Two Miami Herald articles have caught our attention:
In the first, shots were fired and thankfully missed Miami Attorney and judicial candidate Abbie Cuellar as she was driving her car home from a function last week. The David Ovalle Herald article is HERE , and the current belief is that it was an attempted car jacking and not related to any political activites.
We also noted, as the Herald reported HERE that in the case involving the murder of wealthy Coconut Grover resident and business man Jose Calvo, Anthony Lee confessed and pled guilty to the murder last week, admitting that the early rampant speculation that he was acting on behalf of Calvo’s wife- Denise Calvo- was false.
When this killing occurred there was rampant speculation that Ms. Calvo had orchestrated the killing. The marriage appeared to be rocky, and there was a lot of money involved. Without going over all the details involving drug use, conflicting statements she may have given, the police’s allegations she was “uncooperative” and her recently being added as a beneficiary to a half million dollar life insurance policy, the facts had everybody whispering she was involved ala the famed Joyce Cohen Coconut Grove case from a decade or so earlier. (Where's John Kastrenakis and Kevin DiGregory when you need them?)
Just one problem: Denise Calvo was innocent. And therein lies our thought for the day: there is a reason why we have a presumption of innocence in this country (although it may be against the law to say that in Federal Court more than once per trial, we are researching the issue as you read this.) and that is to avoid putting people in prison who “everyone knows did it” or who otherwise seem guilty.
So the next time you pick up the Herald and read about a story and shake your head because you “know the guy is guilty” just remember ( as we sometimes try to speak with jurors about in voire dire) that there may be evidence of guilt against an innocent person. Certainly Denise Calvo may have had marital difficulties, or she may have stood to benefit from her husband’s death, or she may not have been 100% cooperative with homicide detectives (which in this case probably means she turned down the offer of a Big Mac at 4:00 am in an interview room in exchange for admitting she had her husband killed.) but that doesn’t mean she is a killer.
See You In Court, where we remind judges and prosecutors of the above on a daily basis.
PS. Speaking of voire dire and federal court, does anyone else find it a bit difficult to interview forty or so jurors in the 8 minutes and 35 seconds the judge has so graciously carved out of his/her lunch time to allow you to do your job?