Tag Archives: Law

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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In other news…

Rest in peace, Farrah & Michael, now there is other news. Both made a significant impact on popular culture, now go back to work and report and read some real news.

The New York Times actually reports other news. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that lab technicians who test evidence in criminal cases must actually testify, subject to cross examination, and prosecutors cannot rely on written reports. The right to cross examine laboratory technicians remain sacrosanct. Thank heavens. The decision can be found here.

The short explanation: the US Supreme Court ruled in Crawford  v. Washington  that certain exceptions to the hearsay rule were no longer exceptions. A witness, for the most part, must be present to testify against a defendant in live court. Out of court testimony (affidavits, statements to police) are not admissible if the only reason for the existence of the statement is due to the court case. 

The case before the Supreme Court reads as clearly a violation of Crawford. Affidavits or “certificates” signed and presented by the State of Massachusetts during trial established that the substances seized from the defendants tested positive for illicit drugs. These certificates circumvented  the defendant’s right to cross examine the lab analyst about the method of testing used, the steps taken, and efficacy of the tests used. 

We should all be cheering this decision and the preservation of the right to confrontation.

Also, the Supreme Court ruled that the strip search of a 13 year old girl by school officials to find ibuprophen was unconstitutional. Why did the Supreme Court have to make a ruling? It was Ibuprophen. Seriously? Have we as Americans vacated logic for strict compliance to rules and regulations?

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Parental Responsibility

Parents jailed in school truancy crackdown

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A DeKalb County crackdown on school truancy has begun with the jailing of nine parents.

The parents were arrested Tuesday and appeared in jail uniforms Wednesday morning before Chief Recorders Court Judge R. Joy Walker to have bonds set.

Solicitor General Robert James said Tuesday’s sweep by representatives of his office, the district attorney, sheriff’s office and county police began as an effort to arrest 59 people who have not complied with earlier orders to get their children to school regularly or to participate in diversion programs.

“If children are not in school, teachers cannot teach,” James said.

Parents can be charged with educational neglect when a child has more than five unexcused absences in a school year. James said his office offers a diversion program for parents of children who exceed the limit and typically does not take a parent to court until there are at least 12 unexcused absences.

He said most of the parents who now face arrest have children who have missed 40 to 50 days of school.

James recently offered parents facing educational neglect charges two “amnesty days” to meet with authorities and avoid arrest. He said 39 parents responded to that offer.

Someone expects parents to take responsibility for their children. The HORROR! What next? Being required to talk to the children, too. 


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Wasteful Lawsuits: Felled by the Holy Spirit

Hmm…this guy needs a reality check! Churches are really the wrong targets. They don’t have deep pockets. Juries won’t feel more sympathy for an injured guy than for a church. And insurance companies really don’t pay off bad lawsuits.


Man moved by spirit of God sues church over injury

Associated Press
Published on: 07/10/08


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A man says he was so consumed by the spirit of God that he fell and hit his head while worshipping.

Now he wants Lakewind Church to pay $2.5 million for medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.

Matt Lincoln says he is suing after the church’s insurance company denied his claim for medical bills.

The 57-year-old has had two surgeries since the June 2007 injury but still feels pain in his back and legs.

He says he was asking God to have “a real experience” while praying.

Lincoln says he has fallen from the force of the spirit before but has always been caught by someone.

Lawyers for the church say other congregants saw him on the floor laughing after his fall. They say he failed to look out for his own safety.

as reported at ajc.com

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Not Fated, but Destined

Dateline: Clayton County, Georgia

In this suburb of Atlanta, an imbroglio continues unresolved that will harm children because the school board members are too proud to own the mistakes and errors in judgment made in recent years. The public school system will lose its accreditation on September 1, 2008 if clear and specific changes are not made before that date. See http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/clayton/stories/2008/04/23/claylaw_0424.html?cxntlid=homepage_tab_newstab#comments

The experienced attorney who represents numerous school boards, according to reports on ajc.com, advised all of the elected board members to resign. A resignation would expedite the reelection process, already set for July election, by possibly forcing a special election earlier. Tonight the Board will consider firing their attorney because of his advice that they resign.

The pride of these board members jeopardizes the education of children. Children. Regardless of any positions held about even the existence of public schools, all can agree that children do not make the choice of where to attend school and what delivery system is used for their education. These board members choose their pride and their “status” as an embattled board member over the education and future of these children. Didn’t they take an oath before becoming board members? Should that oath have included a promise and duty to insure proper education for these children?

The parents and voters of Clayton County are not without some blame here. Mount a recall effort. Make your voices heard for the sake of your children. Unfortunately, the vocal minority, the interested, concerned parents, have yet to determine a means to motivate the already apathetic and unmotivated parents in that community to act. For the majority of parents, public school is just 8 hours of day-care and a potential lawsuit-windfall waiting to happen. These parents care not if their children receive an actual education. Daycare remains their primary concern.

Until Clayton County concerned parents and students find a means to motive the unmotivated parents and the School Board listens to their attorney, this school system is destined to fall apart. The Clayton County Board already failing its students, will fail the whole county if it’s not careful.

This destiny can change if change occurs QUICKLY. If the School Board swallows its collective pride, overcomes what I hope is ignorance, and not stupidity (ignorance can be repaired, stupidity is permanent), these schools and these children will have a chance to improve, not just maintain status quo ante.


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