Doing Your Job vs. Doing What’s Right

Some unwanted qualities can come with the job of being a defense attorney– especially if the attorney believes his/her client is in fact guilty of the crime they are charged with. However, like we have seen so far in Pointing From The Grave, the difference between what the defendant did, and what the prosecutor can prove is the ultimate decider in criminal cases. Throughout the history of our justice system many high profile cases that have made their way to national television have solidified the notion that sometimes guilty people can get away with murder if their attorney proves beyond a reasonable doubt that his/her client didn’t do as they are charged. For example, in the O.J. Simpson case, his “dream team” of Lawyers at some point in the case probably realized that they were representing a man who probably committed the double murder he was being charged with. However, even though their defense wasn’t that strong, they found ways to make the prosecution’s attack on Simpson seem less credible than it was. How hard do you think it is for a lawyer to successfully draft up a defense for a client that for the most part actually committed the crime? Do you think there are an ethical boundaries that he/she must face if they chose to accept an example of such a case? At the end of the day, being a lawyer is still a job. People earn a living representing people and I think that if defense attorneys keep this “ethical dilemma” in their minds then they will not be able to do their job correctly.

Doing Your Job vs. Doing What’s Right

Planted or Not?

In Chapter 17 of Pointing From The Grave  by Samantha Weinberg, David Bartick, the defense lawyer hired by the Frediani’s considers using the defense of planted evidence to get Paul acquitted of his charges. In tv shows on a regular basis cops plant evidence on criminals to get convictions. But how often does this happen in real life? how many times do the police get caught doing it? This article sheds some light on cops planting evidence. It would have been completely possible for police to plant Frediani’s dna since it had already been collected by law enforcement, so is there a federal agency watching over this case like in the ones mentioned in the article? Perhaps the lab did in fact plant the dna to get a conviction since Frediani was the only suspect.

Planted or Not?

Death Penalty

In chapter 16 the book discussed people’s differing opinions on the death penalty. It was decided that the death penalty would have been too harsh and that the jury would not have been able to sentence Frediani to death simply based on the evidence presented. Although Heilig did not agree and she thought that yes Frediani deserved to die because of what he did to Helena. I wanted to know more about the death penalty in the United States and if most people agreed with Heilig’s mentality of an eye for an eye.

http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-death-penalty-deserves-the-death-penalty

I found this article that put the death penalty into a different perspective for me. Lincoln Caplan talks about how there have been “more than fourteen hundred executions in the United States”. This really puts into perspective how much the death penalty has been used throughout the years. Is this acceptable? He also goes into talking about the different ways that these people are killed and how many of these drugs have not been approved by the FDA. Also he says that 152 times people have been exonerated. Mistakes have been made and this has cost innocent people their lives.

I know that Frediani is guilty but what if he wasn’t? Is killing him because he killed Helena really a good punishment? Should the punishment always fit the crime? Before I read this article I completely agreed with Heilig, but after reading the article I have begun to rethink my stance on the death penalty.

Death Penalty

A Plea of “No Contest”

“On May 18, 1989, David Paul Frediani changed his plea from “not guilty” to “no contest” to the burglary and sexual assault. It is essentially an admission of guilt, and carries a criminal record, but unlike a straight guilty plea, it cannot be used against the defendant in a subsequent civil action based on the same facts” -Weinberg, p180

I found this information about Frediani changing his plea extremely interesting. Firstly, I did not know that you could change your plea after you have already been found guilty by two separate juries. Secondly, it was very intriguing to learn that if you plead “no contest” you are basically admitting that you are guilty, but it lowers the consequences of that guilt. I wanted to learn more about the basics of a “no contest” plea so I read a question and answer forum on the Ohio State Bar Association website. From this website I learned more about how a “no contest” plea cannot be used against the defendant in future criminal proceedings. This website also stated that when a defendant pleads “no contest,” the judge still must find the defendant guilty or not guilty. This information about a “no contest” plea makes me question Frediani even further. Since be basically admitted to being guilty of a sexual assault, why should he be released from jail early for good behavior and not have this  case held against him if he is in fact guilty of sexually assaulting Helena? Especially since Frediani had a history of domestic violence and public indecency, it seems to me that a “no contest” plea is a way for people like Frediani to find loop holes in the system and escape the punishment that they deserve.

A Plea of “No Contest”

Reasonable Doubt

Reasonable doubt is not a mere possible doubt, because everything relating to human affairs and depending on moral evidence is open to some possible or imaginary doubt. It is that state of the case which after the entire comparison and consideration of all the evidence leaves the mind of the jurors in that condition that they cannot say they feel an abiding condition to a moral certainty of the truth of the charge. (weinberg 107)

In the case of Mr. Frediani, the jury was never presented with precise evidence that he in fact had committed the crime. In fact, the defense proved that 14% of all men have the same characteristics that came from the analysis of his fluids, and the fluids left on the crime scene. In my mind I had assumed he would be found innocent because it would be possible for so many others to have committed the crime, and he had an alibi for the fingerprint on the teapot. But in this case, the jury found him guilty beyond reasonable doubt because the prosecution convinced them that not only was Mr. Frediani on of the men in the 14% but he was also the one who committed the crime. Even without solid proof that he was guilty, the jury can legally rule him guilty of the crime.

Reasonable Doubt

Emotions in Court

Chapter 7 of Pointing from The Grave was very interesting because it addressed the height of the trail and introduced us to the way in which the jury decided Frediani’s verdict. One thing I thought was very interested was the fact that Weinberg stated that Frediani for the first time exhibited emotions in court. He described him as shocked and in disbelief. I thought this was very interesting because after watching live court cases on TV it is also crucial to see the emotions of the defendants as they sometimes change your mind when thinking if they did or did not commit a crime. It is normal to think that if someone shows disbelief or exhibits sadness they did not do it. While Frediani did seem upset, he was still found guilty. Below is a link to a blog of emotions that are shown in court and how they could be interpreted by the judge or jurors that could ultimately make or break a decision. If Frediani seemed more upset would that have changed minds?

http://www.matternmendozalaw.com/5-reasons-you-must-control-your-emotions-in-court/

Emotions in Court