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Due Process Criminal Trials, Hearings

Discussion in 'Criminal Procedure, Criminal Court' started by brandifrye, Jul 29, 2014.

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  1. brandifrye

    brandifrye Law Topic Starter New Member

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    This happened over 6 years ago, my niece received the strictest sentence the State could give. It all came down to the grandjury testimony. It is obvious from reading it that she didn't understand her rights, and the Prosecutor was misleading. She admitted guilt. She was informed of her Miranda right and that she didn't have to answer the questions, that she could have an attorney, but she didn't have an attorney. It was also obvious that she was under much duress. She was confused and didn't know what was happening, I don't think she knew what the fifth amendment was. She was ambushed. Her attorney filed for appeal to the State Supreme Court and lost, five out of six assignments of error. They told her they wanted to ask her some questions and took her to a Grand Jury hearing. They did it all on the same day, without any prior notice, a subpoena, or a target letter. The questioning was guided and misleading by the Prosecutor, quickly tricking her to admitting guilt because she felt bad about what happened and agreed it was an accident. This got her life in prison. The jurors said they didn't believe the one and only witness, who was a conspirator and probably more guilty than my niece, but was given immunity, but they relied solely on the grandjury testimony. Her attorney did ask to have it suppressed and it was denied. I have the strongest feeling that she was denied due process. Opinions, experience, and wisdom appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2014
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Its far too late to do anything in the court system to assist your niece.
    Unfortunately, there are thousands suffering her fate, after an unfair trial, deals for co-conspirators, and suspect testimony.
    If she had a remedy, it would be far beyond anything a small legal forum could do.
    You are free to contact the "Innocence Project" or other prisoner rights groups.
    There are many good ones out there.
    You might try contacting your governor to seek clemency, a commuted sentence, or a pardon.

    Good luck.
     
  3. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    This is not even a due process question.

    You claim she did not know what was happening, but she was informed of her rights and proceeded to cooperate. When she was told her rights she was told an attorney could be provided for free if could not afford one. She was not duped into anything. She willingly participated and confessed to her actions. That did not work out well for her, but it does not mean she was tricked or that anybody did anything wrong.
     
  4. disagreeable

    disagreeable Well-Known Member

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    If she got life, it is probably best for society that she is there.
     
  5. aware

    aware New Member

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    Thank you, armyjudge!

    To the next two posters, obviously you don't know all the facts but are quick to judge. There are many critics against the Grandjury system, and Prosecutors will and do abuse their powers. Fairness and justice becomes less important than their own love of power. Does power corrupt or are corrupted people attracted to power. He chose the weakest to give the harshest punishment too. But then in a similar case he didn't prosecute. There are certain types he will and others he won't. He won't go after anyone in Government for "wreckless behavior" leading to a criminal offense.
    Why should we surrender to the corruption of our Justice System by those who have took an oath to uphold it, then turned into criminals themselves.

    "It is more dangerous that even a guilty person should be punished without the forms of law than that he should escape."

    Thomas Jefferson
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2014
  6. Proserpina

    Proserpina Moderator

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    That's nice.

    Did you have a question?
     
  7. aware

    aware New Member

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    Hi Proserpina, thanks for asking. I do have a question. Before the grandjury trial ever began my niece was interrogated, intimidated, and held against her will. Her Attorney ask for the testimony to be suppressed, shortly after it was made public, but not all of it. The first 22 pages were not made public.
    Can either myself, or her, ask for the first 22 pages with the Freedom of Information Act?
     
  8. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    You might want to speak with a criminal appellate attorney. The initial meeting is normally offered free of charge. More than likely, if the missing pages EXIST, they'll have to be subpoenaed. If corruption is involved, the perpetrators are very clever. If you choose to pursue this, don't make any noise or tip your hand. That's when the shredding begins. Good luck.
     
  9. Proserpina

    Proserpina Moderator

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    You can try.

    Expect to be ignored.

    You can try again.

    Expect to receive 20-odd pieces of paper with virtually anything of any interest redacted. And that's assuming the State can actually respond.

    I suspect her attorney already knows this.

    So, onto the meat of the argument:

    What do you believe is wrong about the sentence? Not the conviction - the sentence.

    That's kind of his job. People often forget the fact that what is okay for the defense is also okay for the offense.

    Well, that's unfortunate.

    Sounds proper so far. It's looking like she admitted to the crime before anyone had a chance at assigning her a PD.

    Duress as in, "Flustered and confused"? or duress as in "she was being threatened with bodily harm, worse, or something equally heinous"?

    I'm seeing a poorly equipped defendant. The old adage of "ignorance is not a defense" still holds strong.

    Good for him for trying. I suspect he knew it would be a long shot at best.

    She didn't once ask for an attorney?

    (For what it's worth, there is nothing in and of itself improper about rushing a case through)

    But she still didn't request an attorney, non?

    Hold it. One doesn't get from questioning to a mistake to life in prison easily. What actually happened?

    Based purely on what you've written here, I don't believe she was denied due process.

    What I do see though, is a case where things didn't go to plan and the eventual attorney evidently thinks the same way. Here's the bigger issue. There is generally only so far an appeals process can go. She's already gone past the State - is she willing and financially able to take it all the way to SCOTUS?

    What is her attorney saying?
     

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