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

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Postby Shapley » Wed Aug 22, 2007 4:44 pm

Yes a crime was committed once but several crimes can be assessed from the same action.

No. Several charges can be assessed, but only one crime. Traditionally, this has meant one trial. I am aware that this is not unique, except perhaps in the amount of time that has elapsed between the crime and the death. These types of things happen periodically, but that doesn't make it right.

In the case you cite, the parents beat the child nearly to death. They were tried and sentenced for it. If the child died a month, a year, or four decades later is immaterial to the crime committed. They condemned the child to a death sentence when they beat it, just as Mr. Barnes sentenced the rookie police officer to death when he shot him. If medical science had been able to commute either or both of those death sentences, so much the better, but the crime was committed and punishment meted in both, the long-term effects notwithstanding.

We have reached a point in society where we believe that someone has to be punished everytime something bad happens. I believe this thinking is symptomatic of that. You cite the helicopter collisions. I am well aware that the law has allowed for the punishment of offenders for crimes not directly related to their own if prosecutors can simply draw some connection between the two. Again, that doesn't make it right and, in a way, it absolves the real responsible parties - the pilots - by passing the blame onto a third party.

Locally, we had an incident in which a police officer was killed speeding in response to a report of a crime. Even though he was miles away from the crime at the time of his wreck, the criminals were charged with manslaughter in the case of his death. They had never met the officer, seen the officer, he never arrived at the crime scene, and he drove in an unsafe manner in his haste to reach the crime scene, resulting in his death. His death was sad, yes. It was tragic, yes. It was preventable, yes. It was the responsibility of the criminals, no. Again, however, something bad happened and someone had to pay. It's sort of the criminal justice equivalent of 'deep pockets'.

How far back do we go with such crimes? How much punishment is enough?
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Postby Haggis@wk » Wed Aug 22, 2007 5:08 pm

Several charges can be assessed, but only one crime

Shapley, that's wrong and has been wrong since common law was promulgated and codified.

If I only stick a gun in your face that's agravated assault. If I walk out afterwards I can be charged with the crime of aggravated assault.

If I stick a gun in your face and demand money then that's two separate crimes; assault and robbery.

Finally, if I shoot you then we've added a third crime, homicide to the list. Any of those three separate crimes can charged and tried.

As for responsibility for everything that happens during the commission of your crimes that's also been so since common law began; you are responsible for every intended and unintended action that results from your lawbreaking behavior.

None of this is new.

How much punishment is enough? As much as society is willing to accept. Remember common law was more about revenge on the lawless to encourage, if not them then the rest of us to observe norms of societal behavior.
The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.” Alexis De Tocqueville 1835
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Postby Shapley » Thu Aug 23, 2007 8:24 am

You're right about that. The point I was trying to make, and didn't make well, is that it is one incident, and normally elicits one trial. While there may be multiple charges (multiple counts, if you will), we generally combine those incidents into a single trial. If the incident involves say, twelve individual crimes, we do not decide to try them on three charges on one day, then have another trial on six more, and save the remaining charges for later. One incident, one trial.

As you pointed out earlier, it was not really until the sixties that we began to have seperate Federal trials following State trials in order to 'correct the failings' of the State judicial system. That has now become commonplace. There were instances before them, notably involving Federal firearms statutes, in which criminals in State cases were retried in Federal courts. Again, I still take issue with this.

I should note that, in the case of the Timothy McVeigh trial (an unconstitutional trial if ever there was one), the Federal government leaned heavily on the State of Oklahoma to not pursue State charges in that incident. The Federal government was adamant that it, alone, had jurisdiction over the case, and that efforts by the State to bring it to trial amounted to insubordination (IMHO). But, I digress.

My point is simply that Mr. Barnes was tried forty years ago for shooting the officer, and he was punished in accordance with the law. He has committed no further offfenses against the officer, and the officers death was apparently a natural progression resulting from the events of forty years prior, although that is debatable. The idea that we would retry the man for these actions strikes me as very wrong. Perhaps, had he not already been punished for the offense, I would think differently but, as it stands now, I cannot see that justice is served by pursuit of further punishment in this case.

As far as the issue of unintended consequences, I don't dispute that, but I think we've taken it to the level of absurdity. The helicopter collision was the result of pilot error, no more or less. Why both pilots chose to be in the area at the same time is immaterial to the fact that they attempted to break the law - a most fundamental law of nature - which says that two objects cannot occupy the same space simultaneously. Attempting to pass blame for these actions onto a third party lessens the responsibility of the pilots for their actions - for which they have already paid the ultimate price.

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

Postby Shapley » Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:05 am

Documentary: Inmate may be involved in OJ case

"A documentary about an inmate on Florida's death row says the convicted killer might have been involved in the murder of O.J. Simpson's ex-wife and her friend.

"The Investigation Discovery show, "My Brother the Serial Killer," will air Wednesday.

"The film is a look at Glen Rogers, who was convicted by a Florida jury in 1997 for killing a woman.

"Rogers was also convicted of murder in California and is a suspect in homicides in several other states.

"Rogers, who is from Hamilton, Ohio, met Nicole Brown Simpson in 1994 when he was living in Southern California, his family says in the documentary.

"A criminal profiler in the film says he received paintings by Rogers with clues possibly linking him to the 1994 murders of Simpson's ex-wife and her friend, Ronald Goldman.

"Simpson was accused in those killings but the so-called "trial of the century" in Los Angeles ended with his acquittal in 1995.

"Simpson never testified at the criminal trial, but memorably demonstrated in court that a glove found near the slaying scene did not fit his hand. He testified at length in a wrongful death trial that led a Los Angeles civil court jury in 1997 to find him liable for damages in the case."

An interesting development. If true, I have to wonder what impact it will have on the treatment of Mr. Simpson in the aftermath of his trial, and most specifically on the awarding of his posessions in the lawsuit.
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