May 10, 2008

ID: supreme Sarah Johnson smackdown

Heckling during oral argument, in front of the state Supremes, perhaps from the state Supremes, reported by Cassidy Friedman by the Times-News:

Supreme Court weighs Johnson case

Idaho Supreme Court justices will have to decide whom to blame for Sarah Johnson's botched defense: the judge or her attorney. Guessing from the blasting that Johnson's absent attorney received, the furious scribbling by reporters and the astonishment of Johnson's family each time a new heckle was uttered, it's not looking good for the attorney.

Members of the state's Supreme Court heard arguments on Johnson's appeal Friday, over three years after an Ada County jury found her guilty... (of) first-degree murder... (At trial), defense attorney Bob Pangburn harped the same line, "no blood, no guilt" - meaning that since no blood spatter was found on Johnson, the triggerman must have been somebody else.

Never did that defense seem more regrettable than Friday when Justice Roger S. Burdick, at Johnson's appeal, called that once memorable line "some silly jingle." As it turned out just before the jury's deliberation, the defense blew into a rage when the judge instructed the jury they could just as easily find Johnson guilty of murder by aiding and abetting someone else to do it because the two accusations are one and the same by Idaho law. To be guilty of the charge, she didn't have to be the one who pulled the trigger.

"Why wouldn't a competent defense attorney say, 'OK, she's being charged with first-degree murder,' (and) prepare a defense that goes either way?" asked Justice Warren E. Jones...

Fair question, that. It'll be asked in post-conviction proceedings too.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

Prosecutors shouldn't be allowed to try cases in the alternative. If they've got proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant acted alone, there is no need to rely on a fall-back position. If not, try them for complicity - and just complicity.

Every time I get a bill of particulars that says "Joe Blow, alone or in complicity with another, ..." I want to punch a prosecutor in the throat.