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Nov. 14th, 2007 @ 08:53 am "Simpson responded with laughter."
How awesome is OJ's company?
Earlier Tuesday, McClinton pleaded guilty to reduced charges of conspiracy to commit robbery and robbery, a deal which required his truthful testimony against the remaining defendants. Alexander has also agreed to plead guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

The preliminary hearing is being held to determine whether Simpson and two co-defendants -- Charles Stewart and Charles Ehrlich -- should be tried.

Alexander, who described himself as Simpson's former golfing buddy, said Simpson met with him and McClinton outside The Palms casino on the afternoon September 13 and asked them to get "some heat." Simpson asked the men to accompany him to a room at the Palace Station hotel to retrieve items Simpson believed belonged to him, Alexander said.

McClinton testified that Simpson asked to see Alexander's concealed weapons permit and asked them to accompany him as "security" later in the day. He also said Simpson told him there might be a gun in the room where the memorabilia was being sold.

After meeting Simpson, McClinton and Alexander went to McClinton's house to change clothes and retrieve two loaded handguns, McClinton said.
When it comes time to commit some felonies, I know whose gang I'm joining. Has to be the guy every prosecutor in the country would wet themselves to put in jail. That way, not only can I be sure they'll dream up a dozen charges to file against us, I can look forward to every newspaper in the country printing my name on a regular basis, usually in the same sentence with "kidnapping", "robbery", "plea", and/or "world's biggest idiot."

And it's clear this wasn't a spontaneously committed impulse crime. They drove home to change clothes and pick up loaded guns! I'm not clear on their backgrounds but it doesn't sound like his golfing buddies were career criminals - semi-regular joes, hypnotized by the allure of celebrity.
Alexander testified that Simpson initially said he wanted the guns to remain in the men's holsters, but he wanted them to be visible so the people in the hotel room would be intimidated.

Alexander said when he asked Simpson what would happen if the police became involved, Simpson said, "F--- the police. Are they going to arrest me for taking my own s---?"
Oh, I take back my criticism. I didn't realize they had obtained expert legal advice from OJ before proceeding.

OJ sure must appreciate having buddies who are willing to commit felonies as favors... right?
Alexander testified that after realizing he had participated in a crime, he asked Simpson if he would bail the men out if they got in trouble. He said Simpson told him, "There won't be any trouble if you get out of town."

He quoted Simpson as saying, "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, unless you're O.J. Simpson."

Alexander said Simpson said the men should "just stick" to the story that there weren't any guns used during the incident. He also said when he tried to feel Simpson out about giving them one of the retrieved items as compensation for their efforts, Simpson responded with laughter.
This is the hidden side of the sickness that is the celebrity culture - fame is so important that people will commit major crimes to ingratiate themselves with one of the world's most notorious murderers, even as the killer laughs at them for requesting a share of the spoils.

I missed the OJ trial when it was happening - at the time my life was computers and nothing else - but earlier this year I saw that bugliosi had written a book about it. Since he wrote my favorite true-crime book ever, I bought it. Wow. Although I avoided giving the trial direct attention, it was impossible to avoid for a year or so, yet somehow with all that 24-hour coverage on the sixteen OJ channels, I never heard how obvious it was that he was guilty. You ought to be able to convict someone three times over with the evidence they had, but somehow the fact that mark fuhrman had used "the N-word" in a tape-recorded phone conversation meant OJ had to be acquitted.

The fuhrman sideshow of the sideshow was a real corker, by the way. When it became clear to him that he was going to be a target for perjury prosecution, he wisely took the fifth amendment. Once the defense knew he wasn't taking the fifth selectively (which seems to be very unusual and dangerous) they took full advantage by asking ridiculous questions like "Did you plant OJ's blood at the crime scene" to which he was stuck taking the fifth. Pretty powerful stuff when the jury box is holding twelve vegetables.

The intellectual acumen of the jury was something to behold. After finishing outrage, I ordered the book by the foreman of the jury. Bugliosi had slammed it several times and I wanted to see how bad it was. Oh my god. These are the people who hold your life in their hands if you are ever accused of anything. During the OJ trial they spent months on the DNA evidence, and would belabor some points so far into the ground that corpses complained, yet some of the jurors were still impervious to any of its relevance. What a way to make life-and-death decisions. "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit!" That catchy jingle held more weight than the rest of the trial put together.

I wonder how often people who are as innocent as OJ was guilty (but as poor and unknown as OJ was rich and famous) are imprisoned... or executed. Even a 1% wrongful imprisonment rate on our two million prisoners would mean 20,000 people right now are behind bars for nothing. (That's of course on top of the hundreds of thousands in prison who are "guilty" of getting high or other victimless "crimes".) And these days I doubt it's as low as 1%.
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From:calmkelp
Date:November 14th, 2007 05:52 pm (UTC)
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All this makes me wonder how someone can support the death penalty. Do they really have that much faith in our courts? Or maybe you must be guilty because you were accused in the first place?
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From:extempore
Date:November 14th, 2007 06:55 pm (UTC)
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I strongly agree, but I was pro death penalty until I was in my twenties. I had to gain better awareness of how much injustice there is in this country, and where this is justice, how unevenly it is distributed. Now I can think up six convincing arguments against the death penalty without breaking a sweat.
From:howardtreesong
Date:November 14th, 2007 06:04 pm (UTC)
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Bugliosi has written a new epic: "Reclaiming History." It deals with the Kennedy assassination. I'm about halfway through it; it's dense and long but he does a great job of blowing up a fairly wide number of conspiracy theories. Interestingly for me, pere Treesong plays a role in the book. And if you thought the OJ juror book was bad, dig into some of the Kennedy assassination conspiracy treatises. It'll convince you that the Creation Museum is a creation of right-thinking rationalists.

Your observation about prisoners is right as far as it goes. But it trades against the additional crimes that false negatives would create, no? The only fix I've ever dreamed up is to make police officers personally liable in a fixed amount if they are caught lying.
From:samholden
Date:November 14th, 2007 08:29 pm (UTC)
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How about applying the penalty of the crime being prosecuted to the police officer who is found to have lied in order to try to get someone convicted?

Eye for an eye and all that...
From:howardtreesong
Date:November 14th, 2007 11:06 pm (UTC)
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Only if the lie is material. Police go on a stack of calls every day and are processing a fairly high amount of information and do not know which of it will end up being litigated. The danger of setting too high a standard is handicapping honest cops from doing their job without an insane level of bureacracy.

Materiality is critical here too: imagine a policeman lying on a conviction where the guy can be shown to be, and is, guilty through other evidence? Plus, you'd have to try the police officer in a separate proceeding. An administrative fine could be done without that expense.
From:samholden
Date:November 15th, 2007 08:18 am (UTC)
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Yes I meant a full on beyond reasonable doubt a jury finds that he didn't just merely forget something, or write the wrong number down, or make a mistake. But that the police officer lied under oath on the stand in order to try and get someone convicted.

The other evidence case is irrelevant in my mind, just because someone did in fact commit the crime doesn't mean you lie about something in order to get them convicted. Sounds the same as "I know he did it, but can't prove is, I'll just plant this in his house..."

Of course there are other laws about such thing I would assume.
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From:emagnetism
Date:November 16th, 2007 02:55 pm (UTC)

Going to go buy it off of amazon now

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Your recommendation intrigues me. Out of curiosity, did you follow the Phil Spector trial at all? It was INTENSELY covered out here.
From:kid76
Date:November 14th, 2007 06:21 pm (UTC)

Jury Duty

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I was picked for a jury a few years ago. Road-rage case. Without going into a lot of detail about the case, I'll just say that it was extremely enlightening and scary. It's also something everyone should do at least once, just to learn how the process really works.

Most of us did not want to be there (no big surprise) but a few were willing (mostly because it got them out of work for several days.) The prevailing mentality was "lets just get this over with." One juror wanted out so bad, the judge had to threaten her with arrest if she were to not show up.

Also, nobody wanted to be the "executioner." Most of the jurors were looking for any excuse to say, "well, I guess that's reasonable doubt, right? Too bad, maybe we'll get him next time he kicks someone in the head." This would be the guy's 3rd strike and that made some of the jurors uncomfortable. (btw, this guy was 100% guilty. Multiple eyewitness, multiple violent crimes, and he got caught lying on the stand.)

As a juror, you only have your memory and a note pad to remember the facts. Yes, you can request certain things to be "read back" but that is a somewhat tedious process. Also, if you've already forgotten about a key fact, how will you know to ask for it? They jury does not get the benefit of seeing the same footage on the news every night. I can see how in a case that lasts 6 months, a jury can forget about an important fact. And how a prosecutor might even forget to remind them of it.

Seriously... everyone should try jury duty at least once. I would want some smart livejournal readers on my jury...
From:hadtogetiton
Date:November 14th, 2007 06:26 pm (UTC)

Jury Time

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I served on a 5 day jury once. Nothing sensational, just an insurance fraud case. But was very alarming how the majority put on their Law and Order caps and tried to detective their way to a guilty verdict ... "I know when someone's lying", "If you think about it" ... etc. I also was pretty sure the defendant was guilty, if I was at a poker table I would have instacalled. But I hung the jury anyhow for overall lack of evidence, and possibly some sense of civic duty to spite my fellow jurors and win some good juror karma in the future. That was a sweet elevator ride down with them by the way. They really felt like I had wasted their time. Yuck.
From:kid76
Date:November 14th, 2007 06:44 pm (UTC)

Re: Jury Time

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That's funny. I had the opposite experience.

On our initial vote, everyone but me voted "not-guilty" or "unsure." This guy was a convicted wife-beater who was on trial for kicking in a car window (with all women passengers) after a minor fender-bender. That kick hit one of the women in the head. Witnesses came to help since the guy was yelling and half-chasing these women around the car until cops got there.

Everyone said, "Well, what if he didn't really mean to kick her in the head and just meant to kick the car? Isn't that reasonable doubt?" My repy: "WTF, are you serious? Does this guy have to kill someone on tape before he's locked up for good?"

The judge and prosecutor cautioned us against confusing "speculation" with reasonable doubt. They also defined "reasonable" multiple times. I have to think many guilty people go free because jurors say "Well, what if..." instead of looking at what actually happened.
From:kid76
Date:November 14th, 2007 06:52 pm (UTC)

Re: Jury Time

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btw, I argued until we found him guilty.
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From:extempore
Date:November 14th, 2007 06:58 pm (UTC)

Re: Jury Time

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Somehow I've made it 35 without ever being called for jury duty (except just recently I was called in colorado after I'd already moved to bend.) Is it maybe tied to voter registration? Seems unlikely.

Anyway, what you did is what I always picture happening to me if I'm ever called. Of course if they ask me the right questions they'll never put me on any jury - how long do they drag you through that process before releasing you? (Or jailing you?)
From:hadtogetiton
Date:November 14th, 2007 07:19 pm (UTC)

Re: Jury Time

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I think the word is out on the idea of getting excused from jury duty through obnoxious answers to questions. The judge seemed to have some tools at his disposal to discourage that type of strategy. I saw more than one person who tried to come off as somehow prejudiced get sent back into the jury pool to wait for a "better" case for them. They didn't just get sent home.
From:kid76
Date:November 15th, 2007 03:53 pm (UTC)

Re: Jury Time

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We had a detective in the jury pool. He flat out said he would definitely be biased and could not guarantee fair consideration since he was a cop. The judge berated him for a while and questioned how he could be a good officer if that were the case, etc... He just sat there and took it, knowing that the defense lawyer was definitely going to eliminate him anyway.
Yes, if it's early enough, they just send you back to the main pool. If you don't get picked that same day, you're done.

I always thought it was linked to voter registration.
From:howardtreesong
Date:November 14th, 2007 07:46 pm (UTC)

Re: Jury Time

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It's a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction issue. In Los Angeles, it used to be horrible: you were stuck in a giant hot crowded room and summoned to a courtroom from time to time; courtroom procedures varied but most were long. And when you were bounced from that jury, you'd go back to the pool room to wait more.

They have fairly recently changed that, however -- now, you get pulled off to one panel and if you're bounced you go home.

I was on one jury. I think we came up with the right answer but it was not an easy fight. There were some reasonable people on the jury but there were also some absolute idiots (one of whom wanted to postpone the beginning of deliberations every day until 10:30am so she could get her "beauty sleep."). One key thing to note is that the jury can see documentary evidence in the jury room, whereas testimony goes to the note pad or memory banks.

You might be surprised about the likelihood of being put on a jury. I myself have a strong bias towards smart jurors when I think I'm ahead for reasons I can get smart laymen to understand. I go just the opposite way when I think I'm behind. I think generally that the voir dire process is designed to sift out extremes -- and if I were boss, I'd simply eliminate voir dire entirely except with respect to the ability to read and understand basic English.

Of course, I wouldn't ever ever ever put a libertarian on a criminal drug jury. I was voir dired for one years ago and as soon as I indicated that I was a registered libertarian, the prosecutor just grinned and bounced me. Interesting question as to whether I would nullify or not; I'm not sure I know the answer but my inclination is yes.
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From:rotojeff
Date:November 15th, 2007 05:55 am (UTC)

Re: Jury Time

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I think if you get bounced early enough in the day, you still have to go back to the jury pool - especially so if you get kicked for cause or undue hardship for that particular case. Of course, usually the pace is so slow that by the time you get kicked from the panel, it's too late in the day for you to get selected for another panel.

The mantra is "one day, one trial." Alas, that's not entirely true - the last two times I've been on a panel, it's taken three days to get to the voir dire process. The last time was the worst. Day 1 (Wed), get selected for a panel at 10:15 in the morning and be told to come back the next day, at a different courthouse, at 11:00 in the morning. Day 2 (Thurs) - take roll call, tell us it's going to be a 20-day civil (asbestos) trial, fill out a four-page survey, get told to come back on Monday at 9:30. Day 3 (Mon) - get kicked by the defense with one of their first challenges, at 3:30 in the afternoon.

I've been in LA since Feb. '99, and have been on call for jury duty three times (all three times getting kicked as part of the voir dire process). My wife has lived here all her life and is a prosecutor, and has never been selected to serve. I don't know the rhyme or reason for the selection.
From:david_j_parker
Date:November 14th, 2007 08:26 pm (UTC)

Re: Jury Time

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In Colorado I think it's tied to either your license or your car registration. I've been called three times in the six years I've lived here, but never had to serve yet.
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From:gunga_galunga
Date:November 15th, 2007 01:30 am (UTC)

Re: Jury Time

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It's driver's license. I've been here for 13 years and have yet to be called.
From:david_j_parker
Date:November 15th, 2007 06:16 pm (UTC)

Re: Jury Time

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Do you not have a CO license then, or have you just had incredible luck with the random calls?

I've been summoned four times in my life, once in NH and three times in CO. I never had to serve any of those times. I was summoned in NH just as I was packing up and moving to CO. When I got my first summons in CO, I was in the process of moving out of Boulder County so I didn't have to go then either. I've had two summons in Adams county so far. The first one I showed up at the courthouse, sat there for about twenty minutes reading a book with about 40 other potential jurors, and then a lady came into the room and read off a list of names. My name was on the list. She then said "Everybody I just called is free to go. You were assigned to the jury pool for Judge X's case, and the defendant has plead out to a lesser charge, so there's not going to be a trial." The most recent time I was called, I was going to be out of town on the day they wanted me to appear, so I called to get it rescheduled and was told "That's ok, just disregard the summons."

I'm actually kind of interested in serving on a jury if just to see how the process works. But so far, I've been what most people would consider "lucky".

I work with a guy who was recently on a jury that convicted a man of indecent exposure and some other vaguely related crime having to do with flashing someone in a parking lot. I don't know the particulars of the case, I just know this guy actually brags about saying to the other jurors "Even if this guy intentionally flash her, he deserves to go to jail for being an idiot." I hate people so much.
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From:phatjoe
Date:November 14th, 2007 06:32 pm (UTC)
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It's too bad that forming the jury of your "peers" doesn't include IQ testing to determine if they are your mental peers as well.

/joe
From:samholden
Date:November 14th, 2007 08:19 pm (UTC)
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So that dumb guilty people are more likely to be set free and dumb innocent people more likely to be convicted?

Assuming dumbness is associated with getting the decision wrong.


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From:phatjoe
Date:November 14th, 2007 08:29 pm (UTC)
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Yes, that is exactly what I meant to imply with my glib response.

/joe
From:jacksup
Date:November 14th, 2007 06:48 pm (UTC)
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I'm certainly pretty damn convinced that OJ is guilty, but most lawyers I talked to after that trial said the jury basically had no choice but to acquit. Their argument essentially was that if you put a cop who lies on the stand, your whole case falls apart. All the evidence collected becomes suspect, and you have plenty of reasonable doubt. That said, there is almost no question that a person who didn't have OJ's resources would be rotting in jail for double murder right now.
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From:extempore
Date:November 14th, 2007 07:07 pm (UTC)
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Their argument essentially was that if you put a cop who lies on the stand, your whole case falls apart. All the evidence collected becomes suspect, and you have plenty of reasonable doubt.

That argument is retarded and bugliosi spends a lot of time demolishing it in the book. "Reasonable doubt" does not mean that if one guy out of hundreds involved in the case - and in a peripheral role at that - lies to avoid embarassment on a national stage, then you just ignore the mountains of physical and circumstantial evidence and let the guy walk. It's a complete misrepresentation of the level of the burden of proof, and I have no idea what would possess a lawyer to say that beyond some misguided attempt to preserve confidence in the jury system. Back me up here treesong.
From:howardtreesong
Date:November 14th, 2007 08:02 pm (UTC)
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Just so. No insult intended to your lawyer friends, Matt, but I think the infect-everybody-else view is ridiculously simplistic and flat wrong. I've been in what, two dozen jury trials? I think we managed to turn someone into a liar in every single one -- and if you look at the OJ case, the prosecutors did so as well. It happens routinely in most trials -- and in every trial of serious complexity.

Remember the old saw about cops? "How do you know if a cop is lying on the stand? A: his lips are moving."

The sick thing about all of the Furhman (sp?) stuff is that it was collateral. Judge Itoh should have kept it all out of evidence. He's a nice guy but a crappy judge. Even if you let Furhman get crossed on his use of racial epithets and he takes the fifth, I would absolutely not permit the question "Did you plant evidence?" There's a cross-exam rule that you need to have a good-faith basis for every question, and there was not one molecule of evidence anywhere to suggest that anyone planted a damn thing. I also think that the prosecutors lost this trial by insisting that it be done in downtown LA as opposed to West LA. The jury demographics are materially different. I think Bugliosi made this point as well but I read his book a while ago and don't recall specifically.

Trivia: I once cross-examined Carl Douglas in an arbitration. He was and is a dishonest dog liar. I thought the same of Johnny Cochran (my partner crossed him), although Cochran was very smooth and very charismatic whereas Douglas had none of those advantages. Their lawyers caught our guy in a lie too, though, and we took a $5MM hit in that case.
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From:extempore
Date:November 14th, 2007 08:12 pm (UTC)
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I also think that the prosecutors lost this trial by insisting that it be done in downtown LA as opposed to West LA. The jury demographics are materially different. I think Bugliosi made this point as well but I read his book a while ago and don't recall specifically.

He criticized that decision savagely and at length. He plausibly speculated that the prosecution thought conviction was a near-lock anyway, so they thought it would be better accepted by the public if OJ were convicted by a jury with some black people on it rather than by twelve santa monica palefaces. Rodney King was still fresh in everyone's mind.
From:estwald
Date:November 15th, 2007 02:00 pm (UTC)

it has to be without the DNA evidence...

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I was in high school and watched a lot of the trial, mainly the discussion of the DNA evidence. At the time I had just taken AP bio and was able to follow the discussion. I was also very biased towards the defense at the time, and too young to be able to handle that objectively, so keep that in mind when I say the following...

The impression I got was that if you were to find him guilty, it would have to be without any use of DNA evidence. My understanding (which I'm sure was fed to me by the defense), from the way the trial unfolded and the lawyers presented their case, was that the lab had the evidence sample and OJ's sample sitting side-by-side. Everybody was saying "the DNA evidence shows that there's a one in a billion chance it wasn't OJ", but the defense was saying that the chance of matching OJ was the same chance that the evidence got either cross-contaminated or mislabeled, and they showed how it could happen with high probability. "One in a billion" had nothing to do with it. By the prosecution's lovely logic Iraq had weapons of mass destruction because I'm writing it here that they did, and the chances of my post getting scrambled is one in a trillion.

For all we knew from listening to the trial, it could have been same phenomenon as toilet backflush (a story that comes up when the local news feels like freaking you out).

I haven't read the book so I don't know what it says. Good chance that it explains everything well, but it just wasn't apparent at the time. At the time, it seemed that maybe the prosecution could or should have proved their DNA case, but they did not do a good job at it.
From:david_j_parker
Date:November 15th, 2007 07:05 pm (UTC)

Re: it has to be without the DNA evidence...

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That's strange, because everything I've heard after the fact is that the prosecution thought they had a slam-dunk case mostly *because* of the DNA evidence, but the jury didn't agree, mostly because they didn't really understand the significance of DNA evidence.

The way it's always explained is that back in those halcyon days of yore, before there were fifteen different versions of Law and Order and CSI on TV, most jurors gave more weight to eyewitness testimony and, barring that, good old fashioned detective work like "We found the knife in his sock drawer and it had the victim's blood on it and the defendant's fingerprints on the handle" and much less to scientific evidence like DNA testing that they didn't understand. But as we know, nobody saw OJ kill anybody, and the killer didn't leave anything nice and neat like a fingerprint at the scene, so the prosecution had to rely more on the DNA tests and other things that were over the head of most jurors back then.

Of course, I understand that these days, the situation is very much changed. Now that everybody has seen all fifteen versions of Law and Order and CSI, jurors not only expect DNA evidence, they are less likely to convict without it. I understand it's to the point now where prosecutors often have to spend time explaining to juries how crime scene investigation REALLY works, how it differs from what they've seen on TV, and what they can really expect in the way of forensic evidence during the trial. And still jurors will put their CSI hats on and find people not guilty because the DNA evidence wasn't perfect.
From:estwald
Date:November 15th, 2007 11:24 pm (UTC)

Re: it has to be without the DNA evidence...

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Yes, but this viewpoint pains me because it's as simplistic as the prosecutions. They kept hiding behind the accuracy of DNA evidence. CSI owes the genesis of its popularity to the OJ trial and people who loved the prosecution's argument.

OJ had an amazing pair of attorneys, Scheck and Neufeld, handling that part of the trial. Their whole point was of COURSE the DNA crime sample had OJ's DNA in it. This is what happens when you MIX THE CRIME SCENE BLOOD WITH THE SUSPECT'S BLOOD.

Thinking about it later, their argument should have been weak somewhere because hopefully there was some kind of redundancy or independent events in the process. Or maybe not, maybe the crime lab really did suck that bad. Or maybe the prosecution made this case and I missed it because I was biased, I freely admit this was possible, but I really think their response was to just wow people by repeating the accuracy of DNA evidence in general.

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From:extempore
Date:November 14th, 2007 07:18 pm (UTC)

Re: and now....

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Fear not, I've seen it.
From:boratschrum
Date:November 14th, 2007 10:18 pm (UTC)

My jury story...

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I was picked for a jury two summers ago. It was an attempted homicide, reckless endangerment, and felony battery. Essentially a troubled fellow stole some shoes from a store, and when he was confronted outside the store by a security guard he fired some shots. Two eyewitnesses said he wrestled the man to the ground and shot at his head from about 7 feet away. This took place a block from the center circle of Indianapolis, and there were bullet holes in several of the surrounding storefronts. The defense called one witness, the defendant, and asked one question: Are you guilty? The response was obvious.

A single juror kept the defendant from being charged with anything other than stealing the shoes (which was on video tape). The juror would not agree to the reckless endangerment, despite a gun being fired 6 times in a very busy downtown area. They couldn't agree to battery, because "the man was defending himself from the security guard." Any eyewitness account was completely dismissed. Deliberation may have been the most frustrating 10 hours of my life.

It was a completely eye-opening experience, and really made me aware of how incompetent people can hijack these cases and deliver horrible results. I'm not sure what a good alternative is, but it caused me to lose a lot of faith in our justice system.
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From:filthy_habit
Date:November 15th, 2007 01:59 am (UTC)

Juries Are Collective Stupidity

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Last year, I got pegged for Jury duty in a slam dunk murder trial. Effectively, the guy was guilty going in, it was just a matter of deciding which degree applied in the case. I gave a detailed account of my experience here and in some updates over a few weeks after the fact. It's very long. Even the defense attorney joined in the comments section where we had a little back-and-forth about the case. Anyway, here's some snippets of what goes on in the jury room that I included in the post:

(Referring to a 4-1/2" bruise on the left temple of victim): "We don't know how she got that bruise. We weren't in there. The prosecution didn't prove anything about that bruise. For all we know, she tripped on the carpet strip and hit her head on the table or the bathroom sink...If two plausible explanations can be used to explain something, we must always give the benefit of the doubt to the defendant." (Juror #5 - Leslie)
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"You can talk all you want, but I'm not going to listen to you. I've already made up my mind, and I'm not going to change it based on anything you say." (Juror #6 - Rhonda)
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Juror #3 - Howard: "I have doubts in my mind. The state failed to prove to me beyond a reasonable doubt that this is first degree murder."

Juror #8 - Jim: "What are those doubts and how are they reasonable."

Juror #3: "I don't have to tell you. It's the state's job to take away those doubts. And they didn't."

Juror #4 - Roy: "The jury instructions say quite clearly that reasonable doubt must be derived through a reasoned thought process. If you have a reasoned thought process, you should be able to articulate the reasons for your doubt. If you can't articulate it, it's not reasonable doubt, but possible doubt, which the instructions say we cannot use as a means to lessen the charge."

Juror #6: "Oh. We're sorry we're just not as articulate as you."

Juror #3: "I don't have to tell you anything about my doubt except it exists."

Juror #4: "But Howard, I want to share your doubt. I want to hear what you have to say and be able to agree with you that your doubts are reasonable. You may even be able to sway me to your side so I can vote with confidence for second degree murder. Please share with me your thoughts on what you think constitutes reasonable doubt in this case, because I'm just not seeing it."

Juror #3: "The state failed to make it's case. I don't have to explain myself. It's your job to convince me that I'm wrong, not the other way around."


Yes, that's what you can expect to hear from people who are deciding your fate.
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From:filthy_habit
Date:November 15th, 2007 02:01 am (UTC)

Re: Juries Are Collective Stupidity

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From:boratschrum
Date:November 15th, 2007 10:04 am (UTC)

Re: Juries Are Collective Stupidity

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That is almost identical to my situation above. The doubts that the juror seemed to feel could not be communicated in any reasonable way. I must have heard "I just have reasonable doubt" a hundred times, but there was never any rational basis for this doubt . Again, calling it frustrating would be an understatement.
From:zetack
Date:November 15th, 2007 02:51 pm (UTC)

Re: Juries Are Collective Stupidity

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I didn't follow your link but the whole exchange with the below quote at its heart bothers me:

"Juror #4 - Roy: "The jury instructions say quite clearly that reasonable doubt must be derived through a reasoned thought process. If you have a reasoned thought process, you should be able to articulate the reasons for your doubt. If you can't articulate it, it's not reasonable doubt, but possible doubt, which the instructions say we cannot use as a means to lessen the charge."

It bothers me because it sounds like Juror 4 is flipping the burden of proof. The defense doesn't have to prove reasonable doubt, and a juror doesn't have to find that reasonable doubt exists. The state must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Now, it may sound like the same thing, i.e. if the state has a hole in its case so that it can't prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, you should be able to point to that hole and say, there's the missing proof, thus having a reasoned thought process getting you to reasonable doubt. But I'm skeptical about turning the decision making process on its head like that because the idea is not to prove reasonable doubt, its to prove (or not prove) the state's case.


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From:filthy_habit
Date:November 16th, 2007 02:21 am (UTC)

Re: Juries Are Collective Stupidity

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It bothers me because it sounds like Juror 4 is flipping the burden of proof. The defense doesn't have to prove reasonable doubt, and a juror doesn't have to find that reasonable doubt exists. The state must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Rather than revisit the whole thing, let's say that hypothetically the state does meet the burden of proof. It would then be incumbent upon the defense to cast reasonable doubt on the case. I'd say that about sums up this case in particular. The state made its case, not strongly, but sufficiently, and, in reaction, the defense threw up some flimsy mitigating evidence that might have cast reasonable doubt on the case if it hadn't fallen apart under mild scrutiny.

I wasn't flipping the burden of proof in this instance. I was satisfied the state made its case. What concerned me was that the juror with "reasonable doubt" wasn't able to (or refused to) explain exactly what that doubt was---hence it wasn't "reasonable" doubt. If the state fell short of making the case beyond reasonable doubt, then there must have been some shortcoming that he could have pointed to in order to enlighten the rest of us, or, at the very least, open himself up to debate. This he would not do, though later, weeks after the trial, he stated he didn't think the burden of proof was met on the matter of whether the killer acted deliberately.

But, the matter was instructive of how our legal system works. The defense attorney admitted to me in the various threads that the prosecution and defense both felt the case was "worth" 20-years (the penalty for 2nd degree murder), but didn't explain how they arrived at that conclusion. I suspect it has something to do with the uncertainty of what will happen when 12 people go into a room. The law of averages probably states that most of the time you're going to get 2nd degree convictions because it's very hard to get 12 people to unanimously agree on 1st degree murder, especially when it's easier for them to get out of the deliberation room by compromising to 2nd degree murder. Unfortunately, I think that's grossly irresponsible and it's is a big reason why I remain bitter about the case and cynical of the jury system.
From:shezzavague
Date:November 15th, 2007 09:00 pm (UTC)

Re: Juries Are Collective Stupidity

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Apparently you can expect to have your fate decided (oxymoronic) by a combination of idiots and patronising, condescending blow-hards (plain moronic).

If I were juror numero 4, the last thing I'd be doing is immortalising my ass-dom-ness in a blog.
From:salixquercus
Date:November 15th, 2007 08:32 pm (UTC)

Helter Skelter

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I read it on the cusp of puberty:a mistake. The horrifying pathologies were secondary to the relative attractiveness of the Manson girls (at least to the untrained eye in those grainy b&w photos) and the intrigue of their loose sexuality. This version of the feminine ideal never served me well.

At lonely redlights I still think of the story that the Family had onetime determined to kill a random stranger in the next car, but right when Tex Watson (or whoever) was reaching for the handle, the light turned and the car drove off.

A recent documentary on Manson revealed his jailers confiscate his artistic creations every few months. The camera lingered on a large spiderlike-form he had woven from human hair. Quite possibly the most disturbing object I have ever seen.
From:deuce_j
Date:November 16th, 2007 03:39 am (UTC)

Another good book on the case...

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Lawrence Schiller's


Essentially, he did the writing of that "I Want to Tell You..." book for Simpson in exchange for unfettered access to the defense team, with which he paints a fascinating picture of the defense throughout the trial.

I won't spoil it but the conclusions he comes to, and how some of the defense team's attitudes change, are pretty fascinating, and the book is very well written about a different side of the case.