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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Clothes make the man

Sometimes common sense does carry the day in our justice system. An appeals court in Trenton ruled Monday that a defendant's accomplice, already jailed after striking a plea bargain, can't show up in shackles and prison garb to testify on behalf of the prosecution. The outfit conveys guilt - that the man is "one of the 'criminal class' '' - and makes it too easy for jurors to transfer that mind-set to the defendant, the panel decided.

It's hard to believe this prison garb ban on prosecution witnesses hasn't been in place for years. It's long been applied to defendants and defense witnesses. The court did make an exception for security risks, but the prosecution has to prove the security concerns outweigh the potential prejudice.

Nice try by the Warren County prosecutor's office in trying to win its case, but the unfairness of putting a bad guy in uniform on the stand is obvious. The jury should focus on what he says, not on how he looks in a telltale outfit. The defendant still is entitled to a presumption of innocence.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Don K said...

A convicted criminal is a criminal and that fact shouldn't be hidden by those of you who are on the criminals side.

Defense lawyers usually "pretty up" the criminals they are trying to keep free to harm more innocent people.

Just another example of the excess advantage given to the criminal element.

8:17 AM, April 12, 2006  
Blogger RedJersey1 said...

Well Arm Chair Law Enf. Officer I wonder how many Inmates you have had to fight? Restrain? Let see Larry Arm Chair we are brining someone who has been locked away for 2 years and is facing 20 years to court. And we should just let him lally gag thru the room like everyone else. Hear that larry? its your Knee Jerking from your Ivory Tower

9:53 AM, April 12, 2006  
Blogger Ray said...

Here's one: They should shackle metaphorically people who can't spell, can't use grammar correctly and can't figure out how and when to use capital letters in their writings.

11:21 PM, April 13, 2006  
Blogger RedJersey1 said...

Ray, no need to kiss up to an Editor.

However, I did notice that you didn't disagree with my arguement. Because deep down, both of you, know I'm right. So Ray and Larry come down from your Ivory Tower.

George Orwell said it best:

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. "

4:30 PM, April 15, 2006  
Blogger Ray said...

I don't need to kiss up to an editor, Red (BTW, note my correct use of the lower-case 'e' in editor), since I don't work at the APP.

Descending from my ivory tower only temporarily (note also my correct use of the lower case 'i' and 't' in ivory tower), I must say that I certainly do not "deep down" agree with you as I use my "deep down" areas for other things (I do my thinking with my head). A trial is supposed to be conducted without the subjective bias introduced by screaming costumes. The jury is certainly allowed to know the nature of the witness and his crimes but they should be allowed to determine for themselves whether or not to believe him and not let his costume tell them what to think. I know that "hang-'em-now-and-let-God-sort-'em-out-later" conservatives like yourself would like to tilt the field toward conviction and that 'justice' really means 'revenge' in your world but some of us still believe in the principles upon which our country was founded. Oops, sorry to sound as liberal as the founding fathers!

Well, back up to my ivory tower.

P.S. You should have omitted the first 'e' when you tried to write argument.

12:05 AM, April 19, 2006  

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