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Username Post: Court question? Any lawyers here?        (Topic#549779)
phantomenforcer
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01-12-18 08:29 AM - Post#1708823    



I'm kidding, of course, as this is obviously directed to Kanrok.

I have recently had the pleasure of being a state's witness in a 1st degree murder trial as a result of my job duties.

I was there for the opening statements of the prosecution (the defense deferred, presumably until the state rests) and watched them question five witnesses ahead of me.

Based on my knowledge of the case it seems fairly open and shut guilty.

To wit, my question. Is it plausible for a defense team to phone it in for a paycheck when they know there is little hope of an acquittal? Granted, I have not heard the defense's case nor has anyone as the trial is still ongoing, but I seemed to notice inaccuracies and contradictions in the testimony of the witnesses before me that were not jumped on by the defense.

One witness in particular was the one right before me. He was the first law enforcement officer on scene. During his testimony he sounded exceedingly daft and made several contradictions and outright inaccuracies about who was on the scene before he arrived and after he arrived, but prior to any other law enforcement. I know this because I was there and he testified that the victim's fiance and 3 firefighters were the only ones on the scene when he barred further entry.

I know EMS is the forgotten ones, but I assume that the defense has a timeline of people on scene and a list of witnesses.

Anyway, they never question him on these inaccuracies during cross examination.

Even more mind boggling is that the deputy is no longer a deputy as he was dismissed for misconduct a few years ago. He was only on the job for about 4 years total. Remember, he sounded quite daft on the stand. I do not know the nature of the misconduct, but the defense never brought it up or questioned him about it.

Shouldn't they have questioned him about that as it would potentially call into question his credibility as a witness, especially being the first law enforcement on scene along with obvious inaccuracies in his testimony?

To further add to his daftness, as an aside, he went to the stand with several papers and answered the first few questions from the state while reading off the paper. The defense did pounce on this and were grated discovery of the papers and the deputy was not allowed to have them back while on the stand.

To me, it would seem that a proper defense could have dismantled his credibility on this case and brought into question all further evidence that was subsequently collected.

Perhaps I am wrong and that is why I'm asking here? Maybe I watch too much Law & Order.

Here's the link to the latest article on the trial in case you're interested:

Link
 
taz
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01-12-18 10:24 AM - Post#1708833    


    In response to phantomenforcer

They are lawyers. Just slightly above politicians on the greed and ethics scale. Of course they'll phone it in sometimes.
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Kanrok
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01-12-18 11:03 AM - Post#1708838    


    In response to phantomenforcer

There is not enough information for me to answer with any confidence.

Trial lawyers make decisions about cross examination questions before the witness takes the stand. But that is all subject to change the moment the witness opens his or her mouth.

Cross exam is an art, not a science. I wouldn’t second guess the defense attorney without knowing his or her trial strategy.

Sometimes avenues of cross examination are closed by pre-trial court rulings (called motions in limine).

Sometimes the cross examiner would stay away from what appears to be obvious fruitful questions for strategy reasons,

For example, the witness may make a huge blunder on the placement or existence of evidence that is contradicted by documentary evidence from another witness.

The lawyer may like the bulk of the testimony of a witness because it falls in line with their theory of the case, and crossing the witness on issues that would call the witnesses observations into question undercut the theory of the case.

Sometimes trials are just long pleas of guilty. Defense attorneys may not have any reasonable means of winning the case, but cannot take the plea, or need to try the case to preserve appellate review, i.e., the judge made a huge blunder in pre-trial motions, like a motion to suppress evidence or a confession.

And it is perfectly reasonable to conclude that the defense lawyer is lazy, or stupid, or just doesn’t care.

In my experience that is the least likely circumstance.

Criminal defense attorneys are a breed apart, but it is rare for them to just phone it in.


“The greatest thing we can do just unite and love on each other and like, no barriers, no borders, like, we all need to just co-exist.”

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phantomenforcer
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01-12-18 11:21 AM - Post#1708840    


    In response to Kanrok

I figured there was some sort of explanation. Perhaps they do have a cunning strategy. I would think they would never phone it in on a high profile case (locally anyway).

Although this is the second time I've testified in court and I have yet to be cross examined. I must not be that interesting.

One more question, this was originally going to be a capital murder case, but from what I heard she was found incompetent to face the death penalty and now is facing life.

Does that make any sense or is the person that told me that a moron?

The defendant did try to commit suicide in jail when her bond was denied years ago.
 
Kanrok
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01-12-18 11:35 AM - Post#1708844    


    In response to phantomenforcer

I suppose there can be a mechanism to prevent a person from being subjected to the death penalty, but since I’ve been away from the criminal side for a long time I can’t really speak to that now.

I stayed in the SAO specifically to prosecute a death penalty case. The defense attorney in that case asked me to come to his office to discuss the case after we declared we would seek the death penalty.

He had a stack of medical records about a couple of feet high documenting multiple hospitalizations.

The defendant would purposely hurt himself and was diagnosed with Munchausen Syndrome. He would eat glass, throw himself in front of cars, take a knife and stab himself, and a host of other terrible things. He actually threw himself in front of an ambulance. I guess he was trying to cut out the middleman.

Based on these records, we decided to plea him out for life without the possibility of parole and an agreement that he wouldn’t file any appeals or post conviction motions.

So, in my experience, the prosecutor can be convinced to drop the death penalty in certain circumstances.
“The greatest thing we can do just unite and love on each other and like, no barriers, no borders, like, we all need to just co-exist.”

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FreezingTexan
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01-12-18 04:39 PM - Post#1708855    


    In response to Kanrok

One of my fiancees law professors is a practicing criminal defense attorney she said the first thing she tells a client is "It's not my job to get you a not guilty verdict, my job is to make sure you get a fair trial and the prosecution dots their Is and crosses their Ts."
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Kanrok
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01-12-18 06:28 PM - Post#1708863    


    In response to FreezingTexan

I’ve always felt that defense attorneys are primarily involved as a check on governmental power.

So I tend to agree with that assessment.
“The greatest thing we can do just unite and love on each other and like, no barriers, no borders, like, we all need to just co-exist.”

- K. Perry


 
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