Oscar Pistorius: Bail Unlikely In US

The Chief Magistrate Nair finds Oscar Pistorius has “made a case to be released on bail”. Bail is granted. Pistorius will await trial as a free man outside prison. The Magistrate found Pistorius was not a flight risk, no evidence he will intimidate witnesses and no propensity for violence. Based on those findings, bail was inevitable. A big victory for Pistorius. And, given he won’t be in custody, there will likely be no rush to trial. You can expect continuances and delays in the trial date.

This was a bail hearing, yet, the State remarkably failed to provide sufficient evidence to deny bail. For instance, evidence to support that Pistorius threatened to break someone’s legs, shot a gun in public, was violent in public or owns a home in Italy.

Pistorius’ affidavit made the difference in the bail hearing. Very risky move to lay out so many facts in an affidavit, but, it kept Pistorius out of jail. Also, it gave the defense an opportunity to plant seeds, lock in and question some State testimony before the State has had time to complete their investigation and the opportunity to potentially “influence” public opinion and fact finders. First impression does matter.

The Magistrate considered that Pistorius “reached out to try to meet the States case” in his affidavit with his “version under oath” unlike the “flimsy” denial affidavits he tends to get. However, the Magistrate did have problems with Pistorius’ affidavit. For instance, why Pistorius didn’t check with his girlfriend, the victim Reeva Steenkamp when he left the bed? Why Pistorius didn’t call out as to who was in the toilet? Why he put himself in danger when he went back to get his gun and return to the bathroom? Why the victim didn’t call out?

And, the Magistrate had serious problems with Investigator Botha and his investigative skills, although, he said, Botha is “not the States case”.

While we await the trial, you can expect much public debate about violence against women, the South African justice system, whether Pistorius is being treated like any other accused and whether Pistorius murdered Reeva Steenkamp.

Low bail for a premeditated murder case? Bail was set at $114k, surrender passport & guns, no alcohol and he can’t return to his home.

BTW, in the United States, most defendants accused of premeditated murder don’t get bail and bail hearings don’t last three days but rather 15 minutes in America’s crowded courtrooms. Also, many judges may have considered the repeated and unprovoked, reckless at best, shooting of someone behind a locked door as evidence of a propensity of violence to deny bail. And, most US prosecutors would have had evidence to prove a flight risk and the prior acts of violence, alleged above, when they request no bail.

Meanwhile, a 29-year-old women is dead. Shot 4 times by her boyfriend.

Next Court date June 4, 2013.

Simply my opinion, what say you?

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Oscar Pistorius Case What Doesn’t Make Sense

(Update 8/18/2013: Pistorius to be formally charged tomorrow with premeditated murder of Steenkamp. Not guilty plea expected with trial to begin in March 2014. No doubt, it will be a battle of the forensic experts.)

While Oscar Pistorius lawyers and the prosecution argue over whether a neighbor could hear fighting before the alleged premeditated shooting death of Pistorius’ girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, or, whether steroids or herbal remedies were found in Pistorius’ home, they fail to focus on some telling facts, as revealed in Pistorius’ bail affidavit.

1. The Victim Locked the Toilet Door.

Why would Ms. Steenkamp lock the toilet door? The toilet “is inside the bathroom and has a separate door” that had a key to lock it. Why did she lock the door? Some may close a door for privacy, or before they flick on a light, but, why lock the door, especially given it is an interior toilet? Having prosecuted many domestic violence cases, there is only one reason a victim locks a door. Protection.

2. Bedroom Sliding Doors Left Open in a High Crime Area.

Pistorius’ affidavit states, “I am acutely aware of violent crime being committed by intruders entering homes with a view to commit crime, including violent crime. I have received death threats before. I have also been a victim of violence and of burglaries before. For that reason I kept my firearm, a 9 mm Parabellum, underneath my bed when I went to bed at night. During the early morning hours of 14 February 2013, I woke up, went onto the balcony to bring the fan in and closed the sliding doors, the blinds and the curtains. I heard a noise in the bathroom and realised that someone was in the bathroom.”

If Pistorius has had intruders in the past and fears intruders, why would he leave his bedroom sliding doors open at night while he and Ms. Steenkamp slept?

And, “there are no burglar bars across the bathroom window no bars on the bathroom window.” He fears intruders, yet, no bars on bathroom window?

3. Ladders left Outside His House in a High Crime Area.

He also “knew that contractors who worked at my house had left the ladders outside.” Again, if Pistorius fears intruders, why leave ladders outside or doors or windows open?

4. Pistorius calls Friend before calling Paramedics or Police.

Most people would instinctively call paramedics or the police when a loved one has been shot.

Read Pistorius affidavit here.

Accident killing or not, this is a domestic violence killing, and the actions of the victim and the defendant are always very telling.

A terrible tragedy.

Simply my opinion, what say you?

Read my post Oscar Pistorius Intruder Defense is Nonsense.

(Update 2/21/2013: No decision on bail hearing today. Bail hearing with closing arguments continue to tomorrow. Reportedly, Ms. Steenkamp had taken her cell phone with her when she went into the bathroom at approximately 3 am. As of yesterday, the lead investigator Botha is reportedly being charged with attempted murder in an unrelated matter when he and other officers allegedly were drunk and shot into a bus of people. Although the charges had been withdrawn in 2011, they were being reconsidered prior to the Pistorius case. Botha has been taken off the case. Questions have been raised as to “preferential treatment” when Pistorius is being held at the police station rather than jail like other prisoners. BTW, as reported on Piers Morgan and CNN, Ms. Steenkamp’s brother and Pistorius’ best friend have said they have never met Pistorius and Steenkamp, respectively. Was it rage or fear? Ballistics and forensics will likely provide the answer.)


Delhi Gang Rape Trial: Banning Media Perpetuates Secrecy

India’s High Court rules again to ban media from covering Delhi’s ongoing gang rape trial at the request of the police.

Good idea?

Tough question, when it comes to rape trials balancing the possibility of public unrest, and protecting the victim from further victimization, as some believe, with the freedom of the press considerations and the public’s right to know what happened.

While India closes it courtroom to media coverage, an American judge in a juvenile gang rape trial in Steubenville Ohio opens the courtroom to the public and the media. Why the difference?

I wonder is it better to know the truth no matter how horrible the details or is it better to be in the dark?

Having worked with victims, they would vote for the truth.

Rape is a crime that counts on secrecy. Maybe, it is time to re-examine “secret” court proceedings.

Simply my opinion, what say you?


Steubenville Rape Case: What About The Victim

Last week, Judge Thomas Lipps ruled that the upcoming Steubenville Ohio gang rape trial involving 2 Big Red high school football players and a 16-year-old girl will be open to the public and the media against the objections of the prosecution and the victim’s family.

Why?

As reported in the Los Angeles Times, ” (Judge) Lipps noted the names of the defendants and the details of the case were in the public realm and the alleged victim’s name also was made public by some media. He noted there have been “community rumors” and “misinformation” circulated–a problem the judge said could be curbed by keeping the case open. Responsible media presence will mean more accurate reporting. Lipps also said the seriousness of the charges meant the public has an interest in the outcome.”

Misinformation and community rumors happen in nearly every case, why the interest in curbing it in this case?

Judge Lipps also said it was “important to have open proceedings to squelch talk and opinions about the case that have sprouted in social media and elsewhere online. An open hearing will diminish the influence of such postings and publications”, as reported in the Toledo Blaze.

Interesting comment. But for the social media evidence, the texts, tweets and cellphone video would there have been a prosecution? Surely, the judge didn’t mean to imply an interest in “diminishing” free speech and free press rights?

So, curbing “rumors”, “misinformation”, “talk” and “diminishing the influence of postings and publications” trumps the impact of an open trial on a 16-year-old rape victim? The defense has raised the “intimidation” concern, what about a victim’s “right to be free from intimidation” under Ohio’s Victim’s Bill of Rights Ohio Revised Code 2930. Maybe, it doesn’t apply to juvenile victims? Or, maybe a 16-year-old rape victim wouldn’t be intimidated by testifying in public? (See more info on Victim’s Rights)

What about the defendant’s right to a fair trial? Isn’t avoiding potential harm to our children more important than curbing “rumors” and “talk”? Besides, what “rumors”, “talk” and “misinformation” is the judge referring to? And, who or what is harmed by such “talk”?

How many other juvenile victims will have the courage to come forward now and face the glare and scrutiny of the media, their neighbors and the “talk” of the town?

In many jurisdictions, juvenile proceedings are closed to the public to afford confidentiality and privacy for the juvenile offenders. Judges can certainly close juvenile proceedings to the public upon the substantial probability of harm to the parties, or emotional trauma of testifying in public, especially in sexual assault cases. Since the US Supreme Court hasn’t weighed in on whether the public has a constitutional right to access juvenile proceedings, the decision is left to the court to decide.

In Ohio, it is up to the judge to decide whether or not to have an open proceeding. (See Ohio Revised Code 2151.35)

I wonder if Judge Lipps has ever represented a rape victim?

Simply my opinion, what say you?

You may want to read my other related posts DOJ sues Steubenville Police Department civil rights violations, Ohio & Indian Rape cases asks us all one question and impact of testifying on a victim.


Lance Armstrong: USADA Revoke Your Offer To Lance

Is it just me or is USADA (US Anti-Doping Agency) giving into Lance Armstrong? They just gave Lance a lifetime ban and now USADA wants to give him another chance to cooperate and possibly qualify for an 8 year ban. What? After USADA’s Travis Tygart belief that Lance lied again last week on Oprah. Does USADA actually think that Lance will rat out his associates? Has Lance shown a willingness to be completely truthful? Revoke the offer.

Lance’s response to USADA’s current offer, he’ll talk, but not to USADA, he’ll talk with the International Cycling Federation, the same agency that accepted 100K from Lance during the time he was being investigated for doping. Conflict of interest, anyone?

Oh, here we go again Lance is calling the shots. What is that saying about when you give someone an inch they take a mile, or was it a pile of taxpayer dollars and government resources misappropriated (defrauded) along with the investigative resources (more taxpayer dollars) now wasted when the US Attorney’s Office, for some unknown reason, declines criminal prosecution?

I get it, having been a prosecutor myself, that after the US Attorney’s “loss” in the Barry Bonds BALCO case, a prosecutor might have been reticent to prosecute against the “jury appeal” of a superstar athlete and cancer survivor like Lance. His recent doping admission certainly nixes any jury appeal. But, what about the evidence? Is justice truly blind? Maybe, now, it would be best to let a jury tell Lance the truth. Otherwise, the games will continue.

I have no doubt, after Scott Pelley’s 60 Minutes story this evening, that the US Attorneys Office will re-think their decision not to prosecute Lance. And, BTW, all those 22 legislators who reportedly signed the petition to shut down USADA, a non-profit and non-taxpayer funded organization, what were you thinking? These days it seems more and more “outsiders” are doing the job of the “insiders”. Why is that?

Simply my opinion, what say you?


Lance Armstrong: Oprah Nails Cross Examination Says Former Prosecutor

Good cross examination, Oprah!

Oprah showed us all how to get it done, as much as she could given the witness. She did an effective cross examination when she questioned Lance Armstrong, the 7 time Tour de France Champion, when he finally “admitted” to doping after almost 10 years of denial, suing or threatening many who said otherwise, including journalists, and devastating the lives of several close friends.

She did a good job controlling the witness. Asking “yes” and “no” questions, repeating the question until it was answered, and actively listening to Lance’s answers and then, asking the follow-up questions to get him to explain or clarify. Lucky for us, as an experienced journalist, she knew when it was appropriate to let Lance talk and when it was appropriate to take back the control to get the answer.

No doubt, those “yes” “no” questions Oprah asked Lance were written by an experienced lawyer, they needed to be. Lance has been lying for years, he knows how to answer questions to fool people–classic “manipulator” witness. Lance was clearly well-prepared and coached even down to the wording of his answers. For instance, his “deeply flawed” response was a call for your sympathy, and, frankly, an over-used “excuse” given by so many fallen heroes. Besides, what does “deeply flawed” mean? Does Lance think he is a victim? At what point, did he discover his “flaw”? And, who told him he is “deeply flawed”? Is that the reason he believes for his lying, over and over again?

BTW, I’d love a (legal) copy of the entire transcript and video of the interview. It would be a great teaching tool.(send to http://www.trialready.com)

Maybe, it is worth giving him another chance, he just may not have the ability to tell the truth and needs opportunities to learn how. I suspect the upcoming lawsuits will give him plenty of opportunities to learn.

Did he really come clean? Show real remorse? Take full responsibility for his actions? You decide.

What did I think? He didn’t convince me.

Why?

He sat with a crossed leg, hands over his mouth at times, hands touching mouth and face, mouth pressed tight or held closed lips, and used plenty of qualifying language, all classic signs that a cross examiner looks for in evaluating the believability and credibility of a witness. After over 20 years of teaching consumers and lawyers advocacy skills and trying my own cases, nope, I didn’t buy it. I wonder what else he hasn’t told us.

Lance’s response to the “motivation” question nailed it for me. When Oprah asked Lance, the most telling question, “why did he come forward now”, he reportedly responded, “I didn’t have a great answer, why I came forward”. Wow, did he really say that? Lance, we don’t need a great answer, we just wanted the truth and, an actual answer instead of repeating the question in your answer. Wow, still dodging.

So tonight, when you watch Oprah’s continued cross examination, keep an eye on Lance. How does his body, hands and face respond to the questions asked and to his answers. Pay attention to what words he uses. Are they consistent with truth-telling?

Then, ask yourself, did he come clean, completely clean?

Congrats Oprah! It is refreshing to see someone actually have the tenacity and the courage to pursue the truth.

Simply my opinion, what say you?


Brent Musburger Comments: Are Women Possessions?

You tell me, did ESPN Sportscaster Brent Musburger’s comments, during last Monday’s Alabama v. Notre Dame Football game, about the QB’s girlfriend, Miss Alabama’s Katherine Webb, place a value on women? Objectify women?

Brent Musburger said, “you see that lovely lady there? She does go to Auburn, I’ll admit that, but she’s also Miss Alabama, and that’s A.J. McCarron’s girlfriend. Wow, I’m telling ya, you quarterbacks, you get all the good-looking women. What a beautiful woman! Whoa! So if you’re a youngster in Alabama, start getting the football out and throw it around the backyard with pops.”

CNN contributor, Dean Obeidallah, along with many others immediately dismissed Musburger’s comments as “playful” or otherwise, and they wonder why the “instant outrage”.

Are women possessions? Do men, young men or football players “get” women?

Although Mr. Obeidallah, a former attorney, did identify the problem (and the reason for the outrage) when he said, “The only criticism that’s arguably fair is Musburger’s implication that if you are great quarterback, you will have earned a beautiful woman– a reward, more than a human being. If that had been Musburger’s intention, that, of course, would have been wrong.”, he also doesn’t realize the damage. When you use words like “get” or earned” in reference to women, there is no implication or confusion as to what is meant. We all immediately understood the “implication”, as evidenced by the instant outrage. (Read his full article here)

When you place a value on or objectify any woman, you devalue all women. And, when women are devalued, women are fired for being “too attractive”, paid less, denied access to health care, lawful abortions, forced to submit to invasive vaginal probes, forced genital mutilation, forced into prostitution, trafficked for sex, beaten by their partners, raped and, gang raped, allegedly, in Steubenville Ohio and New Delhi India. (Read my prior article here)

I can tell you, as a former domestic violence prosecutor, the words and implications do matter.

And, gentlemen, hats off, for, unknowingly, opening up the discussion and shining the light on how women are valued, or, not valued.

Simply my opinion, what say you?