Saturday, October 30, 2010

It's Good to Be the Prosecutor, But Quite an Ordeal to Be a 4-Year-Old Kid

Two interesting local legal cases that caught my attention.

In the first case, see if you can guess what the punishment will be for a guilty party in a trial.

Here's the background. A woman accused of trying to hire a hitman to kill her husband goes on trial. On the second day of the trial the judge has to declare a mistrial because (emphasis mine):

At the beginning of the trial, the parties presented a Stipulation to the Court admitting into evidence a tape recording of a conversation between the Defendant and her daughter, and agreeing that the contents were authentic. At the conclusion of the District Attorney’s second witness, the People asked to play the tape to the Jury pursuant to the Stipulation. Mr. Carmen, Atty for defendant, objected saying that he did not stipulate the tape into evidence, he only stipulated to the authenticity of the recording if it was admitted into evidence. Based on the language in the Stipulation, the Court granted the District Attorney’s application to play the tape. The tape was then played to the Jury. After the luncheon recess, Mr. Carman moved for a mistrial based on the playing of the tape to the Jury. He indicated that over the lunch hour he realized that the draft of the Stipulation which the District Attorney presented to him, and which he agreed to, was different than the final Stipulation that the Assistant District Attorney presented to him to sign. Mr. Carman produced to the Court a copy of the draft of the Stipulation that the District Attorney had presented to him. The Court reviewed the draft of the Stipulation. The draft of the Stipulation did not contain language that the tape was being stipulated into evidence, it only stipulated that the tape would be marked for Identification purposes, and that the contents of the tape were authentic-supporting Mr. Carman’s argument about the intent of the Stipulation. Upon questioning, on the record, the Assistant District Attorney agreed that the draft of the Stipulation, which Mr. Carman had agreed to, had different language than the final Stipulation. The Assistant District Attorney admitted that Mr. Carman had not been advised of the change in the language before it was presented to him in Court to sign. Based on the fact that the District Attorney’s Office changed the language in the Stipulation after Mr. Carman had agreed to it, and that the contents of the tape could be viewed as prejudicial to the defendant, and would not have been admitted into evidence without the Stipulation, the Court, based on the Law, had no choice but to grant a mistrial. Jury selection is to begin again Monday, November 1, 2010, in Judge Carter’s courtroom.


My guess is that the Assistant District Attorney (ADA) doesn't suffer any legal repercussions for his/her behavior. Of course, it's quite possible that the ADA's, um how shall we put this, darling trick isn't even illegal. Either way, it's good to be the prosecutor, no?

In the second case, see if you can figure out how a 4-year-old can be found guilty of negligence.

In this case, a judge has ruled that a young girl accused of running down an elderly woman while racing a bicycle with training wheels on a Manhattan sidewalk two years ago can be sued for negligence. My question is, how exactly do you explain to a 4 yo the concept of a jury trial, testimony, etc, so that the kid understands what is going on? Is such a thing even possible? Maybe the ADA from the first case can be used to explain the difference between reality and fantasy to the little kid.

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1 Comments:

At 1:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The parents are the ones who will be ultimately legally responsible, not the child.

Quite frankly, given how many parents in Manhattan think that the entire place belongs to them and their little darlings, I appreciate this ruling.

 

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