This morning Austin Bates and I went with Ray and Chase to meet with Jack Pattie, a long time radio host, at the News Talk 590 WVLK’s weekly True Crime show. Here we listened to Josh Marquis, the District Attorney for Clatsop County in Oregon; discuss his views on how trials with celebrities vary from a typical criminal trial. During the show the following celebrities were mentioned and discussed: Bill Cosby, Casey Anthony, OJ Simpson, and Robert Blake.
Many believe that celebrities gain unfair passes from law enforcement because of their fame. Bill Cosby’s case is left with very little physical evidence and the women involved in this trial were subjected to extreme pressures to come forward about this rape crime. Josh Marquis mentioned, “The worst nightmare of a prosecutor isn’t losing the case, it’s prosecuting someone who is innocent,” this brought up lots of discussion.
The most intriguing part of the show in my opinion was when Josh mentioned the two television shows: Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder. He talked about the fascination that we and the rest of public have about murder, and how rape isn’t taken into account like murder in most television programs. A statement Josh made really stuck with me throughout the show and it was the realization that most people wouldn’t be accepting of a show that was named How to Get Away with Rape. These celebrities do impact how most citizens view the outcome of criminal trials. Celebrities reduce many people’s faith in the system and the law abiding citizens are losing much needed confidence because of a double standard of justice that is being presented.
Today I went to the circuit court for motion hour. It was an interesting experience and different from anything I have witnessed before. I found it surprising how quickly the court was able to process the different requests and actions of the defendants. Some of the defendants were there to plead guilty and schedule sentencing hearings, whereas, other defendants were there just to reschedule and move their next pretrial hearing date back. The defendants were always accompanied by their defense attorney and several prosecutors were there to present the Commonwealth’s argument and represent the Commonwealth’s interests.
When defendants plead guilty, the judge took several steps to ensure that the defendant understood the gravity of their decision and the constitutional rights they were waiving by pleading guilty. Furthermore, the judge made sure the defendant fully understood the charges against them. Once the judge was satisfied that the defendant fully understood what pleading guilty entails, the judge then asked the defense attorney to confirm the identity of the defendant and that they provided the defendant with complete and adequate representation. Once this process was complete, the court scheduled a sentencing hearing to take place at a later date.
JOSHUA MARQUIS, elected many times District Attorney in Astoria, Oregon is a member of the Board of Directors of the National District Attorneys Association, a frequent commentator on criminal justice issues, and is a co-author of Debating the Death Penalty just released by Oxford University Press of New York. Marquis can be reached at email@example.com
Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2004
Popular culture has always loved the criminal defense attorney, usually characterizing them as threadbare but plucky defenders of accused innocents. In contrast, prosecutors have long been depicted as overzealous, politically ambitious, and hell-bent on framing some poor marginalized defendant.
Recall, for instance, “Perry Mason” — where hapless prosecutor Hamilton Burger managed to remain D.A. despite losing 250 consecutive murder cases featuring innocent defendants. That show began a long tradition leading up to more modern shows such as “The Practice,” in which a threadbare but plucky Boston law firm stays afloat by having an inexhaustible supply of innocent criminal clients to defend.
Early Thursday morning we were told that a new Grand Jury for the month of June was going to be selected, and we might find it interesting. It was very interesting and completely different than I thought it would be.
My impression of how grand juries were selected was much more ominous than it really is. I thought prospective grand jurors would be given questionnaires, and each side, prosecution and defense would mark off jurors based on juror biases toward the prosecution or defense.
Was I ever wrong! The process of selecting a Grand Jury was efficient, random and quick. Here is how that process occurs.
On the last Thursday of every month 250-300 citizens of Fayette County are summoned for jury duty for the month. They all assemble in the Circuit Court House where they receive a brief orientation by the Court Administrator. Then the roll is called using juror numbers, not names. After which all of the numbers are placed in a wooden box and 17 numbers are drawn randomly. The first 12 are the Grand Jurors and the remaining 5 are alternates.
The entire selection process is completely random and resulted in a very diverse group. During the month of June it will be their responsibility to listen to evidence presented to them and they must decide whether that evidence is sufficient to believe a crime has occurred and the suspect in all likelihood committed it.
Observing the process by which grand juries are selected changed my opinion, and encouraged my faith in the system and with the lack of bias involved. I’m glad I saw the process first hand. Everyone should.
Brad Bryant is from Louisville, Kentucky. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics at Centre College and his law degree from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Brad joined the Fayette Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office in October of 2003 and his focus is on the investigation and prosecution of crimes involving firearms.
(LEX 18) – “The case against a man accused of shooting a Lexington mother multiple times will head to a grand jury. 45-year-old William Pomeroy answered to charges of murder and tampering with physical evidence in the death of 43-year-old Amy Koegel. A Lexington Police Detective recounted to the judge the moments that lead up to the murder of Koegel.”
(Baltimore Sun)- Baltimore City Police Officer Edward Nero was acquitted Monday on all charges he faced in connection to the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. Mr. Nero, who had but a tangential role in Gray’s detention, should never have been charged. He committed no crime. (Click here to read the entire Baltimore Sun article)
(WDRB) — “The mother of two sons killed Sunday in the Shawnee neighborhood told WDRB the man who killed them preyed on them and was hoping to recruit them in his gang. Her oldest son came to her for help but by that time, it was too late. “My sons were trying to earn stripes in the blood gang, and they had to put in work,” Elizabeth Wren said. “If they didn’t put in work, they were knocked off. And that’s why they were knocked off, because they were scared to put in work.” Her sons, 14-year-old Larry Ordway and 16-year-old Maurice Gordon, were stabbed, burned and left for dead Sunday afternoon”