Monday, October 10, 2011

Often Times It's All About the Energy

Here's an important way to inject YOUR energy into a trial. YOUR energy is important. YOUR energy helps persuade. Trials are often a battle of energy: YOURS v. THEIRS. You are always on the prowl for ways to inject the appropriate energy. Remember this: "You are in charge. From the beginning impress the judge you are not one to be taken lightly. "A fine line between confidence and arrogance. Watch you don't cross into arrogance, you'll lose credibility. "Look at the judge directly. Speak decisively and with authority. "Forget "if it please the court." Address the judge as "judge" and not as "your honor." If you need a moment in the courtroom, take it without asking. "If you want to show a document or piece of evidence to a witness, grab it off the prosecutor's desk and approach the witness, without asking. "If you want to ask some objectionable question on cross-examination, go ahead and ask. "Force them to deal with it. "Act like you're in charge. Doing so injects YOUR energy into the battle. Often times it's all about the energy and the side with the most energy wins."

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Acquittal of Amanda Knox

Amanda Knox was convicted of murdering her Italian roommate in 2009. She was sentenced to 26 years in prison. However, in a dramatic turn of events Amanda was acquitted by an Italian appeals court this past week and set free. The appeals court reversed the conviction based, partly, on a report that called into question DNA evidence used by prosecutors to convict her, and her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito. Here are the interesting aspects of Amanda's case and Italy's criminal justice system that are very different from our own.

First, Amanda's appeal from her murder conviction was not a typical appeal we'd see here in Texas or the USA.  Amanda received a full new trial, in front of a new jury, with opportunity for a "second bite at the apple." We call that a "trial de novo." In some Texas lower courts a person can appeal and received a trial de novo.  But in most courts an appeal is based strictly on the record of the original trial. The questions are whether the jury had enough legal evidence to convict and whether there were errors occurring which might be reversible. The volume of criminal cases going through the USA systems is so high that trial de novo is an impracticable method of appeal. It would consume too much time and too many judicial resources.

The second aspect of the case is more frightening. In Italy, the government has the right to appeal an acquittal! That is, if the prosecutors lose THEY get a second bite at the apple, as well. The Knox prosecutors have vowed to appeal the acquittal. In Texas (and the USA), in contrast, once a person is acquitted any further prosecution is barred (prevented) by our concept of Double Jeopardy. That means a person cannot face conviction a second time if the government did not convince the jury to convict at the first trial. It's a Constitutional right under the 5th Amendment.

Luckily, Amanda Knox is now safely home in Seattle, Washington. Authorities say if Italy's appeal court reversed the acquittal, ordered a new trial, and Amanda was again convicted, her extradition back to Italy is highly unlikely.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

You Know What I Miss Most About You?

During my visit to China a few years ago a fabulous Chinese woman, named Louise, was my interpreter. I was there for only a few days but Louise turned out to be so much more. She was my protector, my facilitator, and my friend. In a land truly foreign to me, she helped me succeed and feel safe. I loved her for helping me. In the years to come I agreed to support Louise each month with a small financial contribution to assist in her mission to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout China. Just lately I agreed to continue my financial support and expressed my desire to return to China sometime soon. Following is a quote from her email thanking me:

I pray that Father could arrange time for you to visit China again soon. You know what I miss most about you? Your tight hug! Chinese seldom hug each other, and I'd never been hugged that tight before. :-)

I hope to visit China again to see and hug Louise once more. And to those of you who I've tightly hugged like this . . . ? You know who you are! It's because I love you, too.