Friday, June 12, 2009

Defendant Testifies: Is This A Prosecutor’s Dream Come True?

Posted by Arnold_Layne



[click for larger image]

To my knowledge, in the past when Amanda has spoken on her own behalf she was not challenged by the prosecution.  Friday will be different.  On Friday, she will be asked to reconcile discrepancies in her statements.  She will not be a sworn-in witness so it is not clear which lines of questioning will be allowed but the prosecutor will certainly try to impeach her.  If she is a psychopath, things could get knarly.

You’ve all seen it many times on crime shows.  On cross examination, the witness offers some testimony, for example, the fact that she has never been married.  The lawyer then asks to offer into evidence a marriage certificate.  Reducing the credibility of a witness in this fashion is known as impeaching the witness.  There are special rules that apply which allow the attorney to ask questions not normally allowed.  To discredit a claim made by the witness, the prosecutor could, for example, enter new evidence not presented previously during the prosecution phase of the trial.  The jury is then instructed to use the evidence only as it reduces the credibility of the witness but to ignore it when otherwise considering the guilt or innocence.  That’s expecting a lot.

One characteristic of a psychopath is the ability to lie with facility.  This does not mean the ability to spin a yarn or to make up a good story.  Most of us can do this.  It also doesn’t mean that the lie is particularly bad (a boldface lie).  When asked a question when the truth is not going to yield a desirable outcome, most of us will pause a little, maybe lift our eyes upward, as we weigh the consequences of the lie.  Someone who can lie with facility speaks the lie as fast as they would the truth and with the same conviction.

The problem, of course, is that without the pause there is no weighing of the implications of the lie.  There is little checking for consistency.  In social situations this can easily be maneuvered around by saying something along the lines of, “Aw, I was just jokin’”.  Guede adjusted his story to meet the facts as they emerged.  Amanda now also knows the evidence against her and she’s had plenty of time to create a story to match it.  She will be on stable ground here as the Judge and jury weigh her statements against those put forth by the prosecution.  This is a good reason to only have one of the two defendants testify.  They can’t trip each other up.

Cross, on the other hand, is going to be a minefield for her.  Not only will the prosecution point out discrepancies but they will challenge her on them and she will be under pressure to correct them.  She will be up against a trial lawyer’s strong suit.  Mignini will be trying to impeach her.  If she steps on one of his mines, she will probably step on many ““ and he’ll be laying even more as she speaks.

Other incendiaries include her basking in the attention and notoriety she is getting.  Additionally, she is a creative writer.  Who can say what this might lead her to say if she strays from the straight and narrow.

I give her credit for doing this but I certainly don’t envy her.  I can’t say that I have ever done anything tougher myself.  I wouldn’t eat for two days, just as a precautionary measure. Btw “can you smoke on the witness stand?” I’d bring a carton, of Luckies.




Comments

Amanda a psychopath?  You are nuts.  Here is your psychopath: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JJahPK3Peo

Posted by Pablo on 06/13/09 at 07:01 AM | #

That made me laugh. Rudy must regret making that one. Pablo, Arnold didnt actually say she is a psycho. He was explaining jury reaction. He said that psychopathics have a lack of certain reactions which makes it tough for them to convince juries. 

You might want to read Judge Micheli here on the site on why he dismissed the lone wolf theory when he convicted and sentenced Guede. There is a lot of other material here also, by Kermit for example, which also undermines that theory.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/13/09 at 07:33 AM | #


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