WELCOME TO THE OFFICIAL RICHARD E GERSTEIN JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG. THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED TO JUSTICE BUILDING RUMOR, HUMOR, AND A DISCUSSION ABOUT AND BETWEEN THE JUDGES, LAWYERS AND THE DEDICATED SUPPORT STAFF, CLERKS, COURT REPORTERS, AND CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS WHO LABOR IN THE WORLD OF MIAMI'S CRIMINAL JUSTICE. THIS BLOG HAS BEEN CALLED "THE DEFINITIVE BLOG ON MIAMI CRIMINAL LAW" BY THE NY TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, THE POPE, AND DONALD TRUMP WHO ALSO ONCE SAID IT WAS "REALLY GREAT". POST YOUR COMMENTS, OR SEND RUMPOLE A PRIVATE EMAIL AT HOWARDROARK21@GMAIL.COM

Thursday, October 02, 2008

WHY JURORS SHOULD KNOW THE PENALTY

DEBATE UPDATE: TAKE BIDEN - 14.5. Yes,  two touchdowns is a lot of points to give up. But this is like the Redskins playing FIU. One of them doesn't belong in the arena (hint: she's from Alaska.)

The Miami Herald has the story of three federal jurors who were "intimidated" into a guilty verdict on the gun counts.
 
The title to the post links to the herald story.

The jurors, who read the Herald the next day and were shocked to find that the Defendant was facing life in prison immediately regretted their decision. The jurors interviewed want to retract their guilty verdict. The jurors relate stories about another juror who banged the table and shouted and berated them until they agreed to vote guilty on the gun charges.

Just another shining example of the greatest justice system on earth. Boy can we all be proud of the verdict in this case. 

As an aside, State Prosecutor Abe Laeser recently in voire dire told a panel that the young defendant he was prosecuting faced mandatory life in prison if the jury voted guilty on the first degree murder charge. Mr. Laeser had the facts on his side, and the jury, fully cognizant of the impact of their decision, voted guilty.  It is an awesome responsibility to seek the lifetime incarceration of an individual. Certainly some crimes require lifetime incarceration. Although as an aside we believe in the chance for redemption and thus parole. But that's for another day. The point is that if Mr. Laeser can convict a defendant who committed a crime while a juvenile where the jurors knew the penalty was life in prison without the possibility of parole, then 
jurors can convict in cases where they are aware of the consequences of their actions. 

Doesn't justice and fairness dictate that jurors know the penalty in cases they are deciding, especially where there is a minimum mandatory sentence and the judge does not have any discretion?

The flip side to this argument is that reasonable doubt is reasonable doubt and guilt is guilt. Jurors should decide cases on the facts and nothing else. However, as is readily apparent from the Joe Cool jurors - jurors DO NOT decide cases in a vacuum and penalty matters to their view of the evidence.  In reading the juror interviews a reasonable case can  be made that they convicted the defendant on evidence that was less than beyond a reasonable doubt because they mistakenly believed that the counts were not serious. Therefore,  while in theory jurors should decide cases just on the facts, the reality is that they attempt to discern which counts are more serious than others and are more wiling to convict  a defendant on what they perceive to be a less serious count in a close case. 

We should not turn a blind eye to what jurors are doing. It would and mostly like already has resulted in a miscarriage of justice. At least three jurors in the Joe Cool case would never have found proof beyond a reasonable doubt if they were aware of the penalty for the crimes they convicted the defendant of. 

See You In Court. 

PS. Written and posted right under your noses in the REGJB. 

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

oh my god oh my god - 1030 am in the REGJB this was posted - who was there - WHO WAS THERE - I'm PANTING, years of trying to find out who rumpole is, my god, can I get a list of lawyers who were there - somebody - PLEASEEEEEEEEEE

blog juror said...

I Absolutely know Jay White runs this blog. I am 100% sure of it. And yet, since the evidence is not complete, I feel compelled to find him guilty of the lesser included charge of blogging without being funny.

Anonymous said...

I don't know Jay White, but after looking him up I do not agree with 3:36. Mr. White's firm doesn't even have a website (at least not one that I could find). You'd think that a blogger as prolific as Rumpole would at least have a basic little site up for his firm.

I mean, come on...this is a guy who is posting live from the courthouse. He's obviously attached to his computer day and night.

defense-lawyer-for-the-princess said...

3:36--show us the evidence you have so far.

The pole has been added to the yacht! We set sail tomorrow Rump!

rick freedman said...

Thank you to Rumpole for adding the FACDL-MIAMI website to the left side of the BLOG as a hyperlink to our website. If you would like to view the upcoming events for the month of October, please click on the site.

www.facdl-miami.org

Thanks again, Rumpole.

Rick Freedman

Anonymous said...

I agree that the penalty should be told to the jury.

I also agree the jury should hear the defendant's priors. Because there are so many cases where once the jurors find a person not guilty and hear the priors, they advise, "Why didn't anyone tell me about this?"

There have been cases where necessarily the jury are told the priors, i.e. where defendant testifies and is impeached by priors, where the charge depends on certain priors (i.e. convicted felon), etc. and the jury still does not find the defendant guilty based on the evidence.

So if knowing a person is facing life will affect how the jury "views the evidence" and is probative, why then, is it wrong for them to know the priors, which will also affect how the "view the evidence"?

the trialmaster said...

the trialmaster was not in the justice bldg today, he appeared at 73 west flagler and prevailed on an important motion.As for the comments on the the Abed one, my pet turtle could have obtained a guilty verdict on those disturbiing facts. All of those scum should have received death by torture.

Anonymous said...

while the more important issue is whether the law should be changed ( on certain cases), to let jurors know the minimum and maximum punishment, this post is about the blogging frenzy of the allleged Rump at REG.

Let's throw out a name never previously mentioned: Bruce Fleischer as Rump. Any thoughts?

A runner's body, always in trial, been around long enough (despite those youthful good-looks) to know the inside information dished, etc.

What sheds doubt is with the type of cases (murders) he handles, it doesn't in any way account for what he may/may not know about judges, other than the decisions they make on homicide cases.

Talk amongst yourselves.

Rumpole said...

The first radio broadcast of a presidential debate was in 1948 between Thomas Dewey and our favourite presidential candidate- Harold Stassen.

Anonymous said...

Rump, have you heard anything regarding the city of miami fire fee judge who's law clerk had x-parte communications with the city attorneys. Is it true? I heard there was an article on miami today, but I can't seem to find it.

fake trialmaster said...

Trialmaster, you were coaching Sarah Palin on how to debate Joe Biden. Don't lie.

Anonymous said...

Lurvey is Rumpole. Rumpole is Lurvey. Maybe with the assistance of Lyons, Shuminer and Freedman (also the Captain).

Anonymous said...

The penalty really has nothing to do with the ultimate factual question of what happened. If you want jurors to go back and a room and make decisions based on things other than the facts, then a jury should also know obvious relevant facts like how many times a person charged with armed robbery with a firearm has previously been charged with armed robbery with a firearm. You can tell me the legal fiction that it is irrelevant to determining what happened on any one occasion, but if we are going to consider other things that are irrelevant to that determination, I suspect just as many jurors would want to know that the defendant has been charged with or convicted of the same offense 5 to 10 previous times before they walk him out the door. It is a slippery slope you are proposing.

Anonymous said...

Palin is hot.

Anonymous said...

Funny, I thought that jurors were supposed to decide the facts free of information that doesn't bear on the defendant's guilt. Am I wrong?

I don't think so. If jurors can hear about the possible sentence on the theory that it may impact their deicions (gee, doesn't everything?), then on what basis can we ask courts to exclude a defendant's priors? Or character evidence? Or the victim's (or next of kin's) suffering and thoughts about sentencing?

Or does fairness only run one way?

Regardless, suggesting a system wide change because of one case is ridiculous. I can find an example of pretty much anything I want if I search hard enough.

When I was a prosecutor, I had a juror call me and express regret on an NG verdict. She caved because she was brow beaten and exhausted? Should we have gotten another shot at the defendant? We didn't think so. How many jurors regret NG verdicts after hearing about a defendant's priors?

Seriously, this is the worst suggestion you've ever made Rump.

BTDT

PS---as for Abe's voir dire, it proves nothing. I bet you can't find a single person who would have a problem with giving life in that case. Choosing an extreme example to make a point is absurd.

Anonymous said...

Juries should decide a case based on the facts and the evidence. A defendant's prior record - unless relevant to the charge - is of no concern to the jury. It would provoke a jury to go easier on a defendant with few priors, and perhaps harsher on a defendant with serious priors, even if the state fails to prove its case.

Knowing the penalty ahead of time, with the exception of a death penalty case, causes a jury to vote based on emotion. The jury needs to look at the facts and evidence of the charged offense and make a decision as to whether the law was broken and whether the defendant was the one who broke it. Period. Appeals to emotion, such as letting a jury know that their decision could send the defendant to prison for X number of years clouds their ability to be fair and impartial.

Anonymous said...

I was a prosecutor back when we told all juries about the maximum punishment on every count. I liked it because juries could make wiser decisions.

Anonymous said...

I fully concur with 6:28 A.M. If we let the maximum penalty be known, then what else comes in? Priors? Victim impact statements? Testimony regarding the cost of crime to the average person? The role of jurors in every case, criminal or civil, is to decide the FACTS of the case (except in capital cases and in a few states, such as Virginia, which require the jury to impose the sentence as well).

The real answer is to repeal many of the mandatory penalties that the Legislature has seen fit to impose. Murder, serious sex crimes, violent crimes involving a firearm and crimes involving huge amounts of drugs (not 5-10 grams of heroin or a bunch of oxys) require mandatories. Other offenses do not.

Anonymous said...

I think Palin covered the spread.

Anonymous said...

I love reading the blog, but today I'm deeply offended by the gratuitous and classless below the belt shot at the FIU football team. The team is made up of tough underclassmen who deserve a little more respect. If you want to make some money, take FIU against North Texas this weekend. GO PANTHERS!

fake dick cheney said...

Rumpole, your points are well taken. The jury system in America is broken and beyond repair. The President and I will be proposing that the Military Tribunals in Guantanamo should hear all criminal cases in the United States, whether state or federal. The same rules of procedure and evidence that currently apply there will supersede any state or federal law, including court rules.

Thank you for inspring the President and I to come up with another way to protect Americans' liberties in a most effective and efficient manner.

Anonymous said...

The bigger problem is that jurors compromise on verducts regardless of the facts. In the Joe Cool case, they agreed to convict on the "lesser" counts (without a factual basis for it) because they felt the defendants would receive a light penalty. The jurors had asked the judge if bringing the firearm on board meant that the defendant was guilty of using a firearm in the crime. The defense wanted the question answered for the jurors, however, the prosecution didn't want the question answered (obviously because the answer would have been "no"). Judge Huck sided with the government and told the jurors to read the instructions and continue deliberating. The jurors came up with an inconsistent, "let's get out of here" compromise verdict, convicting the defendant of using the firearm in a crime but not convicting him of the crime. I hope that Judge Huck vacates the conviction and enters a mistrial.

the trialmaster said...

no, the trialmaster did not coach sarah, although he would like to get to know her carnally.

Anonymous said...

Palin is a nut and not fit to wipe the slobber off of McCain's chin, but I grudgingly agree with 11:05 that she covered the spread.

Triedbyconscience said...

I'm afraid on this one I need to quote John Jay, the first supreme court justice of the United States.

"The jury has the right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy."

In other words, the law itself is on trial, and the jury has the right and power to judge the law.

Indeed, in the impeachment of Samuel Chase, one of the arguments was that he had wrongfully prevented the attorney from arguing that the law should not be followed.

Samuel chase, himself stated: "The jury has the right to determine both the law and the facts."

This is the nature of jury nullification. It is a doctrine regarded as an embarrassing 'glitch' in law today, but it is, in John Adam's words: It is not only the juror's right, but his duty to find the verdict
according to his own best understanding, judgement and conscience,
though in direct opposition to the instruction of the court.