Patterico's Pontifications

9/27/2007

Foreman Was the Primary Holdout in the Spector Trial

Filed under: Crime,General — Patterico @ 4:56 pm



Before anyone knew where the jury was headed in the Spector trial, there were media reports that the foreman was an engineer who had taken copious notes. Mrs. P. said to me: “That’s not good. That’s just not good.”

Turns out she was right:

The foreman, a 32-year-old civil engineer who also spoke, declined to give his name or state how he voted. But [Juror Ricardo] Enriquez and several attorneys later said the man was one of the defense holdouts.

That Mrs. P. is pretty sharp.

(There are some office rumors relevant to all this, but I can’t repeat those.)

I’m listening to KFI right now, and John and Ken are playing an interview Ashleigh Banfield did with the foreman. (KFI is reporting his name, but I don’t think it’s appropriate to repeat it in this post, and I ask commenters to follow my example.)

Apparently he was not only one of the holdouts, but he was also the most adamant holdout:

Enriquez, in a later interview with The Times, said the foreman and a 37-year-old woman who works as an assistant for the L.A. County Superior Court had voted not guilty. Enriquez said the 37-year-old woman said she did not think the testimony of five women that Spector had threatened them with guns matched the circumstances of the Clarkson shooting. “She couldn’t put the gun” in Spector’s hand, Enriquez said in describing the juror’s thinking.

He said that Wednesday morning the woman offered to vote for a conviction “under protest” but that other jurors told her she should only vote her true belief.

The other jurors are right: each juror should vote his or her conscience, and should not vote just to go along with the rest. That said, this juror sounds far less adamant than the foreman. One wonders whether she might not have allowed herself to be convinced, if she had had no allies.

I think we have a very realistic shot next time around.

UPDATE: I don’t mean to slam all engineers in this post. As I explain below in the comments, my neighbor Jeff C. is an engineer — and I’d take him on a jury before I took any of the rest of you. He just exudes common sense.

Individuals mean more than stereotypes in jury selection — but when you don’t have a lot to go on, stereotypes about professions can be better than nothing. (E.g. it is unlikely that I would ever leave a journalist on a jury. But again, the right person could convince me otherwise. For example, the Dateline NBC guy on the Spector jury was apparently a very good juror, from what I’ve seen.)

79 Responses to “Foreman Was the Primary Holdout in the Spector Trial”

  1. So … the main holdout was an engineer who analyzed this case to find the “solution” while the other juror, who works as an assistant at the Courthouse, was his follower.

    Sounds like they were perfectly cast.

    DRJ (ec59b5)

  2. Patterico, it is my impression, although I have no statistics to back it up, that in general retrials don’t go to acquittals very often. Is that yours as well?

    SPQR (6c18fd)

  3. I would say that is generally true — but it’s mostly because judges have the power to dismiss cases and preclude a retrial, and they exercise that power much more often when the split went badly against the prosecution.

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  4. The LA Times typically ran with a knee-jerk side bar offering that the justice system favors the rich.

    I beg to differ. Spector was just plain lucky that a couple of itiots got on the jury. It happens to even benefit poor slobs with public defenders. I refer to these types as LA Times readers.

    After listening to the foreman on John and Ken, he clearly couldn’t vote guilty on any case. I thought it was silly that he referred to himself and the other not-guilty juror in the third person.

    Alta Bob (c549e9)

  5. “…she did not think the testimony of five women that Spector had threatened them with guns matched the circumstances of the Clarkson shooting.”

    Hard to argue with that. They would not have been there to testify if it had.

    nk (7d4710)

  6. I, honestly, have not been following this case. We have a major Syndicate trial in Chicago which is far more interesting. But technical question again: If the prosecution wants an instruction on voluntary or involuntary manslaughter do they need to have charged it in the indictment? And can the indictment be amended on the proofs or must it go back to the Grand Jury?

    nk (7d4710)

  7. > … the foreman was an engineer who had taken copious notes. Mrs. P. said to me: “That’s not good. That’s just not good.

    Hmmm. Last time I was a juror on a criminal case I took copious notes. Since I was an alternate I never got to deliberate but I was ready to convict on 2 or 3 of the 4 counts. Why is note taking thought bad for the prosecution?

    Arthur (0204c4)

  8. Note taking, by itself, is not the issue. Copious note taking by an engineer may be indicative of someone overthinking a case.

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  9. I’m raised as a Buddhist since born but then I learnt other religions as I grew up, being them part of my syllabus in school. I think I’m quite an atheist but then there’s one part of me which believes that some supernatural being is out there. I don’t really bother with religion and such to be really honest with you. Friends are trying to pull me into their religion and all like offering to bring me to church, etc. I think religion is only there as a way to unite the people in the same train of thought or a way to divide between different communities

    oyunlar (82f227)

  10. …someone overthinking a case?

    Logic is bad in a juror?

    alphie (99bc18)

  11. alphie,

    I always suspected you equated overthinking a problem with logic.

    It’s a common belief held by those lacking common sense.

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  12. Logic is bad in a juror?

    Is that what Patterico said, sockpuppet?

    The juror’s sworn duty is to listen to the evidence and apply the law. Not to be a little god.

    nk (7d4710)

  13. How much time should a juror spend pondering whether someone is guilty of murder or not?

    alphie (99bc18)

  14. Alphie: As long as it takes, but in some cases it may not be long at all.

    So here’s another theory about what happens in celebrity trials. Feel free to shoot holes in it.

    Celebrity cases seem to go awry more often than most. It’s easy to make the argument that this results from the celebrity factor or the teams of high-profile attorneys who represent celebrities. However, similar issues have arisen in cases that don’t have celebrity clients or high-profile teams of attorneys, like Andrea Yates and Mary Winkler.

    One thing these cases have in common is intense media coverage and a longer-than-usual trial. Could it be that the jury dynamics change when a case lasts a comparatively long time and gets high-profile coverage? I specifically wonder whether a few jurors in these cases are more likely to develop the legal equivalent of the Stockholm Syndrome, where they are more likely to identify with one particular side or feel invested in a particular result.

    DRJ (ec59b5)

  15. DRJ,

    I strongly believe that the longer a jury sits the more it loses the perspective it came in with. I don’t know if it’s Stockholm Syndrome or dettachment from the community it’s supposed to be representative of.

    nk (7d4710)

  16. NK,

    It reminds me of the test results for schools in my community. First graders generally test at 90% of the national average; in middle school, they test at 75%; and by graduation they are at 55%. Thus, there’s an argument that the more they go to school, the dumber they get.

    DRJ (ec59b5)

  17. DRJ,

    Absent a credible witness to a crime or a neutral electronic record of it, how else can you convince a juror beyond a reasonable doubt of someone’s guilt?

    alphie (99bc18)

  18. Alphie, there’s scads of ways. Watch some old episodes of Law and Order, Columbo, Matlock, etc.

    DRJ (ec59b5)

  19. DRJ (re 16) Maybe the rest of the country is just catching up to them?

    kishnevi (32d8f8)

  20. Kishnevi,

    I prefer to think they’re well-bred and naturally gifted but don’t apply themselves.

    DRJ (ec59b5)

  21. Absent a credible witness to a crime or a neutral electronic record of it, how else can you convince a juror beyond a reasonable doubt of someone’s guilt?

    Spoken like someone I’d excuse from a jury panel.

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  22. When I hear the comments of the jurors who would not convict Spector & the comments in support of those jurors, the term “booger eating moron” comes to mind. This guy stuck his gun in the faces of numerous women all under very similar circumstances & by the grace of God the gun did not go off. The odds caught up to Spector as did the reckless behavior. Those that do not comprehend that are truly dense.

    Bud Dickman (2a4d4b)

  23. This guy stuck his gun in the faces of numerous women all under very similar circumstances & by the grace of God the gun did not go off.

    It sounds to me like the juror confused “beyond a reasonable doubt” with beyond any doubt whatsoever.

    Stu707 (adbb5a)

  24. Spoken like someone I’d excuse from a jury panel.

    Comment by Patterico — 9/27/2007 @ 7:20 pm

    The judge would do it for you.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  25. Patterico — with all due respect the failure to convict in this instance says most about the LA Prosecutor’s office. It stinks. LA DAs cannot even win a slam dunk case when the defendant is rich and powerful enough to hire good lawyers.

    I don’t think LA DAs are very competent, rather the bottom of the barrel mostly in terms of ability, intelligence, and work ethic. The record bears this assessment out IMHO, and with due apologies (yes I know full well you work in the DA’s office). Marcia Clark? Chris Darden?

    OJ, Robert Blake, and now Phil Spector. LA DAs could not convict ANY celebrity with money of ANYTHING meaningful. And yeah, Lindsay Lohan *was* right.

    Spector was/is a freak. Even the Ramones back in 1980 were afraid of him (he pulled guns on them too). The cumulative evidence: the women who testified similar things happened to them when they rejected sexual overtures, the statement of the chauffeur, the physical evidence, was overwhelming. Then there is the freakshow that is Spector himself.

    Let’s be honest. This case is never getting retried. A halfway competent DA would have disqualified those jurors during selection. LA’s DAs can win cases against impoverished criminals with public defenders (sometimes). That’s about it. The LA DA’s office simply does not have very good lawyers, or enough resources to compete with the wealthy.

    In that case the LAT is correct. No wealthy person need fear spending any serious jail time for any offense up to and including murder. LA’s DA’s simply are not good enough at their jobs to put them away.

    Alan Jackson has to be considered for the Hall of Shame along with fellow incompetents Marcia Clark and Chris Darden.

    Jim Rockford (e09923)

  26. Patterico,

    Murder seems like a stretch when Spector had never met the victim before.

    alphie (99bc18)

  27. Jim Rockford #25:

    You would be surprised at how competitive it is for students from even the top law schools to get jobs as DAs, public defenders, or federal prosecutors. It may be a matter of being overworked once they’re there, but the positions draw numbers of highly qualified applicants.

    Itsme (08c26e)

  28. If Specter fired the pistol, there would have been gun shot residue on his hand. Seems it was not there. Watch CSI. No matter what his past acts were, if he fired the pistol he would have had GSR on his hands. Seems there was GSR on the “victims” hands though. Someone just paid attention.

    Zelsdorf Ragshaft III (fd70f7)

  29. Alan Jackson has to be considered for the Hall of Shame along with fellow incompetents Marcia Clark and Chris Darden.

    Jim Rockford, Legal Genius:

    Alan Jackson has received near-universal rave reviews for his performance. If you have a specific criticism, let’s hear it. Otherwise, forgive me if I conclude that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  30. This could happen to the best prosecutors. The defense only has to convince one person that “reasonable doubt” really means “any doubt,” and I think that may be what happened here. Engineers, scientists, etc., tend to look at life in very black and white terms but “reasonable doubt” is a concept that has shades of gray.

    DRJ (ec59b5)

  31. Let’s be honest. This case is never getting retried.

    Let’s be honest: you are a clueless moron.

    This case will be retried.

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  32. Murder seems like a stretch when Spector had never met the victim before.

    Spoken like someone who doesn’t understand the implied malice standard under California law.

    Admit it, alphie: you have absolutely no idea what’s going on.

    None.

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  33. Oh, Rockford? I forgot to say: my comments are, of course, articulated “with all due respect” to you.

    Emphasis on “due.”

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  34. Watch CSI. No matter what his past acts were, if he fired the pistol he would have had GSR on his hands.

    Yup. Watch CSI. Everyone knows CSI is a perfect representation of reality.

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  35. Not being a LA County DA, but having heard Alan Jackson speak about his craft, I know that Jim Rockford knows nothing about the quality of lawyering that went into the Phil Spector case. That is not to say he is perfect, but jurors can be cagey.

    What I can say is that Mr. Jackson, as would any other sensible prosecutor, would eliminate Alphie based upon any single comment he has given in this post. Some potential jurors make it easier that others to realize how unreasonable they are. Whether or not Spector had met her before has no bearing on whether an alcohol fueled man would handle a firearm so recklessly, for the upteenth time, to finally cause death.

    David (c893f6)

  36. “If Specter fired the pistol, there would have been gun shot residue on his hand. Seems it was not there. Watch CSI.”

    With (enormous) due respect to God…

    Holy. God.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  37. What I can say is that Mr. Jackson, as would any other sensible prosecutor, would eliminate Alphie based upon any single comment he has given in this post

    You have to search long and hard to find sensible alphie posts. They’re there. Usually things like, “I found this fact on the net…” which he’s good at.

    But reasoning with said facts is not his strong suit.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  38. Patterico,

    It seems to me a question about what “reasonable doubt” means.

    The more serious the charge…the more doubt jurors will have.

    Why didn’t the prosecutor charge Spector with a more reasonable crime?

    alphie (99bc18)

  39. “The more serious the charge…the more doubt jurors will have.”

    Well, why didn’t he just diddle Mother Theresa while he was at it. That would have added plenty of doubt.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  40. At the great risk of asking the question that I do not want to hear the answer to.

    “Why didn’t the prosecutor charge Spector with a more reasonable crime?”

    Alphie, what do you suggest in place of murder and why? Please actually refer to the elements of the crime or crimes suggested, the evidence or lack thereof, and why potential defenses will not prevail. Please do not use CSI as the basis for the potential availability of inculpatory or exculpatory evidence. No one who knows suggests that CSI reflects real life crime scene analysis.

    David (c893f6)

  41. Well David,

    Manslaughter in this case would seem easier to prove to jurors who don’t use the Psychic Hotline regularly.

    alphie (99bc18)

  42. Alphie,

    A Penal Code 415(2) would be easier to prove as well. It states: “any person who maliciously and willfully disturbs another person by loud and unreasonable noise.” Gunshots are loud, maybe even unreasonable, especially to Ms. Clarkson, but it wouldn’t be the right charge in this case. Easier to prove is not the ethical standard, nor is it what the voters of LA County elected Cooley and his representatives to do. I commend Mr. Jackson and any other prosecutor who does not select the easier charge, but rather the one the evidence suggests.

    David (c893f6)

  43. The civil trial will be the main event.

    Victor (4db3ba)

  44. I’m a little late to the party here, but this outcome is the very reason I try to avoid leaving engineers and hard science professionals on juries. They do not do “deductive” reasoning well. Breaks or missing links in an offense theory tend to leave them with no where to go. Rather than draw the most likely conclusion from the totality of the known evidence, they cannot seem to get past a single unknown fact and their reasoning stops. I’ve lost counts in compromise verdicts and had one hung jury for this very reason. Other jurors find it very frustrating to deal with a juror who brings a strict analytical mindset into the jury room.

    wls (fb8809)

  45. wls,

    A snippet from the prosecutor’s closing arguments:

    Jackson asked jurors to imagine the scene in the House of Blues parking lot between Clarkson and Spector.

    “You’d lean over and you’d whisper, ‘Don’t go. Don’t go.’ You’d simply say, ‘Lana, don’t go,’ ” Jackson said.

    “The reason that you would say that is because you know something she didn’t know,” he said. “You know in your heart of hearts he is responsible for her death. He killed her.”

    Heart of hearts?

    Heart of hearts!

    You want intelligent people to vote guilty…don’t insult their intelligence.

    alphie (99bc18)

  46. There’s some truth in that. I am an engineer and know that some of my colleagues can get caught up in minutia. They want all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed in the ongoing process. Engineers in other engineering disciplines take the approach of getting it working and backfilling the gaps in understanding or function later. So it would depend on the type of engineer you get. I doubt the distinction is apparent during jury selection.

    I think you’d be netter off with an engineer than an alphie though. There needs to be at least some critical thinking applied. I can just imagine his non-sequitors and strawmen during a lengthy deliberation and some guy finally punching him out after being asked for about the fiftieth time ‘Are you saying (fill in inane and supercilious distortion of any statement of choice).

    Just Passing Through (ff997a)

  47. The engineer end was directed to wls. The alphie part for general consumption. And netter should have been better.

    Just Passing Through (ff997a)

  48. JPT,

    On the first ballot, four jurors voted for conviction, five voted not guilty and three were undecided.

    http://tinyurl.com/3dcy9r

    Can we stop blaming engineers for the prosecutiors mistakes?

    alphie (99bc18)

  49. Alphie,

    I have yet to see any evidence of mistakes by the prosecution in the presentation of the evidence, which was, by all accounts, very well done. You have pointed out none.

    In other words, your comments are worthless.

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  50. Also, I certainly don’t intend to insult all engineers. One of my neighbors (reader Jeff C.) is an engineer, and I’d take that guy on a jury in any case, in a heartbeat. He’s one of the most common-sense people I have ever met: solid, responsible, and no-nonsense.

    In juy selection, you have to proceed on very limited information. For the reasons wls states above, engineers are sometimes a bad bet. But every generalization has many exceptions, as my neighbor’s example shows. Ultimately, it comes down to personality: do you trust this juror to do the right thing?

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  51. Spoken like someone I’d excuse from a jury panel.

    A question for the prosecutors – to what extent to you try – for whatever reason – to eliminate from the jury those with college level or grad school level educations?

    It is my understanding – and I have no experience in this area – that attorneys on both sides want jurors they believe they can sway, and thus use voir dire (Latin for “jury tampering”) to kick off anyone who, while not displaying an outright bias, is a member of a group – engineers for example – they believe would hurt their chances for a guilty or not guilty plea.

    And thus rose the lucrative filed of Jury Selection Consultants. If both sides had to accept the first 12 people selected, life in the courtroom would be very different.

    Horatio (55069c)

  52. A question for the prosecutors – to what extent to you try – for whatever reason – to eliminate from the jury those with college level or grad school level educations?

    Here’s what I’d say.

    First of all, every case is different. What am I trying to get jurors to understand? A complex chain of circumstantial evidence? Or just the simple human fact that victims of gang crimes often recant out of fear? Those are different issues, and demand different jurors.

    Second of all, individuals matter more than generalizations. I generally excuse people with long hair because they tend to be nonconformists. (I used to have long hair myself, so it’s not an unreasoning prejudice.) But I kept a juror with a long pony tail once in a murder case, because I liked him. He seemed smart, spoke well, and exuded common sense. And he was my best juror, reinforcing all my arguments in the jury room — a leader in the mold every trial lawyer needs.

    Third, I like smart people — but there are certain types of smart people that I think are more prone to lack common sense than others. Professors and journalists generally start out with two strikes against them.

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  53. Mainly I’m looking for people like alphie, to get rid of them — because if I mistakenly leave them on, I will never get a conviction. I’ve lost before I present my first witness.

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  54. Years ago I sat on a jury in a civil case – the gist of the issue was an employee of a company bought merchandise from a local supplier for his own use, but gave the company address as his billing address. There was a policy that any mail sent to the company was considered “company mail” and was opened by the boss’s secretary. She saw the bill from the store, saw that the employee was late on payments, gave the bill to the boss who told the employee to pay his bill. The employee went ballistic and complained about “his mail being opened” The boss indicated that this was company policy, and if the employee didn’t like it, he could have the mail sent elsewhere, or leave the company and “not let the door hit you on the way out.”

    The employee stormed out, never returned to work, and subsequently filed suit for wrongful termination. Did he quit or was he fired?

    The jury hung – evenly divided between those with a HS education or less who voted for the employee, and those with a college education or more who sided with the employer.

    Ultimately they settled, but that’s another story

    So – the question for the prosecutors – if you were trying this as a civil case, would you try to eliminate the more educated members of the jury pool based upon your knowledge and experience?

    Horatio (55069c)

  55. The limo driver saw Spector holding the gun. There was the victim’s blood on a towel in the bathroom. Spector cleaned up afterward, i.e. he washed his hands. That’s why he lacked GSR on his hands.

    It was odd that the gun wound up under her ankles of her stretched out legs. Did she shoot herself in the head and then lean over and put the gun there?

    Her bag was on her shoulder backwards. I suspect she was in a hurry to get out of there. But then the forman thinks it is possible a woman would put her bag on her shoulder to leave and then jump at an opportunity to kill herself.

    Spector pulled guns on many woman who threatened to leave his company. Are we supposed to believe she found his gun, walked over to his front door, put the bag on her shoulder and then shot herself?

    Alta Bob (c549e9)

  56. I’d calim it is more that engineers and scientists have experience applying logic to areas other than human interaction. Lawyers have more experience in that area. Based on a few cases that have gone seriously awry, IMO law logic may be better suited to it’s field of application but is not generally well practiced.

    A recent article at tcsdaily explains the basis for how I believe the Libby trial went off the rails.

    boris (ad3d7f)

  57. Wow…

    CSI is a realistic show now, eh?

    Fake but accurate strikes again.

    Towards the engineer thing, they could be a blessing or a curse. I’d be interested where she got her degree, as most of the “elite” schools don’t so much teach common sense and instead focus on “fact” (and by fact, I mean observable, proveable events like “wet is wet, fire is hot, metal is metalic”).

    My dad is a pile of common sense, with his two engineering degrees (and his near-doctorate in mechanical).

    But a couple of people he works with lack all common sense, and don’t believe the sun will rise in the east is it isn’t happening at that moment.

    Scott Jacobs (425810)

  58. And Horatio, # 54

    Actually, I’d apparently want to get rid of the HS educated or less, since apparently they can’t grasp the concept of “Writen policy the employee was aware of” and “free choice”.

    But then again, I’ve got that common sense thing (not to mention I’m in a Hell Class – Legal Environment of Business)

    Scott Jacobs (425810)

  59. ** I’d claim **

    Sum injun ears dunt sepll 2 gud.

    boris (ad3d7f)

  60. I’ve been saying this will hang for the last 5 months. I don’t see it as an issue of common sense.
    The prosecution argument rests significantly on emotion (although many may see it as logic) — He (Spector) waived a gun in the faces of 5 other women … he must have done it here.
    The defense case relied significantly on apparently illogical scientific evidence — blood mist only on one side of the jacket.
    Engineers, by training, lean towards scientific/statistical type information, not emotional. The engineer got sucked-in to the scientific evidence which on its own didn’t seem consistent with a murder.
    Without an eyewitness (and yes an admission, “I think I just killed someone” is virtually equal to an eyewitness) the psyche/mind of an engineer will not succomb to emotion.

    MOG (f57a20)

  61. Sorry I’m late to the discussion…

    A priest, a lawyer and an engineer are sentenced to death. The priest is asked whether he would like to face the guillotine face up or face down. He chooses face up. The blade starts down and stops inches from the priest’s neck. Thinking it is a sign from God, the executioner sets him free.

    Next it’s the lawyer’s turn. He also chooses face up and the blade again stops just short of his neck. He too is set free.

    Last, it’s the engineer’s turn. Like those before him he chooses face up. As the executioner reaches to release the blade, suddenly the engineer blurts out, “Wait, I think I see your problem!”

    Jeff C. (592845)

  62. As an engineer, please allow me to add: Spector is guilty and the dude on the jury is representative of engineers in much the same manner that Mike Vick is representative of NFL QBs or dog owners.

    That said, #61 was hilarious.

    Oh, and being logical, looking at evidence and applying science is actually a GOOD thing. Personally, all the prosecution had to say was “so, do you REALLY think this woman decided to go to THAT GUY’S house and kill herself?” and I’d have been swayed towards guilt, as it belies probability for the defense’s case to be plausible.

    rjwest21 (8f8726)

  63. I was once on an attempted murder jury and we too got to the point of 11-1 guilty. The last guy was an engineer for the phone company. After some mighty loud and rude, to be polite, comments by some of the other jurors, he finally broke down and voted for a conviction.

    I remember sitting in the court room when the jury was polled, one by one, for their verdict. I really wonder if that last holdout would declare “guilty” or make an about face.

    When I heard about the “under protest” vote idea, I could just imagine that jury being polled, one by one, and this woman saying “not guilty”.

    Neo (cba5df)

  64. My West Texas community has so many oil and gas engineers that you can’t avoid having some on any jury. They do well in commercial litigation – where you typically want educated jurors because they can grasp complex or technical details – but there can’t be many unknowns in the case if you want an engineer to decide in your favor. I assume it’s easier to pin down all the details in civil/commercial cases than it is in criminal cases, where motives and events can be harder to ascertain.

    DRJ (ec59b5)

  65. Patterico,

    On the first ballot, four jurors voted for conviction, five voted not guilty and three were undecided.

    Assuming the first jury ballot took place before they discussed the case, the prosecutor had only convinced four of them, or one outta three, of Spector’s guilt.

    Would you call that a success?

    alphie (99bc18)

  66. Logic nor reason play much of a part in some jurrors decisions based on what I’ve witnessed on juries. In one case a lawyer who had systematically looted his clients wealth (he was their guardian or administrator) over a decade to enable him to buy things his income wouldn’t provide was demonstrated by the FBI and IRS. Yet one juror stated that she couldn’t believe this was systematic because he looked like her nephew and he never would do that.

    There were two other jurors who provided equalling compelling rational for their failure to convict. Fortunately the jury did convict on 6 out of nine counts.

    Anyone who doubts that there are individuals who never think logically can weigh evidence need only read some of the comments of the brighter bulbs that post comments here.

    Thomas Jackson (bf83e0)

  67. I don’t know Spector but I’ve heard tales of his wild living for decades, starting in the 60’s when I was a DJ. That he would actually manage to shoot someone strikes me as unusual behavior for him; he is — according to rumor — prone waving guns at things (and people) — and there have been no other reports of his shooting them over the decades. If he was prone to shooting people, or shooting at people, I would think it would have happened before this. He appears to have little impulse control but good trigger control.

    He should not do that (assuming the rumors were true), it’s stupid at least, and probably reckless; a violation of the second rule of firearms safety (never let the muzzle cover anything you don’t want to destroy), and the third, if he had his finger on the trigger while doing the waving.

    I’m not a lawyer. It has always seemed to me that the charge of murder involves the intent of the death; without the intent of the death of the victim, it should be some other flavor of homicide. (Noting en passant that the deaths in felony murders are not intended, but the underlying felony is.)

    I paid little attention to the trial or either side of the presented cases, other that what was directly posted here (I followed some, but not all, of the links.) From what little of that little I’ve retained, I’d vote not guilty to a charge of murder and guilty to a charge of accidental or reckless homicide.

    Engineers, scientists, mathematicians … yes, we see the world through different eyes. Sometimes we set those aside and see the world through our management hats. To me (not wearing manager hat at the moment) the world is what the world is, not what I believe the world is, or what others tell me the world is, or what they believe the world is.

    Trials seem to me to be tales told by two advocates, and the sad job of the jury is to decide which of the tales is closer to the real world. There is no guarantee that either tale is “real”.

    And justice is done when the verdict is given. Prosecutors who “seek justice” when they mean “seek guilty verdicts” ought to grow up.

    htom (412a17)

  68. charge of murder involves the intent of the death

    So that stuff you see on TV about people killed in an armed robbery being charged with murder even if they didn’t pull the trigger is just a bunch of stoopid lies then!

    If someone pulls a gun to commit a crime and the gun “accidently goes off” … murder (IMO).

    boris (ad3d7f)

  69. *** people killed in an armed robbery and the robbers charged ***

    boris (ad3d7f)

  70. Since I’m in the profession, I’ll add a comment about engineers.

    Making guesses is extremely uncomfortable. Think about designing an electronic part for a car: does it operate consistently when hot, cold or wet? Does it behave predictably when the system voltage sags or spikes? Does it have sufficient RFI immunity not to latch up near a transmission tower? You can’t say “Well I’m reasonably certain it will work” and hope the family car makes it across Death Valley in the summer. You have to know for sure.

    That said, I know a lot of engineers take this too far for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s a mask for indecisiveness, which is the impression I got from listening to the interview on KFI. I’ve been in enough engineering meetings with guys like this to know they can be death to any kind of a project schedule. For these people, the process is an end in itself.

    TakeFive (2bf7bd)

  71. 68-69 boris — Those would be felony murders, as I understand it, they intended the armed robbery, a felony.

    htom (412a17)

  72. For these people, the process is an end in itself.

    Exactly my point in comment #46. Save me from engineering colleagues who operate that way.

    Alphie, I made a point of pointing out that I was not presenting my observation about engineers to you. I don’t give a shit about your opinion or input on any matter.

    Mr Patterico, re comment #50, no offense taken. I agree 100% that many engineers are incapable of seeing the forest for one particular tree.

    Just Passing Through (ff997a)

  73. they intended the armed robbery

    So? Complete the point then. Is your claim …

    charge of murder involves the intent of the death

    … valid or not?

    boris (ad3d7f)

  74. Haha, JPT,

    Blown up Space Shuttles and collapsed freeway briges are testaments to the kind of “engineering” you are championing.

    Fairy tales and “heart of hearts” may work in trials and invasion planning, but not in modern technology.

    alphie (99bc18)

  75. Re 70, Take Five

    Very well put. Every engineer wants to design the perfect product, but every good engineer knows that the perfect product never ships. If it doesn’t ship, we don’t get paid.

    Perfectionism is often a mask for an unwillingness to make a decision and stand by it. We are paid reasonably big-bucks to use our education and experience to know when to say “good enough”. Those unwilling to do this often need to be shuffled off to a corner where their “analysis paralysis” doesn’t bring progress to a standstill. Fortunately, in the engineering world, we don’t need 12-0 votes to move forward.

    Jeff C. (592845)

  76. Blown up Space Shuttles and collapsed freeway briges are testaments to the kind of “engineering” you are championing.

    Fairy tales and “heart of hearts” may work in trials and invasion planning, but not in modern technology.

    Huh?

    Just Passing Through (ff997a)

  77. Don’t focus on it, JPT, its never going to make sense.

    SPQR (6c18fd)

  78. I don’t like the felony murder rule (or my understanding of it, perhaps) but I can see the reason for it, and convict someone on such a charge (death by shooting during an armed robbery, even if the shooter was not one of the robbers.)

    Convicting someone of felony murder because someone viewing TV coverage of the chase had a heart attack because they were alarmed over the TV coverage, maybe not.

    htom (412a17)

  79. As an engineer who has been “premptorily challanged” off of 17 out of 20 juries, my impression is that one side or the other wants to “argue” emotion instead of facts. It’s not always the prosecution (or plaintiff) that doesn’t like engineers, it’s whichever side doesn’t have the facts on their side. The two criminal trials I have been on featured spectacularly incompetant defence attorneys – one was a “fool for a client” situation, and the other was a “court-appointed” lawyer, who obviously was *not* a criminal lawyer.

    bud (46e4bf)


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