Friday, May 24, 2013

Practicing Good Law or Playing the Devil’s Advocate? You decide!

A miscarriage of justice and humanity seems to have happened once again in the recent trial about Travis Alexander's murder. What has our country come to when defense attorneys are permitted to guilt and blame jury members by suggesting to them that deciding on the death penalty would make them responsible for a convicted murders' demise? Isn't Jodi responsible for the heinous slaughter of Travis Alexander? Isn't Jodi responsible for being convicted of first degree murder? Wouldn't Jodi be responsible if the jury decided on a death penalty verdict? Unfortunately, the American legal system has created loopholes and “protections” of rights that provide the opportunity for such a twisted placing of blame on the jury. If this were the exception and not the rule I would just say this case has bad form. But unfortunately, there is a pattern of behavior that shows numerous other instances where cold-blooded murderers are forgiven and – sometimes even set free – because their defense attorneys twisted the law, skewed the truth and used emotional extortion to win their cases. Our justice system appears to no longer be about fair trials, but rather who can use the law and bend the evidence to keep clients out of prison and, in the end, keep abusers on the street. Is it any wonder why men, women and children of family violence are killed, maimed, scarred and psychologically tortured in droves? Don't we blame victims by judging them and asking why they stay in these abusive relationships? One thing is clear: we collectively tolerate family violence and abuse. We don't have tough laws against abusers and we don't enforce those we already have on the books. When we finally decide we want to put an end to this barbaric practice, things will change. Not before.

Laws that were intended to ensure defendants were not unjustly accused show that loopholes now help set murderers free. Judicial dog and pony shows minimize domestic murder and crime making such rulings a joke. What is more disturbing is the aftermath and the decisions made now ensure that it will be even more difficult for victims to flee safely because no one believes them or even cares about them. The resounding message sent to terror victims is that even with a preponderance of evidence that proves premeditated murder, you cannot win against your abusers—even in death. You cannot fight back. You can only die or stay in the abusive relationship and silently suffer for the rest of your life.

Every behavior has a consequence. Do the defense attorneys' efforts to save their clients sacrifice and jeopardize others? What happens when clients are set free as a result of these types of legitimized and tolerated maneuvers? Have we gone too far to protect the rights of the accused? Or do we need these types of safety nets? Will murderers kill again if they are set free? Who do we hold accountable if they do kill again? If blaming the jury is invoked to save a convict's life, who is to blame when the same convict is eventually released and kills again? What do defendants learn when they are allowed to blame others for their actions? Is it right for jurys to be manipulated by defendants and attorneys dressing alike – diffusing guilt of the client through paired association? Should victims be the brunt of character assassination and false accusations when they cannot be proven and the victim can't defend their reputation? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I question whether the tactics used reflect a good legal defense or being an advocate for The Devil. In any case, I am sick—sick for all the victims in the future that will be impacted by what took place on May 23, 2013 and the preceding 141 days. May peace come to all victims and their families who have lost love ones to violence; I’m truly sorry for their losses.

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