Perplexing

I follow developments in the justice system pretty closely.  At least I think so.  Certainly more than the average person, if only for the reason that it’s my bailiwick.

So how come this is the first first news I’ve heard or seen about this legislative effort?

Too late to do anything about it now, at least until the legislature reconvenes – which ordinarily is not something to look forward to, by the way.  Seems even the Innocence Project only got the memo a few weeks ago.

And so on.  Wrongful convictions, doncha know.

The lobby for the wrongfully convicted isn’t very organized, or effective.  Or funded.  That is, if it even exists.

Take a read about it, though.  This is a “reform” effort, and I don’t doubt that the proposals being considered – things like requiring full recording of suspect interviews and double-blind line-ups – would do some good.  But it’s not really even scratching the surface.  Not by a long shot.

At the risk of being accused of self absorption*, I have to nevertheless point out that if somebody wants to figure out why things too often go so horribly awry in the criminal justice system they need to make a full study of this case.  It had nothing to do with faulty eyewitness identifications or false confessions.  It wasn’t a “mistake”:  no one even remotely familiar with the evidence could possibly have believed in the accused’s guilt.  There is something much deeper – and much worse – that must account for it.

Close as I am to the whole thing, and knowledgeable about both the case and the relevant law as I am, I’m not sure even I could describe it too well to anyone, although I have this feeling I know what it is.  But it’s more like seeing through a glass darkly, I guess.

You have to keep your sense of humor.  In any case, consider this tidbit from Gary Craig’s article:

In response to questions, representatives of the District Attorney’s Association referred to a June 21 letter from Association President Cyrus Vance Jr., the New York County DA, to legislative leaders.

The letter notes that Cuomo’s proposals are the offspring of the New York State Justice Task Force, created by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman largely to tackle the issue of wrongful convictions. The District Attorney’s Association backed those proposals for double-blind photo arrays and videotaped interrogations, Vance wrote.

However, he noted, neither the task force nor the District Attorney’s Association agree with mandated double-blind physical lineups. There was police opposition to the proposal, especially in New York City, where physical lineups are commonplace.

“There was police opposition.”  Well, there ya go.  Somehow “Innocence Project Support” and “Police Opposition” don’t cancel each other out.

This is a lot closer to the nub of the problem.

Notice, too, that the relevant “officials” involved in the official conversation in officialdom about all this are….District Attorneys and their “association”, cops and their “association”; and judges and their “commissions”.  The criminal defense bar is evidently too irrelevant to even be consulted, or for that matter even quoted in a news story about wrongful convictions.

This, too, is much closer to the nub of the problem.

Then of course you have the governor, yet another profile in political and moral courage:

“The governor would love to have this happen but he also wants all the interested stakeholders to come to an agreement,” he said.

See, if all the “interested stakeholders” come to an agreement the governor doesn’t have to risk anything by signing on.

And this is the official dithering that takes place in officialdom in the face of the otherwise distressing fact that New York is among the top three states in committing wrongful convictions, in a country where wrongful convictions are finally being recognized as a serious problem.  I say “otherwise” distressing because although normal people do find it quite distressing apparently it isn’t distressing enough to legislators and political “leaders” to so much as lift a finger over it.

And this, I think, is getting really close to the nub of the problem.

If you have rulers who would rather preside over a state that frequently and  willfully brands innocent people criminals, incarcerates them and figuratively – and sometimes literally – murders them, than make any effort to correct that behavior because it might cost them the tiniest pittance of political discomfort, then why would anyone be surprised that the state is number three in wrongful convictions?  The only surprise is that the state is not number one.

But don’t worry, we’ll get there.

The wrongful convictions, the systemic corruption in Albany, the radiant and glittering barbarism and lawlessness of Wall Street – it’s all of a piece, isn’t it?

It might help – a little – to tape police interrogations and put a safeguard or two into police lineup procedures.  But without some basic adherence to virtue among those holding the reins of power it will be just so much tinkering.

And that, I feel certain, is really really close to the nub of the problem

———————————————————————————————-

* We here at Lawyers on Strike are convinced of our own nearly perfect objectivity in this and many other matters, but understand that for others, and for various reasons, the idea of objectivity itself is an impossibility and thus all human conduct is at bottom explained only by self-interest (or other pathologies) and of course at that point any seemingly disproportionate conduct or emphasis by any person on anything within that person’s experience becomes susceptible of the accusation that such a person is “self-absorbed”.

Therefore, in this instance the “self-absorbed” accusation is essentially the product of circular reasoning, not to mention that if the denial of objective truth behind the accusation is inaccurate the accusation is also highly unjust and potentially destructive.

We make this point only for the sake of accuracy and truth, of course, which we are able to do because we do not regard such things as myths on the order of unicorns and fairies, though of course we also recognize, being objective, that for many others these are impossibilities and their consequent accusations are always, in the end, unanswerable.

About these ads

7 Comments

Filed under financial crisis, Judicial lying/cheating, Media incompetence/bias, wrongful convictions

7 responses to “Perplexing

  1. HonestAbe

    This is probably one of the best quotes I have seen, even of it was delivered on a network that is probably the champion of media bias and propaganda: “Anyone who thinks that this trial or any trial is about the truth is either naive or intellectually dishonest. Trials are not about the truth. The defense’s obligation is to acquit the defendant. The prosecution must prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.” – attorney Mark Eiglarsh via http://www.hlntv.com/article/2013/07/10/atty-trials-are-not-about-truth

    Like

    • Actually, Abe, I have to disagree here. Trials are about the truth. And at the risk of being overly nuanced, I would have to say that it’s not quite right that the defense’s obligation is to acquit the defendant. It is the defense’s proper objective to acquit the defendant. And while it is true that the prosecution must prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt to win, it is not either his proper objective or his obligation to win, but rather to do justice.

      In other words, the defense must try for an acquittal even if the defendant is guilty; but the prosecution can never seek a conviction if the defendant is innocent. This may appear to be incongruous, but it isn’t: both are officers of the court and must protect the court’s integrity. The court’s integrity is not undermined by a ‘wrongful acquittal’ but it is undermined by a wrongful conviction.

      Like

      • HonestAbe

        I actually agree with you wholeheartedly in terms of what the goal should be but I think many others have lost sight of this most noble cause you describe – protect the court’s integrity. Juan Martinez’s handling of the witnesses for the defense may be a good example whereby he attacked and intimidated those who took the stand in an effort to win a case, not to find the truth or do justice. In fact, I recall reading where he basically blackmailed one witness for the defense. Look at the liberties he took with gas cans and a dead cell phone battery. Most recently, we have the George Zimmerman case where the prosecutors are now attacking the verdict. In fact, Angela Corey referred to Zimmerman as a murderer and this was after the verdict. To top it off, she did it on nationwide TV. How’s that for integrity? What an insult to the jury and the system in general. Who will want to serve on a criminal case when one has to basically enter the witness protection program if the verdict, even when based on jury instructions, doesn’t support the views and opinions of a major network.

        I can tell that you take pride in the legal profession and take the responsibility seriously but I don’t think people such as Martinez, Corey, Guy, Maneti, and de la Rionda share the same values. At least they haven’t demonstrated it and unfortunately there are a lot of impressionable law students who will deem their behavior as the norm. Fortunately, Mark O’Mara is setting a better example. Though I certainly don’t agree with a lot of the verdicts in many of the cases I have followed, I would have the common sense to not get on TV and criticize a jury who probably came back with the correct verdict. Maybe they ought to be petitioning for changes in the “stand your ground” approach rather than admonishing a jury who did their best with what was presented. Maybe it’s also time to remove cameras from the courtroom so people can live their lives based on the verdict instead of the bias of HLN hosts.

        I would not be surprised to see the stand your ground laws overthrown after this case which may not be a bad thing. I also still think that the court system needs to rework the “beyond reasonable doubt” instruction. Until then, I am concerned that we’ll have more innocent people sentenced or worse, more people killed over what could be as little as a misunderstanding or an unfortunate set of circumstances. I’m not certain where we went wrong but someone needs to pick up the torch and run with it before more lives are ruined or lost.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Rolf Rosendahl

    Rolf Rosendahl – Wronfully Convicted “Jailhouse Lawyer” – Forgive my joining a blog of professional attorneys, but after reading Poventud v. City of New York, 715 F.3d 57, 62 (2d Cir. 2013), and having sued under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 all the way to SCOTUS four times, most recently in Rosendahl v. Jay Nixon, et al. (2010), I have one simple question that is quite “perplexing” regarding my cases. There was no question of facts, the defendant Governor, Judges, Prosecutor and cops all made Admissions under F.R.C.P 36 and 37 of perjury on the record. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia decided, sua sponte, to apply both a time bar and res judicata to the District Court’s dismissal under the rubric of Heck v. Humphrey, 114 S.C.t 2364 (1994). Here is the part of that decision to co0nsider: “In cases dismissed under Heck v. Humphrey … such dismissal must be without prejudice.” How can a “dismissal without prejudice” constitute res judicata when the merits of the claims have never been reviewed??? In addition, I filed the same case every four years since the Heck decision just to avoid that “time bar” which the SCOTUS decision in Heck v. Humphrey did not even mention. How can “dismissal without prejudice constitute a “frivolous” action just because the repeat filings seek a “ruling on the merits” of a valid claim??? While on parole I hired the same attorney who argued Spencer v. Kemna, 923 U.S. 1 (1998), one of the best habeas corpus litigators in Missouri, John William Simon. The habeas court “summarily ignored” all the merits and concluded it did not have jurisdiction to determine the criminal trial court’s jurisdiction.” To all of you criminal lawyers in federal practice, as to the issue of probable cause for any criminal case, can you imagine bringing a criminal case before a judge without a Grand Jury indictment??? That is my situation, instead of the required probable cause hearing required by Missouri statutes and court rules, I was brought before the trial court on a Governor’s Extradition Warrant with the PERJURY on the face of the document swearing by his oath that I was already convicted of the crime charged. The prosecutor in response to a “Motion for Disclosure” of witness to crime under Rovario v. U.S. answered like this: ” well, we believe the witness must have been a neighbor, but we don’t know who the Sheriff spoke to, and he is now deceased. We, we … we don’t know who the (state’s) witness is.” I was convicted an sentenced to 15 years for allegedly “manufacturing marijuana” by growing 28.83 grams of it on property subject to civil forfeiture. My misfortune in this case was that I owned a 20 acre tract of land in a rural area that was destined to become very valuable housing for base personnel at Whiteman Air Force Base at Knobnoster, MO, the proposed location for a “secret” project in 1991, the Home of the B2 Stealth Bomber Wing. I served the 15 years, 8 in prison, and 8 on parole. No “ruling on the merits” was ever had in any other court than the state trial court based on the perjury and want of jurisdiction to file a charge without an indictment.

    Like

  3. 2dogsonly

    Rolf Rosendahl,:
    what a horrible experience for you. The USA justice system is not based on finding the truth, that is Western Europe and Norway . Our system is based on arguing , I’m right, you’re wrong . Nothing whatsoever to do with either side finding and presenting the truth. Actually, never has been.
    We are not a true democracy as found in other more developed nations. We refused Jewish children to enter here when naziism was heating up in 1939 England accepted them, FDR said no when rescuer requested this. ( see 60 min. last Sunday ) man who rescued them is still,alive, 105 yrs. old).

    Nixon started the war on drugs and now prisons are privatized with huge incentive to keep them full.

    I live in Florida. Angela Corey and BDLR are republicans. BDLR has been a prosecutor for 30 yrs. yet acted like this was his first case. Gov. Scott, a huge Medicare crook, gave it to her with instructions to throw the case, Judge Corrupt was told to “”stick to the script”. The blog bcc.list and Tchioupi an engineer, and many others world wide uncovered everything from Zimmerman’s reflection stalking Trayvon in clubhouse windows, to rain patters, to feet per minute. None was used. DNA, gun shot wounds, blog pattern. It is filed on you tube under jean dodge/ George Zimmerman. The Miami Herald wrote a huge article calling it : “Everyone Needs A Hobby” and citing bcc.list,,Whonoze diaspora, and one other. Sadly, Not Susan Smith’s whom is a well respected international lawyer and did an excellent job.

    Maritai argued hard to have part b of SYG, which says “cannot instigate and then shoot the person.”
    Judge Nelson refused to allow it. And smiled so,when she told GZ:” you are free to go. Your business with this court is finished”! Really, looked,so pleased with the verdict. Maybe, with his actions in just one year, she may have re-thought her order to stick with the script. Maritai stood alone in his quest for the truth.

    What Martinez did chilled me. Yes, she was a bad doody but watching him destroy our ” justice system” was hard for me to watch.

    If you are white and middle class, and are arrested you THINK it will be fine. Other races and economic levels know better. It is a fight to win and police and prosecutor have no problem with doing what they need to,do to chalk up a win. I learned that all too well myself. I got my case dismissed but I had to fight my own defense attorney who was president of Fl. Bar. The go to guy by anyone who could afford him. All he wanted to do was plead it out and bullied and bullied me to get me to give in. Screamed at me in court halls, on phone.
    Finally, judge had it dismissed 30 mths.,later after I lost my 25 yr. business.
    The prosecutor, Luis Bustamonte, actually knew he had wrong person 3 months following my arrest. I obtained my records due to Florida sunshine,and he wrote this to his boss.
    He,ran for judgeship in St.Augustine but he lost. Don’t know whether it was due,to my google,search activated for his name and my comment for them to get my record to see what a crook he was/is.

    All of this was before the internet took off.
    My favorite quote is this
    Snowden : ” technology is the great equalizer”

    Like

  4. Rolf Rosendahl

    Thankyou from the “Poster Child” for Wrongful Convictions. – Sorry I made a few “typos” in my writing, my eyesight is not too great these days, You see, the situation is worse than merely what happened in the court system, and when I fought back in federal court against the Governor, the judges, and the prosecution, the federal judge denied a F.R.C.P. 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss and ordered discovery in my 1996 case under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983. As soon as it became apparent that they would have to answer, and of course due to the fact that I was appointed as spokesman for an already four-year old Prison Overcrowding Class Action with court-appointed “real” attorneys and federal monitors, not to mention also being “appointed” by popular vote to act as spokesman for a 1996 “Prison Sit-Down Strike” which started a media sensation and ended when we quietly went back to our cells before the “Goon Squad” came to beat us down, the prison officials decided to act. I was sitting alone in my cell writing legal stuff as usual, only 30 feet from the “bubble,” where guards are required to be on alert 24/7, three black guys I did not know assaulted me with a 15-ounce can of chili wrapped in a pillow case. My skull was fractured and my jaw was hanging broken in pieces and nearly three pints of blood had shot from my ruptured eardrum. I was rumored to be dead and it was close. I of course did not know who or how this happened until two weeks after I was released back into population with my jaw wired shut. An old black man who I had never met approached my bunk and would not give me his name. He said he thought I should know what happened that day as he “saw the whole thing” and explained. The guards were ordered out of “the bubble” by their commander and left the wing. That is when the three men approached my cell and it was “intent to commit murder” that nearly succeeded. The old man told me to “watch your back, the Warden set this up” and they may try again. He walked away and I never saw him again. As a result of this assault in 1996, I now suffer from all symptoms of PTSD including seizures which started about 2006. While the NFL has recognized the effects of head trauma, medical doctors cannot seem to find anything wrong with me in spite of x-rays showing my severely damaged skull. I looked and felt fine for ten years and now the “Nightmare” has manifested itself in the usual medical and psychological symptoms.now called PTSD. Arguably, I cannot “prove” any of this any more than someone can “claim of actual innocence” in a drug case, there is no DNA evidence, nor anything that could support such a claim in court. Maybe someday the courts or legislation.will change all this, hope I live to see it.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s