"Asking a district attorney to declare a person innocent is like asking a Rottweiler to purr." -- Rick Casey
Mr. Casey needs to take a glimpse at reality. Prosecutors are advocates performing in an adversarial arena. One designed by the people, for the people. The public does not want or need meek or tepid prosecutors.
On re-reading what he wrote, I find myself almost pleased with his description of prosecutors.
[This message was edited by John Stride on 08-30-06 at .]
One of the reasons I am glad I left Houston was because of Casey, formerly from San Antone before he graced Houston's newspaper.
He also loves defense attorneys, no matter what they do.
Oh, I suppose the solution would be a little 'gene therapy' whereby our bodies would be injected with the 'innocent gene' (maybe Rick could lend us one or two of his) to see if we could reconfigure our DNA, thus allowing us to stop prosecuting all those innocent folk ...... you know the ones:
"I never seen that before in my life"
"I didn't throw that down"
"That officer is lying"
"You planted that on me"
"I only had two beers"
"I was home, alone, when that happened"
Goodness knows that it must be true if it comes out of an (innocent) defendant's mouth!
Add to the list:
"I never consented to the search."
(Despite being on video consenting, of course, defense counsel believes client.)
I have also liked:
"But you can't use that. It happened in Arkansas. I left that behind."
"I have never been in trouble like this before," followed with "That's true, this pen pack is for a completely different charge."
"She attacked me, I was only defending myself"
"She said she was 17"
"She looked 17"
These last few threads reminded me of a stunt I once pulled in misdemeanor court.
After stumbling upon a "Defense Attorney Check-list" (I think I stole it from a prosecutor magazine in Alabama; see here for a copy: the list), I blew it up to poster size and taped it up on the wall of the room off the courtroom that we used to negotiate with defense lawyers. Then, when the really annoying, whiny defense lawyers came in and started into their routine, I'd continue doing whatever I was doing and, without looking up, point to the poster and say "just tell me what number!"
The more sanctimonious lawyers would get offended and walk out, but the good ones would laugh or have fun with it -- "Gimme a #18 ("this is really a civil case") with cheese and Coke ...."
Ah, good times ...
No. 5. It was a favorite when I practiced in the beautiful Hub City.
Odd article...criticizing the DA for a decision not to re-try a case after the DA reaches a conclusion he apparently agrees with. Kinda betrays his bias a bit, doesn't he?
See, Scott, you just needed Shannon's list to know that was a #5. I recall another Family Violence Unit prosecutor getting me started on a similar list just for those cases.
He started it with the Happy Meal - minor assault, no history, couple holding hands in the courtroom post affidavit of non-prosecution (and no obvious healing bruises on her). We had through combo #4 (or maybe five), but I do remember all the variations anymore. Anyone in Cowtown seen one of those lying around?
...and come to think of it, being compared to a rottweiler isn't so bad. Me, I like to think of my prosecutor persona as "El Diablo" -- a mexican fighting chicken, ya'know, claws and a beak and all.
Cajun dachsund (An alligator in a fur coat with the tail cut off. Losing the tail makes 'em even meaner.)
At the risk of returning this thread to a serious note, I think Mr. Casey misunderstands the role of a prosecutor.
He seems to be criticizing the most honorable elected Harris County DA for not making some sort of official finding that Ms. Briggs is innocent. But that is not the job of a DA, any more than it is the DA's job to pronounce a defendant guilty.
Prosecutors evaluate evidence, present it to grand juries, petit juries and judges, and make recommendations on what the evidence means. Defense attorneys, likewise, make their evaluations and recommendations.
But, in our system of justice (insert Law and Order theme at this point), the jury or the judge is the only body or individual that can make an official statement that a person is guilty or not guilty. There is no finding of "innocent" anywhere in the Penal Code or Code of Criminal Procedure.
The advent of DNA testing has led people to use loose language suggesting that there are occasions when someone is found "innocent", but even that finding is more properly phrased as being "reasonably probable that the person would not have been convicted." CCP, art. 64.04.
For a postconviction "innocence" writ, the finding would be: "no rational juror could have found the applicant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." CCP, art. 11.07, sec. 4(a)(2).
We use such phrasing because there is no real determination that a person is truly innocent. At best, we come to the conclusion, as Mr. Rosenthal so accurately put it, that we do not have sufficient evidence to establish guilt. We leave proclamations of innocence to the media, who obviously have better glasses than we do.
Rick Casey has already pronounced Chuck Rosenthal, and ergo us, guilty. But I feel he did that before this subject ever came up. Casey obviously sees the citizen accused as the underdog.
I often disagree with this assessment. We tell the truth as prosecutors. Although I believe it is genetically ingrained in those attracted to career prosecution to be honorable, by law, we must tell and seek the truth and justice. Some defense attorneys, no matter how much personal character they may possess, try to mislead and hide the truth about heinous individuals. And others, well, I won't say what I think about them.
Many of us could defend a "truly" innocent citizen accused, however, I couldn't look myself in the mirror every day if I was walking guilty child molesters or murderers.
And rottweiler ain't so bad. I was once called a "rat terrier" early on in my career by a juror who didn't like the case I brought them.
Rick Casey's comments reflect his ignorance and/or his bias against law enforcement. He's obviously never sat down and talked with Chuck Rosenthal. Had he done so, he'd know that Chick is an honorable man, and his prosecutors try their best to do the right thing on every case. We shouldn't worry about the Rick Caseys of the world. They're beyond rehabilitation. We need to get out and keep reminding the public that we seek justice, not convictions.
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