this case for 16 months.
Fortunately for George, this was a high-profile case. Donations poured into his website from sympathetic citizens at a rate of $30,000 per month in recent months, allowing him to pay at least a portion of his legal bills so he could mount a credible defense.
Most citizens don’t have these resources. Most Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Most citizens are at the mercy of the prosecution — either have to rely on a young overworked public defender or on a solitary lawyer with no ability to fund their own investigation, replete with medical experts, use of force experts, forensic experts, gun shot wound experts, etc.
Most ordinary citizens simply don’t have the means to mount a credible defense if the state is really out to get you.
That’s why prosecutorial discretion and restraint is such a key principle in law.
There was no prosecutorial restraint here.
Instead, this win-at-all-costs prosecution knowingly tried to twist and misrepresent the evidence (much of this evidence actually proving the opposite of what the prosecution was attempting to prove) to put George Zimmerman in prison for 30 years to life.
They even tried to portray Zimmerman’s desire to be a cop, his taking of criminal justice courses at a community college, and his starting of a Neighborhood Watch group as somehow bad things. To them, Zimmerman getting an A in his criminal justice course at a community college was supposed to be the real “Ah ha!” moment of this trial — proof that Zimmerman was up to something nefarious.
That’s an abuse of government power and a deliberate effort to create a travesty of justice.
This is mind-bogglingly bad behavior by these prosecutors, who are supposed to be officers of the court interested in truth.
3) The prosecution showed malice toward George Zimmerman by the way it prosecuted this case.
If you have a strong case, you don’t yell and scream at the jury. You calmly present facts, evidence, and law to the jury — exactly the way defense attorney Mark O’Mara did.
Prosecutor John Guy, in his yelling and screaming closing statement, told the jury to “look into your heart” and convict George Zimmerman of Second Degree Murder — which would have sent Zimmerman to prison for 30 years to life.
“Look into your heart”!?
How about look at the evidence and the law?
The prosecution had not one shred of evidence to refute Zimmerman’s self-defense claim.
So what the prosecution did was engage in character assassination and smear.
They tried to paint Zimmerman as a malicious racist and vigilante because he was heard mumbling under his breath on the 911 call that “these f——ing punks always get away.”
This statement, by the way, seems to be true. There were a rash of burglaries and home invasions in this community within weeks of this event, which was in a crime-ridden neighborhood. George Zimmerman started this Neighborhood Watch group because of all the crime.
My wife has sometimes told me “You’re an f—–ing a—hole” . . . when, frankly, I’ve acted like one.
Do I take this to mean she has malice in her heart towards me?
Do I take this to mean that she’s a bad person because she has, on occasion, used language like this?
Of course not. I take it has an expression of frustration on her part over something I’ve done or not done. She’s pissed off.
I’ll then take immediate steps to make amends, to correct my behavior.
The prosecution actually tried to send George Zimmrman to prison for the rest of his life for saying “These f—-ing punks always get away.”
By the way, Trayvon certainly fit the profile of these burglars ransacking Zimmerman’s neighborhood.
At the time of the shooting, Trayvon was on suspension from school for having stolen goods and burglary tool in his backpack. Trayvon had a history of violent conflicts in school.
Judge Nelson did not allow any of this information concerning Trayvon’s behavioral history into the trial.
Zimmerman was not profiling by race. He was profiling behavior. If we can’t profile based on behavior, civilized society has no defense.
The prosecution withheld the mountain of evidence that showed George Zimmerman was not a racist.
He mentored African-American kids. In high school, he took an African-American date to the prom. His African-American neighbor testified that George Zimmerman was a wonderful person who cared deeply about the people in that community, many of whom are African-American.
But the prosecution wanted to portray George Zimmerman as a bad guy by taking a single quote (“f—-ing punks”) out of context, as if that quote means anything.
The prosecution essentially tried to win this case by name calling.
The prosecution also wanted the jury to believe that George Zimmerman is a liar and therefore a murderer (an enormous illogical leap) because of inconsistencies in some of the details of his multiple recountings of the event.
In the Casey Anthony case, she was proven to be a liar. But the jury did not think this was proof that she should be executed for capital murder.
Lead Detective Chris Serino saw inconsistencies in Zimmerman’s stories. He saw these inconsistencies in the details as insignificant.
But the prosecution made a huge deal of these inconsistencies or what they saw as implausibilities to argue that Zimmerman is a liar and therefore guilty of murder.
For example . . .
George Zimmerman told police Trayvon banged his head on the cement sidewalk probably 25 times.
Well, obviously Zimmerman’s head was not banged on the sidewalk 25 times. He would be dead. The forensics shows Trayvon banged Zimmerman’s head on the cement maybe five or six times. But it might have felt like 25 times. “About 25 times” means a lot and it hurt and Zimmerman “felt like I might lose consciousness.”
Did Zimmerman, perhaps, exaggerate the extent of the beating he took in order to lend more credibility to his self-defense claim?
Probably. I would say almost certainly he exaggerated.
But Zimmerman’s probable exaggeration does not change the core truth of his claim and what the medical and forensic evidence shows — that George Zimmerman was taking a beating from Trayvon Martin, who was four inches taller than the soft 5′ 7″ Zimmerman.
Moreover, the only real eye witness to the event, John Good, testified that he saw Trayvon on top of Zimmerman delivering blows downward, MMA style. He also testified that he saw and heard Zimmerman screaming for help.
The prosecution had all this evidence, but moved forward with the prosecution anyway.
Prosecutors tried to make the case that Zimmerman is a liar (and therefore guilty) because he told police he needed to check the name of the street. Prosecutors said Zimmerman should know the name of this street because there are only three streets in the community in which he lives.
I could not tell you, for certain off the top of my head, the names of the streets that connect to the street I live on. I cannot tell you my wife’s cell phone number because I have it on speed dial. Perhaps George just wanted to be sure of the name of the street he was telling police.
No evidence of lying here. But the prosecution tried to blow this up as a big lie – and therefore, the prosecution suggested to the jury, Zimmerman must be guilty of murder.
Anytime you recount events more than once, there will be differences in the details. Memory is never 100 percent reliable, especially after your head has been banged on concrete multiple times and your nose has been broken. As time marches on, memory of details can fade. And sometimes you remember new details.
Lead police detective Chris Serino (a witness for the prosecution) was not the least bit bothered by these kinds of inconsistencies in detail.
Did Trayvon jump out of the bushes? Or did he jump out of the dark to attack George?
Prosecutors made a big deal out of that inconsistency. ”Where are these bushes?” the prosecution bellowed.
Clearly, Trayvon jumped out of somewhere to confront George.
Did he come at George from the the back, the side, or the front?
George probably doesn’t know. It was dark. Wherever Trayvon jumped from, he was suddenly there, punching George in the nose, knocking George to the ground, then jumping on top of George pummeling him MMA style.
The prosecution argued that there was no way George could have reached his gun that was in a holster on George’s hip.
“Impossible,” the prosecution told the jury . . . because Trayvon’s legs would have been over the gun.
Don’t these prosecutors realize that a fight is a dynamic event with bodies moving and squirming all over the place?
Prosecutors told the jury Trayvon would have needed more than two arms to do all he did to George.
Do these prosecutors not understand that all these blows and slams of Zimmerman’s head on the sidewalk did not all happen at the same instant, but occurred sequentially over approximately 45-seconds?
Of course these prosecutors know all this. These prosecutors are not stupid. They’re liars. They’re evil. Their goal was not to seek truth or justice. Their goal was to confuse the jury in order to secure a false conviction.
The prosecution repeatedly misrepresented the law to the jury.
The prosecution did this by trying to minimize the extent of injury to Zimmerman’s head, saying these injuries were not life threatening.
But ending up with serious injuries is not necessary for self-defense. Reasonable fear of serious injury is what’s required.
The prosecution of course knew the law, but sought to misrepresent the law concerning self-defense to the jury in order to win their conviction. The prosecution did everything in its power to confuse the jury about what the law concerning self-defense actually is.
We expect defense lawyers to try to win their case by confusing the jury. That’s what O.J. Simpson’s lawyers did successfully in his murder case. But we don’t expect the prosecution to use this tactic — the tactic of creating as much confusion as possible.
The prosecution’s strategy in this case was to throw as much mud at George Zimmerman as possible, and then see if some of it sticks. What will stick, of course, is the smearing of George’s character. At least, some of that will stick.
George Zimmerman’s life is likely ruined. How will he get a job? What employer will want to become a target of an angry mob for hiring George Zimmerman?
How will George Zimmerman even be able to make a trip to the grocery store without risking being attacked?
Prosecutors are officers of the court and agents of the government.
They have an obligation to present evidence fairly, all the evidence — including evidence favorable to the defendant. Prosecutors are supposed to be primarily interested in finding the truth and pursuing justice — true justice.
Prosecutors are supposed to only bring cases if they are certain in their own minds they can win.
They are not supposed to bring cases they might win. They are not supposed to lie or mislead the jury to win their case through over-heated emotional appeals not based in fact or law.
This prosecution presented not one shred of evidence to refute Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense.
They relied entirely on emotion and character assassination on the hope that they could get this jury to hate George Zimmerman so much as a person, that perhaps this jury would convict Zimmerman of something, even if there were no facts presented to support conviction.
At the last minute, before closing arguments, the prosecution wanted to add a new charge — third degree murder, where a child dies due to child abuse.
Trayvon Martin was 17 years old, 5′ 11″ — four inches taller and far more athletic than than doughy 5′ 7″ Zimmerman.
Judge Nelson rejected the last-minute murder by “child abuse” charge.
Of course, the prosecutors know there was no “child abuse” here. But they wanted to add that as a charge because they know “child abuse” is an explosive phrase that might cause these six moms on the jury to recoil in horror and really hate Zimmerman.
The two prosecutors spent most of their closing statements yelling and screaming at the jury, slamming Trayvon’s Skittles on the table for emotional effect.
Prosecutor John Guy kept repeating this nonsensical phrase he must have grabbed from Bartlett’s Book of Quotations: “You owe the living respect. You owe the dead the truth” — as if this phrase has any meaning at all in this case.
John Guy thought this phrase so important and profound that he repeated it at least three times to the jury.
Here’s another phrase: “When you don’t have the facts on your side, you rely on the law. When you don’t have the facts or the law on your side, you yell a lot and pound the table.”
That’s what this prosecution did. They did not have the facts or the law on their side.
So they wasted millions of dollars of taxpayer money trying to win this unwinnable case on emotion — by getting the jury to hate George Zimmerman as person — by taking his statements out of context, by twisting evidence, and by presenting everything Zimmerman did in the worst possible light, never entertaining other more plausible explanations.
These prosecutors were not interested in truth or justice. They just wanted to win at all costs. They wanted to win by misleading the court and the jury — by intentionally and deliberately painting a false picture of George Zimmerman.
This was a malicious prosecution that never should have occurred.
These prosecutors are evil people. They are evil people because they misused the machinery of government to engage in character assassination and smear of an innocent man. They intentionally withheld key evidence from the defense, the court, and the jury. They are evil because they knew they had no case but attempted to put an innocent man in prison for the rest of his life anyway by ginning up hatred for George Zimmerman in the jury.
These prosecutors were trying to gin up a frenzied lynch mob mentality in these jurors.
Fortunately, the jury saw through all this. They acquitted George Zimmerman unanimously of all charges.
But now where does George Zimmerman go to get his reputation back?
Like Michael Nifong in the infamous Duke Lacrosse case, these prosecutors should serve jail time for abusing their office to engage in a malicious prosecution against a very decent man, George Zimmerman.
Without a $1,000,000 legal defense warchest, the ordinary citizen has no chance against a dishonest prosecution that disregards evidence and law in its determination to win at all costs.
This trial never should have occurred.
The prosecution could not provide one shred of evidence to refute Zimmerman’s self-defense claim.
Just a lot of: “Couldn’t it have happened this way?” Or “Perhaps it happened that way.”
The big lesson I took from the Zimmerman trial is that, without a high-powered legal team, you have little chance against the state.
Look at the resources the state brought to the prosecution of George Zimmerman.
Zimmerman had to defend himself against and army of prosecutors, investigators, and researchers working on the case.
The state must have spent millions of taxpayer dollars on this prosecution.
Fortunately for Zimmerman, he’s been able to hire a high-powered legal team.
Because this is such high-profile contentious case, donations have poured into Zimmerman’s legal defense website (about $30,000 per month in recent months), he’s been able to pay Mark O’Mara, Don West, and his legal team something — though not likely anywhere near the $1-2 million he likely owes these lawyers.
High-powered criminal defense lawyers earn $300 to $1,000 per hour.
These lawyers have been working on this case for a year-and-a-half.
We saw the value of high-powered legal representation in the O.J. Simpson and William Kennedy Smith trials.
But ordinary people who are not involved in high-profile cases cannot afford anywhere close to this level of legal representation.
Many criminal defendants are low-income Americans who must rely on an overworked public defender — most of whom are young and have almost no experience. They have no chance against the state.
In America, we are told to expect “equal justice of all.”
But there’s no “equal justice” for the low-income American who must rely on a public defender, or perhaps a single lawyer who must operate on a shoestring budget and doesn’t have the resources to conduct their own investigations.
In the George Zimmerman trial, we also saw how vicious and unfair the prosecution can be.
The prosecution painted every statement and every action of George Zimmerman in the worse possible light. Because he was quoted once saying “these f____ing punks always get away,” he was portrayed not as just frustrated because of the rash of home invasions and burglaries in his community, but as a racist with malice and ill-will in his heart toward Trayvon Martin.
The prosecution is supposed to be seeking justice, not twisting every statement of a defendant in an effort to paint a dishonest caricature of a defendant so the jury hates Zimmerman.
The prosecution also presented every little inconsistency in Zimmerman’s account as evidence that he’s a liar and therefore a murderer (an enormous illogical leap).
For example, the prosecution made a big deal of Zimmerman’s claim that his head was bashed on the concrete “maybe 25 times” — saying this shows Zimmerman is a liar.
It’s obvious from the evidence that Zimmerman’s head was slammed on the sidewalk maybe five or six times. But it probably felt like 25 times.
The prosecution made a big deal over Zimmerman having to check the street name when reporting the event to police.
The prosecution thought Zimmerman should have known the street name from memory since that was his neighborhood and there were only three streets.
Heck, I don’t know my wife’s cell phone number. I just hit the speed dial.
I know the street I live on. But I really could not tell police the names to the other streets around me. This is just not information I keep in my mind — especially with modern GPS systems. Or, it’s possible Zimmerman wanted to make sure he had the spelling correct.
There are any number of reasons Zimmerman might have wanted to check the name of the street before giving it to police.
But the prosecution blew this up into some kind of big character flaw — evidence of lying and evidence that Zimmerman was trying to cover up a crime.
The prosecution argued there was no way Zimmerman could have reached his own gun in the holster on his hip if Trayvon was on top of him in a fight.
Obviously, in a fight the combatants are moving around. Zimmerman could certainly have found a opportunity during the scuffle to reach his own gun.
But the prosecution presented that as a lie by Zimmerman. And then took a wild illogical jump to: this must mean he committed murder.
Zimmerman says Trayvon jumped out at him from the bushes. At another time, he said Trayvon jumped out at him from the dark.
Jumped from the bushes? Jumped from the dark? Jumped from somewhere? I don’t know where he jumped from.
All this basically means the same thing to me.
Trayvon jumped out from somewhere, according to Zimmerman. These are not substantially inconsistent statements, not evidence of lying. Certainly not evidence Zimmerman is a murderer.
It’s almost impossible to tell a story more than once without changing the story. We include some details, leave others out, then add them later. Memory of events also becomes cloudier as time moves on.
The chief detective testified to the court that he believed Zimmerman was telling the truth, that the inconsistencies in Zimmerman’s accounts were irrelevant. The lead detective is an expert lie detector. He is convinced Zimmerman is telling the truth. And the detective was the prosecution’s witness.
But this did not stop the prosecution from continuing its witch hunt.
The prosecution did everything it could to trash George Zimmerman as a person — trying to show he’s a bad guy.
When President Reagan’s Secretary of Labor Ray Donovan was prosecuted for corruption, but then later acquitted of wrongdoing, he expressed relief at the acquittal, and then said: “But now where do I go to get my reputation back.”
Thank God George Zimmerman had a high-powered legal team to save him from this malicious, politicized prosecution.
The prosecution’s closing argument was essentially this: Ignore the evidence and the law and instead rely on your heart to convict George Zimmerman.
“Look into your heart” prosecutor John Guy kept telling the jury.
Look into your heart?
How about look at the evidence and the law.
The prosecution actually changed its position at the end of the case.
In the opening argument, the prosecution had George Zimmerman on top of Trayvon Martin.
As the trial went on, it was clear the defense could pretty well prove (with two eye-witness accounts plus the forensics) that Trayvon was on top of Zimmerman. So then the prosecution’s position became: “Well, maybe Trayvon was trying to pull away when Zimmerman shot him.”
So the prosecution told the jury to convict Zimmerman based on that possibility — a “maybe it happened this way” proposition. Or “maybe it happened that way.”
The truth is, no one really knows what happened, except George Zimmerman. If the prosecution can’t tell us what happened, the verdict should be “not guilty.”
The malice the prosecution showed toward Zimmerman throughout this trial was appalling.
At the last minute before closing arguments, they even tried to throw in a new charge — murder three, when a child ends up dead due to child abuse.
Fortunately, the judge rejected that absurdity.
Throughout his closing argument, prosecutor John Guy repeatedly referred to Trayvon Martin as “a child” — another effort to mischaracterize the situation to tug on the heartstrings of the six mothers who are on the jury.
A six-foot-tall 17-year-old is a minor (barely), but not a child.
A child is a kid in elementary school or middle school. A 17-year-old is approaching their physical peak in life. To call Trayvon “a child” in an effort to suggest he was somehow defenseless against the out-of-shape 5′ 7″ George Zimmerman was yet another example of this prosecution’s dishonesty and their win-at-all-costs mentality.
The closing argument of the prosecution amounted to mostly screaming and yelling, combined with strange quotes from Bartlett’s Book of Quotations that had nothing to do with the case. Prosecutor John Guy repeatedly screamed this at the jury throughout his one-hour close: “We owe the living respect. We owe the dead the truth.”
He thought this so profound, he repeated it at least three times to the jury.
What the heck does that quote have to do with anything in this case? What does it even mean?
This prosecution spared no expense and was determined to win at all costs, no matter what the evidence actually shows. This prosecution never even presented a theory or timeline of what happened the night George shot Trayvon.
Prosecutors are officers of the court. They work for the state. We should expect better.
Thank God, Zimmerman has superb legal representation.
But most Americans can’t afford a team of $500 per hour lawyers to contest every allegation, every twisting of evidence by the prosecution with its army of lawyers, investigators, and researchers. Most Americans can’t afford to pay forensic experts, medical experts, gunshot experts, and even use of force experts to contest the prosecution’s claims.
Most Americans have to hope prosecutors are actually interested in the truth, interested in justice.
This prosecution was only interested in winning — was unconcerned about the truth.
The conduct of these prosecutors was so over-the-top, so dishonest, so unprofessional, so unfairly abusive to George Zimmerman, that they should lose their license to practice law. They should perhaps even serve some jail time.
We must also take steps to curb this kind of prosecutorial abuse — which, unfortunately, we are seeing more and more today.
Here are a few ideas:
1) Prosecutors should be penalized professionally (perhaps lose their job) for failing to win convictions on 90 percent of the charges they bring.
This prosecution had to know they could not possibly prove second degree murder against George Zimmerman. They had, at most, a manslaughter case.
Prosecutors are supposed to bring charges against an individual only if they are certain in their own minds that they have overwhelming evidence to win the case.
But prosecutors like to overcharge defendants.
They overcharge, first, as a way to terrorize defendants into accepting a plea bargain of guilty on a lesser charge.
Rather than face the prospect of 25 years or life in prison, defendants who are not guilty of anything often plea to a lesser charge in order to escape the possibility they will be convicted of the extreme charge, even if by some fluke.
If there is a trial, prosecutors bring the most extreme charge possible as a strategy to persuade a jury to reach a compromise verdict on a lesser charge, even if there isn’t much evidence for the lesser charge either.
Casey Anthony was acquitted because the prosecution was seeking the death penalty against her. This was a clear case of over-charging.
Had the prosecution brought a murder three charge against her — child abuse that leads to the death of a child — the state might have won that conviction.
But the jury was not about to send Casey Anthony to the death chamber. No sane person would.
The death penalty is supposed to be reserved for the likes of John Wayne Gasey, not Casey Anthony.
I believe Casey Anthony accidentally killed her baby with chloriform. She wanted to put her baby to sleep with chloriform so Casey could go off and party. The baby then died.
Terrible, yes. Criminal, yes. Death penalty, no. Classic case of over-charging by the prosecution. This should not be permitted.
The legal system should take a dim view of prosecutors over-charging defendants because the state has unlimited resources to press any charge imaginable, but ordinary citizens don’t have the resources to mount a credible defense against any charge the state might dream up bring up.
Penalties against prosecutors over-charging defendants should range from a court reprimand and financial sanctions to disbarment and even prison depending on how egregious the violation.
Prosecutors are officers of the court, agents of the government.
Citizens have a right to expect fair and honest prosecutions.
2) Prosecutors should be required to make all charges known before the trial starts, not come in at the end of the trial with lesser charges or different charges.
In Florida and other states, prosecutors, if they think they haven’t proven their case, often ask the judge to allow the jury to consider lesser charges.
Thus, there is every incentive for prosecutors to overcharge a defendant.
Even though we are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty in America, the reality is that juries, for the most part, assume the defendant must have done something wrong or he would not be in this position.
Studies show that juries are much more likely to arrive at a guilty verdict if they have a menu of charges to pick from, including lesser charges.
Prosecutors should be required to settle on one charge per crime — not be allowed to get away with offering a menu of charges for the jury to settle on.
If the prosecution is confident of its case, it should be required to prove it — not say: “Well if you don’t believe us on this, maybe you’ll believe this.” Prosecutors should not be allowed to engage in “bait and switch.”
The idea that a defendant would have to begin trial without knowing what all the charges are is Orwellian.
Prosecutors should not be allowed to just throw up as much mud as they can against the wall and see what manages to stick.
They should be sure of their charges before they bring charges.
3) If the prosecution fails to win conviction, the government should reimburse the defendant for all legal fees.
A law like this would cause prosecutors to make sure they have the evidence before their start charging people with crimes.
If the prosecution brings three charges, and only wins on one of them, the government would have to reimburse the defendant two-thirds of his or her legal fees.
A law like this would also allow ordinary Americans who are innocent to mount a credible legal defense.
Top flight law firms would then look at criminal cases, assess the facts, and take on low and middle income clients on the prospect that their legal bills would be paid if they won the case.
We would then lessen the problem we have today of low and middle income Americans being unable to afford a vigorous legal defense. If they know the facts are on their side, law firms will be anxious to come to their defense.
The Bottom Line
We need to do something to level the playing field between the state and the individual defendant.
Right now, the ordinary American is no match for the state because the ordinary American cannot afford to pay law firms $500 per hour per lawyer to mount a credible legal defense against serious charges.
How many people can afford the $1,000,000 or more it would take to match the near unlimited resources of the state?
We have a two-tiered criminal justice system — one system for those who can afford a million-dollar legal defense. Another system for those who can’t.
That’s not “equal justice for all.”
We can address this in one of two ways.
We can make sure every criminal defendant has a $1,000,000 legal defense warchest.
Or we can enact laws and rules that would impose big penalties on the prosecution for over-charging defendants. We can also require the government to reimburse defendants for failed prosecutions. This would go a long way toward curbing prosecutorial abuse.
The George Zimmerman trial is over except the formalities.
The prosecution has rested. And most of the prosecution’s witnesses support Zimmerman’s account of what happened.
We are now hearing from the defense. But this trial is effectively over based on the evidence and witnesses the prosecution put on. Either this is the most inept prosecution of all time, or there was no case and we should not have had a trial.
George Zimmerman’s injuries on his head and face, including a broken nose, clearly show he was beaten by the much-taller Trayvon Martin (6 feet tall vs the 5′ 8″ Zimmerman). There was a four-inch height difference. Trayvon was clearly far more athletic than the short, overweight, out-of-shape Zimmerman.
Jonathon Good — the most credible witness, the witness who saw the most – testified that Martin was on top of Zimmerman raining down blows on Zimmerman.
The fact that the back of Zimmerman’s clothing was wet and had grass stuck to the back of his pants and jacket is strong evidence that Zimmerman was on his back taking a beating.
The prosecution has all but conceded Martin was on top beating Zimmerman.
The prosecution is trying to say that the fact that Zimmerman was not grievously injured suggests he used unreasonable force in response.
But the extent of the injuries has nothing to do with the law concerning self-defense.
The prosecution, of course, knows this. The prosecution is doing all it can to confuse the jury about the law in order to get a false conviction — a tactic by the prosecution that is, at best, immoral, if not illegal.
The law says you have the right to shoot an attacker in self-defense if you reasonably fear you might be killed or suffer grievous bodily harm.
It doesn’t say you have the right to shoot only after you suffer grievous bodily harm. You just need to have a reasonable fear that you might be killed or suffer grievous bodily harm.
If an attacker is on top of you pounding your head on cement, this would certainly qualify, even if you manage to escape grievous bodily harm.
It was only later, after an uproar from national black leaders (Al Sharpton, etc) and the media that a charge of second degree murder was filed.
President Obama even jumped into the case, telling America: “If I Had a Son, He’d Look Like Trayvon”.
When the President of the United States came out against Zimmerman, no doubt the State of Florida felt it had little choice but to move forward with some kind of show trial. Black leaders were also threatening riots if there wasn’t justice for Trayvon.
So now we have this show trial, at enormous cost to taxpayers.
Of course, I don’t know what really happened that night when George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin. I have seen nothing in the trial so far that disproves anything Zimmerman told police that night.
We have conflicting testimony about whose voice on the 911 call was crying for help. Trayvon’s family says it was Trayvon. Zimmerman’s family says it was George. The guy who actually witnessed the event, Jonathon Good , says it was George.
So we don’t know. No one really knows what happened that night.
The prosecution must prove its case “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
This means all six jurors must believe, with near 100 percent certainty, that George Zimmerman hunted down and murdered Trayvon Martin with malice. That’s what a Second Degree Murder conviction requires.
There’s absolutely no evidence of that. Zimmerman fired just one shot. He says he thought he had missed. He says he did not realize Martin was dead until after his arrest.
If Zimmerman had malice toward Trayvon Martin, or toward black people, or if he fired out of some sort of rage or hatred, he likely would have fired more than one shot.
The forensics show that the gun was against the sweatshirt, but not pressed up against the body, that the sweatshirt and the second shirt under the sweatshirt were several inches away from the body — as would happen if Martin were on top of Zimmerman, bending over Zimmerman, raining down blows on Zimmerman and pounding Zimmerman’s head against the cement, just as Zimmerman described.
The prosecution is desperately trying to make the case that Zimmerman was a wannabe cop.
The evidence for this is that he took a criminal justice course several years ago and applied to become a police officer. So the prosecution is twisting what most people would consider to be positives into negatives for Zimmerman.
But what courses he took at a community college and what jobs he applied for are irrelevant. All that matters is what can be proven happened during those few seconds before George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin.
The prosecution is trying to make the case that Zimmerman, because he took this criminal justice course at a community college, understood Florida’s “stand your ground” law and understood what to say to police.
Assuming that’s true (a huge stretch), does this mean we can’t trust the testimony of cops in trials because they know what to say? Does this mean we can’t trust police reports because they know how to tailor their reports to whatever charges they want to prove?
Doesn’t making a point like this undermine the credibility of law enforcement and our entire criminal justice system?
Is the prosecution’s point that those who know the law can’t be trusted to tell the truth . . . because they know the law — and doubly can’t be trusted to tell the truth if they also want to become a cop?
This is an argument so bizarre and illogical I felt like I was watching a riff in a Monty Python movie.
Never mind that this case doesn’t even involve Florida’s “stand your ground” law. Zimmerman is not relying on the “stand your ground” law. He is claiming simple self-defense.
The state’s theory is that George Zimmerman is a wannabe cop who hates black people and who appointed himself vigilante (Charles Bronson-style). The state wants the jury to believes that George Zimmerman profiled Trayvon Martin and, motivated by racist rage, stalked Martin and gunned him down because Martin was wearing a hoodie.
The evidence for all this is that he took a course on criminal justice and applied to be a cop.
The fact that the prosecution has spent so much time on this point just underscores how flimsy their case against Zimmerman really is.
“Is this really all they have? Is this really their entire case?” I keep asking myself.
I kept waiting for the grand finale, which never happened.
I don’t think the prosecution really even believes its own case.
It’s as if they know they have to come up with something because the politics of this case demands it. So this is the best they can do.
This is a trial that never should have happened.
These prosecutors should all lose their license to practice law for bringing such a frivolous case, at enormous cost to taxpayers. Prosecutors are only supposed to bring cases they know they are near-certain to win. They are only supposed to bring cases where the evidence is overwhelming.
This is why most prosecutors have a 98-100 percent conviction rate. It’s considered a breach of ethics for prosecutors to bring to trial cases they have almost no chance of winning — in this case, zero chance of winning . . . because almost all the evidence the prosecution presented supports Zimmerman’s account of what happened.
The lead detective in the case (a witness for the prosecution) believed Zimmerman told the truth to the police, has still found no evidence to suggest Zimmerman was lying about anything.
Has there ever been a criminal case in history where the lead detective (the man in charge of the investigation for the state) takes the side of the criminal defendant?
Incredibly, that’s what happened here.
The law professor the prosecution put on the stand told the jury the prosecution had misstated the law, and proceeded to give a tutorial on what the law actually is concerning “stand your ground” and “self-defense” – and why Zimmerman appears to have acted in accordance with the law.
The judge should not send this case to the jury. The judge should summarily throw this case out for lack of evidence.
Of course, that won’t happen because this is a political trial.
This trial is happening because President Obama personally weighed in on this case against Zimmerman . . . and because of threats to riot from the black community. This is a trial about “political correctness,” not about what the state can prove happened that night.
George Zimmerman is the target of a modern lynch mob, with Barack Obama (the President of the United States) surreally leading the mob.
So, it’s come to this.
In America today, we really can be tried as a criminal (and potentially jailed for decades) for accidentally running up against “political correctness.”
This jerk pastor should be arrested for threatening and inciting violence against the President of the United States. A few years time in a federal pen might sober him up.
SMOKING GUN: The Florida pastor who ignited an international furor by threatening to burn a pile of Korans has applied his subtle touch to the 2012 presidential campaign by constructing a gallows from which a likeness of President Barack Obama now hangs in effigy.
The display in the front yard of Terry Jones’s Dove World Outreach Center (DWOC) in Gainesville features a dummy wearing an Obama mask hanging from a yellow noose. Along with an American flag and a rainbow-striped gay pride flag, the scene includes an Uncle Sam dummy and a child’s doll hanging from the right hand of the Obama figure.
Nearby, the words “Obama is Killing America” are printed on a trailer. So, it appears, the creepy Jones is returning the favor.
Despite the small size of his following, Jones has had an outsized impact due to his inflammatory (and shameless) tactics, which included his 2010 threat to burn Korans on the anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks.
The DWOC has been criticized for cult-like rules detailed in an “Academy Rulebook” prepared by Jones’s wife. Fox example, prospective ministers were directed to cut off most contact with family members. “Family occasions like wedding, funerals or Birthdays are no exception to this rule,” students were warned. “No phone calls. Exceptions can be made under certain circumstances but only after receiving permission.”
It will be real interesting to see how well he gets along with his fellow inmates.
NY DAILY NEWS: A former NYPD narcotics detective snared in a corruption scandal testified it was common practice to fabricate drug charges against innocent people to meet arrest quotas.
The bombshell testimony from Stephen Anderson is the first public account of the twisted culture behind the false arrests in the Brooklyn South and Queens narc squads, which led to the arrests of eight cops and a massive shakeup.
Anderson, testifying under a cooperation agreement with prosecutors, was busted for planting cocaine, a practice known as “flaking,” on four men in a Queens bar in 2008 to help out fellow cop Henry Tavarez, whose buy-and-bust activity had been low.
“Tavarez was … was worried about getting sent back [to patrol] and, you know, the supervisors getting on his case,” he recounted at the corruption trial of Brooklyn South narcotics Detective Jason Arbeeny.
“I had decided to give him [Tavarez] the drugs to help him out so that he could say he had a buy,” Anderson testified last week in Brooklyn Supreme Court.
Hey! Because Casey Anthony was acquitted, should we do away juries, the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments of the Constitution, and let public opinion decide cases?
We could save a lot of money on trials by just letting the media try cases and having Gallup conduct polls to determine verdicts.
Or, trials could be conducted like reality shows, similar to Donald Trump’s ‘The Apprentice.’
But instead of “You’re Fired!” the punch line could be: “You’re Executed!”
In an interview with Joy Behar, the lead prosecutor in the Casey Anthony case Jeff Ashton said “I thought we put on a pretty strong case”; and “I think the evidence was pretty strong.”
Well, gee, that’s not quite good enough, is it — especially when you are trying to put someone to death.
Frankly, a “pretty strong case” and “pretty strong evidence” isn’t even enough to convict someone of a traffic violation.
Just about everyone thinks they know Casey Anthony had something to do with killing her baby.
So 90 percent of America thinks she should have been convicted, of something.
“Caylee deserves justice” is the refrain. “Someone needs to pay for the death of little Caylee.”
But if justice for the victim is the standard for conviction, we would have a 100% conviction rate.
There’s no way to get justice for Caylee. She’s dead. That can never be undone, even if we put the killer to death.
I’m 95 percent certain Casey Anthony had something to do with the death of her child.
But I’m not putting her to death based on “thinking” she did it, or “suspecting” she did it.
And then there’s the question of: “Did what?”
Was this an accident followed by a cover-up that snowballed out of control? Or was this really premeditated first degree murder?
This was not a hung jury. This was not a divided jury. All 12 jurors agreed that the evidence presented was insufficient to convict.
One of the jurors says it made her “sick to my stomach” to acquit Casey, but she had no choice but to acquit based on what the state presented. To convict someone of a crime, the case must be proved “beyond any reasonable doubt,” meaning “to the exclusion of all other reasonable scenarios” that fit the facts presented, and “to a moral certitude.”
I agree with Ashton. He put on a “pretty strong case.” The circumstantial evidence he presented was also “pretty strong.”
But the defense’s closing argument plausibly challenged every piece of forensic evidence presented by the prosecution and proposed plausible alternative scenarios.
I did not have to agree with what the defense put forward. All I had to think was: “Yeah, there’s a 10% chance that’s true.”
The problems are:
1) We have no cause of death
2) We don’t know where Caylee died
3) No DNA evidence
4) No witnesses
5) No murder weapon
6) No direct evidence connecting Casey to the death of Caylee
7) No plausible motive.
8) No evidence that Casey was a bad mom
9) Lots of evidence Casey loved Caylee and was a good mom
So because almost everyone suspects Casey is guilty of something (but isn’t quite sure of what), should we now throw out the jury system?
Should we replace the jury system and get rid of the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments of the Constitution and replace all this with verdict by public opinion, like on American Idol?
Perhaps people could tweet in their vote and we could have verdicts that way.
The strongest evidence the prosecution put forward was the duct tape.
A big problem there was that the duct tape was just barely connected to the skull.
Perhaps the duct tape was used to wrap up the body after the death. Perhaps the duct tape was used to keep the child quiet while Casey partied and the child died by accident. Perhaps someone other than Casey applied the duct tape.
The other big piece of evidence was Casey not reporting her missing child for 31 days and her non-stop partying during that period.
Well, if the child died because of negligence, Casey might have gone into panic mode and tried to make the accident look like a murder. Or if her father George was somehow involved, perhaps he told her he’d take care of everything.
Again, who really knows?
No one really knows what happened to Caylee or how it happened.
Even the prosecution admits this.
So should we put Casey to death anyway . . . because most people “think” she’s guilty, of something?
I think she’s guilty of something. I just have no idea what.
Was it premeditated first degree murder? Was it negligent homicide or just some horrible accident she and her father George tried to cover up?
We don’t know. And we’ll never know.
I do know it makes zero sense for Casey to have intentionally murdered Caylee — however bad this circumstantial evidence looks (at first glance).
By all accounts, Casey was a good mom who loved her daughter. Had she wanted her freedom, all she had to do was leave Caylee with George and Cindy Anthony, who were happy to have Caylee around.
She could have left Caylee at George and Cindy’s and run away, leaving a note saying: “I just can’t handle being a mom.”
And that would have been the end of it. Casey would have her freedom.
If all Casey wanted was her freedom, does it make any sense that she would commit capital murder and face death or life in prison?
When I listened to Jose Baez’s opening statements implicating Casey’s father George Anthony and the meter man Roy Kronk as possible culprits in this case, I too thought this far-fetched. He also said Casey had been sexually molested by her father George and her brother Lee.
Baez’s case wasn’t helped when the judge would not allow much of this evidence into the trial. Baez looked like he was just throwing out a lot of wild allegations to get his client off.
But now Casey’s ex-finance Jesse Grund has stepped forward to say her brother Lee did attempt to have sex with Casey. He also says Cindy Anthony was very abusive toward Casey. Nor did he have anything good to say about George Anthony.
In an interview with Dr. Drew, Grund portrayed Casey as growing up in an abusive, dysfunctional home where she appears to have been the victim of sexual molestation (or attempted sexual molestation) by her brother Lee.
What does this have to do with Casey’s guilt or innocence?
Nothing — except that it may explain her pattern of habitual lying.
It’s well documented that children who grow up in abusive families often become habitual liars. They reflexively lie to protect themselves. They lie when they don’t have to lie. They lie when the truth would serve them better. They believe its safer, more often than not, to lie in answer to every question. That’s their reflexive defense mechanism.
So that’s a plausible explanation for all Casey’s lies — lies that often made no sense.
Is any of this true?
But it’s reasonable doubt. It’s a plausible alternative scenario.
Furthermore, Roy Kronk’s son says Kronk lied in the trial.
Kronk’s son Brandon Sparks says Kronk told him he had found Caylee’s remains in Nov. 2008 – several weeks before Kronk reported his finding to the police. Sparks says Kronk told him he was going to become rich and famous as a result of finding Casey’s remains.
Baez posited the theory that Kronk moved the remains and kept them at his home before deciding what to do to cash in on the finding. He then returned them to the site, or near the original site, and then reported the finding to the police. Brandon Sparks’ testimony seems to support the defense theory. The prosecution admits the remains were moved, but says by animals or water flow, or something.
Perhaps it was Kronk who murdered Caylee. At least that seemed to be the suggestion coming from Baez.
Kronk sure looks like a really creepy guy. His estranged son sure hates him and thinks he’s a really bad dude.
The problem the jury had was there were just too many questions, no real hard proof — just a lot of conjecture and theories proposed by the prosecution that seem plausible, that make sense, but don’t quite add up to proof.
All we really have is a dead body and no smoking gun, really no hard evidence at all.
Incredibly, we had a prosecution that wanted to put this young mother to death based on this evidence, or lack thereof.
I’m a death penalty skeptic to begin with. The government doesn’t do such a good job of delivering the mail or running car companies or balancing budgets. Why would I think this same government is doing a flawless job of sentencing people to death?
So far, 274 convictions in America have been overturned by DNA evidence, not available at the time of trial. Seventeen of these people had been sentenced to death before DNA proved their innocence and led to their release.
That’s how reliable the criminal justice system is.
Casey Anthony could easily be on death row right now, based on little more than speculation due to her odd behavior. Imagine if Casey had to rely on an overworked public defender.
Most people can’t afford to pay $500 or $1,000 per hour for a top-level criminal defense. Remember, the state was spending millions of taxpayer dollars to convict Casey of first degree murder. The state was sparing no expense.
Imagine if the brilliant and tireless Jose Baez had not stepped forward to volunteer most of his firm’s time. Casey managed to pay him and his team a grand total of $90,000 for three years of non-stop work, a period when he focused on little else but this case.
Had Baez not stepped forward to defend Casey (for almost no money), Casey would likely be on death row right now.
Thank God for Jose Baez. And thank God we had 12 jurors who listened carefully to Judge Belvin Perry’s instructions that the standard to convict is “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Given this standard, the jury had no choice but to acquit.
So, what do I think happened?
Well, I have no idea . . . and I followed this case quite closely.
My guess is Casey used chloroform to put Caylee to sleep so she could go and party.
Perhaps she used the duct tape to keep her baby quiet in case she woke up.
When she returned to the car from her partying, Caylee was dead, by accident. Too much chloroform, or something. So she had to dispose of the body.
Maybe that’s when the duct tape came into play — when Casey had to wrap up the body.
So that would probably qualify as aggravated manslaughter.
That would be my guess. If the prosecution had argued that, they might have gotten their conviction.
The big problem was going for the death penalty.
The prosecution also pointed out to the jury that child abuse by the mother that accidentally causes the death of a child, if that act of child abuse could reasonably be thought to lead to grave harm or death to the child, also constitutes first degree murder under Florida law. Hence, possibly also death in this case.
Hard to believe that’s true, but that’s what the prosecution argued. And that’s what Florida law seems to say.
The jury clearly did not believe Casey committed first degree murder.
To show how determined the prosecution was to kill Casey Anthony, here’s the text of their child abuse charge:
“CASEY MARIE ANTHONY, between the 15th day of June, 2008 and the 16th day of July, 2008, in said County and State, did knowingly and willfully, in violation of Florida Statute 827.03(2) cause great bodily harm, permanent disfigurement or permanent disability to CAYLEE MARIE ANTHONY, a child under 18 years of age, by intentionally inflicting physical injury upon CAYLEE MARIE ANTHONY, or by intentionally committing an act or actively encouraging another person to commit an act which could reasonably be expected to result in physical injury to CAYLEE MARIE ANTHONY.”
So if she was guilty of this, this also qualifies as first degree murder, according to the prosecution’s argument, and would qualify for the death penalty.
So not calling the police, dancing while Caylee was missing, none of that counts here. None of that was even in the prosecution’s list of crimes Casey may have committed.
The prosecutors were going for broke — first degree murder and death for Casey, nothing less.
The jury clearly did not like what the prosecution was trying to do, and did not buy it.
The problem with this case is not the jury. The problem is with the prosecution, for over-charging Casey.
This has become a huge problem with the criminal justice system in America. The government almost always over-charges.
The government’s strategy with over-charging is to so terrorize the defendant about what might happen if the case goes to trial that the defendant just agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge. So, instead of getting 30 years in prison, the defendant gets three years in prison, essentially as a reward for not forcing the state to go to trial and prove its case.
The problem with this is, sometimes (perhaps often; we don’t know) the defendant is innocent.
The defendant accepts the conviction on the lesser charge rather than move forward with the expense and risk trial and conviction on the absurd charge. So the defendant’s right to due process under the law is erased by the state’s over-charging tactic to terrorize the defendant into pleading guilty to a lesser charge.
How is this any different than forcing a confession out of someone by pointing a loaded gun at someone’s head and saying, “Sign this confession or I’ll pull the trigger”?
There’s really no moral difference. The practice of intentionally over-charging defendants should be outlawed.
But, for some reason, Jeff Ashton and his team of over-zealous prosecutors were unable to terrorize Casey Anthony into accepting a guilty plea on a lesser charge — perhaps because Casey really didn’t do it.
Perhaps she was protecting her father George. Who knows?
George certainly told many provable lies in this case. He clearly knew a lot more than he was telling us on the stand in court. A lot of fishy behavior going on in that family — that Baez tried to get into, but Judge Perry kept ruling out of including as evidence in the case.
Baez, though, was able to hint at enough dysfunction and lying on the part of George and Cindy Anthony, and on the part of meter reader Kronk, to cast enough suspicion on the state’s case — hence, reasonable doubt.
Now for a word about all the partying after the death of Caylee.
If Casey knew Caylee was dead due to some horrific accident that snowballed out of control and that she tried to cover up (perhaps with the help of her father George), why wouldn’t she try to get on with her life?
The prosecution told us that the hallmark of liars is to pretend nothing is wrong, to go on with life as usual.
Well, we know Casey is a liar. She was convicted of four counts of that. What we don’t fully know is exactly what she was lying about.
It’s also possible Casey knew she was probably going to be arrested and would go to jail very soon, possibly for a very long time, even if not on capital murder. So might as well party and live life until the boom is lowered.
The big mistake people make is thinking trials are about justice and a search for truth.
That’s not really what trials are about. The search for truth is what the investigation phase is about. Justice is supposed to be what the penalty phase is about.
Trials are about testing the state’s evidence and protecting the rights of the accused. The question in a trial is: Can the state prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, to a moral certitude, excluding all other reasonable scenarios and possibilities?
The burden of proof is on the prosecution, not the defense. The defense doesn’t have to prove anything.
Look to other countries if you want to find more accurate systems of justice.
China, no doubt, has a more accurate system of justice.
A place like China is more interested in convicting the criminal than protecting the rights of the accused. No doubt, fewer criminals get away with their crimes in places like China — though, no doubt, more innocent people are convicted as well in China. Justice is swift in a place like China.
We’ve opted for erring in favor or protecting the rights of the accused here in America.
In America, we believe it’s better for 100 guilty people to go free than for one innocent person to be wrongly convicted — especially in a death penalty case.
I like our system.
I strongly oppose the lynch mob mentality we saw from Nancy Grace and much of the media in this case.
Guilty or not, it’s my view that Casey Anthony is not an evil person. She clearly has some serious issues and problems. She’s certainly misguided, but not evil — not in the sense that John Wayne Gasey, Ted Bundy and people like that are truly evil.
In Casey’s case, something spun badly out of control. There was not one shred of evidence presented in this trial that she was an abusive mom, or a bad mom. All evidence showed that she was a mom who loved her child.
Mothers who love their children usually don’t kill them on purpose, unless they’re just crazy. If she’s crazy or if she just snapped and killed Caylee, the death penalty should not apply here either.
The death penalty (if we have it at all) is supposed to be reserved for the worst of the worst in our society — serial killers like John Wayne Gasey, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, the Green River Killer, the Zodiac killer, and people like that who kill just for the fun of it.
For the prosecution to treat little Casey Anthony as in the same moral category as John Wayne Gasey is just insane . . . even if she was guilty of what the prosecution was accusing her of, which is in doubt.
The jury, wisely, saw that. And the jury likely decided to punish Jeff Ashton and the prosecution for their blood-thirsty over-charging.
Glad to hear Jeff Ashton is retiring from the state prosecutor’s office this week. He doesn’t belong anywhere near the criminal justice system. Prosecutors should want justice that’s proportionate to the crime.
But convicting Casey of negligent homicide would not be as big a feather in his cap as a death penalty conviction.
Death penalty convictions in high-profile cases are what land you the big fees when you move into private practice.
Ashton is the one who decided to sensationalize this case. During the months and even years leading up to the trial, Ashton is the one who released all those inflammatory videos and photos of Casey partying and getting a tatoo during those 31 days after Caylee’s death.
Ashton did everything he could to use the media to prejudice this case and tilt it against Casey before the trial began, before Casey had a chance to put on her case.
Is this really how an officer of the court should behave?
Jeff Ashton should be investigated by the Florida bar for gross prosecutorial abuse.
He should be held in contempt of court for snickering and laughing throughout Jose Baez’s closing argument — in a freaking death penalty case, no less.
What a disgrace Jeff Ashton is to law and justice.
Watch The Laughing Prosecutor
QUESTION: The court says he’s a “domestic terrorist” for undermining public confidence in the official U.S. currency by creating his own currency. But what does that make Obama, Congress and the Fed who are constantly undermining confidence in the dollar with their actions?
And why is this terrorism? Maybe it’s counterfeiting, fraud (or something), but it’s not terrorism — unless every crime is now going to be categorized as terrorism. Besides, why can’t we make our own currency? As long as you’re up front about what you’re doing and people accept it, why is this any different than creating casino chips?
CITIZEN-TIMES: Bernard von NotHaus was convicted Friday at the conclusion of an eight-day trial in U.S. District Court in Statesville. The jury deliberated less than two hours, according to the Department of Justice.
Charges remain pending against William Kevin Innes, an Asheville man who authorities said recruited merchants in Western North Carolina willing to accept the “barter” currency, according to court records. Innes was indicted along with von NotHaus in 2009.
“Attempts to undermine the legitimate currency of this country are simply a unique form of domestic terrorism,” U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins said. “While these forms of anti-government activities do not involve violence, they are every bit as insidious and represent a clear and present danger to the economic stability of this country.”
Barney Brown was sentenced to life in prison at the age of 14 for a rape and robbery he did not commit. He was in prison for 38 years because they lost the records showing he had been acquitted at the age of 14.
There’s something desperately wrong with our criminal justice system.
Wrong convictions and wrong incarcerations are happening way too often. They shouldn’t happen ever. When you consider that the jury pool is made of of the same people who elected Obama in a landslide, you can see how and why mistakes are so often made. How many millions of dollars in damages should Barney Brown be awarded for this travesty?
17 of the 138 on this list were exonerated by DNA evidence that was not available at the time of their conviction.
Average time between being sentenced to death and exoneration: 9.8 years.