Too ‘Woke’ for the Jury Box? A Clash of Two Hashtags

Too ‘Woke’ for the Jury Box? A Clash of Two Hashtags

A recent article in The Marshall Project scratches the surface of a dialogue whose time has come. “While potential jurors take an oath to answer questions honestly during voir dire, and there are undoubtedly some with hard biases, I suspect many socially conscious citizens overstate their positions,” writes Todd Oppenheim of the Baltimore Public Defender’s Office. “Those individuals should think carefully about whether their closely-held beliefs actually result in bias before answering questions. They should take that question more seriously because judges will almost always err on the side of caution and eliminate those on the fence—or simply posturing—from jury pools, even if they might make for good jurors. Defendants lose out as a result.” ————————————————————————- A great article, but it does not go nearly far enough.  #blacklivesmatter and the like are not the only movements that can become problematic in the jury box when a juror feels compelled to answer with depth and honesty.  People who may call themselves various forms of “progressive” increasingly share a healthy skepticism of the government, of the police.  In particular, they see profound injustice in the overall treatment of men of color by our justice system from the time of arrest all the way through the the ultimate test of justice; a jury trial.  What the article fails to address is what happens when this movement runs directly into another movement, such as the #metoo movement. Increasingly, we are a nation in which progressive advocacy groups see vindication only in guilty verdicts, and decry any other outcome as a “slap in the face to all women,” or other such hyperbole.  In order to be considered “enlightened,” one is now socially compelled to say “I believe her” from the moment allegations are spoken by an accuser.  However, many so-called “progressive” individuals who promote this sentiment likely also find favor with movements raising awareness about the disparate treatment of African Americans and other minorities at the hands of police and the larger machine of the justice system as well.   Yet, in cases of sexual assault allegations, the government’s position is essentially “you should believe her.”  So what happens when a man of color is accused of sexual assault? We have countless stories in which men of color have been exonerated of crimes by DNA or other evidence, and most of those cases are criminal sexual conduct cases.  Many of these men have sat years or decades in prison for a crime they did not commit.  In every one of those cases, the jury said “I believe her.”  We know also that when the accused is black, and the alleged victim is not, there is an even greater risk of wrongful conviction.  The fact remains our justice system is still making the exact same errors today that put these men in prison decades ago.  In most criminal sexual conduct cases, there is no biological evidence at all, and we are left with the same rules of evidence, and a question of credibility, that decide a man’s fate.  Just as racism and sexism… Read more {+}

Officer Ray Tensing is the Latest Officer to Walk Free

A mere two weeks after the Yanez Verdict, former University of Cincinnati Officer Ray Tensing becomes the latest Officer to walk free after a second mistrial on murder charges for killing Samuel DuBose, an unarmed black man.  Like so many cases garnering recent attention, this matter was also captured on video.  Here is the primary video footage of the incident (WARNING:  Graphic Content).   The language of the County Attorney in this case was much stronger than just about any we have seen in these cases, calling is “senseless and asinine” and describing it as un-American and something that happens in Afghanistan, not here.  It remains to be seen whether the County Attorney will try the matter for yet a third time, though it is worth noting that, halfway through the trial, the County Attorney sought to add charges of “reckless homicide.”  That motion was denied by the court as untimely. Officer Ray Tensing is the Latest Officer to Walk Free was last modified: June 24th, 2017 by Alex DeMarco

St. Louis Police Officer Shoots Fellow Off Duty Officer. Guess What Color The Victim Was…

If there is one thing that should be unanimously agreed upon, it’s that the phenomenon of “driving while black” is very real.   If you disagree, it’s not your opinion.  You’re up against decades of studies, just a few which can be found by clicking here,  and here.   You’re also far more likely to have your vehicle searched if you’re a person of color. If there is another thing that is becoming apparent, it’s that being lawfully armed while black is even more dangerous.   As if the Yanez case was not a sobering enough example, apparently, even being a police officer an black while get you shot. That’s right.  An off duty cop, an African American, intervened to assist other officers after a car chase ended.  He was then ordered to drop his weapon to go to the ground.  After officers recognized him, he was allowed back up.  That’s when another officer apparently not up to speed on the circumstance emerged from his squad, “feared for his life” and immediately shot his fellow police officer.  With all the talk of gun safety and gun control, it may finally be time to start having a discussion on whether arming every single officer is a good idea.       St. Louis Police Officer Shoots Fellow Off Duty Officer. Guess What Color The Victim Was… was last modified: June 23rd, 2017 by Alex DeMarco

Agent Joe Joswiak Assaults Driver Anthony Promvongsa

Recently released is the the dashcam video from the Worthington Police Department of Agent Joe Joswiak of the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force and his assault on Anthony Promvongsa, a driver.   An off duty police officer had called in  to his buddies regarding Mr. Promvongsa’s “erratic driving.”  While this may have warranted an investigatory stop and a simple interrogation or citation, apparently road rage is not simply a problem for civilians.   The assisting, relatively calm officer is Timothy Gaul, a Sargent with the Worthington Police Department.  Sargent Gaul himself as been previously accused of excessive force.   That matter was eventually settled in exchange for dropping all claims.   Sargent Gaul oversees Use of Force operations for the department.   Mr. Promvongsa was actually charged with assault on an officer and resisting arrest.  Whatever can be said of the recent Yanez verdict, at least Yanez was charged and tried for the crime.   He is also no longer a police officer.  It’s time to bring brutal officers to justice, even if that means a trial is difficult.   Mr. Yanez is one of several officers charged with crimes this year. Cutting to the chase, contact the Nobles County Attorney’s Office today and demand this officer be removed and investigated for assault. Prairie Justice Center 1530 Airport Rd. Suite 400 P.O. Box 337 Worthington, MN 56187 (507) 295-5298 (p) (507) 372-8439 (f) countyattorney@co.nobles.mn.us     Agent Joe Joswiak Assaults Driver Anthony Promvongsa was last modified: June 23rd, 2017 by Alex DeMarco

St. Paul Criminal Defense Attorney Challenges SANE Exam

Resolving “He said, She said” with Junk Science, the terrifying unchecked testimony of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners. Alex DeMarco, a frequent Criminal Defense Attorney in Dakota County, had the opportunity and challenge of handling a criminal sexual conduct case in Dakota County recently.   The matter was charged out in 2014.  Alex DeMarco pushed it to trial three times, each time it being continued by other cases that were older or involved clients in custody.  On the third trial setting, the state dismissed the 3rd Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct case, and recharged it as a criminal sexual conduct in the first degree.  This was because, on the day of trial, over a year after his client was arrested, the state suddenly revealed the alleged “victim” had recorded her own sexual assault.   The State’s motion to amend the complaint was denied.   The State dismissed and re-filed, because the law now holds that a prosecutor can do so out of convenience and bad faith.   There is zero constraint on the state’s charging decision thanks to a recent Minnesota Supreme Court Opinion. Despite it being recharged to the highest degree possible, Alex DeMarco pushed it through to trial yet again.   Between the dismissed file and the new file, Alex DeMarco drafted over 400 pages of motions and memorandum and set the case up for trial.  That included overcoming the so-called “rape shield” law  , moving to suppress the statement of the defendant, and, important to this article, challenging the validity and limiting the testimony of a strange breed of State Expert called a “Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner.” Ok that seemed like a lot of jargon, and we know the part that leaped out at you.   “But Alex, the victim recorded her own sexual assault.  The victim was heard saying “no, stop” several times.   What would you try that case?”  Answer:   Because who the heck records their own sexual assault?  Think about it.  How consistent is that with being sexually assaulted?   Ultimate result, despite the admission of this video evidence before a jury=  Hung jury.   No conviction, all counts.   The reason?  A Junk Science called a “Sexual Assault Nurse exam”, AKA “SANE” “S.A.N.E” or “SANE exam.”   While this is taken for granted by most lawyers, Alex saw through the fallacy of this science and exposed it to the jury.  The video was dark, grainy, did not show very much of anything regarding the conduct, and the fact the victim recorded a supposedly traumatic experience when she admitted there was no prior abusive or assault conduct by the defendant was weird and contrived.  Frankly, the case might have actually gone a different way if the State’s expert had not testified, but when she did, the jury ultimately could not believe the State’s case beyond a reasonable doubt.  If you’re facing a criminal sexual conduct charge in Minnesota, you need to hire an attorney that understands the latest up and coming junk science the State is… Read more {+}