Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday (7/23): Defense Rests

Things did not go well today. At all. Without going intonecessary detail, the defense elicited absurd testimony that suggested Drew wasimpaired at the time of the collision. It was completely ludicrous and shouldhave had no bearing on the evidence or the case given the charges. Anynegligence on Drew’s part would have to outweigh the negligence on the part ofthe defendant since he was the one on trial. Considering there hadn’t even beenany evidence or testimony that suggested Drew had done anything wrong, it seemed that offering an explanation for anon-existent wrong doing would prove futile.  The judge’s instructions would prove highlyimportant since she would be instructing the jury on what evidence they wereallowed to consider. This suggests that the testimony shouldn’t have beenallowed in the first place, but I guess since I am no expert on criminal trialsI don’t know how to explain its allowance.

I think the DA did a poor job of crossing this witness. Hehad an opportunity to lessen the blow, but that opportunity came and went as heresigned from cross-examining him. There were chances to show that thistestimony meant little and was subject to a matter of scientific probabilitythat could have been rendered minimal at best. Perhaps the DA decided it wasbest to “leave it as it lay” and rely on the judge to direct the jury to disregardthe testimony when considering the charges. This remains to be seen.

Things got much worse. The next witness, a private trafficcollision reconstructionist succeeded in changing the entire pace of the trial.Maybe this was due to the order in which the testimony was received, but all ofmy positive feelings were wiped away by the time we adjourned for the day. Usingthe police report, witness testimony, and instructions to make a case for thedefense at the request of the PD, he constructed what was the first positivetestimony for the defense. Essentially this guy was paid to use his expertiseto suggest that Galo was not at fault. He selected and modified witnesstestimony that allowed him to make certain assumptions or judgments about thescene. He then cleverly extrapolated this to counter the police’s own diagramof what had happened. His conclusions were that Galo’s actions did not causethe accident.

With the help of the PD, they reached this conclusion byconstructing a timeline of events which were based on calculations derived fromaforementioned information. However, in order to make these calculations, thereconstructionist relied on making his own assumptions about the speed, relativelocation, and reaction time of both vehicles. We had a hard time keeping quietduring this testimony. The reason for this is that these assumptions were in directcontradiction to every witness thathad previously testified. For example, this guy made the assumption Galo’s carhad stopped just before the limit line of the intersection even though alltestimony suggested he stopped way before this line or hadn’t stopped at all.The significance is that this alters the amount of time it would have takenGalo to enter the intersection and the speed at which he was traveling at thetime of the collision. Conclusions derived from these assumptions would becontingent upon further bullshit assumptions that were tailored to the defense’scase. He followed that due to Drew’s braking, his bike was traveling anywherefrom 3 to 7 MPH at the time of the collision. But when calculating the amountof time Drew had to react, brake, and collide, he assumed Drew was traveling 0MPH “to give the victim the benefit of the doubt.” The problem here is thatwhen using his formula, this would mean that Drew applied the brakes outside of the intersection and before Galo had begun to attempt histurn into Drew’s lane, taking the responsibility to yield out of Galo’s hands.His calculation utilized Drew’s average speed (deducted from his speed at timeof braking, which is yet another inferred value) and perceived reaction time of1.5 seconds (another somewhat random speculation). All of this jargon comes downto one thing: This guy, who I remind you is paid handsomely to testify for thedefense, concocted a situation in which the collision was not necessarily due to Galo’s negligence.  

One other thing that came out from this witnesses’ testimonywas also troubling for our case. The evidence, the bike and car, had been releasedfrom impound in April 2011. They were later sold. The reconstructionisttestified that he was unable to determine a number of things relating to theincident due to this fact. This does not bode well in terms of seeding doubt inthe minds of the jurors. How can somebody convict someone when the evidence isno longer available? We wanted the DA to argue that there was enough photoevidence and testimony and that it was unnecessary to go back and look at thevehicles, but there was little he could actually say to that matter. Instead,the DA brought up the timing issue, that the defense had a few months to havethis investigated. The problem was not diffused: After the cross examinations ajuror submitted a question to the judge regarding the regularity of missingevidence in a criminal trial. Lo and behold, the reconstructionist said it washighly unusual.  

Despite the glaring contradictions (maybe less so in the jurors’minds), a crack in the DA’s case was made. Again, it only takes one juror’sinability to convict for us to lose our whole case. Given what had beentestified and pretending that I was a juror who had only just learned about thecase one week prior, I can’t say how I would feel about convicting Galo. Thejurors were difficult to read, but they sure as hell didn’t seem as convincedas they appeared only last Friday.

At this point I realize that I have lost all objectivity inregards to the jurors and how the case is shaping out. I have gone from excited,even laughing about the PD and his pathetic attempt to draw circles andsquares, to completely cynical about this whole goddamn case. You may haverealized that my verb tense has come full circle and I am now speaking in thepresent. I guess this has turned into my experience more than my observations,but as you know Drew would commonly say: fuck it.

Both sides have rested their case and it now comes down totwo things which will occur tomorrow. The first are the closing arguments fromboth attorneys. I think we have a leg up on this since the PD is semi-retardedand the DA is very sharp. It depends how they spin the evidence, but I amfairly confident in the DA and his ability to deliver punches. The second andperhaps even more important thing is the judge’s instructions to the jury. Shewill instruct them on how they are to deliberate. In other words she remindsthe jurors of the charges the defendant faces and what level of doubt isacceptable in order to convict him of misdemeanor manslaughter. Theseinstructions will prove crucial to the case. Whether or not the jury heeds thisis entirely another matter. Yes, a fucked up system, but it’s the best one we’vegot. More to come. 

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