Monday, June 18, 2007

Bannon on Absolute Innocence

I recently received an outraged e-mail asking why anyone who really was innocent would even hire lawyers; such a person, this correspondent suggested, should simply wait for a trial to prove his innocence. Brad Bannon responds to this critique, and gets in a great zinger at Durham justice.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

MrRabbit: The story of Ray Krone comes to mind. He knew he was innocent and he was too proud to borrow money from anyone, so he got a public defender. He was the 100th person to be released from prison, as a result of DNA evidence. The innocent do indeed need lawyers, because of our crazy system that enables people like Nifong and allows anyone with a pulse to sit on a jury and make life and death decisions.

Anonymous said...

KC: Just what kind of idiot (such as the person who sent you the e-mail) would think for even a moment that an absolutely innocent person (or any person--guilty or otherwise) has the legal burden to *prove their innocence*?! Not in this country.

Also, after this Fiasco can anyone even fathom the degree of risk that even actually innocent defendants submit to in any jury trial in Durham County? To many G88-type wackos down there for my taste.

Anonymous said...

Brad - You are a star and brillant. Clarance Darrow would be very proud of you.

Anonymous said...

Contrast Brad's intellect and his performance with DimWitt's "It's just the way his mind works.....it just didn't click." That utterance ought to be immortalized on SNL or something. CLICK CLICK

Anonymous said...

What a remarkable young attorney. We will be hearing more and more from this man in the years to come. And, yes, I believe Darrow would be proud to a fellow attorney of Brad Bannon. When the movie is made, I want a key scene to be the one during the December 15 hearing when Joe Cheshire told Brad to cross Meehan. Brad said "But, I'm not ready," to which Joe said "you're ready. Go get him." What a story. And the "sometning happened" crowd will have to suck it up when the movie is played to huge appreciative audiences.

Anonymous said...

For the hearing impaired, kindly post the "zinger."

miramar said...

More outstanding comments from Brad Bannon.

It seems that the person who made the complaint doesn't watch many police shows on TV, otherwise he or she would have heard of this little thing called Miranda rights:

"You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you at interrogation time and at court."

Anonymous said...

And not just for proving your innocence, but to navigate the legal pasture riddled with obstacles and beasts. How would I know how to subpoena a witness or select a jury or negotiate terms on legal grounds before the trial begins?

What country are these people from?

Anonymous said...

5.04 notes: "I want a key scene to be the one during the December 15 hearing when Joe Cheshire told Brad to cross Meehan. Brad said "But, I'm not ready," to which Joe said "you're ready. Go get him.""

Dead on. That was a *huge* moment--and, at the time--a huge roll of the dice for Joe (and Brad). Doesn't matter how great of an attorney one is (and I'll just stipulate to the proposition that these Lax 3 lawyers are among the best), what Joe did was unbelievably risky.

Risk aside, thankfully Bannon was more than up to it. Had Joe not "imposed" the risk (recall Bannon noting that Cheshire "over-ruled" the collective wisdom of the other lawyers), that would have enabled the lying scum Nifong and Meehan to better organize their lies.

Bannon's "off-the-cuff" cross of Meehan was the stuff of legend among trial attorneys. Trust me. Just incredible. In the end, of course, Joe was right again--Bannon *was* both ready and up to this pivotal moment.

Anonymous said...

KC, I suggest that you post the "outraged e-mail."

Anonymous said...

Unreal e-mail. So are we to conclude that if this person's son had been falsely charged with a serious crime and his life was hanging in the balance he or she would say him - Sorry sonny boy. No lawyer for you. You'll just have to sweat it out and wait to prove your innocence at trial.

Bella said...

I agree with 5:19.

Anonymous said...

The Zinger was in response to a question from the panel. The Panelist asked a question designed to focus her attention on the criminal procedure, and she began by admitting her ignorance when she said something like "Now I haven't tried [or filed-I couldn't hear either] a criminal case in a while, certainly not in Durham County..."

-Witness interrupts with the phrase "Good for you."

I like this kid as much as the next blogger, but he is running the risk of coming off a little smug. He appears to have worked his ass off on this one and he deserves every penny he gets, but he needn't take cheap shots at Nancy Grace (it is beneath him), nor snide comments like that one (also beneath him). Just MHO.

HumboldtBlue said...

As for Miranda rights, the anniversary of that decision happened just last week.

Barry Scheck's innocence project just the 200 mark in freeing the wrongly accused and convicted.

Now why would anyone want a lawyer? Maybe to protect themselves from the likes of Nifong and Alberto Gonzalez.

Anonymous said...

Uhhhhh if this case doesn't show a person why you'd need a lawyer early on, well, you're not very bright

Anonymous said...

KC et al,

Anyone care to wager how fast this idiot email would take to get a lawyer of his own if his email address got out, and his email boxes as literally CRUSH by the weight of emial he or she recieved, meticulously detailing the utter STUPIDITY of going to trial with a defending attorney?

What a complete, stupid, F***ing, S$%t for brains idiot that email was.

Sorry, gotta vent... ;-)

Michael said...

Mike Nifong had TWO lawyers working
for him for many months now in advance
of the proceedings last week. And, for
all I know, they may have been at tax-
payers'expense.

Does the idiot who sent this e-mail
fault Nifong as well?

Anonymous said...

Wow !!!
That is an incredible e-mail. Amazingly, many of the race baiting people of Durham (the NC NAACP comes to mind first) wanted the same thing. Perhaps this email was from one of the morons in the potbanging rallies outside the now famous house.
People like that are hopeless, they really need to go back to 4th grade and start from there.

Anonymous said...

I think that a frightening number of people believe a truly innocent person has no need for an attorney, and furthermore, police and prosecutors often manipulate this misunderstanding to their own advantage.

That is why Nifong felt so comfortable making that claim...the manipulation and abuse of the public's ignorance on this matter was not new to him (nor the DPD.)

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

Some folks urge that a trial must take place for closure, and that the 'truly innocent' don't need lawyers. These folks absolutely must be the descendents of the Romans who had front-row seats in the Coliseum to watch the Christians go up against lions to 'prove their faith'. They wish to see the defendants disembowelled, and disguise this disgusting yearning under a fictional pose of their own that a trial is a saintly and perfect process of justice - with a hanging scheduled directly following the verdict.

Michael said...

Yes, I have gained a huge amount of respect
for lawyers as a result of this case. If there
is one thing that should be learned from this
case is that you need lawyers to protect yourself
from self-serving, over-zealous prosecutors.

My God, just think how Mike Nifong trampled
the rights of these boys. The Miranda rights:
you have the right to be silent; anything that
you say may be used against you in a court of law;
you have the right to consult with an attorney and
to have that attorney present during questioning.

On local and national TV, Nifong berated the
boys for a "wall of silence" (which wasn't true
anyhow) AND he said "one would wonder why
they need a lawyer if they didn't do anything
wrong."

The answer is clear: an innocent person needs
a lawyer to protect against self-serving,
over-zealous prosecutors who have HUGE amount
of taxpayer based resources at their disposal
AND who possess a huge amount of power in
sawying and influencing public opinion (which
is the reason that they are required NOT to make
public statements that heighten public
condemnation of the accused.)

AND also you need lawyers to protect yourself
against corrupt prosecutors who intimidate and
threaten witnesses to change their stories --
to lie -- in an attempt to win a wrongful conviction.

Dave said...

When I teach the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties to my college classes, I make it a point to repeatedly tell them to "get a lawyer" the moment you suspect you're suspected of *anything* that might get you jail time.

I point out that they can *ask* if they're a suspect (at the very least they should be Mirandized at that time) but that they can be lied to. Tell the cops you want a lawyer, then STFU, no matter *what* the cops say. I tell them it will be hard, but I believe it to be necessary. Ask them if you're 'free to leave'. If you're not, STFU and wait for even a crappy Public Attorney.

This usually sets off a huge debate about why someone who is innocent shouldn't just explain things to the police. I have a fairly lengthy list of people who have had all sorts of problems, up to receiving a death sentence, even though they were innocent.

I also point out, from experience, that spending a night in custody while waiting for a lawyer isn't all that bad. ;->=

scott said...

Forget for a moment the issue of dealing with a corrupt prosecutor. Let's assume you're dealing with the most ethical prosecutor that ever walked the face of the earth. And in your case, while you know you're innocent, there is some circumstantial evidence that creates some doubt and confirms you could be found guilty at trial.

In an ideal world, a citizen of equal general intelligence to that of the prosecutor and judge should be able to handle himself in a court of law, without an attorney if he so chooses, especially if he is as categorically innocent of the charges as, say, the 3 lax players were.

We don't live in an ideal world. The legal world that this hypothetical citizen would find himself in has a language and a process that has nothing to do with common sense. It has been formulated specifically by and for the legal community and those of us that do not have formal legal training no matter how intelligent we may be otherwise are ignorant of it and would make mistake after mistake in trying to navigate the process.

Not hiring a lawyer at the first moment Citizen X finds himself in a legal bind sets him up for failure. That's why if Dean Sue was counseling the Duke laxers not to tell their parents and not to retain counsel, she should be held accountable for such poor advice.

Anonymous said...

It's all been said already, but I'll say it again anyway - you have a right to counsel, and you should use it. Look at the lax players. The captains gave their DNA and statements willingly, without representation, because they knew they were innocent. It didn't help them at all. One of them ended up indicted, they all ended up being branded as uncooperative and presumed guilty.

Not hiring a lawyer didn't help in the legal courts or the courts of public opinion. That is a fact of THIS VERY CASE. Yet another fool who listens to the biases they bring with them more than the evidence that stares them in the face.

Anonymous said...

JLS says....,

re: Dave

Don't you only have to be Mirandized when you are arrested. Thus when you are not in custody, they need not tell you you are a suspect. And face it almost everyone the police talk to is a suspect until cleared.

If the police want to talk to you, you should consider yourself a suspect.

Anonymous said...

Folks, let's remember Miranda only applies to custodial interrogations. So if you are not in custody, the federal Miranda protections are inapplicable. Second, Miranda only protects your statements if you are in custody and under interrogation. It is not a be all and end all protection.

Walt in Durham

Anonymous said...

Reade Seligmann was not the only innocent person who needed Kirk Osborne. I think everyone reading this blog might be interested in what happened to the late Kirk Osborne's previous client, Katherine Dawn Wilson. This was a young mother who worked as a cook in a day care center. In a modern day witch hunt, the entire staff of the day care center was charged with ritual sexual abuse. In this case, there was never any physical evidence of abuse but only the "testimony" of very small children who were 3 and 4 at the time of the alleged abuse and six and seven at the time of testimony. Based on a myth that children never "lie" (and not acknowledging small children have trouble distinguishing fact from fantasy and true memory from stories told/coached to them) about sexual abuse, people were convicted. Dawn was sentenced to life in prison based on testimony from one child who claimed "Miss Dawn" was one of the people who put a "penis" in her mouth and "both private parts." Another child testified babies were taken up in a spaceship and killed. Mr. Osborne successfully appealed Dawn's case and eventually got the charges dismissed so she was able to raise her own small children.

www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontmine/shows/innocence/

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that URL for the transcript on the Frontline story of Little Rascals Daycare case should be:

www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/innocence/

It's a truly fascinating but very scary case of injustice.

Anonymous said...

None of you are getting the fact that Police Investigators all truly believe- and are taught in "Criminal Interrogation and COnfessions" - a classic Law enforcement manual quoted by Sebastion Junger - that an innocent person would not get a lawyer before being interrogated. "First and foremost the innocent tend to answer questions without a lawyer by their side".
What the police 'trick' is - and I have personal experience very sadly from a similar situation that ruined my career and sent an innocent person to jail - is to read you your Miranda only after you are in the interrogation. Then you AUTOMATICALLY act guilty if you stop and demand a lawyer.

I, sadly, was so scared, angry, humiliated, shocked, to find out about the 'sting' operation that a neighbor woman had conducted.....I immediately got a lawyer. Guess how this innocent person ended up???