Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The 2000 Year Old Prosecutor

The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals has affirmed the conviction of a defendant for the shotgun murder of his wife.

The decision brought a short but impassioned dissent from Justice Ketchum:

The majority opinion holds that the prosecutor erroneously introduced into evidence five inadmissible statements, three of which were constitutional errors. Again and again, the majority opinion demonstrates that this mess of a trial was dominated by inadmissible evidence. Yet the majority opinion somehow concludes that the parade of inadmisible evidence was harmless, and that the defendant got a fair trial.

It all reminds me of the trial in Alice of Wonderland, with the Queen demanding that the accused be "Sentence[d] first - verdict afterwards." By the majority's measure, I guess the Sanhedrin gave Jesus Christ a fair trial.

The dissent chided the trial judge for conducting a hearing on the admission of "bad acts" evidence in open court with the press in attendance and concludes:

Under the majority opinion's philosophy, we might as well start future trials with the prosecutor stating, in front of the jury, 'bring the guilty S.O.B. in here!"

I dissent. This is terrible.

In a footnote, the dissent notes that "if this prosecutor had been around 2000 years ago, she might have had difficulty finding prior bad acts to admit before the Sanhedrin..." (Mike Frisch)

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