Friday, December 23, 2011

A New Voir Dire Question

One of the things that we should be thankful to Rachel Palmer for (as well as the Lykos Administration for not firing or demoting her) is the gift of a very strong and effective way to voir dire potential jurors on the issue of the 5th Amendment.

For instance, you could pose the questions as follows:

DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  There could be a lot of reasons that my client does not take the stand during this Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child case.  What are some of the reasons?

JUROR # 1:  His attorney told him not to?

DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Yes, or perhaps he works for Pat Lykos' Harris County District Attorney's Office.

JUROR # 2:  He's a bad speaker?

DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Yes, or perhaps he works for Pat Lykos' Harris County District Attorney's Office.

JUROR # 3:  He would really screw up on the stand if faced with cross-examination?

DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Yes, or perhaps he works for Pat Lykos' Harris County District Attorney's Office.

JUROR #4:  He has a lot of prior convictions and doesn't want to talk about them?

DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Yes, or perhaps he works for Pat Lykos' Harris County District Attorney's Office.

JUROR # 5:  He's guilty as hell?

DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Yes, or perhaps he works for Pat Lykos' Harris County District Attorney's Office.

JUROR #6:  Wait a second, if your client didn't do anything wrong and has nothing to hide, why wouldn't he WANT to take the stand and clear all of this up for us?

DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Why don't you ask Pat Lykos' Harris County District Attorney's Office.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

LOL! Thank you...that was just the holiday cheer I needed.

Anonymous said...

From this morning's Chronicle:

"I would be hard pressed to punish anyone because they exercised their constitutional rights," Leitner said. He said Palmer's attorneys may have advised her not to say anymore....

As a defense attorney, we hear the contrary everyday at the courthouse: "If your guy is not guilty, why won't he talk?....If you push this to trial, we won't offer this anymore?....Why won't your guy cooperate?..." Aren't all these your constitutional rights? I suggest we print out this article from the paper and present it to the State, when they give you these quotes.

Anonymous said...

To a Harris County Lawyer: Having recently reported for Harris County jury duty and seen the selection available for potential service (including myself) I think your proposed voir dire might be too subtle without a bit of tweaking (sic). I would therefore suggest that some prefatory remarks might be appropriate; e.g.:
Under both the United States and Texas Constitutions an individual cannot be compelled to give evidence against oneself and the refusal of an individual to do so or incriminate oneself cannot be held against them for any purpose. The invocation of those rights are sometimes known as taking the Fifth. These rights apply from the inception of a criminal investigation, for example where an individual refuses to talk with the police after arrest, through a grand jury proceeding, for example where a Harris County prosecutor refused to answer grand jury questions without any consequence to employment, and finally up through a trial,such as where an accused refuses to testify. Just as there was no consequence to that Harris County prosecutor for refusing to testify neither should there be any consequence to my client, that is you cannot hold that election against him (her) if he(she) elects not testify. With that in mind: Now to your questions-
Calvin A. Hartmann

Anonymous said...

About the holiday email.

My first response was anger. Then understanding. Then pity.

Anger: So, now it is "we" and "us?" There has three years to build real relationships with people. Instead, the focus has been on the "big sell." While all of us function as best we can, guessing at policies, trying not to draw attention, keeping our thoughts and feelings to ourselves.

We learned EARLY that the penalty for speaking out was humiliation, shame, and dismissal.

Understanding: The email is a metaphor for the past three years. This is the "big sell" - the great Oz, an "atta boy" and a claim that we are all united against a common enemy.

Pity: So that's how I got to pity. I feel sorry for anyone who sees the world in this way.

I don't want to increase the vitriol that is out there now. I just want to say something honest. I can only account for me.

And, for me - the "big sell" is stale. I'm ready for a leader who is honest with us. I'm ready to have someone I can argue with if I disagree with a policy or an idea.

I don't want the slick, PR-infused, constant press releases about the latest, greatest program that is all sweetness and light juxtaposed against the dark, evil policies and programs of old.

Especially in this economy, I don't want to see money spent on the propaganda machine of media-savvy pros, special TV lighting, and political advertisements disguised as "newsletters" and having alliterated, snappy names like "Prosecution Prospective."

I don't want to see press releases that have style and sell with no substance - like announcing the DA's Most Wanted - which is a never-changing (despite the word *NEW* on the DA website) gender and ethnically balanced propaganda tool.

I don't want to see recycled, renamed, or rebranded programs.

I do want to have honest and frank discussions - even loud arguments - with my colleagues about our policies and programs.

I do want to get back to the business of public safety and justice - for all - including the defendants.

I do want the media to START ASKING REAL QUESTIONS - example: Ted Oberg - Thank you. Is there so much pressure to get the "news" that they stopped real journalism and started simply started passing on slickster press releases?

Ask about:

The mental health program. This has been much touted, but what is happening? How does the program work? How many people have they helped?

The detox center?

The housing for mentally ill?

The elder program?

Haverstock?

Fugitive Unit? Hint - compare them to the Gulf Coast Violent Offender's Task Force. I'm willing to bet the Task Force arrests as many people in a week as the DA's Fugitive Program has in three years.

Investigation into the child suicide (RIP)?

ALL the employees who have left - someone posted prosecutor's names. However what about the investigators and administrative people?

The "new" hires - some of them are good - but there are many who are draining the budget. They wonder around here and we all wonder what they are doing and wish we could use that spot for someone to help with all this WORK.

While all the money is being spent on propaganda, what is happening to infrastructure?

I guess I am more angry that I realized, judging by the length of this post.

Holiday Cheer email: Too little. Too stale. Too slick. Too fake. Too late.

Anonymous said...

HA!

When I got chewed out by Palmer, she was wearing sequins. Freaking sequins in court. SEQUINS! Clueless.

I would feel sorry for that hot mess if she didn't make us all look like idiots in the process.

Anonymous said...

Not to go off topic, but, a lot of those same things happening with PL are also going on in the HCAO. The media has just scratched the surface there. I know this is incredibly naive, but I think that public servants should serve the people.

Anonymous said...

Today,I was getting dressed to go run some errands and without even thinking, I grabbed the long sleeved shirt that I had bought from the D.A. Investigators a while back. It's the one with the large District Attorney's Office logo and name appearing on the front. I bought this shirt and other merchandise because not only was I trying to help their cause, I also was very proud of the agency I worked for...not any more. I am now embarrassed and ashamed that we have been drug through the mud and now appear no better than those we prosecute. As for the Christmas wish from "Pat," I truly just wanted to puke.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:31

Are you sure you don't work for the Sheriff's Office?