What's Up in the 8th
Sometimes I think I should use this blog as an advice column for criminals, applying the store of knowledge I glean from reading the 8th District cases. For example, from this week's batch:
Dear Briefcase: I pled out to a couple of cases, and I don't think my attorney did a good job explaining what was going on. Sure, this was way back in 1993 and 1996, and I finished serving the sentences more than five years ago. Still, I get cheesed off every time I think about it. Anything I can do? Sincerely, Can't Let It Go
Dear Can't: Sorry. The answer is no, according to State v. Roberts.
Dear Briefcase: So me and this guy are driving along when the cops pull up behind us, and suddenly the dude tosses this bag of crack in my lap and says, "I can't be caught with this; hold it." What's my play? Sincerely, Nobody's Fall Guy
Dear Nobody: Be firm in your rejection of the proffered item. It will be very helpful if the police can testify that they saw "a lot of movement from the driver and passenger," that "the driver appeared to pass something to the passenger," who made "a very quick deliberate and heated remark to the driver," and that the two continued to pass something back and forth. Angrily remarking to the police, "that motherfucker put that on me" will also advance your cause. In State v. Murphy, the court vacates a conviction for drug possession on grounds of insufficiency, finding that "all of the evidence, including the testimony of the police officer, indicates that Murphy’s possession was involuntary."
Dear Briefcase: My bitch got pregnant, and to discourage her from carrying the child to term, I went to her house, grabbed her by the hair, threw her down the porch steps, and told her to "have an abortion and if you're not going to have one, I'm going to give you one." I got convicted of domestic violence, but the statute requires proof that the victim was a "family member," which includes "the natural parent of any child of whom the offender is the other natural parent." I don't think "child" includes "unborn child," see what I'm saying? What do you think? Sincerely, Looking for an Angle
Dear Angle: Unfortunate though it may be, a court is less inclined to examine the fine points of a legal argument if you've engaged in misogynistic excess to the point where it would make Quentin Tarantino squirm. In State v. Lopp, the court says that Lopp waived this argument on his insufficiency claim by not specifying it as a basis for his Rule 29 motion, and completely ignores it in rejecting his manifest weight argument.
Dear Briefcase: I have a hard time meeting women -- what with being married and all -- but I hooked up with this one chick I met in the parking lot of a clothing store (go figure), but now she's claiming I raped her. Is it okay for my wife to get friendly with one of the jurors during deliberations? Sincerely, Burning the Candle at Both Ends
Dear Candle: Can't hurt. In State v. Mack, the defendant files a motion for new trial based on juror misconduct, supported by an affidavit from the defendant's wife claiming she had a conversation with Juror No. 12 during a recess in deliberations. The judge questions the juror, who admits she told the wife she felt the defendant wasn't guilty, and says the verdict was the result of a lot of compromising, and she now believes the verdict was wrong. The judge takes a short recess so the juror can talk with her own lawyer, and when the juror resumes the stand, the judge asks if the contact affected her deliberations. She says no, so the judge denies the motion. The court reverses, finding that the trial court erred in not allowing defense counsel to participate in the questioning of juror so he could meet his burden of proving that the misconduct affected outcome.
Dear Briefcase: It's rush hour, and I decide to avoid traffic by driving on the sidewalk. I hit a couple of people, and there's a lot of talk about how I must have been drunk or on drugs, but there's no evidence to prove it. The State introduces evidence of my prior DUI and driving under suspension convictions, claiming that they were admissible to show "absence of mistake or accident" on my part. Is this fair? Sincerely, Sauced
Dear Sauced: No, it's not. In State v. Greer, the court reverses the conviction, holding that the admission of the prior convictions under EvidR 404(B) was improper, since "Appellant did not claim that he accidently or mistakenly drove under the influence of alcohol or drugs. His defense was that he was not under the influence at all."
Dear Briefcase: So this really happened, 'kay? I get this check in the mail for $3,000 from this company, telling me I won this prize and that I need to deposit the check in my bank account, then wire the money back to the company, and they'll send me an even bigger prize. So I do like they say and deposit it, but then instead of wiring the money back I make two withdrawals the next day, at different branches, leaving three cents in my account, and I spend the money. Turns out the check was counterfeit, and now they're charging me with theft, and even my own lawyer doesn't believe my story. What should I do? Sincerely, No, Really, That's What Happened
Dear Really: Bad news; according to State v. Dorsey, the court of appeals isn't going to believe it, either, when you argue that the evidence is insufficient or that your conviction is against the manifest weight of the evidence. As for your attorney's skepticism, let's put it this way: would you really want to be represented by a lawyer dumb enough to believe that story?