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View Diary: Nooses, attacks and jail for black students in Jena Louisiana (66 comments)

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  •  A jury (1+ / 0-)
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    cannot convict on a lesser included charge unless the lesser included charge is requested as an alternative by the prosecutor (and agreed to by the defense attorney) when the jury instructions are being drawn.  This is a gamble some attorneys take -- saying no to an instruction about a lesser included charge if they think the jury (faced with, for example, murder or acquittal) will bite on acquittal.  I do not practice criminal law.  And you are completely right that "it could indicate that the basic facts were never in question" -- and, of course, it is the government's responsibility to prove facts, not the accused's burden to refute them.  Nevertheless, in the highly charged atmosphere of this case, it seems inconceivable to me that a competent lawyer would not at least have presented some evidence about the tree and the atmosphere, which would seem to go to mitigation and a defense.  I haven't seen the transcripts, the documentary evidence or the instructions or charging documents . . . so I'm just opining.  But it just struck me as odd and suspicious from what I did learn from the news articles.

    1-20-09 The Darkness Ends "Where cruelty exists, law does not." ~ Alberto Mora.

    by noweasels on Thu Jun 28, 2007 at 10:12:14 PM PDT

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    •  Change of venue (0+ / 0-)

      I think the lawyer should have requested a change of venue probably. And maybe Bell deserves a new trail because of incompetent defense, it doesn't change my basic impression that he deserves to go to jail for his crimes (if convicted in a fair trail).

      •  based on what, exactly? (3+ / 0-)

        It is the government's job to prove guilt, not the accused's burden to prove innocence.  And this is what was said on the Friend of Justice blog:

        Everything hinged on whether the three witnesses who identified Mykal Bell as the student who firsdt struck Justin Barker were more credible than the witnesses who saw it differently. When you have one group of witnesses saying Mykal was the hitman, a second group saying he wasn’t, and a third group saying they witnessed the altercation but can’t say for sure who threw the first punch, the case for reasonable doubt should be a no-brainer. You don’t have to argue that the "Mykal-done-it" witnesses are lying. You merely suggest that there is no empirical way to determine who threw the first punch. Since witnesses on both sides of the issue are equally credible, and since many eyewitnesses came away confused, no final verdict is possible. Sometimes you simply have to say, "I don’t know," and walk away. In the legal system that should translate into a not guilty verdict.

        1-20-09 The Darkness Ends "Where cruelty exists, law does not." ~ Alberto Mora.

        by noweasels on Thu Jun 28, 2007 at 10:56:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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