A while back (what’s a couple months between friends) I wrote a post about inherent bias and prejudice, the premise of which was that it is difficult for the defendant to win any criminal case because jurors – the decision makers – start with a bias in favor of the prosecution. They prejudge the defendant because he is charged with a crime and often because he (or she) “looks guilty,” whatever that means! They tend to believe the justice system sorts out innocent people before they get to trial. So, getting to “not guilty” is always a crap shoot.

In April I tried a case in which a Mountain Home Airman was charged with rape and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in State court. The Air Force had administratively discharged him for the same allegations, but there the standard of proof was “by a preponderance” not “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The Air Force board was asked to decide whether my client should be fired based on the evidence – or should he be permitted to stay on active duty.

The criminal trial for rape and aggravated assault carried a potential life sentence, so the stakes were far higher for our client in State court than at the Air Force board.

At the discharge board hearing, the inherent bias of the Air Force officer decision makers in favor of good order and discipline, as well as protecting the Air Force reputation within the local community played in favor of terminating my client’s service. The “prosecutor” for the board argued as much. The allegations and criminal charges had been in the news, subjecting the base to critical review by the community. So the five officer board members were likely prejudiced (inherently, not purposefully) against my client and supportive of upholding the reputation of the Air Force and the base. That bias in favor of the Air Force almost certainly and predictably played in favor of discharge.

In the criminal trial the bias in favor of the victim’s story and prejudice against my client were reversed as the trial progressed. My guy looked like the all American Airman caught in the claims of a young woman who said she had not consented to sex, but admitted she was so drunk she could not really recall even going home with him. She did not look or sound like a victim and importantly she had told her friend, “I think I had sex…”

I understand that a victim might truly not be certain whether or not she had been assaulted, but if you claim not to have consented, that type of uncertainty can only work against you in court. The result – not guilty of rape and the aggravated assault charges.

When the case was over a juror told me that our client “looked not guilty.” He showed up for court in a blue suit and white shirt and never over-reacted to the testimony, even when it was graphic and accusatory. He had told his story to the police – and that story had its own warts – but he met the jurors’ expectations as to what a person would say to a detective when confronted with such an allegation.

The jury was out for nearly four hours. Why? Because getting 12 people to agree that there was not proof beyond a reasonable doubt involved a lot of consideration, and a lot of going back and forth.

A friend of mine (Psychologist) once told me jurors are like any group asked to make a decision. He says they go through three stages – forming, storming and norming. They “form” into subgroups based on their initial perception of the facts and their own bias and prejudice. They ”storm” over what actually happened, or in a jury setting what the evidence proves beyond a reasonable doubt. And they “norm” or decide based on all of that plus the give and take of any group decision. Their decision literally represents the “norm” of the group. BTW – credit Bruce Tuckman’s stages of group decision-making.

Kind of like what used to happen in Congress. They make a decision (the jury, not Congress). That decision is the performance of the group/jury.

We give jurors instructions on what “reasonable doubt” means, but the instructions seldom answer their questions. How much doubt is enough? What is reasonable? When can I go home! I try to deal with these issues throughout each trial, but still, getting to 12 votes for the defense is a challenge.

So pay attention to the details. Answer the tough questions that you know the jurors will ask, and focus your case on reasonable doubt. By doing so you focus the jurors on the problems with the prosecution, and not the problems with your case. And try to convince your client to show up looking like an innocent person – dressed conservatively and as jurors think they would show up if their life was on the line.

Idaho Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers gave and gave and gave so that kiddos in Nampa could have Christmas! Here’s the video proof! New Burnished pink gold Brushed copper Pop Up Waste Plug 32 mm NO OverflowThanks for your incredible generosity and thanks to the administrators, staff and crazy great teachers at Endeavor! Merry Christmas!

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Impartiality is a myth. So the idea that you will start with an impartial jury or fact finder (maybe a Judge) misses the mark. We all have inherent bias and prejudice that colors our decision making. All of us.New Country by Brewster 418-66366 New Country Lafayette Beige Small Leaf Trail

Let’s start with a simple example involving cars. I have a bias (or preference) in favor of Westfalia vans and Porsche 911s. The two are polar opposites – sexy German sports car and utilitarian German fun wagon. If I had both in my garage I would be a happy camper. Over time I have had both but modern automobiles have taken my eyes away from each. So too the two grandkids I cart around daily.

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Slate Magazine has done a great job recounting what happened at Ruby Ridge in its Podcast Standoff. Listening now and remembering how life can turn in an instant. Want the inside story? Ron Howen, Gerry Spence and others tell the story from their viewpoint.NEW DIRECT DIAMOND MOTIF STRIPED PATTERN GLITTER TEXTURED BLOWN VINYL WALLPAPER Episode 4 tells how the FBI held back the most important evidence in the case, Lon Horiuchi’s drawing of what he saw when he fired the shot that killed Vicki Weaver. I spent a couple hours being interviewed last summer and it brought back so many memories. You can start the series here, and hear my story in Episode 4. The picture below was taken when David Nevin and I went to Ruby Ridge after the trial Sam Donaldson from ABC.

Boise State University Professor Dr. Greg Hampikian is a  Biologist whose work has identified persons wrongly accused and convicted of crimes. He is regarded as one of the foremost forensic DNA experts in the United States and beyond. He is the founder of the Idaho Innocence Project, which, along with other state Innocence Projects, has helped to clear hundreds of persons wrongly convicted. Those convictions have often been based on faulty science and false confessions. So when he tells us that DNA testing at crime labs is suspect and results may be misleading, we should pay attention.NEW Engineers Vice 100mm UK SELLER, FREEPOST

Dr. Hampikian’s op-ed in the New York Times yesterday should sound a bell for any person who faces criminal charges supported by DNA test results. Dr. Hampikian reports that in a recent reliability study, 74 out of 108 crime laboratories implicated an innocent person in a hypothetical bank robbery.

Continue Reading There’s A Problem With DNA Testing At Crime Labs – They Often Get It Wrong.

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Yesterday I posted about Idaho’s tough marijuana laws.  Is Idaho any closer to legalizing marijuana-based products? How about cannabidiol (CBD) oil? I don’t think so.

It seems like every week I receive an email solicitation offering to sell me CBD oil, ordered online and delivered by mail to my home or office. NEW Jay Safety Trainers Size 10 UK SELLER, FREEPOST Each such offering indicates that CBD oil is a lawful product in all states, including Idaho. I am not so certain.

Continue Reading There’s a problem if you buy CBD oil in Idaho – it may be a crime.

Idaho’s Marijuana Laws Are Tough – Maybe Even Unfair!

I spent time yesterday driving to and from a rural courthouse in Western Idaho for a hearing on a marijuana case.NEW LUXURY DIRECT WALLPAPERS WAVE EMBOSSED TEXTURED METALLIC 10M WALLPAPER ROLL The charge – felony possession of marijuana – arises out of a car having been stopped near the Oregon border during early morning hours for traveling too slowly. That’s right, too slowly. Officers claim they smelled marijuana, and the Oregon driver admitted the illegal weed was on board. As the amount exceeded 3 ounces, the client faced a felony, with the possibility of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Continue Reading Idaho’s Marijuana Laws Are Tough!

In 2016 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Wilson v. Lynch (9th Cir. Case No. 14-15799) that medical marijuana cardholders are prohibited from purchasing firearms based on federal regulations.  The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) sent an Open Letter to gun dealers in 2011 stating that, “If you are aware that the potential transferee is in possession of a card authorizing the possession and use of marijuana under State law, then you have ‘reasonable cause to believe’ that the person is an unlawful user of a controlled substance. As such, you may not transfer firearms or ammunition to the person.”NEW ONE(1) ROLL ZOFFANY VINYL VII-FLOWER-VIN73001 - AG, LEAFY SCROLL WALLPAPER

Continue Reading That Medical Marijuana Card Can Prevent You From Buying A Gun!

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I frequently get this question – “how can they charge me with rape? She said she was 19!” The answer is simple, a representation of the age of an apparently consenting person means nothing!NEW Reno 5 Shower Kit UK SELLER, FREEPOST

Bupkis! Nada! Absolutely nothing! What matters is the age of the person – that is – the ACTUAL age.

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