Patterico's Pontifications


R.I.P Vincent Bugliosi

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:59 am

A great man has passed:

The man who prosecuted one of the most notorious American criminals of the 20th century before writing the definitive history of those crimes is gone.

Vincent Bugliosi, who put Charles Manson behind bars, has died of cancer at 80.

“He was a workaholic,” his son, Vincent Bugliosi Jr., said, as NBC 4 in Los Angeles reported. “What was remarkable was he always found time for everyone who needed work.”

Bugliosi’s track record as a Los Angeles prosecutor was remarkable: convictions in 105 of 106 felony jury trials, including 21 murder cases.

Bugliosi wrote or co-wrote several books, including some that are famous (Helter Skelter) and others that were less well known but equally compelling (And the Sea Will Tell). I read them all — up until the 2000s, when his books became ore about wild political claims than the detailed and compelling narratives he had previously written. (I’m going to ignore those in this post and concentrate on the many positive aspects of the man’s life.)

I admired Bugliosi greatly as a prosecutor. His tenaciousness and preparation were a role model for any Deputy D.A., especially one working in Los Angeles. One day I was looking at the dust jacket on one of Bugliosi’s book, and I realized that I had tried (and obtained convictions in) more murder cases than Bugliosi. It was a jarring but proud moment that felt like one of the larger milestones of my career, to realize that in some sense I had measured up to someone I had idolized.

That said, few if any will ever match Bugliosi’s nearly undefeated record in felony trials generally, a record that says something about the forcefulness and persuasiveness of his manner. Bugliosi was always dead convinced of his position, but he didn’t simply win through attitude and bluster. If you had an issue with the prosecution’s version of events, he would come back and knock you in the head with, not one, not two, but a good five reasons why that objection was ridiculous. And his reasons would make sense. And he would proceed to destroy your other arguments in the same way.

Bugliosi accomplished something important with the prosecution of Charles Manson — a feat which may seem easy in retrospect, given Manson’s evident criminal lunacy on display in prison, but which actually required detailed investigation and a clear, meticulous presentation. Remember, Manson wasn’t even at the scene of the Tate murders, and did not kill anyone personally in the LaBianca murders.

I attended a book signing for “Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy,” which is essentially the Bible of the Kennedy assassination. I can’t claim to have read it all, but I have looked up the passages addressing some of the more common conspiracy theories. Each is comprehensively addressed in Bugliosi’s withering, fact-based style.

I had the good fortune to attend a book signing for this book when it came out. My mom was in town, and we both watched Bugliosi address the questions from the conspiracy theorists who formed an unsettlingly large part of the audience. They seemed unhinged, and I frankly worried for his safety. Still, it was the closest thing conceivable to personally watching him in trial. He had a full command of all the facts and let them have it between the eyes every time.

I once wrote Bugliosi a letter asking where I could find the full-length version of the mock trial of Lee Harvey Oswald that he did with Gerry Spence. He wrote me back a two-page handwritten note that I still have somewhere, saying that he would lend it to me, but he was using it to write “Reclaiming History.” (I ended up purchasing an abbreviated version on DVD that I commend to anyone interested in watching Bugliosi the trial attorney in action, and/or to anyone interested in the Kennedy assassination. Bugliosi and Spence question many of the actual witnesses from the case, and it truly is a slice of history.)

I can’t immediately find that note, which I still have somewhere, but tonight, if I can figure out how to keep the image from being on its side, I’ll update the post with the signature page from my copy of “Reclaiming History.” (I’ll put the sideways version I have now in the comments.)


UPDATE: Here is the beginning of that mock trial. It’s worth watching.

100 Responses to “R.I.P Vincent Bugliosi”

  1. Here is that signature page:


    Patterico (3cc0c1)

  2. Huh, he was only 80? I hadn’t realized he was so young when he prosecuted Manson.

    JVW (8278a3)

  3. yes, he was unhinged a little by the 2000 election, but Reclaiming History, was a msterful work, among it’s findings, the so called corsican mobster plot, failed the smell because the key gunman, a Lucien Sarti was in a french prison that day, something the BBC producer, who went on to work for Oliver Stone didn’t bother to check, or tell his audience,

    narciso (ee1f88)

  4. That’s a wierd technical problem – if I download the image and open it in an editor, it’s NOT on its side. *puzzled*

    aphrael (69b4f7)

  5. Patrick, that is a great image you posted. Years ago, I used to write fiction, as you know. A friend of mine got Ray Bradbury to inscribe a book to me, reading “Hey, when are you getting back to writing?” A treasure.

    Simon Jester (2b19e5)

  6. one runs into the phillip roth problem, he found reality beat him cold, in the mid 80s,

    narciso (ee1f88)

  7. That’s a wierd technical problem – if I download the image and open it in an editor, it’s NOT on its side. *puzzled*

    That’s because photos taken with smart phones have an exif flag saying which way it should be oriented. Modern image viewers recognise and respect that flag, but HTML knows nothing about it.

    Milhouse (a0cc5c)

  8. mock trial on youtube- not sure if its condensed

    israel (6a1ee7)

  9. I read Helter Skelter and also enjoyed Shakedown which was a scathing takedown of Je$$e Jack$on. A must read.

    Gazzer (be559b)

  10. Apropos of pretty much nothing, I always confused Vincent Bugliosi and Leo Buscaglia.

    Buscaglia would have hugged Manson.

    Dave (in MA) (037445)

  11. May God have mercy on his soul.

    DRJ (e80d46)

  12. I loved one of his more recent books, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. He really out it all together and showed how the president had actually committed crimes that should be punished. Unfortunate that Obama protected him instead.

    Hurling Dervish (eb0525)

  13. He was going after my friends on the supreme who stopped the florida vote count in the summer of 2001 that is why I didn’t try to stop the 9-11 hijackers. The neo-cons needed a “second pearl harbor” and now thanks to bulgosi so did I!

    shrub (647928)

  14. Good Allah

    JD (a96595)

  15. Thanks for mentioning the DVD of the mock trial. I have it and it’s a way to see Vincent Bugliosi in action.

    DN (78a7ed)

  16. My puppy will urinate on a shrub.

    mg (31009b)

  17. He was going after my friends on the supreme who stopped the florida vote count in the summer of 2001 that is why I didn’t try to stop the 9-11 hijackers. The neo-cons needed a “second pearl harbor” and now thanks to bulgosi so did I!

    The sound of an unhinged mind flapping back and forth inside of a skull.

    JVW (8278a3)

  18. UPDATE: Here is the beginning of that mock trial. It’s worth watching.

    Patterico (3cc0c1)

  19. Amazon lists a 5 and a half hour version. I assume that’s the whole thing.

    There is a 1 1/2 hour version listed on thepiratebay. Or so I’m told. I’d guess that’s the pirate version.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  20. And it looks like the 5+ hour version in on Youtube. Part 1 is here:

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  21. Offtopic but putting this here in recognition that Mr. Bugliosi believed in evidence…

    kishnevi (91d5c6)

  22. Said it before; due to a thing that happened to my family, and to too many examples in the news, if on a jury, I would take it for granted that the prosecution was suborning perjury and withholding exculpatory evidence and would vote to acquit no matter the case presented. To have a terrifici record is not a virtue, it’s a sign of corruption until proven otherwise in detail.

    Richard Aubrey (f6d8de)

  23. Richard Aubrey,

    Despite your cavalier and irresponsible attitude towards the duty of serving as a juror, I hope that you are at least responsible enough to reveal your biases in the unfortunate event that you are ever actually called on a serious case. Criminal cases must be judged according to the evidence and not by people like you with an axe to grind.

    Patterico (3cc0c1)

  24. I can certainly see why Gerry Spence was such a successful attorney. Mesmerizing speaker.

    Mark Johnson (e6fbee)

  25. Patterico. Judged by evidence. Yeah. What about that which is withheld? What about that which is the result of getting a jail house snitch to tell the jury what you need him to say in return for a bag of double cheese whoppers?
    The feds effed over Ted Stevens for partisan purposes and the FBI tried to frame Richard Jewell just so as to not get all sweaty looking for the real perp.
    I’m willing to admit some prosecutions are clean. But there’s the old saying that better one tuilty man go free than that ten–or some other number depending on your source–innocent men be convicted.
    And how am I to tell the difference?
    Yeah, if asked, I’d explain my feelings. Probably poison the entire pool. They’d have to start over.
    You want a different attitude, put some of your colleagues in jail. Was it the Orange County prosecutors who were, in some sense, decertified by a judge? Two hundred fifty officers of the court and the clean ones kept their mouths shut.
    The Innocence Project isn’t finding strictly paperwork errors.
    Getting busted withholding exculpatory evidence should get a more serious punishment than a sympahty card from the local bar.
    Jail crooked prosecutors. Crack immunity.
    Otherwise, people are going to look at the prosecution community and draw the obvious conclusion.

    Richard Aubrey (f6d8de)

  26. Or, you can just be a dlck.

    JD (3b5483)

  27. I guess we just ought to let all the crooks go free, since they are only in jail because of corrupt DA’s and false evidence?

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  28. I wonder if the Innocence Project would care to divulge the number of righteous convictions they’ve found, and what proportion of “suspect” convictions are actually bogus.

    Question, Richard: Do you think Manson was guilty? Richard Ramirez? (Your cop-out will be “I don’t know” as if that somehow proves your point)

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  29. Kevin, in answer to your question

    Among our cases that go to DNA testing, the DNA proves our clients innocent about as often as it suggests they are guilty. In a review of Innocence Project cases that went to DNA testing and were then closed over a five-year period, DNA testing proved innocence in about 43% of cases, confirmed the prosecution theory in about 42% of cases, and was inconclusive or not probative in about 15% of cases.

    In more than 40% of all DNA exoneration cases, law enforcement authorities identify the actual perpetrator based on the same DNA test results that overturned the wrongful conviction.


    Judging from another part of their FAQ, that is actually a small percent of cases they consider taking

    FAQ How many people write to you each year?
    Every year, more than 3,000 people write to us for the first time asking for help, and at any given time we are evaluating between 6,000 and 8,000 potential cases.
    FAQ How do you decide who to represent?
    We gather extensive information about each case application, and our intake and evaluation staff researches each potential case thoroughly – and, along with our legal staff, ultimately determines whether DNA testing can be conducted and, if so, whether favorable results can prove innocence.

    kishnevi (91d5c6)

  30. Yeah, if asked, I’d explain my feelings.

    That’s all I ask. The rest of your comment just demonstrates why you shouldn’t be a juror. Jurors have to be fair and be capable of dispassionately weighing the evidence. Some even rise above negative past experiences to do that. You lack the ability to rise above your emotions, but at least you will tell the court at the appropriate time that you can’t. That’s really all that matters.

    Patterico (3cc0c1)

  31. If you have the facts on your side, pound on the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound on the law. If you have neither, pound on the table. I thought for sure that lectern was about to collapse when Mr Spence was giving his opening statement.

    Bill H (2a858c)

  32. So, they get 3000 or so requests, investigate them for a few years, then take the most promising ones. Of these, they are 50/50. I know some would assert this means that half of cases have the innocent convicted, but what it really says that half of some fraction of 3000 cases a year a provably bogus.

    The actual number might be higher than that, of course, but it might not be much higher. And nothing in that quote says that the convictions were the result of misconduct.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  33. i got very confused, thought you meant this Vincent:

    seeRpea (b2f97d)

  34. Patterico,

    What provisions are there for prosecuting a judge or prosecutor who acts corruptly to cause the conviction of a person they know (or reasonably believe) to be innocent?

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  35. Patterico,

    What provisions are there for prosecuting a judge or prosecutor who acts corruptly to cause the conviction of a person they know (or reasonably believe) to be innocent?

    The most relevant case I know is the one from Texas. I am about to go to bed and am too lazy/tired to look up the link, but surely you know the one I mean. A county neighboring Travis County in Texas where a DA (later a a judge) knowingly hid exculpatory evidence in a murder case. That will give you some idea.

    Patterico (3cc0c1)

  36. His book about the OJ Simpson criminal trial was not at all complimentary to Gil Garcetti or to the prosecution team. While one might be inclined to accuse him of Monday Morning Quarterbacking, it was hard to argue with his detailed description of how the prosecution repeatedly insured their defeat with bad strategic and tactical choices. My only quibble is that I suspect it would have been hard for even him with full control over the process to find a jury under modern rules that would have both convicted OJ and avoided attack at the appellate level. We’ll never know, of course.

    M. Scott Eiland (9fd59f)

  37. That’s all I ask. The rest of your comment just demonstrates why you shouldn’t be a juror. Jurors have to be fair and be capable of dispassionately weighing the evidence. Some even rise above negative past experiences to do that. You lack the ability to rise above your emotions, but at least you will tell the court at the appropriate time that you can’t. That’s really all that matters.

    Patterico (3cc0c1) — 6/9/2015 @ 9:24 pm

    I’d say forget it, Patrick. People like Richard haven’t the nads to state to a judge in open court that he’s prejudiced. He would much rather deny a fair trial for either side.

    Bill H (2a858c)

  38. Patterico!!
    The weekend after my undergrad graduation, I partied and my band played gigs, Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. Monday morning came around, and I was on the Bradford Beach in Milwaukee/lake Michigan, with 3 lovely girls. I realized that at 9 am, I was to be on jury duty. Hung over and tired, I was selected for a MURDER JURY and we were SEQUESTERED for 2 weeks. The murder happened in my general neighborhood, and it was well known in Milwaukee. I was quite surprised that as a POLI SCI recent grad, who knew the lay of the land in detail, I was selected. That experience changed my life. The bastard who put a 30/30 thru a 79 year old ladies belly is still in prison in Wisconsin 33 years later. Wow, what a memory.

    Gus (7cc192)

  39. There is a moral conundrum about telling the judge. If I think there’s a fair–say, ten percent chance–that the prosecution is bogus, then do I have the moral requirement to do what I can to avoid conviction?
    Now, as it happens, I’m not operating on emotion. The fact is there are numerous corrupt prosecutions. Those discovered by the Innocence Project are only the ones manageable by DNA. At what proportion of corrupt prosecutions is it incumbent upon the jurors to presume the one in front of them is corrupt?
    Several years ago, the lab in Boston was found to be so bad that its director was actually sanctioned–iirc prosecuted. The FBI has discovered that thousands of its lab results may be wrong, one way or another. At one point, they claimed to be able to match bullets by the composition of the lead. Different batches had different compositions of lead coming out of the factory or something. Be interesting to know how many guys got put away because of that.
    A juror should be able to fairly judge the evidence. Sure. Problem is the evidence not presented. Problem is the false evidence presented.
    Anyway, Patterico, if you want to change the view of many, start jailing your colleagues.
    Strictly speaking, I don’t know if Manson or Ramirez are guilty. All I know is what I’ve been told, which is the problem, isn’t it? Are you willing to guarantee everybody in stir is guilty?
    So, anyway, what is the proper ratio? Ten guilty go free lest one innocent man be convicted? Five? Twenty?
    Bill H. “deny a fair trial”. Presumes a fair trial was going to be in front of me, doesn’t it? That’s the problem. Why am I supposed to presume that?
    It’s been said–I’d like to find out for sure–that the FBI agents who got busted trying to frame Richard Jewell got standing ovations from their buddies when they returned from vacation.
    If the prosecution community cleaned up its act, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. But the incentives go the other way. What is the duty of a citizen?

    Richard Aubrey (f6d8de)

  40. Patterico (3cc0c1) — 6/9/2015 @ 7:31 pm

    I’ve said this before, hoping to get more suggestions for what to do in future situations.
    I was on a jury in a criminal trial in Philly once, a very routine undercover drug bust.

    The defense attorney said things I knew were not true, as I personally knew the neighborhood involved. I wanted to raise my hand and bring it to the judge’s attention.
    Some members of the jury, once in the deliberation room, voiced an unwillingness to believe police testimony because they were police. It was an open and shut case but the most vocal wanted to vote him innocent and leave for lunch.

    By God’s grace there were several people in the jury, of black, Hispanic, and white subtypes, who knew the area first hand and were able to dispute the defense attorney’s lies and were persistent in not giving in to the “let’s vote and get out of here” crowd.
    I guess there is a concept that the jury is to make judgment on the basis of the evidence presented and not one’s own knowledge base, but the defense attorney basically said, “You have to be kidding me to say people are that outlandish in selling drugs”, and some of us knew that was a lie, that there are neighborhoods where it is like an open street bizarre.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  41. If you stick to the recipe, the cake usually comes out good, Richard. The law is process, not omniscience. If you want due process, be part of the solution not part of the problem. Do what you can to enforce the rules but you follow them, your ownself, too.

    nk (dbc370)

  42. The issue is that it is not a “zero sum” game.
    The harm of mistakes is not only convicting innocent people,
    but allowing guilty people to be on the street to victimize others.

    You can also ask the question, how many guilty people are you willing to inflict on the public to keep an innocent person out of jail? An innocent person in jail is a terrible thing. So is an innocent live victimized by someone who should have been in jail.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  43. nk
    To push the cake metaphor, most of us can afford a bad batch of cake batter once in a while. Putting an innocent person in jail is different.
    As to enforcing the rules, following them myself, isn’t that the role those who don’t obey them desire I take?
    If the law is process, why not make it an honest process, so honest that citizens can actually believe it? If it seems to be dishonest, why should I follow dishonest rules?
    Just for grins, see John Doe in WI. Anything going to happen to those guys? Of course not. Immunity.
    If I were in Orange County, I might have some little influence in exiling or jailing–please, God–the prosecutor’s office there. Letter to the editor, that sort of thing.
    But the only people who can actually make a difference are the prosecutors, and they’re not about to.
    What is the duty of the citizen, considering the only place he may have actual influence is as a juror?

    Richard Aubrey (f6d8de)

  44. That was fine, MD. There are even instructions about applying your own accumulated knowledge and experience in evaluating and weighing the evidence. If somebody testified, “The bank robber was Hispanic” and the bank was in Pilsen, a Chicagoan would go “Yeah, is there anybody in Pilsen who isn’t?”

    nk (dbc370)

  45. Getting a bad cake once in a while is no reason to junk your oven. Not unless you have a better one coming.

    nk (dbc370)

  46. There is no moral conundrum, Richard. Not for most of us, anyway. Jury duty I gladly do. It’s one of the very few civic duties we are asked to do. Actually, I would prefer you not sit next to me in a jury box. I want all 12 to take the job seriously. Yes- a fair trial for both sides is at stake. I really don’t need to be part of mistrial because some dood with a bad attitude decides he’s just gotta stick it to the Man.

    Bill H (2a858c)

  47. …and the bank was in Pilsen, a Chicagoan would go “Yeah, is there anybody in Pilsen who isn’t?”

    nk (dbc370) — 6/10/2015 @ 5:47 am

    I’ve been up wayyyyyy too late. I saw that and first thought “Pilsen? As in Czech Republic? Hispanics there??” 🙂

    Bill H (2a858c)

  48. It used to be a Czech neighborhood. Mayor Cermak was from there, Cermak Road is there now. And just like Czechoslovakia, the Bohemians are west of it, mainly in Berwyn. 😉

    nk (dbc370)

  49. Bill H. Your presumption is that it is a fair trial in the first place. Your evidence for that is?
    Yeah, I know the difficulties involved in letting the guilty go. But, as people say, “It’s a price we have to pay for…..”. Like the guy who spent twenty-six years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit because the lawyers who knew better were precluded from saying anything by attorney-client privilege. That “price” didn’t seem to bother many attorneys.
    I would suggest it is not taking the job of juror seriously to presume without evidence that the prosecution isn’t screwing the pooch. Say, for example, you’re sitting on a case brought by an office which has been busted four times in the last three years for withholding exculpatory evidence.
    Remember, the guy is innocent until the prosecutor convinces you, beyond your required skepticism and reasonable doubt. And the prosecutor has a dodgy record. Now what?

    Richard Aubrey (f6d8de)

  50. I listen to this and I connect it to those 2 murderers who escaped in New York. I wonder how many people they are willing to kill to stay free, even for another day. I’d guess “all of them.”

    Which gets to the issue, not only of letting killers go free because of an alleged fear of imprisoning the innocent, but of a misplaced mercy towards the guilty. Dead men don’t escape.

    Personally, I don’t view either of these failures to be a sign of mercy or trepidation. I see them as your basic self-centered fear: what will others think of me if I am willing to get my hands dirty?

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  51. they told us if we voted for Maverick or Mittens,

    so enemy action is the consensus,

    narciso (ee1f88)

  52. This whole conversation just gives me a headache. I don’t have a lot of faith in government, but this Richard fellow strikes me as a loon, and his arrogance is astounding.

    To restore faith in the system, how about we punish oath-breakers, whether they be prosecutors, criminal defense attorneys, or arrogant citizens who lie and mislead the court so that they can play silly bugger games in the juror’s box? I would not mind seeing bad prosecutors and cops punished, but your way wrecks the system even more than you already claim it is. “The system is broken, give us a better system”, you cry, “Give it to us now or I will continue my efforts to make everything worse”. Geeze.

    lurkingestlurker (26ac75)

  53. Whereas in California, it’s apparently possible for the voters to *promote* a DA whose office is reprimanded by a judge for repeatedly failing to disclose exculpatory evidence regarding corruption in the county’s drug testing lab (

    aphrael (69b4f7)

  54. [I should note that the last California election I could vote in, I voted for the Republican candidate for AG *specifically because* of my outrage over this story]

    aphrael (69b4f7)

  55. lurkingestlurker
    Yeah. How about we do that. When did we start? See any evidence of it starting? How many corrupt prosecutors has our host sent to jail?
    Let’s suppose you’re a juror on a trial prosecuted by Angela Corey’s office in Florida. You know she withheld exculpatory evidence in the Zimmerman case and fired the IT guy who blew the whistle. You presume that, this time, her office is on the up and up…because?
    Ask the same question about the Orange County operation. You presume the case you’re sitting on is square because…of the sterling history of that bunch, right?
    As to “give it to us now or I’ll wreck the system”. Not exactly. How about, “Until we have it, I’ll take steps to see innocent people aren’t sent to jail by corrupt prosecutors.”

    Richard Aubrey (f6d8de)

  56. Tell me Richard: what evidence would convince you? What changes to “The System” would you make? Are you really so narcissistic that you absolutely believe, without a doubt in your mind, that you are mistake free? It’s an imperfect system populated by human beings. However, it’s one hell of a lot better than justice systems throughout the world. Then again, in your eyes, maybe not. Either way, I really don’t give a damn about your need to be obtuse. You can do all of us a favor and ensure you never sit on a jury.

    Bill H (2a858c)

  57. Someone is treading dangerously close to one of the long-standing rules of the site

    Richard – what else do you think is Patterico’s job responsibilities? Me, I would be willing to bet that he was unaware that he was responsible for investigating and prosecuting fellow prosecutors as part of his job duties, or even within his jurisdiction.

    JD (3b5483)

  58. Bill H.
    For evidence…. How about not promoting a corrupt prosecutor to judge. Patterico referred to a situation in Texas. Clean up the labs. The Harris County lab might as well be a rubber stamp for the prosecutors. The Boston lab didn’t get the ink but there is a potential for thousands of cases to be reviewed.
    How many prosecutors have been jailed?
    How about this? A prosecutor gets busted for egregious behavior and the local bar disbars him. Start any time, guys. Any time?
    See John Doe in WI.
    The FBI agent who screwed up Ted Stevens–just in time for the election–got fifteen days off with pay.
    I’m interested in not putting innocent people in jail. The only influence I have on the process is as a juror. And prosecutors are too often corrupt for the issue to be ignored. A clean prosecutor will be annoyed with me, and should be, until he figures out why I did what I did, presuming I did it. It’s because he’s looked the other way when his dirty brethren screwed the pooch. The problem is, in court dirty and clean look alike. How am I to tell? I have to depend on the clean guys in the office cleaning the place out. Any time, guys, any time. Jump right in.
    Due to issues involving in-laws, I follow the intersection between criminal justice and mental illness. Recently, a mentally ill person confined in Rikers for three years without a trial killed himself. Somebody want to explain that to me? Three years, no trial. I’m sure this is the best the system can do and somebody could explain it to me in terms of…this is absolutely wonderful on account of our terrific system and non-lawyers should just knuckle the ol’ forehead and shuffle off.
    Like journalists, your explanations for screwing up don’t actually satisfy anybody but your own. Don’t do much for the rest of us.

    Richard Aubrey (f6d8de)

  59. Recently, a mentally ill person confined in Rikers for three years without a trial killed himself. Somebody want to explain that to me? Three years, no trial.

    I don’t know about New York, but cases age in the courts where I work because the defense wants them to. A defendant can have a preliminary hearing within two weeks and a trial 2 1/2 months later if they want.

    Patterico (3cc0c1)

  60. How about someone actually answer Richard Aubrey, instead of calling him names? Do any of you have an answer for him? If Angela Corey’s office is prosecuting a case how can you have confidence that the evidence you’re being presented with is the truth and the whole truth, that the prosecutor’s not hiding something you ought to be shown? Or, in any jurisdiction, knowing that policemen are notorious for perjury, and knowing how seldom they ever get in trouble for it even when caught, how do you give the uncorroborated testimony of any policeman more credence than the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice, or at least that of a felon?

    How do you believe forensic testimony, knowing how often crime labs have lied in the past? Suppose you’re on a rape trial where the only evidence against the accused is the complainant’s uncorroborated testimony; with all these famous cases recently of women falsely crying rape, and none of them facing any kind of charges, surely you must treat it with heightened skepticism, mustn’t you? And yet you are expected to pretend that all policemen and complainants have a presumption of credibility, and all prosecutors have a presumption of ethical dealing.

    Really, it’s the suspect testimony that bothers me more, as a potential juror, than the possibility of prosecutor misconduct. As a juror I have no foundation for speculating about possible evidence that I have not been given. But it’s very much my job to assess the credibility of evidence I have been given, and that has to take into account what I know about the prevalence of perjury among policeman, and about the overconfidence of forensic witnesses. I have to take such testimony with a generous helping of salt, and that’s inevitably going to help the defendant in cases where the policeman wasn’t lying, the crime lab did its job, and the forensic witnesses didn’t go beyond what the evidence legitimately showed.

    Milhouse (a0cc5c)

  61. JF. I was being metaphorical wrt Patterico jailing his colleagues. Thing is, nobody’s doing it. Not Patterico, not anybody. And if that’s not happening, the evidence of cleaning up the system isn’t obvious.
    Instead of jail, how about the local bar exiling a prosecutor caught suborning perjury or withholding exculpatory evidence. He doesn’t go to jail, he just goes to doing simple wills or something.
    Each innocent person convicted is a guilty person walking free to do his mischief.

    Richard Aubrey (f6d8de)

  62. Google Illinois prosecutor Charles Granati. A relatively recent Illinois case of a prosecutor censured for a politically incorrect closing argument and the defendant being granted a new trial. You’re looking at 0.01% of the system, and condemning all of it, Richard. That’s valid when you’re milking a cow — if it pees in the milk, just one drop, you throw out the whole bucket — but not for a legal system or any other social institution. Don’t get me talking about Eve and the apple and perfect worlds again, please.

    nk (dbc370)

  63. That wasn’t metaphorical, in any real sense of the word, and then you basically repeat it. No he is not jailing colleagues,as I suspect investigating and trying those types of cases aren’t anywhere near his actual responsibilities. What, exactly, should Patterico be doing that he is not?

    JD (ebe920)

  64. “The weekend after my undergrad graduation, I partied and my band played gigs, Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. Monday morning came around, and I was on the Bradford Beach in Milwaukee/lake Michigan, with 3 lovely girls. I realized that at 9 am, I was to be on jury duty. Hung over and tired, I was selected for a MURDER JURY and we were SEQUESTERED for 2 weeks. The murder happened in my general neighborhood…”

    POLKATASTIC!!! Whatever happened to your brother Yosh?

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  65. I need to be throwing a bunch of my colleagues in jail, apparently, even though 1) I have seen nothing that would warrant that and 2) if I did I could only report what I saw, since taking direct action would not be within my job responsibilities.

    Point #1 is more important. People like Richard Aubrey have had a bad experience and based on that they feverishly assume that a high percentage of cops lie and a high percentage of prosecutors are bad. Therefore they can rationalize that we’re all bad, because even if we haven’t done bad directly, they just know in their bones that we see rampant misconduct all around us and do nothing.

    The idea that this doesn’t actually happen never occurs to them. That whatever happened to them was isolated and strange and unusual never occurs to them.

    Answering Milhouse: it’s called common sense. Isolated examples do not show the entire system conforms to the isolated examples. How many times do you suppose defense attorneys actively try to mislead the jury? I can guarantee you that it is one hell of a lot more often than police or prosecutors do. Should you therefore walk into a courtroom and assume that the defense attorney will lie to you, therefore you cannot believe a word he says? No, and were that your attitude, you would be a wholly irresponsible citizen — a “Richard Aubrey” type, in other words, unfit for one of a citizen’s basic duties.

    Common sense. That’s what jurors need. That’s the answer to your question. Is it infallible? No. Show me what aspect of life is.

    Patterico (3cc0c1)

  66. Richard is a loon. I have some experience as a witness in criminal and civil trials and I have some exposure to lies. I was once asked by prosecutors in Orange County to lie. It was a case where a sheriff’s deputy son was hit and killed by a drug using dirtbag. At trial, it turned out that the arrogant lab tech for the county had screwed up the blood alcohol. We normally do those routinely on all traumas but we were told not to do it. I was asked to testify that the driver was drunk. He was.

    However, he had cocaine metabolites in his blood test. These were not admissible (I was told). To mention this would cause a mistrial. The driver looked like a stockbroker in court and his attorney kept asking me if I know of other test results. The judge knew what was going on and nobody interrupted the questioning. I can’t remember anymore what I said but I did manage not to lie and not to cause a mistrial.

    I’ve seen defense attorneys in civil cases lie. In one case, I told the plaintiff lawyer that I could have another expert testify that it was a lie but he was;t interested and lost his lawsuit. His client was a famous celebrity lawyers and I figured he knew what he was doing.

    I once had a patient who was shot and crippled by the LAPD in an accidental shooting while he was being questioned. Long story but I took care of him for years for nothing and testified when the civil case came up. He got nothing. That was a few years before Rodney King got millions.

    My patient was a 35 year old black guy whose boss kept his job for him for a year until it was obvious he would never be able to return to work. Never been arrested. Was raising his 10 year old son. Tragic.

    But those are anecdotes. The Ted Stevens case was because Bush kept on DoJ lawyers Clinton had appointed.

    “And the Sea Will Tell” was great book and got the sailing right which is rare. Bugliosi got crazy after 2000.

    Mike K (90dfdc)

  67. I have known the coroner to lie in shooting cases, one of which was a bad police shooting. I figured out what was going on and asked the patient if I could photograph his wounds which were obvious entry and exit wounds. The family lawyer denied permission and I let it pass. The lawyer was a fool but that is not illegal.

    Mike K (90dfdc)

  68. How many times do you suppose defense attorneys actively try to mislead the jury? I can guarantee you that it is one hell of a lot more often than police or prosecutors do. Should you therefore walk into a courtroom and assume that the defense attorney will lie to you, therefore you cannot believe a word he says?

    Actually I think I should assume that, but it doesn’t matter because the onus of proof is on the prosecution. I don’t need to believe that the defense attorney is telling me the truth, I just need to consider the evidence she presents, and consider that maybe the narrative she’s using it to illustrate is true.

    I know that in non-political cases 99% of defendants who make it to trial are guilty, but as a juror in an individual case I have to put that aside and judge the case as if there were every likelihood that this was one of the 1%. Because the only way for those 1% of cases to be caught is for jurors to be on the lookout for them, and seriously consider the possibility that their case is one of them.

    The prosecution case is in a different situation, because the prosecutor must convince me not only that her case may be correct, but that it is correct. And for that I have to trust her not to be hiding relevant evidence, not to be deliberately mis-spinning the evidence she’s presenting, and I have to trust her witnesses to be actually telling the truth, rather than merely raising the possibility that they could be telling the truth.

    Milhouse (a0cc5c)

  69. feverishly assume that a high percentage of cops lie

    Are you seriously denying this?! Cops, everywhere in the world, are notorious for perjury. It’s so common they even have terms for it: “testilying”, or “verballing”. I’m not a lawyer, but every lawyer I’ve asked has told me the same thing: the sworn testimony of a cop is no more reliable than the unsworn word of a known felon.

    Milhouse (a0cc5c)

  70. Patterico at 59 , if is to be believed:

    (a) he was on probation when he was arrested and so was placed on bail at $3000, which his family could not afford (he was from an incredibly poor part of the Bronx. There’s a political movement to change the bail rules to create a rebuttable presumption that no bail is required, which the DA could overcome by demonstrating either dangerousness or flight risk, neither of which existed in this case – AND that movement is stalled in the legislature).

    (b) he received a court appointed attorney because he couldn’t afford an attorney.

    (c) the Bronx criminal courts are “chronically overwhelmed”.

    (d) he was held for more than two months before he was indicted.

    (e) the Bronx DA’s office, which was really busy, said they were ready, and trial was set for December (almost six months after the arrest). But the court rescheduled the hearing until January, and then the prosecutor asked for a one week continuance; the court delayed it by six weeks, which is apparently standard practice in Bronx county.

    (f) When the prosecutor asks for a one-week delay and the court grants a six week delay (and then compounds with unannounced delays from the court), only the *one week the prosecutor asks for* counts against the speedy trial time.

    That last point meant it was impossible to file a speedy trial motion even after a year and a half had passed.


    For me, the clear implication of this story is that NY is not putting enough resources into either the DA’s office or the court system.

    aphrael (69b4f7)

  71. “the sworn testimony of a cop is no more reliable than the unsworn word of a known felon.”


    JD (3b5483)

  72. JD – I would argue that it depends on the cop, and it depends on the felon. Which is why character evidence is useful to me as a juror.

    aphrael (69b4f7)

  73. And you base that opinion on what, JD?

    Milhouse (a0cc5c)

  74. Trying again: When a guy is let out of jail because, possibly after a quarter century, it turns out he didn’t do it, we know two things: First, he didn’t do it. Second, a prosecutor convinced a jury he did. That’s an oopsie, without even a “sorry about that” from the guys who screwed him. And is there a system for auditing those trials to see what went wrong?
    The prosecutor community has sufficient bad apples that a juror must take that into account, since he can’t tell the difference in court.
    Where is the evidence that the system is actively trying to cleanse itself?

    Richard Aubrey (f6d8de)

  75. When a guy is let out of jail because, possibly after a quarter century, it turns out he didn’t do it, we know two things: First, he didn’t do it. Second, a prosecutor convinced a jury he did.

    Often we don’t know the first thing. All we know is that we can’t be sure he did it. Or even that we can be sure he did it, but the jury was not instructed properly, or not selected properly, or some piece of evidence was improperly included or excluded, and there’s some degree of possibility that had the error not been made the jury might have found reasonable doubt about his guilt. In all likelihood most of the Innocence Project cases are not in fact innocent at all.

    Milhouse (a0cc5c)

  76. Aphrael -‘on a micro level, I might very well agree with you. But Milhouse posited that across the entire spectrum, which is most assuredly BS.

    JD (ebe920)

  77. Millhouse. As you point out, we don’t know. What we know is, especially in cases where DNA is the key, the guy very likely didn’t do it.
    Withheld exculpatory evidence is generally withheld because it weakens the prosecutor’s case. It is illegal to withhold it, regardless of whether it had an effect. As my mother used to say, It’s the thought that counts.
    To ask again, as a commenter did above, what do you do when you’re sitting on a case prosecuted by Angela Corey’s office, or the Orange County gang. And how do you know, sitting in some other jurisdiction, whether the prosecutors are straight arrows or just haven’t been caught?
    Or the prosecutor who withheld exculpatory evidence in my relative’s court martial. It was such a bogus charge that his hometown was raising money for extra help from civilian attorneys. Four guys were convicted and the fifth’s case was thrown out when the exculpatory evidence accidentally surfaced. But first there were four guys convicted in the case. I don’t have any idea what happened to the prosecutor, but my guess is that, if it’s as in the civilian world…nada.

    Richard Aubrey (f6d8de)

  78. “What we know is, especially in cases where DNA is the key, the guy very likely didn’t do it.”

    No. Even if you use the Innocence Project as a baseline, and that is just the cases they selected- hardly representative, less than 43% were “innocent” based on new criteria.

    JD (ebe920)

  79. JD. Taking your stat as real…almost half the guys didn’t do it. That seem like a problem to you?

    Richard Aubrey (f6d8de)

  80. For me, the clear implication of this story is that NY is not putting enough resources into either the DA’s office or the court system.

    Aphrael, it suggests to me that NY (are you referring to the city or the state, by the way?) is a ridiculously corrupt political culture and it’s a wonder that any thinking person would want to live there. It’s the perfect example of a huge city with a huge bureaucracy where the dignity and rights of the individual matter not one damn bit to any of them.

    JVW (8278a3)

  81. Richard – I clearly don’t think it is as significant of a figure as you do. That figure may be wrong, it was quoted upthread.

    JVW – Amen. I suspect the residents of NY, Chicago, LA, Detroit, etc feel similar pain, yet think they just haven’t got enough leftism.

    JD (d7747e)

  82. JD.
    For some reason, even attorneys are fond of quoting the maxim that it is better that (some number, usually ten) guilty go free than that one innocent is punished.
    But there’s a kind of interesting defensiveness in the question of corrupt prosecutions. Either they don’t happen or you’re a loon to think about them or….something.
    And the people who are dead set on telling you they’re against suborning and withholding can’t point to anybody who got sanctioned for it. Not that there is a systemic approach to it but the guy beat the rap. There’s not even an attempt to….anything.

    Richard Aubrey (f6d8de)

  83. There’s so many things wrong with that story. My first instinct is that he got a lawyer who did not want to try the case. For many good reasons, or maybe one very bad one. As for the rebuttable presumption of no cash bail unless there’s dangerousness or flight risk, it exists in Cook County and LA County (I have read) not because of any law but because of limited jail space. I don’t know how many beds Riker’s Island has.

    nk (dbc370)

  84. Richard / there are miles and miles of space between the false choice you posit.

    JD (d7747e)

  85. Gerry Spence said that “Bugliosi knows more about the prosecution of criminals than Saint Peter himself.” Spence also said after the television trial of Oswald that “no other lawyer in America could have done what Vince did in this case.”

    Mike Stewart (ce52a6)

  86. JD. To push your space metaphor, yeah. On one end is Choice A and on the other end is Choice Z and the interveneing 24 choices are unavailable.
    As a juror you vote one of two ways. Guilty, or not.
    What is a citizen’s duty when sitting on a case in Angela Corey’s jurisdiction?
    Okay, I ‘fess up and am excused and everybody’s pissed at me because I answered in front of the entire pool and they have to get a new pool. (If you don’t like the answer, maybe you shouldn’t have asked.)
    That doesn’t change the question. What is the duty of a juror sitting on a case tried by Angela Corey’s office?
    Back in the day, Janet Reno’s office?
    The Orange County debacle?

    Richard Aubrey (f6d8de)

  87. Angela Corey is the exception. Not the rule.

    JD (3b5483)

  88. the Coreys, the Nifongs, the posse who pursued Sen, Stevens, are the exception,

    narciso (ee1f88)

  89. JVW, NY politics does seem remarkably corrupt.

    I moved here for my husband to go to grad school, and it’s not clear what the future will hold after he graduates. And yet I have to say, the political culture (which mostly doesn’t impact my day to day life at all) aside, I *love* it here; the urban density is so much fun to experience on a day to day basis.

    aphrael (69b4f7)

  90. narciso.
    The Coreys, the Nifongs, and the Stevens posse, plus the Jewell frame job, are the ones who get sufficient ink that we all recognize them and can even use their names as a generic.
    But there are other cases, some that don’t get the ink, some locally notorious but which don’t go national.
    So there are two questions: What do do when sitting on a case tried by somebody who’s been busted–actually only found out but not sanctioned–and whether to presume a prosecutor about whom you have heard nothing is honest or simply clever.
    Suppose you are getting some FBI crime lab data in the trial and you recall the last–not so long ago–mass retraction of one or another slam dunk forensic conclusions.

    Richard Aubrey (f6d8de)

    From the article; according to the National Registry of Exonerations, 43% of wrongful convictions are the result of official misconduct.

    Richard Aubrey (f6d8de)

  92. Three out of four people make up 75% of the world’s population. What is the percentage of wrongful convictions due to official misconduct versus rightful convictions?

    nk (dbc370)

  93. The Warren Commission Report ranks with the most glaring examples of official misconduct in the history of the republic. And, Vincent Bugliosi’s repackaging of the Commission’s fabrications only served to conceal the facts and further protect the actual conspirators from the consequences of their spectacular crimes.

    Bugliosi was a talented and accomplished attorney, his prosecution of Charles Manson et al was masterful, yet as he aged he became increasingly narrow-minded and ever more insistent on the supremacy of his own increasingly intolerant views.

    May he rest in peace.

    ropelight (8a3c14)

  94. nk. The point is…official misconduct. As to the ratio, unless some additional investigation is done, every conviction is considered rightful. You don’t need evidence for that; it’s presumed. Finding a wrongful conviction is an anomaly. So there’s no way of telling. The existence of known official misconduct,leads to the rational conclusion that there must be unknown official misconduct.
    A further point is that, when it’s uncovered, little or nothing happens to the person who did it. This leads to the further conclusion that the system doesn’t see it as a problem. I expect somebody would say that it happens so rarely that it can’t, as a practical matter, be seen as a problem. Even if that’s true, it doesn’t preclude severe sanctions when it happens. Instead, whatever your view of the incidence, the sanctions are so minimal as to be invisible and, more to the point, increase rather than decrease public distrust.
    Nifong was disbarred and spent a day in jail. Had he succeeded, three innocent young men would have been imprisoned for as long as thirty years. Inside the system, this may seem like a just and equitable sanction. But jurors come from outside the system. Are you not getting this?

    Richard Aubrey (f6d8de)

  95. The problem with setting up some kind of system to better oversee prosecutors is it would be comprised of more flawed people like prosecutors.

    AFAIK, our system of government was set up with checks and balances in the knowledge that power centralized in fallible humans would be a problem.
    But the assumption was that there would be enough people of enough virtue to keep one another in check and help at least the majority appeal to their better natures.

    For quite a while now there has been a general lack of virtue.
    Human beings can either admit how their hearts are flawed and are in need of God’s mercy,
    we can claim to have the power to accomplish great things by ourselves, like at the tower of Babel.

    For the most part the “establishment” Repubs have bought into the same delusion as the libs, but just thing they are the ones who will really do government better, not the libs.

    New laws to address the deficiencies in not obeying the old laws is no good, first enforce the old laws (unless they were bad and need to be changed).
    The problem with that is that it takes considerable more courage to act justly in everyday life than we imagine.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  96. Are you not getting this?

    I’ve been involved with the criminal justice system since 1977, Richard. (Technically 1971, but that’s been expunged. 😉 ) You’ve never been to jury duty, have you?

    nk (dbc370)

  97. nk.
    My wife sat on a murder. I was in the pool when a doctor was going to be prosecuted for allegedly coerced sex–condition of employment type, drugs and various other sweaty things. The defense attorney’s questions started in the direction of reminding the prospective jurors that the guy came from another culture and people think differently…. At this point, the judge shut him down.
    My guess was that the defense would be that he did it but, by being from shitholeistan he didn’t know any better so take it easy on him.
    I was not questioned or called.
    Anyway, nk, I’m outside the system and my views are not informed by forty years inside the system. I’m one of the Great Jury Pool who will be showing up with their various views conditioned by watching you guys doing your thing, or not doing it, as the case may be.
    So what’s the inside scoop on Nifong’s sanction? Too severe? Not tough enough? Just right? Who?

    Richard Aubrey (f6d8de)

  98. Thank you for the book recommendation. 🙂

    aphrael (69b4f7)

  99. nk. I suspect you’ve read my response to your query about jury duty, which has since disappeared.

    Richard Aubrey (f6d8de)

    This would be the equivalent of letting Bernie Madoff retire with his money but taking his securities license.

    Richard Aubrey (f6d8de)

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