Friday, November 19, 2010

How Many Charges Do You Need?

Every time I read, in the Ghailani trial, of him being found not guilty on no fewer than 283 charges, I think back to the last time I was a jury member on a felony trial. At issue was a prison guard who had been charged with beating a prisoner, and with a second similar charge more than two years earlier. The evidence in the most recent change was basically the word of the purportedly beaten prisoner against the guard, and the earlier charge was, if anything, even more vague and ill-defined.

We agreed on a “not quilty” verdict immediately on the earlier incident and, after rather lengthy deliberation came up with the same verdict on the first charge as well.

Consensus was that the early incident was trumped up and added merely to bolster the more recent charge, otherwise, why let it sit for more than two tears before charging it. We felt that if the prosecution had been certain of their case on the first charge they would not have needed to add the bogus earlier one.

Sort of “too many cooks in the kitchen” to suit us. Adding the second charge, intended to bolster the first one, actually weakened it.

Really, 283 charges?

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