Thursday, June 21, 2012

If the Jury Remains Deadlocked, Should the D.A. Retry the Case?

With the jury off today, it's a good time to speculate about if the jury remains deadlocked, should District Attorney Seth Williams retry the case?

Will Spade, a former Philadelphia assistant district attorney who worked on the 2005 grand jury investigation of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, says it's a no-brainer.

"I really do think they have to because it's such an important case and because they've staked so much on it," said Spade, now a defense lawyer. "To Seth's credit he's the first prosecutor in America to actually hold the Catholic hierarchy responsible for this stuff. I think there's too much riding on it, so they have to do it."

 Spade even volunteered to help the war effort.

"If the jury does hang or there's a less than completely successful verdict, I will volunter to go back to the D.A.'s office and help them out with this retrial," Spade said.

But Fred Tecce, a former federal prosecutor and TV commentator, said in the event of a deadlock, it might be a better to play let's make a deal. Prosecutors and defense lawyers should start talking about negotiating a deal where Msgr. William J. Lynn pleads guilty to a misdemeanor, or a probation offense, Tecce said. He doesn't think it's a smart move to retry the case.

"At that point you look like you're on a vendetta," Tecce said. "Sometimes, discretion is the better part of valor. And the problems that resulted in a hung jury don't go away in the second trial."

Tecce was still in shock over the judge's decision to add a couple of points to a set of instructions known as the Spencer charge, which basically requests that a deadlocked jury go back and take another crack at it.

In addition to the usual charge asking the jurors to reexamine their views, the judge noted Wednesday that if the jurors remained deadlocked, the case might have to be retried at considerable expense and inconvenience.

Tecce thought those remarks by the judge were out of line.

"It's a clear error of law," Tecce said. "There's a standard charge. In essence, the judge is trying to guilt and intimidate the jury into a verdict. That' s not good."

"There's a reason the woman who holds the scales of justices is blindfolded. because she's supposed to be blind to the issues of money and inconvenience," Tecce said. "They are never, ever, ever factors to be considered in a  criminal proceeding where the liberty of the accused is on the line as well as the Commonwealth's ability to represent the people."

The jury is scheduled to reconvene at 9:30 a.m. Friday. The judge gave the jury today off because she said one juror had "an important family event" to attend. It may be a good time for a cooling off period, after 12 days of deliberations.

But since the jury is not sequestered, it also means jurors may not be able to avoid overhearing media reports and water cooler commentary today on the deadlocked deliberations in the priest abuse trial. Despite the judge's daily instructions to tune out such diversions, you have to wonder what effect it may have on jurors when they gather Friday morning to decide whether they remain deadlocked, or whether their opinions can change.

24 comments:

  1. I certainly hope there will be a retrial if the jury stays deadlocked. There was ample evidence for a conviction. Just because someone on this jury is trying to keep Lynn's feet out of the fire, doesn't mean he should get off scott free. Frankly, they need a no-catholic jury to reach an unbiased opinion. I am greatly disappointed that it appears this will end in a mistrial, but something I feared would happen all along. The Catholic church will never take responsibility for all of the harm they have done - not unless they are made to, yet they dare to call themselves christians. Not in my book.

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  2. how much is the defence costing.how can a group of individuals who claim to live a vow of poverty afford millions in defence legal fees.why do the defence continue to place their interests ahead of child victims of horrific rape and systemic molestation which led to a dysfunctional individual sometimes to the brink of suicide.

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  3. they do not have a vow of poverty.. 11 million more defense money might get the pews attention.

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  4. i am a victim of a predator priest. i no longer attend church. my church community was aware of the abuse. i begged two individuals to corroborate my allegations to police and they refused. he runs free.... nevertheless, the loss of my faith community is still difficult. there is certainly a criminal element in the church that is and has been very much in control. many of us wish we could take back our church....but it is not so easy. if the law intervened and made a statement in support of the many victims, then change may come, if even slowly. without the credibility of a verdict in support of victims, there is little hope that we can take back our church. i don't understand why the major media outlets---abc, cbs, nbc, pbs.... why have they so totally failed to report on this important story? if there is a conspiracy, then i must wonder if the press is part of the "quieting" of this very important trial. i have to come to this site because it's the only way i can find out what is really happening. to the jury if you are catholic, please act to save your faith. be willing to reconsider. be willing to see consider the whole truth.

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    1. I am sorry for your pain. I am not a victim but walked away from the church when I found out how morally bankrupt it was. I feel so badly for the victims. I hope someday you will receive justice. Unfortunately, I have my doubts about that. It seems to me the church is rotten from the inside out and can't be fixed.

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    2. Thank you for your kindness...The complicating factor for me is that I have two brothers who went through seminary--one is an ordained priest, the other brother's ordination was interrupted when he upset the "apple cart" by internally confronting and directly challenging the immoral/unethical activity within the seminary. Both brothers suffer. The ordained brother is essentially shunned because he does not collaborate with the power structure--he's a brilliant man/scholar and essentially cast aside. I share this so that readers can see that internally within the catholic church many good people suffer--they do what they can do to bring about change in their own small world. The crime of pedophilia is horrific, AND, the suffering is wider and deeper than this one crime. I do not minimize it at all...the abuse is just disapointingly more expansive. Being abandoned by my faith community was life-altering. I wonder sometimes why three of us in one family have been so affected. My point, I guess, is that there is a struggle between good and evil... some catholics do feel the burden of complicity by continuing to participate in their faith communities. I came to a point where I couldn't handle it anymore...but we need good people in the catholic church--desperately. And good priests suffer too. I never did think the church deserved my brother. I often wish he would leave...but so far, he continues to do what he can, where he can, which is increasingly in isolation. I'm long past being sad or angry--it's just so much a part of life now. I would have never imagined anything in my life that would cause me to flee from the practice of my faith. Whatever the verdict in this case, I've found exceptional reporting and largely intelligent commenters on this blog...and for that, I am thankful.

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  5. Lots of firings of archdiocese personnel today. It was quickly noted that it had nothing to do with money needed for pedophile defense! Right.

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    1. Firings? Where? and in what diocese?

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    2. they were not fired. all organizations, companies, the government-including local must cut spending,. trim jobs in this economy. unfortunately the church has many programs that help people and keep this world afloat with compassion and assistance.

      you really have no clue. you just have an anti-catholic bug and must add a comment.


      you do not know what you are talking about talking about

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    3. Here comes Josie Bailey, our newest visitor from NAMBLA, here to give us a clue about man-boy love in the Catholic Church. Josie apparently missed all the classes on grammar and English usage as he/she was no doubt pulled from the class to service priests in the effort to keep this world afloat. Yeah, Josie can't write a complete sentence, but the memory of that huge pig on top of him/her must make up for this impressive lack of basic education.

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    4. Sarah what in the hell is wrong with you? How dare you speak to or about anyone this way? Who do you think you are?
      What purpose are you serving by being so damned mean? Stop it. You never answered any of my questions by the way. So I can only assume you have no answers; or questions. Do you think by attacking people even if they don't agree with you, is doing good for victims? This is appalling. Again , does anyone else notice that a few people who post here in defense of victims are more than over the top in their vehemence? Provacatuers I salute you with my middle finger.

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  6. Sandusky's adopted son comes forward with abuse charges after jury goes into session. . My hope is this 'coming out' may influence the Lynn jury.[they will hear it you can be assured.

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    1. Unfortunately, he only threatened to testify if his father got on the stand. I think he should have stood up and testified anyway. It would have had tremendous impact on the trial and it was the right thing to do.

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  7. I can only imagine the incredible amount of rage the victims are carrying with them. This non-verdict is not going to help. I'm so sorry that you will not even receive this small amount of justice. I suppose it could turn around, but I think they will stay deadlocked. I hope they know the additional pain they are causing the victims.

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  8. i don't mean to be a pest tonight...but I want to point out the national media attention of the contraceptive health care issue and the "fortnight of prayer" announced today by the catholic church via the press--two weeks of prayer in advance of July 4th. This catholic organization is very politically astute....deflecting attention away from this important trial. It's as if this litigation is not even happening in most of the country. While the Sundusky trial is important, this trail deserves equal coverage. it's as if it doesn't even exist in most media outlets. So disappointing....

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    1. you are not in philadelphia where it is on the news when there is nothing to tell and in the paper EVERY day/ people don't care because they are sick of it. actually, the inquirer has a poor following anyway and people watch cable.where have you been? there is no problem finding info about this trial. you must be trying to make some other point-noone wants more coverage unless they are obsessed...

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    2. read more coverage on --the media report---you might get something out of it and the comments

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    3. Gee, The Media Report, must be really flattered by Josie Bailey's resounding support. Anyone who wants to ill express their dumbest and least profound thoughts should get right over to The Media Report.

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  9. What about Penn State officials who hid sexual abuse?

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    Replies
    1. Good question since abuse is 100X more common in a public school.

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    2. mrits throws in the classical Catholic lie.

      If abuse is more common in a public school, show where public schools admitted 100 times 4,392 pedophiles, sinc e the Catholic church admitted 4,392 pedophile priests in their John Jay report of 2002.

      Or even just show where public schools admitted 4,392 pedophiles, like the Catholic church did.

      You can't. They don't exist. You're lying, but if your leaders are child rapists and pedophile protectors, the least you can do is lie to defend them.

      Delete
  10. FYI, the jury has a verdict, to be announced at 2 p.m.

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  11. Convicted of child endagerment but not conspiracy...damn!

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  12. You've got to start somewhere. Bill Lynn is in jail right now. This qualifies as a sea change. Never happened before.

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