O.J. Simpson in the news, again...

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O.J. Simpson in the news, again...

Postby Shapley » Wed Aug 08, 2007 11:13 am

O. J. Simpson Ordered To Pay Game Royalties To Goldmans

I"m sorry, but this is bordering on the absurd. I have always maintained that the civil trial of Simpson amounted to double jeapordy. I believe now that the pursuit of every penny the man earns is going to have the effect of gaining sympathy for him.

I know there are many that wanted O.J. punished for the murders but, legally, he has been found not guilty of those murders. From a legal standpoint, it doesn't matter whether he did it or not, a jury of his peers has determined that there was sufficient reasonable doubt to not find him guilty. He walked away, not guilty in the eyes of the law. That is the way our legal system works, or did work until we decided that it was okay to pursue through civil action what we couldn't accomplish through the criminal courts. The same method was used in the Rodney King beating case, and it will be used again, and again, becuase it has been proven successful, Unconstitutional (IMHO), but successful.

To me, it is symptomatic of a much larger problem in America. We have lost control of our legal system. We seek to misuse the system to gain an economic solution to all ills, to offset all losses, and to deny risk. We no longer accept that bad things happen that are beyond the reach of our government to fix. Bad people sometimes get away with things. Juries sometimes make mistakes, as do prosecutors, defense lawyers, and judges. It happens, but it the 'fix' is worse than the problem.

I no longer care whether O.J. committed the crime or not. He was found not guilty by a jury in a proper criminal trial. That decision can't be reversed, it is not subject to review or to retrial. Live with it. The civil trial was wrong on many accounts, but mostly it was wrong because it sought to undo the decision of the people.

Those of you who think President Bush is a threat to the guarantees of the Constitution need to look a little closer at the real threats to our rights. Those threats exist in our midst, perpetrated by judges and lawyers and cheered by the people who think it is okay to 'tweak' the system as long as it gets the bad guy.

Our society could survive O.J.s aquittal. I don't think it can survive what has been done to the legal system as a result of it.

V/R
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Postby piqaboo » Wed Aug 08, 2007 12:14 pm

Civil trials in cases where criminal procedings found 'not guilty' were hardly new with OJ. He's not that important, that he gets credit for this being founded around him.

Are you saying you'd feel 'free-er' if you waived your right to sue a manufacturer for negligence leading to injury to you and yours, even tho said manufacturer was acting within the limits of the law?

Shapley wrote:He was found not guilty by a jury in a proper criminal trial. That decision can't be reversed, it is not subject to review or to retrial.

Double jeopardy is interesting stuff. Some decades ago, the prosecuters thought they had very clear evidence for a murder case against a CHP officer in one of our less populous counties. For some reason, he was found not guilty in two trials. They felt so strongly about it, he was tried three times. Because of the double jeopardy law, they were for different crimes each time. He was finally found guilty of depriving the woman in question of her civil rights. One of these days, I'm going to have to read up on the trials and find out why they had to try so often. Prosecutors dont like to take cops to trial unless the evidence is compelling.
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Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Wed Aug 08, 2007 12:33 pm

I no longer care whether O.J. committed the crime or not.

On the other hand, Mr. Goldman cares a great deal that the murderer of his son is alive and free and playing golf.

Mr. Simpson and his dream team of lawyers gamed the system and managed to generate enough reasonable doubt to get him off. Mr. Goldman and his less stellar lawyers managed to generate enough conviction to secure a civil judgement.

My sympathies are rather firmly with Mr. Goldman - I doubt that I'd be willing to just "get over" the murder of my child and let the murderer enjoy his life.
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Postby Shapley » Wed Aug 08, 2007 12:38 pm

Piq,

It's not a matter whether or not I 'feel' free, it is a matter of whether or not the Constitution is being trampled on. It's not a matter of feelings, it's a matter of law.

The reason we have a trial by jury is so that the people (represented by the jury), rather than the government, are the arbiters of guilt. Cases can be retried if the jury fails to achieve a verdict. They can also be retried in the case of a guilty verdict if there is adjudged to be some flaw in the trial process. The role of the judge is to ensure the fairness of the trial. An appeal does not (or should not) appeal the decision of the jury, but rather appeals the fairness of the trial. If it is decided that the trial was unfair, it can be retried. There is, however, to the best of my knowledge, no appeals process for an aquittal. The appeals process is for the benefit of the defendant, not the prosecutor. Since a 'not guilty' verdict is the best the defendant can hope for, there is nothing left to appeal.

It is not uncommon to try (in criminal court) a defendant through several trials on different charges. The statute of limitations exists to prevent this from being carried out ad nauseum. Some crimes are violation of State law and some are violations of Federal law. Cases that involve violations of both are sometimes tried in multiple trials. It is, however, normal to file all those charges at the same time. This actually was the case in the Rodney King beating trial, which I also consider to be an unconstitutional case of double jeapordy.

Exactly what constitutes double jeapordy in the case of criminal-followed-by-civil trials is simple. If the basis of the civil case requries that the person be guilty of the crime for which he has already been aquitted, then it is double jeapordy. The O.J. case requires, in order for him to be responsible for the deaths, to be guilty of those deaths. There is simply no way around it. The couple were murdered, that much was ascertained. O.J. did not, in the eyes of the law, commit those murders, that much was decided by the jury. Therefore, he cannot be responsible for the results of a murder that, legally, he did not commit.

V/R
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Postby Haggis@wk » Wed Aug 08, 2007 1:32 pm

It wasn’t double jeopardy Shapley. The double jeopardy clause in the Fifth Amendment only applies in criminal cases, a defendant cannot be prosecuted twice for the same thing, except maybe in federal court after he's been prosecuted in a state court, as happened with the police accused in the Rodney King case. But case law for two hundred years is quite clear that the double jeopardy clause does not bar a civil suit for the same conduct of which a defendant’s been criminally acquitted.

And he wasn’t even tried civilly for a “wrongful death action", presumably because they didn't want her children and his children to have to testify in their part of the estate in a wrongful death action. Instead they sued in what's called a survivorship action, which is as though Nicole Brown Simpson were suing from the grave for what was done to her. So the jury was not asked whether Mr. Simpson killed his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson. It asked whether he committed battery upon her.

And unlike a criminal trial where the higher standard of “proof, beyond a reasonable doubt” is applied, in a civil trial the threshold of guilt is “preponderance of the evidence”, which means more than 50/50 probability.

If the jury thought it’s more probable than not that O.J. Simpson did these acts, then they had to find against him. In addition the jury’s decision did not have to be unanimous. Nine of twelve jurors could have voted a guilty verdict, even if the other three disagree.

A civil case is basically about an award of money, not prison or execution. Thus the lower threshold of what is enough to find guilt.

As to a defendant who has been acquitted of an action in a criminal case, and yet essentially is sued on the same basis in a civil action might be unusual this was certainly not the first time it had happened.

One earlier example was Bernard Goetz, the so-called "subway vigilante," who was acquitted of the most serious charges against him in the criminal case for shooting four black people who he claims accosted him in the subway, and then years later one of them who is paralyzed brought a successful civil suit against him and won a multi-million dollar verdict (the moral here is make sure that all of them were dead)
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Postby barfle » Wed Aug 08, 2007 2:00 pm

piqaboo wrote:Are you saying you'd feel 'free-er' if you waived your right to sue a manufacturer for negligence leading to injury to you and yours, even tho said manufacturer was acting within the limits of the law?

Double jeopardy only applies to criminal trials and game shows. Amendment V reads in part "No person shall be...subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb..." This applies to what the government can do to you, not a civil complainant. One "not guilty" verdict and you're free. But you can be sued as often as your plaintiff has the wherewithall to bring suit.

I recall some trials during the 60s where someone was acquitted of murder, but on a second trial they were convicted of violating their victims' "civil rights." It seemed to me then, and it seems to me now, that it was double jeopardy, because it was the same act. Apparently if one act can be construed to violate several laws, you can be tried on any of them. If nothing else, they'll nail you for tax evasion.
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Postby Shapley » Wed Aug 08, 2007 2:15 pm

On the other hand, Mr. Goldman cares a great deal that the murderer of his son is alive and free and playing golf.


That would be the 'alleged' murderer. However, in the eyes of the law, he is not the murderer at all.


Instead they sued in what's called a survivorship action, which is as though Nicole Brown Simpson were suing from the grave for what was done to her.


In which case the case should have been dismissed, since the plaintiff, who in this case was dead, was not able to testify as to whether battery was committed upon her, and we were left with heresay and speculation.
The fact of the matter is that there was no one in that courtroom, with the probably exception of O.J. himself, that could testify with any certainty that battery was committed upon Mrs. Simpson and Mr. Goldman by the accused.

I understand what you are saying about the burden of proof, and I have heard all of the arguments before (as I'm sure many of you have heard mine). The argument has been bandied about ever since the trial and, as you point out, long before it. Legal scholars with whom I agree and those with whom I don't have verbally duked it out over this issue before.

I'm not a fan of O. J. Simpson, and I think he's guilty of murder. However, I was not on the jury, and I'm not the law. The law says he is not guilty and, therefore, all legal issues concerning him in this matter are bound by law to accept that. I am not saying it was wrong for him to be sued in civil court, but I am saying it is wrong for him to be sued in civil court for damages relating to a crime that, by court decree, he did not commit.
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Postby Catmando » Wed Aug 08, 2007 2:29 pm

Shapley wrote:
On the other hand, Mr. Goldman cares a great deal that the murderer of his son is alive and free and playing golf.


That would be the 'alleged' murderer. However, in the eyes of the law, he is not the murderer at all.[quote]

Yes, thanks for that clarification Shap.

I don't understand this? How someone accused of murder, found "not guilty" in a criminal court, is perceived by the public to be "guilty" of the crime. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that he is innocent or guilty. Courts do make mistakes, but are people only saying he is guilty because a) He lost a civil case, b) media, c) their own non-professional interpretation of the court case, d) he is a celebrity.

For that matter, how could he have been found "guilty" in one court and "not guilty" in another?
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Postby jamiebk » Wed Aug 08, 2007 2:37 pm

Catmando wrote:
Shapley wrote:
On the other hand, Mr. Goldman cares a great deal that the murderer of his son is alive and free and playing golf.


That would be the 'alleged' murderer. However, in the eyes of the law, he is not the murderer at all.

Yes, thanks for that clarification Shap.

I don't understand this? How someone accused of murder, found "not guilty" in a criminal court, is perceived by the public to be "guilty" of the crime. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that he is innocent or guilty. Courts do make mistakes, but are people only saying he is guilty because a) He lost a civil case, b) media, c) their own non-professional interpretation of the court case, d) he is a celebrity.

For that matter, how could he have been found "guilty" in one court and "not guilty" in another?


Civil cases have a different "Burden of Proof" than criminal cases, which require a much stronger standard of proof of guilt.
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Postby Shapley » Wed Aug 08, 2007 2:38 pm

For that matter, how could he have been found "guilty" in one court and "not guilty" in another?


In the case of a civil court, there is no 'guilty' or 'not guilty', one is found to be 'liable' or 'not liable'. This is not a problem, except that in this case, in order for Mr. Simpson to be 'liable', he has to be 'guilty', which he has already been adjudged not to be.
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Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Wed Aug 08, 2007 2:47 pm

I don't understand this? How someone accused of murder, found "not guilty" in a criminal court, is perceived by the public to be "guilty" of the crime.


It's because we saw the evidence and heard the expert testimony. We'd have listened to Mr. Simpson's testimony, too, had he ever given any. Most people who paid any attention to the case have reached a personal judgement on Mr. Simpson's character, guilt, and general behavior. The trial was televised, the evidence and arguments were presented to the viewing public as well as to the jury. Transcripts were published in the LATimes. The entire court proceeding was public.

There were lamentable errors committed by both the LA police department and the criminal labs; nevertheless the remaining physical evidence constituted a compelling case. It exceeded my definition of "beyond a reasonable doubt".

I'm not going to weasel this with Shapley, though, because it might cause Haggis to die of laughter and iced-tea inhalation.
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Postby Shapley » Wed Aug 08, 2007 2:54 pm

Selma,

I did not bother watching the trial. However, you have to keep in mind that the viewing audience was reportedly presented with 'evidence' that was not allowed in the actual courtroom, as well as being 'priviledged' to see expert analysis at the end of the days proceedings by every 'legal expert' the networks could find to comment on the case. It is entirely possible that those in the courtroom made a valid decision based on the available admissable evidence. However, even if they did not, the verdict stands.

V/R
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Postby Haggis@wk » Wed Aug 08, 2007 3:11 pm

Isn't it amazing that an incident that happen years ago and has no real impact on our lives can still evoke emotions?

Quite frankly, I view his criminal trial as a dark mirror image of the bigotted "Jim Crow" juries in the South that acquited clan members who were so clearly guilty of murdering blacks in the 50's and 60's. In those instances the federal courts could try them on "civil rights" offenses and bring a measure of justice to victims that the states' courts blew.

Unfortunately, in this case the only other option was a civil case. In that case, for the first time, Simpson was compelled to testified and his performance was so poor that it became clear why his defense team kept him off the stand in the criminal trial.

During his testimony he denies killing Goldman or his former wife, but could not explain the physical evidence against him.

He couldn't explain cut hand; didn't know how his blood or victims' blood got into Bronco or how his blood and Ms. Simpson's blood got on his socks. He said he never owned shoes matching those linked to killings, and that the photo showing him wearing such shoes "is a fraud."

During the famous slow motion pursuit he had passport and fake mustache and goatee in bag but claimed he was heading for ex-wife's grave. He denied his "suicide" letter expressed no sorrow over killing, but "I felt the whole letter went to my sorrow."

Personally, I don't give a flip either way. He dodged a big bullet and got nicked with a smaller one. Personally, if I ever commit a murder that same outcome would be a win in my book.
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Postby barfle » Wed Aug 08, 2007 3:12 pm

The criminal verdict certainly stands. There is nothing anyone can do about it, unless someone decides there's another crime he could be tried for. Tax evasion? Civil rights?

The civil suit is something totally different. He was found liable for wrongful deaths of Nicole and Ron Goldman. Not that he's paid any of the settlement, but if anything beyond his NFL pension comes in, it's Goldman's. As it should be, in my not-so-humble opinion.
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Postby Shapley » Wed Aug 08, 2007 4:10 pm

Quite frankly, I view his criminal trial as a dark mirror image of the bigotted "Jim Crow" juries in the South that acquited clan members who were so clearly guilty of murdering blacks in the 50's and 60's. In those instances the federal courts could try them on "civil rights" offenses and bring a measure of justice to victims that the states' courts blew.


I don't disagree. However, I do not think the Federal Government was right in those instances, either, and for the same reason. Two wrongs do not a right make.

There have been seperate State and Federal trials for the same offense before - such as when a previously convicted felon is tried by the State for a holdup (a viloation of State law) and by the Federal government for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm (a violation of Federal law). However, neither offense requires that the accused be guilty of the other. It is possible that the holdup could have occured independent of the legal status of the firearm. Similarly, it is entirely possible that the accused could have been illegally in possession of a firearm regardless of his involvement in the holdup. It is when the two are interdependent that, IMHO, double jeapordy exists. 'For the same offense' means, again IMHO, for the same action, independent of whether we rename the action in order to re-prosecute.

According to Findlaw.com, double jeopardy applies in civil cases that are considered punitive.

The clause speaks of being put in ''jeopardy of life or limb,'' which as derived from the common law, generally referred to the possibility of capital punishment upon conviction, but it is now settled that the clause protects with regard ''to every indictment or information charging a party with a known and defined crime or misdemeanor, whether at the common law or by statute.'' Despite the Clause's literal language, it can apply as well to sanctions that are civil in form if they clearly are applied in a manner that constitutes ''punishment.'' Ordinarily, however, civil in rem forfeiture proceedings may not be considered punitive for purposes of double jeopardy analysis.


I believe the case against O.J. was clearly designed to be punitive in nature. The size of the judgement at $33.5 million, would appear to be a matter of punitive damages rather than measurable losses, and thus would constitute double jeopardy. I have not reviewed the case to see how the judgement was determined: i.e., if punitive damages were awarded, or if the judgement of $33.5 million was based on the actual value of a 26-year-old waiter's life.

V/R
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According to the New York Times, $25 million of the settlement was for punitive damages, $8.3 million was for compensatory damages. This, I believe, bolsters my claim that the civil award is unconstitutional.
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Postby jamiebk » Wed Aug 08, 2007 10:53 pm

You know Shap, I think I feel the same way about OJ, as you feel about Paris Hil.......................oops, I almost spoke her name.
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Postby Shapley » Thu Aug 09, 2007 7:13 am

Jamie,

I concur. If the board and the newslinks hadn't been so quiet yesterday, I would have avoided this topic.

Although, I believe this is less about O.J. than it is about something I consider to be a flaw in the judicial process, which is the idea of retrying people in differenct courts if we don't get the results we want the first time. The law is not supposed to work that way.

V/R

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Postby Shapley » Wed Aug 22, 2007 1:38 pm

Death of Police Officer 40 Years After Shooting Could Bring Murder Charges Against Shooter

I posted this here because it deals with the issue of double Jeopardy, which was the subject of my original post in this thread.

If the shooter was tried, and served time for, the shooting that took place 40 years ago, is it justifiable to try him and punish him again for complications that arose from that for which he has already been punished? I think not, but I'm sure many of you will disagree.

I have heard of cases in which a defendant was charged with aggravated battery, which charges were upgraded to murder when the victim later died, but that was always before the trial occured, or at least before sentence was handed down.

The crime was committed once, even though the consequences dragged on until the victim eventually died forty years later. For that, the shooter deserved to be punished, and he was. I've always believed that the crime itself is the issue, not the consequences down the road, consequences that could not be known at the time of the shooting. I do not believe it is more of a crime to kill an orphan than to kill someone who will leave a grieving mother behind. Murder is what it is. Similarly, I do not believe that this shooter is now guilty of a more heinous crime than he was forty years ago, simply because the condition of his victim has changed. The crime was what it was.

Any thoughts?

V/R

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Postby Haggis@wk » Wed Aug 22, 2007 3:07 pm

The crime was committed once, even though the consequences dragged on until the victim eventually died forty years later.


I think you're reading too much into this Shapley. Yes a crime was committed once but several crimes can be assessed from the same action.

There were clearly at least three crimes (now) committed; aggravated robbery, aggravated battery and homicide. People are routinely tried for the robbery, assault and the homicide in murders and it seems that's going to be the case here. If the policeman had shot and wounded or killed a passerby that assault and/or death would have been laid at the feet of the robber as well since his actions directly resulted in those collateral injuries/deaths.

That's why that guy the police were chasing in New Mexico(?) is apparently looking at murder charges for the deaths of the people killed when the News helicopters collided and crashes.

I have heard of cases in which a defendant was charged with aggravated battery, which charges were upgraded to murder when the victim later died, but that was always before the trial occurred, or at least before sentence was handed down.


That's not so. People are regularly tried for a one crime and then another when the victims die later on if the deaths can be reasonably proven to be a direct result of the original crime.

I found this after just a few minutes Googling

[url=http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/02/22/girls_death_may_reopen_93_beating_case/]Girl's death may reopen '93 beating case
Parents could face murder charges[/url]

She spent the next 13 years in a bed or a wheelchair, suffering frequent seizures, unable to talk, walk, or see, and fed through a stomach tube. Last week, she died of pneumonia at a Dover, N.H., hospital. Her distraught grandparents held her funeral Tuesday near their home in Union, N.H.

Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley is considering filing murder charges against Chrissy's parents, Annamarie Turavani and Michael Andrews , who each served more than 10 years in prison on convictions related to the 1993 beating.



There's no new law being tried either of these cases.

I (almost) understand your point on OJ but think that this instance is more apples/oranges than apples/apples.
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Postby BigJon@Work » Wed Aug 22, 2007 3:37 pm

Any defense lawyer worth his salt could make this disappear. 40 years is a long time for intervening conditions to set in.
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