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View Diary: Roeder Trial: Witness for the Defense Under Investigation for Ethics Violations (102 comments)

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  •  Here's my thoughts on that (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JC from IA, CherryTheTart

    When a good judge is faced with a case that is a likely convinction -- like a situation where a defendant has blatantly admitted (as did Roeder) that he shot Tiller --  that good judge is going to make sure that the defendant gets the benefit of every doubt in his legal rulings.  That way, when the convinction comes down, it is rock solid and will stand up on appeal.  

    If there is any question as to whether Roeder can mount this defense -- any doubt at all -- a good judge has to give him the benefit of the doubt and allow him to introduce whatever evidence he has.  If, AFTER he has introduced whatever evidence he has, the judge determines that he hasn't established the necessary elements of voluntary manslaughter, THEN the judge can instruct the jury only on premeditated murder and not give them the option to find volunatary manslaughter.

    It is really really risky for a judge, before a criminal trial, to rule that the defendant can't put on certain evidence that the defendant believes is germane to his case.  Unless the judge is convinced beyond all doubt that there is no way the evidence could ever be relevant to anything, excluding it just gives the defendant a huge issue to raise on appeal.  That is why you so often see judges let defendants attack the victim in criminal cases.  The safest and most frequent ruling is that, if there is ANY question at all as to whether it is relevant, you let the defendant present it.  Then after the defendant has given it his "best shot," the judge can decide if the defendant has proven what he has to before the judge instructs the jury.  

    •  If he doesn't allow voluntary manslaughter then (0+ / 0-)

      the jury might just acquit if they believe the standard for VM was met.  After all, if the defense proves VM but the choices are either murder or nothing you have to go with nothing because murder was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

      •  Uh, he already admitted to the murder. (0+ / 0-)

        The haggling is over the degree, not the fact of the murder or who committed it.

        Granted, the jury might conceivably not convict on the "pre-meditated" part, but even that seems a stretch, since the defendant had to locate the Doctor at his church service, not just bump into him at his clinic.

        •  The point is, if the jury can only choose (0+ / 0-)

          between first degree murder and nothing and the prosecution can only prove voluntary manslaughter then the jury is supposed to pick nothing (because all of the elements of first degree murder have not been proven).  In other words, if the judge does not allow the jury to consider voluntary manslaughter, he risks a full acquittal if the defense can prove that it was voluntary manslaughter rather than first degree murder.

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