Leaving (for) Las Vegas
As I mentioned earlier, I'm off next week. Pulled all the money out of my SEPP and IRA's, and am putting it on 27 Red. God, what a liar; I'm such a non-gambler that I had to Google "roulette table" to see whether the number 27 was red or black. Still, it gives me an opportunity to get out of this town before winter sets in. Usually, after about two months of that you want to slit your wrists just to see color.
Let's take a look and see what's happening in the Legal Biz.
A convicted sex offender is facing up to three years in prison for neglecting to disclose his past while joining the Facebook social networking site.
I'm sorry, I read the story three times and I still don't understand it. Is there something particular about New York's sex offender law which prohibits you from setting up a MySpace or Facebook account? Are you prohibited from Twittering? Would joining an online Fantasy Football league put you back in the slammer? Somebody help me out here.
Fishing expeditions. Ten years ago, a journalism professor at Northwestern University had his students begin looking at some convictions where he'd gotten letters from defendants claiming they were innocent. Some, it turned out, were right: the efforts of the class, which became the Medill Innocence Project, resulted in winning exonerations for eleven men, five of whom had been on death row.
Their latest effort has resulted in a hearing on a post-conviction relief petition for Anthony McKinney, who was convicted of murder 31 years ago. That apparently has ruffled some prosecutorial feathers. The Cook County state's attorney has subpoenaed the students' notes and recordings of witness interviews.
As well as their grades, the course syllabus, and evaluations of student performance.
Now, I don't know what Illinois' professional code of conduct is, but I'd bet it has something similar to Ohio's provision prohibiting abuse of legal procedures. Let's see a show of hands of all those who think the state's attorney general has anything to worry about on that score.
At what point do you think the lawyer realized his mistake? It's a standard practice for the defense lawyer to ask that the jury be polled when it comes back with a guilty verdict. Sure, it's a lot longer shot than 27 Red, but you never can tell whether some juror's going to have a change of heart between the time they sign the verdict form back in the deliberation room and the time they're sitting in the box, watching the defendant sobbing forlornly after the verdict is read. Or the defense lawyer sobbing forlornly...
But there's no reason in the world you'd do that if the jury comes back and says "not guilty." Hell, when I've gotten a not guilty verdict, both times I've been out of the courtroom before the jury was.
Not so in this case. The jury comes back with a not guilty verdict, the defense lawyer asks that they be polled, and the very first juror says that it's not her verdict. The judge sends them out to deliberate some more, and they come back with a conviction on a lesser count.
I guess that's why we carry malpractice insurance. Those of you who don't have enough money because you haven't doubled your retirement funds by betting on 27 Red, that is.
See you a week from Monday.