Paging Janet Reno

The Tonya Craft trial seems to be a throwback to the bad old days of sexual molestation panic.  All the old Janet Reno "Miami method" techniques have been revived, including weeks of intensive interviews of small children where prosecutors would not relent until children started giving them the stories they wanted.  This case gets bonus points because it was brought originally by someone with an ax to grind

according to testimony on Monday from Craft's ex-husband, the allegation that Craft abused her own daughter first came from his new wife, who herself had been reported to child services by Craft for regularly showering with the girl (which she admitted doing). During a videotaped interview, the girl said, "My mom [the stepmother, apparently] told me which is which and where they touched me."

I sat on a jury of a similar trial in the early 90's.  It became clear that the little girl who was supposedly the victim was hounded for months into finally accusing daddy of something, only to recant by the time it got to trial.  The whole case was started by a baby-sitter who had just watched Oprah and saw another baby-sitter lauded as a national hero for supposedly sniffing out a molestation and this baby-sitter very clearly had aspirations of riding the case to an Oprah invitation as well.  We acquitted the poor guy in about 35 minutes, which is how long it took us to convince to idiots who kept saying "it might have happened" exactly what "reasonable doubt" means.

  • me

    Ah, yes, another of my favorite topics. The original "in dubio pro reo" is pretty specific. There are way too many assumptions going around that we should mess with other peoples lives built into contemporary television drama (which, sadly, here and now includes the so-called "news").

    If there is doubt that a crime might really have taken place, don't convict, and, yes, that means a conscious choice to let a few actual criminals go free rather than convict innocents.

  • Bob Smith

    My mom [the stepmother, apparently] told me which is which and where they touched me

    So the child is testifying she was molested because her mother told her she was. That's pure hearsay. Why was her testimony admitted? Hearsay is usually rejected in criminal trials.

  • me

    "But think of the children"?

  • mesaeconoguy

    Paging Janet Napolitano:

    Hi, we’re AZ state taxpayers, and you fucked it up big time.

    So now the big oil spill is a national crisis, while federal government (your employer) failure to enforce current law, yada yada yada.

    Signed,

    I would find a much better lawyer than you in multiple pending suits naming you, very shortly.

  • Roy

    What I want to know, Coyote, is how you made it past the voir dire? Did they ask no questions which aimed at finding out whether you could think? whether you could make judgements independent of the judge? without directly asking, whether you entertained the idea of jury nullification?

  • IgotBupkis

    > “it might have happened” exactly what “reasonable doubt” means.

    The two words "might have"? One for each idiot.

  • jimbeaux

    What I don't understand is why you rarely hear of anyone being prosecuted for making false allegations of sexual abuse. I personally know men who were falsely accused who lost their job, spent all their savings on attorney fees, and who were eventually exonerated. But where is the justice in that? Shouldn't the person who knowingly and willfully accuses another of a crime they did not commit suffer serious consequences from having deliberately attempted to ruin another's life? Shouldn't they at least be made to pay all the legal fees incurred by the innocent party? Being found innocent is NOT justice - in the court of public opinion, those accused will forever have a shadow of suspicion cast upon them.

  • Cloudesley Shovell

    The scariest part of that whole post is the last sentence. Imagine being tried by a jury full of such idiots who cannot understand the burden of proof.

  • zero wolf

    best way in the world to get out of jury duty. just say the words, "they wouldn't have arrested him if'n he wasn't guilty!!" in a loud, firm voice *in earshot of the defense lawyer*. 'cause if the only ones who hear you are the judge and the prosecutor, you're going to be a juror, bubba.

    i wonder what the % of innocent folks sitting in prison now are there because of dumbshit jurors ("cops wouldn't lie under oath! that'd be **wrong**!") and scumbucket jurors who just went ahead and voted 'guilty' because they wanted to get home in time to see american idol. 30%? 40%?

  • ADiff

    Naw, the best way to get out of jury duty is to gratuitously pontificate on one's affection for the idea of 'Jury Nullification', that it's a community's ultimate 'Ace in the Hole' and should be practiced in almost promiscuous frequency in reaction to the intrusion of any government into what should be private personal or community matters. Combined with expressing the opinion that evidence and proof are just aides to decision making, and what really matters ultimately is the bald opinion of the community (be sure to reference 'the police power of the community' with the term 'posse comitatus' making clear it means the power of the community, not some damned Federal Law), one can make it about as likely as snow in July in Yuma that one will be selected. None of them, Judge, Defense, Prosecution or even bailiffs, will want you anywhere near their courtroom!

  • Not Sure

    Sorry about the length, but it just goes to show that nothing is new under the sun...

    From "Roughing It," by Mark Twain

    I remember one of those sorrowful farces, in Virginia which we call a jury trial. A noted desperado killed Mr. B., a good citizen, in the most wanton and cold-blooded way. Of course the papers were full of it, and all men capable of reading read about it. And of course all men not deaf and dumb and idiotic talked about it. A jury list was made out, and Mr. B.L., a prominent banker and a valued citizen, was questioned precisely as he would have been questioned in any court in America:
    "Have you heard of this homicide?"
    "Yes."
    "Have you held conversations upon the subject?'
    "Yes."
    "Have you formed or expressed opinions about it?"
    "Yes."
    "Have you read the newspaper accounts of it?"
    "Yes."
    "We do not want you."
    A minister, intelligent, esteemed, and greatly respected; a merchant of high character and known probity; a mining superintendent of intelligence and unblemished reputation; a quartz-mill owner of excellent standing, were all questioned in the same way, and all set aside. Each said the public talk and the newspaper reports had not so biased his mind but that sworn testimony would overthrow his previously formed opinion and enable him to render a verdict without prejudice and in accordance with the facts. But of course, such men could not be trusted with the case. Ignoramuses alone could mete out unsullied justice.
    When the peremptory challenges were all exhausted, a jury of twelve men was empaneled -- a jury who swore they had neither heard, read, talked about, nor expressed an opinion concerning a murder which the very cattle in the corrals, the Indians in the sagebrush, and the stones in the streets were cognizant of! It was a jury composed of two desperadoes, two low beerhouse politicians, three barkeepers, two ranchmen who could not read, and three dull, stupid, human donkeys! It actually came out afterward that one of these latter thought that incest and arson were the same thing.

    The verdict rendered by this jury was, Not Guilty. What else could one expect?
    The jury system puts a ban upon intelligence and honesty, and a premium upon ignorance, stupidity, and perjury. It is a shame that we must continue to use a worthless system because it was good a thousand years ago. In this age, when a gentleman of high social standing, intelligence, and probity swears that testimony given under solemn oath will outweigh, with him, street talk and newspaper reports based upon mere hearsay, he is worth a hundred jurymen who will swear to their own ignorance and stupidity, and justice would be far safer in his hands than in theirs. Why could not the jury law be so altered as to give men of brains and honesty an equal chance with fools and miscreants? Is it right to show the present favoritism to one class of men and inflict a disability on another, in a land whose boast is that all its citizens are free and equal? I am a candidate for the legislature, I desire to tamper with the jury law. I wish to so alter it as to put a premium on intelligence and character, and close the jury box against idiots, backlogs, and people who do not read newspapers. But no doubt I shall be defeated -- every effort I make to save the country "misses fire."