Tag Archives: Crime and Punishment

July 27, 2011: Random News

NFL Lockout is over, former UGA players get calls, murder suspect with lengthy juvenile history, school dropouts, remember Jesse Owens, speaking up in representative government, and ATF guns to drugs dealers.

Good luck, Go Dawgs! Former UGA players get calls about free agency. As one young man put, “basically, I’m still trying out.” Yep. We’re all still trying out every day of the week. Good luck.

Too little funding, too little interest. This young man’s story is not uncommon. Juveniles are the most overlooked aspect of society. We don’t fund treatment for kids, we don’t properly fund schools, we don’t properly fund medicaid, we don’t properly fund the Department of Juvenile Justice, kids with big problems result. The deputy should not have died. Could someone or something have changed this child’s outcome?

Exploring School Dropouts and the Cause. NPR is running a series on School Dropouts. Children who live in chaos have no vote about the chaos. They cannot focus on school because their short lives are in a constant state of fruit-basket turnover.

Remembering Jesse Owens at the Berlin Games. What a great accomplishment! Jesse Owens.

Speak up! Whatever your politics. Apparently, people did speak up. 40,000 calls per hour! Let Congress know how you feel. One day of complaints is NOT enough. Unfortunately, my Congressman is a single minded dolt who listens to know one. But you all have hope! Keep calling.

Tough choices, complicated results. While I don’t envy the choices that the ATF must make in dealing with the drug war on the Southern Border of the U.S. One must wonder about the wisdom this particular choice.

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Hype’s Double Edged Sword

Yesterday, news outlets reported that Casey Anthony’s attorney was actively engaged in negotiations for “pay to play” interviews with Anthony and the networks. Initially disgusted, I ignored the story. The report continued to nag at me. Why should she profit from the death of her child?

Regardless of the verdict, most people believe she caused her daughter’s death. Why would anyone pay her? Usually, acquittals go unnoticed by the general population of the world. Why her?

Then, I remembered. Nancy Grace made Casey Anthony famous. In building up her own television show, Grace used the Anthonys’ story to pump up her ratings. Without regard for the effects her style of analysis and punditry would have on the viewing public, Grace created the feeding frenzy around Anthony-case information.

And now, those media-frenzied chickens have come home to the media to roost. Casey Anthony will win her golden parachute, all thanks to Nancy Grace.

What an ironic twist of fate. Had this missing and murdered child been relegated to less news reporting after the initial reports instead of the lead splashy headline every night for months, Casey Anthony would not be shopping for a million dollar media deal.

Thanks to Nancy Grace and the other over hyped, over blown media this particular mother  has the opportunity to profit from her child’s death. Their splashy headlines, newsy tidbits, and general vitriol created a media monster.

Perhaps she’ll neglect to pay the IRS. The government might give her the Al Capone treatment. Ms. Grace, you could cover the scintillating tax trial. Boy, that’ll boost ratings. Snooze.

Regardless, one hopes the media will learn a lesson from this case. Foolish to think though, since they didn’t learn anything from O.J.’s trial and Anthony’s case was merely a repeat on a much larger media base.

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July 20, 2011: Random News

Georgia’s Death Penalty Controversy Continues, Randy Quaid dodges arrest, fashionable perp walk. In non-court related news, new Harvard weight-loss study with significant diet research.

Death Penalty Debate Rages On. As the drugs used for execution shift and change, the impact and “humaneness” of the acts is subject under increased scrutiny. I understand that Judge Tipton Lane wants to be able to review the process, nothing good can come from a video recording of the death chamber process. Digital media proliferates too quickly and is inherently uncontrollable int he wrong hands. I hope Judge Tipton Lane can control this media. Otherwise, we will return to the days of public hangings.

Sleep and dash? Randy Quaid and his wife are now officially on the lam. Currently, they are in Canada. No Christmas Vacation reunion movie in his future.

Court dates are important. If you’re dodging the police, be careful who you trust. One woman was arrested in her weeding dress for failing to appear in court. Boy, that jail probably wasn’t her favorite honeymoon suite. Proving a case may present challenges but finding people and using human information sources to find folks is a whole lot easier.

Budget cuts delay court appearances. How do the budget cut affect justice? People sit in jail longer. Why should you care? The longer a minor scofflaw spends in jail, the more food, amenities and supervision is required. Instead of funding the smooth justice system, the public spends more money on necessities. When will government discover the wisdom of a fully funded justice system.

Careful who you hire…This article highlights something I’d never thought about who is your locksmith?

When the facts and rules are against you attack the investigators. Congresswoman Maxine Waters is attacking the Congressional committee staff who investigated her corruption charges. What will come of this I wonder.

New Weightloss Advice. “The beauty of the new study is its ability to show, based on real-life experience, how small changes in eating, exercise and other habits can result in large changes in body weight over the years.” Further, “The foods that contributed to the greatest weight gain were not surprising. French fries led the list: Increased consumption of this food alone was linked to an average weight gain of 3.4 pounds in each four-year period. Other important contributors were potato chips (1.7 pounds), sugar-sweetened drinks (1 pound), red meats and processed meats (0.95 and 0.93 pound, respectively), other forms of potatoes (0.57 pound), sweets and desserts (0.41 pound), refined grains (0.39 pound), other fried foods (0.32 pound), 100-percent fruit juice (0.31 pound) and butter (0.3 pound).”

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Strauss-Kahn Continues

As the specter of the Straus-Kahn case lumbers on under the radar for a few days, recent reports brought to mind a frequent expectation that I deal with in the practice of criminal law: get my case dismissed. The credibility problems for the primary victim do not automatically create a situation where the case MUST be dismissed.

Much of the prosecution process is discretionary. The prosecutor has the discretion, or the opportunity to decide whether the continue with the prosecution in the face of a discredited witness and a collapsing case.

When clients tell me “that witness lied” we must prove that as a fact like any other to a prosecutor or to a jury. The lie oftentimes comes down to my moma said her brother heard the witness say he’d refuse to testify for $2000.00. But when you ask the brother, the most important witness, he doesn’t recall, or reframes the context.

Criminal cases and criminal trials are a perilous matrix of decisions and moves and choices, somewhat like a game. Unfortunately, we do not all start out with an even playing field in the courtroom. This game affects lives. Like the Strauss-Kahn case, some allegations take on a life and story of their own. The gossip grapevine of the street can be just as merciless and the high profile media.

Strauss-Kahn will likely suffer the fate of many other alleged sex crime defendants, a trial based on discredited testimony before 12 regular folks. Guess we’ll see what happens. Perhaps the prosecutor has some evidence that’s not quite public yet.

Doesn’t look like this case is getting dismissed anytime so, or perhaps, at all.

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Consistency in the face of Disagreement

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mediation training educates one to be aware of the underlying reasons for decisions made by parties to a case. The mediator works to help the parties see the wisdom or erroneous nature of their beliefs. Sometimes, the reasons the parties are in mediation have absolutely nothing to do with the lawsuit or argument that actually brought them there.

As an attorney, I explain the law to clients. Oftentimes I explain the same principle of law or procedural technicality repeatedly. As the client persists in positions that I cannot put forward, my patience thins and I question my choices and decisions.

Mindfulness allows one to calm the mind. With that quiet time, an awareness arises. With continued mindfulness practice, this awareness becomes a habit.

Awareness permits one to look at the root of a decision or choice. Am I making a decision based on ego? Based sound reason and logic? Is my advice founded in some other motivation? Am I being foolish in my consistency?

The self-confidence and awareness which result from mindfulness provide a magnificent foundation for dealing with my clients and the public. A correct decision based on law is not foolish no matter how hard the client pushes or adversary pushes.

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Media Sensationalism

What’s the problem with the splashy headlines and “experienced” legal analysis offered by our 24/7 media news cycle? How is it that Casey Anthony could be acquitted when talking heads and lawyers convicted her in the media?

Bombastic repetition of speculation and suspicion is no substitute for facts and evidence. After initial media reports, I suggest that the bombardment of the public with an unrelenting media campaign failed Caylee. The full-court-press media coverage created unrealistic expectations for jurors that the actual evidence and prosecutors could not match.

Jurors selected after consideration by both parties sit in a room and watch. They observe the attorneys, they carefully consider the witnesses and their testimony. Real people can differentiate between sonorous rhetoric and evidence. If you ask jurors whether a person should lose their life based on a circumstantial case, make sure your evidence is enough to make real people, regular folks comfortable with that choice. Lawyers tend to acquire tunnel vision.

Take it from one of the trial jurors…

One of the jurors in the Anthony case, Elizabeth Ford, told ABC News that the 51-year-old Grace was not fit for television.

“I think a lot of things she says fuel the fire and they’re based on nothing,” Ford said. “I’m obviously against making decisions based on just speculation and opinion.”

The media spectacle will live on after the spotlights shift to the next “criminal.” Casey Anthony is now marked. She will have trouble finding employment. She will be ostracized by family, former friends and the public. Regardless of how you feel about the trial, Casey Anthony may have avoided the death penalty, she did not avoid a life sentence to being a pariah. So, perhaps the media did win.

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Take Action

In the wake of the verdict acquitting Casey Anthony, many people have expressed their knowledge about the case and their opinions. Caylee Anthony clearly needed some sort of intervention which neither her family nor her mother’s friends provided. I challenge you, all of you, to turn off your televisions, silence that shrill harpy, and take action in your community.

Children could benefit from your energy and your influence. Teenage parents need and want guidance from caring experienced parents. Getting involved with teens before they become parents with after school programs and summer educational programs could provide the difference of a lifetime.

Get off your couches. Give up your armchair super lawyer status and DO SOMETHING.

Children like Caylee need someone to care NOW before the worst happens. Find your local CASA  (court appointed special advocate) program. Contact the local school board about volunteering. United Way could tell you who’s looking for volunteers.

If one-tenth of the energy focused on this verdict were focused on helping children, we would see an appreciable difference in this country. One child at a time.

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