Patterico's Pontifications

5/6/2008

Juror Arrested for Smoking Pot

Filed under: Crime — DRJ @ 5:19 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Is this karma?

“Judge Sherman Ross tried to assemble a jury of peers for a woman accused of possession of a marijuana on trial Tuesday. But authorities say prospective juror Cornelia Mayo might have taken that concept a bit too far after she was caught smoking a joint outside the courthouse during a break.

The 49-year-old Houston woman was one of 20 people in a jury pool in Criminal Court at Law No. 10.

Ross said he realized something was wrong when juror No. 2, Mayo, didn’t return from a 45-minute break. Before the judge could file a bench warrant for the missing juror, his bailiff got a call from police notifying him that Mayo was being booked on a charge of smoking marijuana outside the criminal courthouse.

“I’ve had prospective jurors get lost before, but it never occurred to me that they might be getting ready for a marijuana trial by, allegedly, smoking marijuana,” Ross said.

He also said it was a strange coincidence for a court that also sees trials for DWI’s, family violence and many other misdemeanors. “It’s the first weed case I’ve tried in years,” Ross said. “People usually plead out.”

Probably not karma, but it may be poetic justice.

– DRJ

North Carolina Election Results

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 5:07 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

97% reporting:
Clinton – 640,297 – 42% - 20 delegates
Obama – 859,573 – 56% – 31 delegates

85% reporting:
Clinton – 578,794 – 42%
Obama – 777,194 – 56%

45% reporting:
Clinton – 366,610 – 41%
Obama – 519,946 – 57%

21% reporting:
Clinton – 212,189 – 36%
Obama – 358,317 – 62%

14% reporting:
Clinton – 160,925 – 35%
Obama – 291,999 – 63%

9% reporting:
Clinton – 102,787 – 34%
Obama – 191,292 – 64%

4% reporting:
Clinton – 56,099 – 34%
Obama – 105,862 – 64% – CNN projects Obama the winner.

Results from CNN.

– DRJ

Indiana Election Results

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 4:05 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

99% reporting:
Clinton – 637,389 – 51% – 32 delegates - CNN calls Indiana for Hillary.
Obama – 615,370 – 49% – 29 delegates

95% reporting:
Clinton – 606,497 – 51% – 32 delegates
Obama – 589,888 – 49% – 29 delegates

86% reporting:
Clinton – 557,166 – 52%
Obama – 516,713 – 48%

79% reporting:
Clinton – 512,331 – 52%
Obama – 476,696 – 48%

65% reporting:
Clinton – 428,568 – 53%
Obama – 377,107 – 47%

50% reporting:
Clinton – 323,690 – 55%
Obama – 264,884 – 45%

44% reporting:
Clinton – 284,097 – 56%
Obama – 223,904 – 44%

37% reporting:
Clinton – 227,839 -56%
Obama – 176,791 – 44%

5% reporting:
Clinton – 46,380 – 59%
Obama – 32,335 – 41%

Results from CNN.

– DRJ

Ron Paul is Still In the Race

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 3:25 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Neil Cavuto briefly interviewed Ron Paul on Fox News this afternoon, and it reminded me what I like about Ron Paul. They primarily discussed the McCain and Clinton proposal to eliminate the gas tax during the summer months. Paul said it was a good idea but only if Congress also agreed to cut spending by the same amount. I agree but we all know that won’t happen with this Congress.

Paul also discounted calls to tax the oil companies, saying it was a bad idea to tax profits because we want companies to make a profit. Paul said it would be a bad move to give government the power to decide when profits were too high. Why not tax iPhones and iPods?

Finally, Paul indicated he would stay in the Presidential race so Republicans who share his views will have a voice. Unfortunately, I’m afraid too many people would count a Ron Paul vote as a vote against the war. If I voted for Ron Paul, it would be a vote for free markets and against Congress.

– DRJ

Indiana and North Carolina Predictions

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 3:00 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The first polls close soon so leave your predictions here.

The conventional wisdom is Obama will win North Carolina but by what percentage? And what about Indiana?

– DRJ

Volokh on DNA and Cold Hits

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 7:05 am

Eugene Volokh has deftly isolated the major flaw in the recent L.A. Times article on DNA, cold cases, and statistics.

In my original post I quoted the language from the article that most disturbed me:

At Puckett’s trial earlier this year, the prosecutor told the jury that the chance of such a coincidence was 1 in 1.1 million.

Jurors were not told, however, the statistic that leading scientists consider the most significant: the probability that the database search had hit upon an innocent person.

In Puckett’s case, it was 1 in 3.

. . . .

In every cold hit case, the panels advised, police and prosecutors should multiply the Random Match Probability (1 in 1.1 million in Puckett’s case) by the number of profiles in the database (338,000). That’s the same as dividing 1.1 million by 338,000.

For Puckett, the result was dramatic: a 1-in-3 chance that the search would link an innocent person to the crime.

In my original post I said:

It seems to me that the conclusion does not logically follow at all. The formulation simply can’t be right. The suggestion appears to be that the larger the database, the greater the chance is that the hit you receive will be a hit to an innocent person. I think that the larger the database, the greater the probability of getting a hit. Then, once you have the hit, the question becomes: how likely is it that the hit is just a coincidence?

Volokh explains the ridiculous nature of the L.A. Times‘s formulation with an excellent example:

Here’s one way of seeing this: Let’s say that the prosecution comes up with a vast amount of other evidence against Pickett — he admitted the crime in a letter to a friend; items left at the murder site are eventually tied to him; and more. He would still, though, have been found through a search of a 338,000-item DNA database, looking for a DNA profile that is possessed by 1/1,100,000 of the population — and under the article’s assertion, “the probability that the database search had hit upon an innocent person” would still have been “1 in 3.”

Despite all the other evidence that the police would have found, and even if the prosecutors didn’t introduce the DNA evidence, there would be, under the article’s description, a 1/3 chance that the search had hit upon an innocent person (Pickett), and thus a 1/3 chance that Pickett was innocent, presumably more than enough for an acquittal. That can’t, of course, be right. But that just reflects the fact that 1/3 is not “the probability that the database search had hit upon an innocent person.” It’s the probability that a search would have come up with someone innocent if the rapist wasn’t in the database.

I think that’s exactly it. I believe the reason is that inclusion of a known guilty person in the database corrupts the math involved in pure probabilities of finding an innocent person.

I think Eugene has hit upon an actual error in the piece with this, and not just a matter that’s open to debate. I don’t think they would ever correct it, because they have a history of failing to correct errors if the explanation of the error is long and difficult — even if it’s unquestionably an error. Still, when I have more time, I’ll follow up on this more.

Read Volokh’s entire post, which has other illuminating insights, here. Previous posts on this subject here, here, and here.


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