Yesterday, local court blogger John Chiv got on his soapbox and ranted about the unfairness of convicted criminals appealing decisions which may have been unfair. In his post, Chiv wrote, “Don’t like your sentence, use every loophole provided in the criminal justice system to delay taking responsibility”.
Chiv used, as an example, the case of “Sleazebag” Timothy Littlefield. Chiv has gone on and on about what he had “heard” about the reasons for the jury verdict in the Littlefield case being dismissed. Here’s what Thaddeus Greenson from the North Coast Journal wrote about the subject:
“One of those jurors, Clanton said, told his investigator that he simply felt the defense didn’t prove Littlefield was not guilty during the trial. “I almost fell out of my chair,” Clanton said. Knowing the criminal justice system places the burden of proof on the prosecution in all cases, and that he, Feeney and the prosecutor, District Attorney Paul Gallegos, had all gone to lengths to explain that to the jurors, Clanton said he then had the juror sign a sworn declaration saying he felt the defense didn’t prove its case.“
Turns out that the juror signed not just one, but two affidavits on separate occasions. In those declarations he stated that he believed the defense didn’t prove their case. That is a clear violation of the constitution. The integrity of the jury process depends on all members of the jury knowing that the burden of proof rests with the prosecution. In this case, there was doubt as that integral part of the trial, so the judge had to set aside the verdict.
Now, the Examiner Staff feel that the “lowlife” Mr. Littlefield may indeed be completely guilty and that his punishment, if convicted, should be severe. However, is it really a loophole to ensure that a defendants constitutionally protected rights are protected? If we don’t protect both the rights of the guilty and the innocent, then this system would be even more unjust than it already is.
Many rights we take for granted have been cemented in case law because the rights of guilty persons were violated. Almost everyone in the US knows their Miranda Rights, including; “having the right to remain silent”.
What many people don’t realize is that Ernesto Arturo Miranda was convicted of kidnapping, rape, and armed robbery. That conviction was set aside because Mr. Miranda’s constitutional protections were violated. At the second trial, he was convicted.
Although it may have been time consuming, costly, and a hardship on the victim, we all benefit from the courts decisions regarding upholding the constitution.
Chiv wrote, “Instead both are using the criminal justice system and legitimate processes to ensure rights to see if they can get a get out of free jail card.“
Wrong John. Both cases seem to be using the “tactic” that everyone of us should be guaranteed if were are ever arrested or charged with a crime. That “tactic” is ensuring that the constitutional rights of the defendant are protected at all times, even if the defendant is guilty.
Welcome to the US criminal justice system, John. It may not be pretty, or always fair, but its the best we have.