UPDATED: Judge P drops a dime in a divorce case. See below.
Self defense- a topic near and dear to our own heart and practice.
In West Palm Beach this week, Public Defender Carey Haughwout's client was acquitted of murder and attempted murder after he fired fourteen shots into a vehicle of three men who were gang members and were intent on beating him with a baseball bat.
The Sun Sentinel's story is HERE.
What has us a bit puzzled are the comments from the prosecutor. It should be said that the prosecutor did not appear to attempt to hide from the defense or the jury the criminal nature of individuals who were killed or injured in the case (we can hardly call them "victims").
However, given what appears to be the undisputed proof these men intended to seriously harm the Defendant, the question is why prosecute the case at all?
Here is part of the article, including quotes from the prosecutor that have us troubled:
Williams, who argued that only Borden's first five shots could be construed as self-defense, said it was difficult to overcome the evidence that even the surviving victim, Juan Mendez, conceded the men planned to beat Borden. Williams said he was upfront with the jury about the reputations of the men involved as well as their plans to hurt Borden because he wanted a fair trial.
"The truth hurt me in this case," said Williams, who expressed no surprise at the verdict.
"They were bringing a lot of violence to this defendant. It's tough to put yourself in that guy's shoes and say he didn't act appropriately. It's really tough."
Ultimately, Williams said, the self-defense issue was one for the community, not prosecutors, to determine. He said it would be a tragedy if Borden became a victim of another crime in retaliation for the shootings.
Rumpole says: here appears to be the dividing line on prosecutorial philosophy: The prosecutor who says "here's the evidence, let the jury decide" versus the prosecutor who says "this person acted appropriately under Florida law and should not be prosecuted".
Here is a question we have for those who think the jury should decide- What if the Defendant was found guilty? Florida law does not provide for any sentence other than a mandatory life in prison. Would anyone have thought that justice was served if that occurred.
We believe- and we invite comment on the matter- that a prosecutor's job is to not take those types of cases to the jury where a defendant acted lawfully, even if that acted included the lawful and justified killing of another human being.
Look at it like this- if the Defendant in this case was a police officer, would there have been a prosecution?
In the end, who can feel secure about justice being done with prosecutors who analyze their losses with the statement "the truth hurt me here"? Isn't every case in a Dade County Courtroom tried beneath the banner of "We who labor here seek only the truth."?
Apparently not in West Palm Beach, where the truth may hurt, but it also acquits.
Well Done Ms. Haughwout.!
See you in court, seeking the truth.
The Herald reports today HERE
that Judge Pinero, hearing a divorce case involving a controversial Miami Preacher, has "dropped a dime" on the good reverend and sent the Feds a transcript of the proceedings, saying he was "ethically bound" to do so. The Feds have confirmed they have opened an investigation.
Are Judges ethically bound to report such details of a person's private life exposed in divorce court?