Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sheley Decides To Keep His Lawyers After All

The title of this entry accurately sums up the outcome of the case management hearing that I attended today at the Knox County Courthouse in Galesburg, IL. for the murder case of accused spree killer Nicholas Sheley. However, it only describes the final 10-15 minutes of the approximately 90 minute hearing. Never the less, for the sake of being thorough I will present an “in the courtroom” report for the entire hearing.

I made my way up to the 2nd floor courtroom at 1:00 for the case management hearing that is scheduled to start at 1:30. The only people in the courtroom, besides court security, are the family of the victim in this case, Ronald Randall. They are seated in the front row on the prosecution side of the courtroom. I usually sit in the first seat on the center aisle, in the second row behind them where I have a great view of Sheley and can see both sides of the courtroom equally well, but today I slide all the way in to the last seat. There is a pole I can lean against and there may be a lot of people here today so I won’t need to move….yes I’m a little lazy today. LOL

At 1:15 the attorneys for both sides start to filter into the courtroom and by 1:25 both attorneys for the defense, Public Defender, James Harrell and his court appointed co-counsel Jeremy Karlin are in their seats. At the prosecution table are Knox County States Attorney John Pepmeyer; and 3 attorneys from the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, AAG Michael Atterberry, AAG Steve Plazibat, and AAG William Elward.

Whiteside County States Attorney Gary Spence enters with the prosecution team and takes a seat behind me, he will be up to bat next in the prosecution of Nicholas Sheley for the deaths of 5 people in his county. The Attorney General’s Office will also assist Mr. Spence in Whiteside County . When Sheley is done in Whiteside County he will go down to Festus, Missouri to stand trial for the deaths of a couple who were visiting from Arkansas. You can see a complete timeline of the alleged killing spree here.

There are 4 members of accredited press in the front row on the defense side today. A few more of Mr. Randall’s family have joined me in the 2nd row and a 5th member of the press takes my normal seat next to them. In the second row on the defense side are two men and a woman who are professional in appearance and seem to have something to do with the defense. I am so focused on trying to figure out who they were, I didn’t even notice Sheley being brought in…..which is kind of odd because normally even if you don’t see him in his bright orange jail garb you hear the clickety clank of his shackles….told you I am tired today… he is seated with 3 or 4 Sheriff’s deputies surrounding him.

In September , Sheley told Judge Stewart he wanted to fire his attorneys and represent himself. Sheley said he has been “blown off” by his attorneys and accused them of “fast lawyer talk” and said he wanted his lawyers to adhere to his request for a speedy trial and not their own wishes. He filed a handwritten motion (sealed by the court) that said he and his lawyers have a conflict of interest, he accused them of ineffective counsel and dishonesty. Harrell and Karlin countered there was bonified doubt that Sheley was fit to stand trial and to wave his right to representation. The Judge ordered a fitness evaluation to be done of Sheley. You can see that order here.
At a fitness hearing held December 22 ( here) it was determined that Sheley is fit to stand trial; however, Stewart suggested that the court could have additional counsel appointed to present case law to Sheley so he can make a decision about representing himself without his perceived conflicting interests of his attorneys. The issue of fitness to represent himself wasn’t determined yet either. Those issues and the state’s and defense’s response to Sheley’s motion (remains sealed ) are to be dealt with at today’s hearing.

Ninth Circuit Court Judge James Stewart enters and calls court to order. He addresses both parties about briefs that were filed. John Pepmeyer says regarding the entry issue Steve Plazibat will address…Judge Stewart interrupts and asks about the motion filed in opposition.

Jeremy Karlin says that briefs were filed specifying Sheley address the issue of self representation, he asks that an attorney be appointed so that he doesn’t have to have an attorney….either he wants one or he doesn’t. He goes on to say the 2nd point the state raises in the 2nd Supplemental Response calls for the court to meet in ex parte fashion to determine to what level of inquiry and review what has been done so far as allegation made. Allegations made don’t even rise to argument of conflict rather a disagreement between counsel and defendant and strategy. Karlin says the state and defense are in agreement on the issue that Sheley is not entitled to additional counsel.

( I will try to get copies of the Motions and Responses discussed in court today, hopefully then this will make more sense, at times the attorneys and the court seem to speak in an almost cryptic fashion, of course they know what they are referencing, we don’t. Please be aware I am summarizing their statements from my notes, when using direct quotes I will signify as such.)

Atterberry states before conflict issue, need to address issue of counsel of choice, Sheley has made unclear statements- he wants no court appointed counsel and on page 29 says limited by court order. (Sheley’s handwritten motion? This remains sealed.) Atterberry continues the state has no objection to private counsel. What is his desire?

Plazibat takes his turn….regarding the conflict issue, if Sheley’s allegation was clear and spelled out it could be determined if there is or isn’t merit, the allegations are ambiguous. Court needs to flesh out what Sheley alleges is conflict. If the court determines there is conflict, there is no objection to additional counsel being appointed.

Pepmeyer further addresses the issue of Sheley being limited by court order in seeking private counsel. The Jail Administrator at the Knox County jail has been responsible for enforcement of the gag order which requires having an attorney from the defense present before phone calls can be made. Pepmeyer presents an idea…that a private phone could be used, the number dialed, if found that Sheley speaking to other than counsel the phone could be shut down. A certain time could be set for these calls to be made. He continues that if Sheley procures a private attorney this is all unnecessary.

Karlin says that he and Harrell don’t wish to stand in the way of Sheley seeking private counsel, but stands against the state monitoring calls to an attorney, if he has the funds to hire a capital qualified attorney.

Pepmeyer asks the jail administrator (he is seated in the back row on defense side) about a time that would be preferable. The administrator says 10 or 2, not at meal times. He asks would the phone then just be turned on? He suggests a few alternatives:
Out of the pod - dial a number for him, hand him the receiver, therefore not listening to the call. In the pod - phone turned on and off.

Karlin prefers the 1st option, out of the pod. Judge Stewart says that Sheley has not been prohibited the right to private counsel. He had 90 days before the Public Defender was appointed and no attorney appeared before the court, therefore Sheley had the opportunity before he called a press conference. Stewart rules that Sheley has between 10 and 11oclock and 2 and 3oclock for the next 30 days to call any capital qualified attorney he wishes, if there is an abuse of the privilege that’s on him. He also modifies the gag order for 30 days that the defense need not be present for these calls.

Stewart says that appointing additional counsel is for the issue of conflict of interest with present counsel and allegations of ineffective counsel. Conversation with Sheley may be privileged as it may include theories of defense, so the Supreme Court rules allow an ex parte hearing (out of hearing of the prosecution and the public but still on the record). After that conversation, court will reconvene in a public way and the judge will let us know if it is necessary to hire additional counsel. Everyone but the defendant and defense counsel are asked to leave the courtroom.

While waiting in the hallway for court to reconvene I learned several interesting things. The first has to do with the young girl who was in court in support of Sheley during the fitness hearing. She isn’t here today, word is…it was heard on a police scanner recently
the police are looking for her on theft charges. Perhaps she will get to Sheley again soon. The second thing is…remember the 5th reporter in court today, who sat in my normal seat…I can’t believe I missed this but…I guess he fell asleep and was snoring, the person in front of him turned around and whacked him. LOL, he didn’t come back for the rest of the hearing….maybe he didn’t feel well, or he was afraid. jk

After a half hour or so we were directed back into the courtroom. When I made my way back to my seat, a nice couple had got there ahead of me and offered to get up so I could sit by the pole again, I took the aisle seat (I sit here most often anyway), they said are you sure….about that time the person in the first row turned to look and I said, ”I promise, I won’t snore!” all 4 of us chuckled on that.

Judge Stewart called court back to order and told the court that after a 30 - 40 minute ex parte conference with Sheley and his counsel regarding a wide range of things, including malpractice and honesty he was ready to make some rulings:

Regarding conflict of interest he finds there is no conflict.

Regarding ineffective counsel he rules there has been no ineffectiveness of counsel, all motions made have been appropriate and he feels as well that Mr. Sheley has been well represented. (I agree)
Regarding honesty, the court has been unable to find anytime that counsel has not been honest as far as intentional and knowing misrepresentation although there has been conflict regarding strategy it doesn’t rise to the legal definition.

Therefore the court will not hire an extra attorney.

Stewart then addresses the issue of self-representation, he says that trial strategies differ and the attorneys make the determination of what strategy is used unless Sheley will represent himself or hire a private attorney. If he wishes to represent himself the court will set a hearing to determine his ability to represent himself. The court acknowledges that the state may wish to depose the experts.

Atterberry brings up the recent incidents at the jail involving the defendant and asks that incident reports be submitted to Dr. Killian and Dr. Hanlan before they are deposed. He adds that reports from Harlan and Killian list certain tests that were done and the state would like the raw data from those tests in order to depose them both about the tests. Judge Stewart asks how long? Follow with another deposition in 60 - 90 days?

Karlin jumps in, in regard to the jail incident the defense wants the incident reports before the doctors see the reports. Karlin adds that he has no problem with Dr. Killian seeing Dr. Hanlan’s reports; however, the raw data may be an issue as it may be protected under statute. He adds that the defense can indicate within 10 days as to whether they object or not to the sharing of the raw data.

Atterberry tells the court he can make a formal discovery request for the raw data within a week.

Karlin asks the court for a 10 minute recess. I didn’t hear Sheley talking but Karlin says the defendant would like to speak with defense counsel. Stewart tells Karlin that shouldn’t be necessary because he plans to schedule a hearing for the raw data and won’t make a ruling on the depositions until after the raw data issue is resolved.
Harrell then apologizes to the state and the court, but they really need 10 minutes with the defendant. Judge Stewart says ok and recesses court. Sheley is lead by his entourage of Sheriff’s deputies into the witness room right behind his seat and Harrell and Karlin follow.

Most everyone stays seated except a few who dash out for a ciggy….after about 5 minutes Sheley is back out at the defense table…the judge is still out of the courtroom. Karlin goes over to the 3 people seated on the defense side in the 2nd row and says something to them and then takes his seat.
I forgot to mention one of these gentlemen actually sat at the defense table for a couple minutes before court started for the day and spoke with the attorneys for the state on the prosecution side as well. During the break earlier someone mentioned he may be a lawyer from Springfield that the court was going to appoint to counsel Sheley about the conflict issues. ???I think to myself, those smokers better hurry up with their ciggys, if the judge sees Sheley is back he may go ahead and start. Whew, they made it! LOL!

At 2:52 we are back on the record. Karlin tells the court that his client, Sheley withdraws all motions to remove his attorneys.
Elward asks the court to inquire if Mr. Sheley will try to obtain private counsel. Sheley answers, “No.”
Stewart asks if Sheley will withdraw his motion to represent himself and are these withdrawals made voluntarily? Sheley responds, “Yes Sir”
Stewart asks if he was pressured in any way? Sheley says, ”Not in any way”.
Elward asks if Sheley is taking any medication or is intoxicated by anything that would make him not able to understand his decision? I don’t hear Sheley’s reply but it must have been no because Judge Stewart then said, ”Motion to withdraw is allowed”.

Plazibat addresses the court about a Mr. Hanlon (not Dr. but Mr.) who has made an appearance and says something about rule 416. He continues about clarification needed and that someone is at odds over what the rule means. He inquired with the Chief of the appellate office and they didn’t have clarification either. The state asks the court to hold off on ruling on entry appearance. Stewart says he won’t rule until this is entered as an entry and they can enter their objection. Karlin says Mr. Hanlon has entered his appearance in regards to statutory requirements. If I find out what this is about I will leave a comment on this entry, if anyone knows please do the same…remember anonymous comments are allowed. I only ask that you supply support for any claims and respect others right to their opinion.

Stewart says that since Sheley has announced his intention to keep Harrell and Karlin on his case, the court is ready to move on to discovery and scheduling issues.
Both parties agree to set a hearing to set a schedule in 30 days. Judge Stewart said this will be a scheduling conference, not a hearing, and sets the date for that to be March 3 at 1:30. The court is recessed. I will let you know when I hear of any hearings being scheduled.
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Friday, January 23, 2009

The Grim Reality Of Caylee Anthony's Life And Death

There was once a sweet little two year old girl named Caylee Marie Anthony living in Orlando, FL. with her 22 year old single mother, Casey, and her grandparents, George and Cindy Anthony. Like many other children born to an unwed mother, with no father in her life, her entrance into this world wasn’t under ideal circumstances, but from all reports she seemed to thrive and her family doted on her. At some point things went horribly wrong and before Caylee could turn three she went missing.

I’ll provide a summary, but unless you never turn on the television or read magazines at the grocery store check-out you know the basics of Caylee’s story. ATTENTION: If you don’t know the story and you live in Florida, STOP READING this blog and contact attorney Jose Baez, they need you for jury duty.

The world came to know of little Caylee on July 16, 2008 when Caylee’s grandmother started a media blitz telling the world that Caylee had been stolen from her loving mother by the babysitter….and had already been gone for more than a month by the time it was reported to police. At first the Anthony’s reported Caylee had been gone since June 9, until the police found a video of Caylee on their home computer that showed Caylee singing “You’ll never know dear, how much I love you…“ to her great-grandfather during a Fathers Day visit…“please don’t take my sunshine away…“ It was then decided the last day Caylee was seen was June 16.
As odd as this sounded, we were supposed to understand that Casey had been looking for Caylee on her own and the police were jumping to conclusions about Casey instead of looking for Caylee like any other missing child.

When the police released information that Casey had lied about everything she had told them, had led them on wild goose chases looking for Caylee and the sitter, and her car that she had abandoned, smelled of human decomposition, as well as the fact no one had ever seen this sitter, Cindy and George would have us believe the police were wrong to think that Casey could ever do anything to harm Caylee. If Casey was out of jail she would help them find Caylee. Attorney Jose Baez takes Casey’s case and he joins the media blitz.

I and many others thought these people were in denial. It soon became apparent that Cindy was an overbearing person as well and the thought crossed my mind that this was a power struggle between mother and daughter. Cindy was very much the “queen of her castle” and it became apparent that Casey had long been the “princess“ in Anthonyland. Had Casey hidden Caylee somewhere to teach her parents who was boss? It seemed plausible. After a little time in jail she would crack. Wrong!

Within the first week police were digging in the Anthony’s backyard but found nothing. Then the cadaver dogs were brought in and “hit” on several places in the Anthony backyard and the trunk of Casey’s car. The Anthony’s insisted the dogs were wrong and the smell in the car was rotten pizza although it has now been confirmed there was no food in the trunk. You can see a list of the inventory of the trunk here on page 23 and 24. About this time the Anthonys started plastering themselves, their cars and house with Find Caylee paraphernalia as well as insisting that people should be looking for Caylee, not pointing a finger at Casey.

After a few weeks Bounty hunter Leonard Padilla of California announces he has convinced his bail bondsman nephew to put up Casey’s $500,000 bond. Casey was released from jail on house arrest on August 20. Padilla predicts that after Casey washes her hair and does her nails she will tell where Caylee is. Casey is bailed out and the circus is on!

By now the public is engaged in this story in a way never seen before and rather than supporting the babysitter took Caylee story, strangers started protesting at the Anthony home trying to pressure Casey into telling the truth about what had happened to Caylee. Queen Cindy’s and George’s reaction to this was to personally build a “moat” around the castle made of yellow tape and no trespassing signs to keep the media and protestors at bay. Leonard Padilla brought his motor home and parked it right in front of Anthonyland…center ring.

After a week or so, law enforcement started receiving preliminary test results back from the car. Because of Florida’s Sunshine Laws the media was able to get access to the test results and we learned the evidence showed there was a decompositional event in the car, including hair that belonged to either Casey or Caylee that showed signs of decomposition. Reports also showed evidence of residues of chloroform in the trunk of Casey's car.

When Casey was arrested on economics charges (stealing from her friend Amy) on August 29, Leonard Padilla decided because of the test results and Casey’s unwillingness to assist in finding Caylee, to revoke her bond. Casey was bonded out again by other resources on Sept. 5, rearrested on Sept.15 on more economics charges and released again on house arrest the next day until October 14 when the Grand Jury returned with an indictment on Casey Anthony for the 1st degree murder of Caylee Marie Anthony. She has been held without bond since then.

Through out the next several weeks the Anthony’s released an increasing number of tips from all over the country of Caylee sightings…some even provided half assed photos of “Caylee”. What I wanted to know is if these sightings were to be believed, why hadn’t one of these “concerned citizens” actually approached the child and said, “Are you Caylee” or “Where is your Mother?” It was all bull.During this same time, documents were released that showed internet searches conducted on the computer seized from the home of Casey Anthony's parents included "how to make chloroform" and "neck breaking", the documents also showed timesheets of George and Cindy showing they were at work when these computer searches were made in March of 2008.

Then 179 days after Caylee sang her little song to her papa, a child’s skeletal remains were found dumped in the woods less than 3/10ths of a mile from Anthonyland. That moat that the Anthony’s had created around their home was then replaced by crime scene tape and squad cars, declaring Anthonyland a crime scene.

On December 19th , the FBI notified the Orange County Sheriff’s Office that the remains of the child were positively identified as that of Caylee Marie Anthony. Another search warrant was issued and executed for the Anthony home. Law enforcement wouldn’t release any information about the crime scene where Caylee’s remains were found or what they looked for during their searches of Anthonyland but Sheriff Beary did say they definitely found items that would tie the remains to the Anthony home.

On January 20th another 311 discovery documents were turned over to Casey Anthony's defense. According to Florida law they then become public record, therefore upon request from the media, on Wed. the 22nd the prosecutors released the records to the media. From the documents released has come some very disturbing information about things that were found with Caylee's remains.

According to the search warrant affidavit, Caylee's skeletal remains had been placed in a cloth laundry hamper bag, prior to being placed inside the black plastic garbage bag. The documents further reveal that a backpack with the word 'adorable' on it, a Winnie the Pooh blanket, a plastic toy horse, a size 3T shirt, a kid's pair of striped white shorts and small cloth-type iron on letters were also found inside the bag.

Perhaps most unsettling are paragraphs within a search-warrant affidavit, which detail the discovery of the remains and also the discovery of a "heart shaped" sticker that had been placed on duct tape that was found wrapped around the child's skull over the mouth area. wtf?

The search warrants released also gave a list of items that were looked for at the Anthony home shortly after the child's remains were found that included arts and crafts material, stickers, scrap booking material, all shoes belonging to Casey Anthony, the original clothing George Anthony last saw Caylee Anthony wearing on June 16th (pink colored top, blue jean skirt or skort, white shoes, small child's backpack with monkey design and white rimmed sunglasses), any doll clothing that would fit the doll recovered from Casey's vehicle on July 15th, small plastic toy horses similar to one found at the crime scene, and a black or brown backpack/shoulder bag similar to the one George Anthony saw Casey Anthony with on June 16th. The affiant also requests the authority to observe and note any prescriptions that may be on the property.

There have been many characters who have come and gone from this story and bizarre reports that have been disclosed....too many to touch on here without negating the fact that this story was and is about Caylee Marie Anthony and finding justice for this little girl.

George and Cindy have rarely been seen in public since Caylee’s body was found but Cindy has sent e-mails proclaiming her faith in her daughter’s innocence. The Anthony’s lawyers have also made it known that they will seek immunity for their clients, George, Cindy and Lee. They said that despite previous conflicting statements to law enforcement any future statements they make will be consistent. Law enforcement has not implyed that they will seek any charges against the Anthonys.

As I have been working on this entry, news has been breaking that George Anthony is undergoing psychiatric evaluation after he was reported missing late Thursday night from his Orange County home but was located a few hours later at a motel in Daytona Beach. He had text-messaged family members that he wanted to end his life," Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood said. Local 6 News reported that a suicide note was also found in George Anthony's car. The note is in the possession of the Orange County Sheriff's Office. "I'm being told by sources close to the investigation that the note included wording like "I want to go be with Caylee," Local 6 News reporter Jessica D'Onofrio said.

My message to George would be that Caylee needs him to be here, to stand for her and make sure that justice is done in her case. While all indicators are that Casey is responsible for Caylee's death, the only way Caylee will truely receive justice is when the person responsible is convicted in a court of law. I have and will continue to include him and his family in my prayers as this story unfolds.
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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Judge OK's Search of Sheley's Cell - Details of Third Jail Altercation Undisclosed

Susan Kaufman a reporter for the Register-Mail in Galesburg, IL reported today that an emergency hearing was held today at the Knox County Courthouse in relation to another incident at the Knox County jail involving accused spree killer, Nicholas Sheley. I wasn't aware of the hearing or the incident, so of course I didn't attend. Because of the gag order in this case there has been little information released about these jailhouse incidents with Sheley. Thankfully Susan attended, below is a copy of Susan's report as it appeared today on the web site for the Register - Mail :

The Register-Mail
Posted Jan 15, 2009 @ 03:11 PM

A Sterling man being held in the Knox County jail on several murder charges in connection with the death of a Galesburg man will have his jail cell searched after an alleged altercation with another inmate.The incident, which authorities did not disclose in court Thursday, marked the third jailhouse altercation involving Nicholas Sheley since he has been housed in the facility since July 2008.

On July 20, Sheley allegedly pulled a metal safety bar off the wall and attempted to attack another inmate. Sometime in late October, Sheley was involved in an unspecified incident brought up during a court hearing. No details were released about the second incident.

Records at the Galesburg Fire Department confirmed rescue personnel were dispatched to the Knox County jail at 2:27 p.m. Sunday after reports of an inmate losing consciousness and coughing after allegedly being choked. The victim, a 21-year-old male Federal inmate, was transported by Galesburg Hospitals Ambulance service to an unspecified area hospital and was treated and released.

It was not clear, however, if that incident involved Sheley. Authorities are under a gag order and would not comment about the incident.

An emergency court hearing was held in Knox County Circuit Court at 1:30 today to hear a motion filed by Sheley’s defense attorneys Jim Harrell and Jeremy Karlin. At issue was a search warrant issued Wednesday granting authorities permission to search Sheley’s cell in connection with possible new charges related to the jail incident.

Sheley was removed from that cell and into another but his belongings and personal effects remain in his former cell. The door has been taped and security cameras are fixed on the door to that cell to ensure no tampering with potential evidence.

Karlin argued the search would violate Sheley’s rights if other materials such as those related to his defense, potential witnesses or communication with other attorneys. He said it isn’t a privacy issue but rather a protection of his rights as a defendant to have a fair trial. “This is a capital murder case,” Karlin said. “I bet you all the money in my pocket ... that crime (the jail incident) will be presented in this particular case.”

Knox County State’s Attorney John Pepmeyer suggested the search warrant should be executed with the following stipulations: the process is videotaped; all inventory is properly logged; a representative of the defendant is present; and provide an in-camera inspection by the court. Pepmeyer argued Sheley has no rights to privacy and search warrants are essential.

Ninth Circuit Judge James Stewart denied the motion by the defense to quash the search warrant. “I am not a mediator,” said Stewart. “I am not going to micromanage the jail.” He said Sheriff David Clague is in charge of the security and safety and he should be allowed to control the jail as he sees fit.

Sheley was found fit to stand trial but questions remain on whether he is fit to act as his own attorney. A hearing on that matter is scheduled Jan. 30.

Sheley faces 17 counts, including 10 counts of first degree murder in the death of Ronald Randall of Galesburg. He also is facing first-degree murder charges in Whiteside county and Missouri in connection with a killing spree that left eight people dead. He faces the death penalty if convicted.

The picture of Sheley, above, is from a jailhouse interview that Sheley did with the Associated Press in September. Because of this interview and a phone interview that Sheley gave to WQAD in the Quad Cities the next day, the prosecution and defense requested that Ninth Circuit Judge James Stewart issue the gag order to halt pre-trial publicity. Assistant Attorney General Michael Atterberry told the court "Both parties want to maintain fairness and integrity of the proceedings" he added that Sheley's interviews had threatened the proceedings. Stewart agreed.
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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Justice Delayed Isn't Always Justice Denied

Most of us have heard the adage "Justice delayed is justice denied". According to Wikipedia it is a legal cliche meaning that if legal redress is available for a party that has suffered some injury, but is not forthcoming in a timely fashion, it is effectively the same as having no redress at all. This principle is the basis for the right to a speedy trial and similar rights which are meant to expedite the legal system, because it is unfair for the injured party to have to sustain the injury with little hope for resolution. This seems to apply to the civil side of the legal system and to the defendants side of the criminal system.

After looking back at a few of the trials from 2008 I think we can change that adage to "Justice delayed isn't always justice denied". As a matter of fact that could be the theme for 2 of the trials that come to mind, I will get to them in a bit. My hope is that it will also be the theme for the Phil Spector retrial that began this fall and should wrap up in the next month or so.

Phil Spector, an eccentric music producer of the 60's, is charged with killing actress Lana Clarkson on Feb.3, 2003. The prosecution contends that Spector, who has a history of pulling guns during alcohol fueled rages, repeated that behavior in the wee hours of that Feb.3 in a rage that ended in the death of Lana Clarkson by an intra oral gunshot wound. That's right folks they say he stuck the gun in her mouth and pulled the trigger.

Spector's lawyer at the time, Robert Shapiro (think OJ Simpson dream team and, was able to get Spector released the same day on a million dollar cash bond. Phil Spector has yet to spend one night in jail. Spector was also able to postpone going to trial until 2007 by changing his defense team several times. For the victims of a crime or their survivors, when the accused decides to wave the right to a speedy trial, justice delayed can be misery...

When Spector did finally go to trial many say he was able to "buy" himself a hung jury by assembling his own "dream team" of forensic experts and 5 attorneys. The first trial, that lasted over 5 months, didn't buy Spector the acquittal he had hoped for, although the hung jury (10-2 in favor of guilty) did "buy" him another year of freedom.

For the retrial Spector has pared down his "dream team" to 1 lawyer. Whether he has a forensic "dream team" remains to be seen, the defense should begin presenting their case soon. Using the same defense theory as his first trial, Spector contends that Lana Clarkson in a moment of despair committed suicide. Whatever Phil! How that explains why Phil walked outside with the gun in his hand after the shot was fired and told his chauffeur "I think I killed somebody", I don't know. The defense claims the chauffeur is mistaken, but that is pretty lame, really. As I said in the beginning of this post, hopefully "Justice delayed isn't always justice denied".

OJ Simpson's robbery trial in Las Vegas was easily the most notorious trial of 2008. Whether deserving or not Simpson's case was definately given the most media coverage of any trial in 2008. Despite a valiant effort by his attorneys, Simpson was convicted on all counts and is expected to spend up to 33 years in prison. The verdict in this case came down 13 years to the day after OJ was acquitted for the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. For many, this conviction atones for the denial of justice many felt when OJ was acquitted 13 years before. Once again "Justice delayed isn't always justice denied".

For me, the trial of 2008 that was the most interesting and appalling didn't include any famous names or tons of money, but best exemplifies the adage "Justice delayed isn't always justice denied" is the Mark Jensen murder trial in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Jensen's trial didn't start until the first week of January 2008, even though Mark's wife was found dead on December 3, 1998. The case had dragged on since Julie Jensen, 40, after having fallen ill and taken to bed, was found dead in her Pleasant Prairie, WI home. Mark Jensen wasn't charged until 2002 and legal wrangling over evidence delayed the trial another 6 years.

Several weeks before her death, Julie Jensen talked to local police, her son's school teacher and a neighbor, and told them that she suspected her husband was planning to kill her. She went so far as to give her neighbor a sealed letter that detailed her suspicions, and asked her neighbor to give the letter to the police if anything happened to her.

Prosecutors allege Mark Jensen fed Julie Jensen several doses of ethylene glycol--the sweet, syrupy but poisonous liquid commonly used in antifreeze--and then smothered her when she started to recover from the poisoning.

In his defense Mark Jensen argued that his wife was depressed and angry because he was having an affair, so she did Internet searches on poisoning in an effort to frame him, then committed suicide by poisoning herself.

At trial, prosecutors wanted to use Julie Jensen's statements to speak as a "voice from the grave" in an effort to prove that Mark Jensen had murdered his wife, but first they had to convince the courts to allow such evidence.

Using such evidence in court has for years been blocked by strict hearsay rules giving criminal defendants the right to confront their accusers. The Wisconsin Supreme Court created new rules, prompted by a US Supreme Court decision and this case, that laid the ground work for her accusatory letter and statements to police to be used as evidence in the trial.

On February 21, 2008, after a six week trial, Mark Jensen was convicted of murder, first degree intentional homicide, which carries a mandatory sentence for lifetime imprisonment under Wisconsin law.

Because of all the interesting twists and turns of this case, that I haven't even touched on here, I will take a more in depth look at this case in another post.

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Years!

The case management hearing for the Nicholas Sheley case that was scheduled for yesterday was canceled . As I mentioned in the entry below, the prosecution tried to cancel this hearing on the 22nd but the judge didn't allow it because it was a statutory hearing. Word is defense counsel, Jeremy Karlin, had the hearing canceled. ????? I am NOT in the legal profession so I don't know why one side couldn't cancel a statutory hearing, but the other side could. Perhaps if both sides request it is allowed? Any legal eagles out there have insight about this?The next hearing is scheduled for January 23. I will let you know if I hear anything different. Sphere: Related Content