Thursday, October 25, 2007

My Twelve Special Jurors

My Twelve Special Jurors gave us a mistrial last night when they were unable to decide the issue of my client's guilt. The jury was hung 6 to 6 after about 3 1/2 hours of deliberation. My client was standing trial for possessing a firearm while being a convicted felon. After the trial the jurors gave us valuable insight into the weakness of the state's case.

This was the second time this case was tried to a jury. In 2002 my client was represented by out-of-town counsel, was convicted, and was sentenced to 13 years in the penitentiary. After a writ of habeas corpus was granted in 2006 on ineffective assistance of counsel, the case was remanded to the trial court and I was appointed to represent the accused.

After remand the state wanted to move the case. Consequently they offered to recommend time-served in exchange for my client's guilty plea. If accepted, my client would need only to check-in, then check-out of the county jail since he had over 4 years of flat time on the books. Remarkably, my client rejected the offer immediately. Many of my colleagues around the courthouse chuckled. "He's crazy," they said.

After trying the case the way it should have been the first time, the weakness of the state's case became clear. This was basically a one witness case with the arresting cop offering his bogus opinion my client was acting "suspiciously" and was trying to hide something after getting out of his car during a routine traffic stop. The video of the stop did not support this conclusion and the jury saw through it.

The problem was an alibi witness the defense called in the first trial. The state called him this week. This witness should never have been within a mile of the courthouse in 2002. There were too many problems with him that the defense could not explain. See Bennett's Chainsaw:
The more things you must contest and the more explanations you must provide in order to mount a defense, the more likely it is that you will be convicted.
Be that as it may, my client is ready to try the case again. It's my job to figure out how to win. After running the play twice we're confident 3 is the charm.

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