Saturday, March 26, 2005

From DUI Blog - Is LA DA Cooley inching towards facism?

DUI Blog : Bad Drunk Driving Laws, False Evidence and a Fading Constitution
Read this post by Larry Taylor. He quotes further comments by LA DA Steve Cooley, who was a little pissed off last week that Robert Blade was acquitted (in a failed prosecution by his office). I searched and found the whole article that Taylor's post refers to, and here's the salient line that is really chilling:

"It was harsh. It was blunt, and I could have phrased it differently, but bottom line it was the wrong verdict. Sometimes jurors should be held accountable for their mistakes."

Now, let's think about that. Cooley may be saying (and probably is, to be charitable to him) that jururs need to be held accountable through public criticism of their idiotic verdicts. However, when one of the chief law enforcement officials in the county, a man who has the ability to get just about anyone arrested on the flimsiest of pretexts (the old saying that you could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich - it's true, and there are so many laws and crimes out there that finding one, any one, on just about anyone would be easy. Even short of indictment, the amount of harassment that a DA can do through search warrants, subpoenaes for personal appearances and every document you own, or other actions, is so easy that it's chilling), starts talking about holding jurors who don't vote the way his office wants when they sit on juries for his office's cases, well, then I think it's time to wonder if he's trying to intimidate future jurors.

In fact, maybe defense lawyers need to start making motions to recuse his office in any case, so that new jurors will not have the impression that they may be intimidated into reaching guilty verdicts everytime they sit on one of his office's cases. This is something that people should check out. Thoughts, anyone (I'm sure Patterico will have some strong objections to my idea and my views).

22 comments:

Gideon said...

What is truly troubling about this case is that Cooley was arrogant enough to publicly voice his comments. You know that almost all prosecutors feel this way when juries return verdicts of not guilty. To actually state it out loud to the media shows a certain degree of stupidity and arrogance.

Honestly, I think the one group of players that believes the least in the presumption of innocence might just be the prosecutors.

As to the trouble they can cause, you're absolutely correct. People have got to realize that it is extremely easy to be accused of a crime, any crime.

I'm not sure if disqualifying the whole office would actually work. But it might be a good tactic to use, to establish a stance from the beginning. Given the timing of these motions and their temporal distance from jury selection, I don't know if it would have any impact on prospective jurors.

Patterico said...

Public Defender Dude,

I am drafting a warrant for your arrest right now.

(I hope you understand I'm kidding.)

PD Dude said...

hehehehehe
I was wondering if you'd notice the reference to you. ;)

Mister DA said...

Oh, I don't know. I believe in the presumption of innocence as a tool to keep the jury focused on the burden of proof. I don't have to believe my defendant is innocent. In fact, ethically, if I think he's innocent my only recourse is to dismiss the case. Which I've done on one or two occasions.

And jury nullificaiton exists, no matter how much judges and prosecutors may want it to be otherwise. In the Blake case, it seems to me the jury thought Blake could have done it, but that it was just as likely someone else did it. Bingo - reasonable doubt.

If I didn't have anything else to do with my time, I might be interested in reading the trial transcript - it really sounds like a poorly tried case and Mr. Cooley is expressing somethning like sour grapes. Mostly, I'd like to see the voir dire.

Anonymous said...

Its fairly common here in Florida for the prosecution to blame the jury for a verdict it doesn't agree with which I think is funny. I'm reading a great book about Jury Nullification and it gives a history of the jury system and yes back in the olden days they did make jurors pay for a verdict that the judge did not like, litterally pay. The first writ of habeas corpus was issued against a juror who was fined because of a verdict and who couldn't pay the fine and was subsequently jailed for failure to pay that fine. I guess that DA out there on the left coast would like to see a system like that again huh? sounds pretty reactionary to me and here I thought the left coast was progressive.

Anonymous said...

Its fairly common here in Florida for the prosecution to blame the jury for a verdict it doesn't agree with which I think is funny. I'm reading a great book about Jury Nullification and it gives a history of the jury system and yes back in the olden days they did make jurors pay for a verdict that the judge did not like, litterally pay. One of the first writs of habeas corpus filed by a juror who was fined because of a verdict and who couldn't pay the fine and was subsequently jailed for failure to pay that fine. I guess that DA out there on the left coast would like to see a system like that again huh? sounds pretty reactionary to me and here I thought the left coast was progressive.

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Florida DUI said...

Perhaps Cooley needs to rethink his own verdict, then, if twelve (hopefully) unbiased people were unconvinced. If he and his people can't make a convincing case, who can blame the jurors for not giving a guilty verdict?

Anonymous said...

This is going to sound like a lie but I assure you it is not. I was out last night and pulled over in pennsylvania, the cop asked me to get out of the car and perform a field sobriety test, I followed his pen with my eyes and walked 9 steps for him and then he asked me to blow in his breathalyzer, but I declined and he arrested me for dui. He took me to jail, booked me in and placed me in the cell and 12 hours later they came in and released me and all I signed was a reciept for my belongings. I wasnt given a ticket for dui or anything else and they didnt even tow my car, acctually they parked it for me and took care to hide valuable belongings under the front seat. They let me out the same way the brought me in and told me where to find my car which was about 4 blocks away. I didnt have to post bail or see a judge or even sign or see a ticket, what do I have to worry about in the near future?

Falcon said...

Prosecutors should never get that wrapped up in their verdicts. You must divorce your feelings from justice to properly fulfill your duties to the community. It is much more difficult to do than to talk about it, but it must be done.

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