In any jury trial, after the jury has returned its verdict, the jurors are told that they can speak with the attorneys on the case if they so choose. My personal policy has always been that I will stay and talk to any jury that wants to talk to me, regardless of whether or not they ruled in my favor. I believe that if the jurors devoted their time to listening to me talk for hours, days or weeks, the least I can do is listen to them for a bit.
Some jurors want to know what will happen to the defendant after the trial is over. Some will be looking for affirmation that they arrived at the right decision. Some will want to know what "the rest of the story" was. I always try to answer their questions to the best of my ability. Jurors get emotionally and intellectually invested in the trials they sit on, and I think they deserve to have their questions answered.
As most of you know, last week local hand surgeon Michael Brown was acquitted of Felony Assault against his wife, Rachel Brown. Yesterday, Brian Wice, who defended Dr. Brown along with Dick DeGuerin, Catherine Baen and Carmen Roe, wrote an editorial criticizing the prosecution team of Jane Waters and Nathan Hennigan for comments they made to the jury and media after the trial was over.
In his editorial, Wice describes prosecutor Nathan Hennigan's comments as "a backhanded slap at Judge Wallace", "cross[ing] the line on both a personal and professional level", and "classless".
Okay, let's look at this for a moment.
Shortly after the acquittal, Dick DeGuerin made a big production of cutting off Dr. Brown's ankle monitor in front of the media before doing a press conference doing a character assassination on Rachel Brown (who, last I looked, wasn't charged with a crime). This type of circus-like production isn't exactly what I would equate with "class" in the first place, so Wice attacking Nathan for talking to the jurors about "the real Michael Brown" rings a tad bit hypocritical.
Brian's description of the prosecutor's comments as "a backhanded slap at Judge Wallace" is ludicrous. Judge Wallace made rulings that affected the integrity of the trial he presided over. Nathan and Jane followed those rules throughout the trial. None of Nathan's comments were along the lines of "We would have won the case if that big old mean judge just hadn't made a dumb ruling." He discussed an extraneous aggravated assault that Michael Brown had been on deferred adjudication for after the trial. Brian claiming that Nathan was giving a "backhanded slap" was designed solely to make Judge Wallace angry with the prosecutor and portray him as disrespectful to the court.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
And finally, Wice alleges that Hennigan's statements as violating Rule 3.06 of the State Bar Disciplinary Rules, because his "post-verdict comments" could harass, embarrass or influence actions in future jury service. He calls it a "thinly veiled attempt to make the jury feel bad about its verdict".
Um, Brian, are you forgetting that your part-time job of being a legal analyst for Channel 2? Don't you regularly make "post-verdict comments" about what you thought was good or bad about a trial? Don't you do analysis of evidence that may or may not ultimately get in front of jury? Aren't you the same guy who appeared in about 5 episodes of 48 Hours criticizing Kelly Siegler and calling her every name in the book as you criticized the verdict in the Susan Wright case?
Are you really suggesting that only us members of the Defense Bar can give our opinions of cases in the aftermath, but the prosecution can't?
Wice wraps up his editorial by encouraging District Attorney Pat Lykos to counsel with her "minions" about their post-verdict statements. If Pat Lykos is any type of leader, she will politely tell Brian where he can put his editorial advice.
I don't know near as many sports analogies as Brian Wice. The lessons I learned from my father and coaches were short and to the point: Play with class and be as gracious in victory as you are in defeat.
Brian Wice took the time out to publicize what he perceived to be a lack of class by the prosecutors in defeat.
Perhaps he should more closely examine how gracious he was in victory.