Thursday, October 25, 2007

On the Record with Greta Van Susteren -- Update about Scott Peterson's Appeal, Conclusion

Last night, Megan, Greta's fill-in, said some Scott supporters would be on tonight, and implied that we would be surprised at their identity.

The only guest she had on tonight was John Guinasso, one of the Jurors. Of course, he is committed to Scott's conviction. So what happened to the other guests? Megan did not mention that those interviews would be aired at a later date.

Megan asked Guinasso if he thought Scott got a fair trial. Duh! What did she think he was going to say.

Guinasso defended the actions of fellow-juror Beratlis, who is the juror who got into the boat and rocked it. He said the original 12 jurors were the only ones who had seen the boat, and so the viewing of the boat was for the benefit of the alternate, because the Judge instructed them to start deliberations over again.

Guinasso is wrong. Let's refresh his memory with this timeline:

Jun 23 - Justin Falconer is removed from the Jury, and replaced by Gregory Jackson
Jul 27 - The Jurors view the boat
Nov 5 - The Jurors requested to see the boat
Nov 8 - The Jurors viewed the boat, at which time Beratlis rocked it
Nov 9 - Fran Gorman was removed from the Jury
Nov 10 - Gregory Jackson was removed from the Jury

Guinasso also said that Gregory Jackson wanted to be dismissed as early as 2 days into the deliberations. I suppose it took Guinasso longer than he expected to push Jackson out. Remember, Guinasso has publicly taken credit for helping to remove all 3 jurors -- Falconer, Gorman, and Jackson.

Guinasso is confident that if Scott's conviction is overturned that it will be because of something that happened in chambers, not because of juror misconduct. I agree that there are probably plenty of things that went on in chambers that are appellate issues, but the Peterson jurors will not be spared being told that their misconduct contributed to having Scott's verdict overturned.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

11 Reasons why Scott should get a new trial

I was disappointed that Greta only covered 3 reasons why Scott should get a new trial. PWC Consulting some time ago identified 10 reasons, which included 2 of Greta's. Adding the third one of Greta's to the list brings the total to 11.

1. The State of California failed to prove that Conner's and Laci's bodies washed ashore from where Scott went fishing, and thus failed to connect Scott Peterson to the deaths.

Proving Laci and Conner washed ashore from where Scott went fishing was, in Rick Distaso's words, "the most important fact" presented at the trial. Dr. Ralph Cheng was tasked with proving this fact. However, Cheng's methods amount to no more than junk science. His methodology is unproven and has never undergone peer review, he has no expertise in the movement of bodies in water, and his Progressive Vector Diagram is based on incorrect data. Moreover, the verified water level data and wind speed data prove Conner could not have washed ashore on April 13, 2003. The Richmond Jetty and Point Isabel each have easy access by car and foot, and that access is 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

2. The State of California failed to prove the time of death occurred on or before December 24, 2002.

All of the descriptions of Conner when he was found were of a full-term newborn. All measurements of Conner indicate December 29 as the earliest day Conner died. With all of the State's own experts concluding that Conner lived beyond December 24, 2002, thus excluding Scott, Dr. Greggory Devore was tasked with proving that Conner did in fact die on December 23rd or 24th. Like Cheng, Devore used junk science to deliver what the Prosecution team demanded. His method for determining Conner's gestational age is unproven and has never undergone peer review, he used different equipment and different reference standards than those used by the Laci's physicians, he measured only one of the four of the long bones recommended by his reference standard (Jeanty), and he failed to apply the standard deviation Jeanty requires.

3. The State of California relied on an unreliable witness to exclude other possible explanations for Laci's disappearance.

The State of California presented a timeline from 10:08 - 10:18 a.m. as the only time that an abduction could have occurred to account for Laci's disappearance. 10:08 was the time Scott checked voice mail on his cell phone. 10:18 was the time Karen Servas allegedly found McKenzie in the street and put him into the backyard. Karen Servas is an unreliable witness who changed her timeline and the details several times. In consequence of the weight the Trial Court placed on her testimony, important and valid alternative explanations for Laci's demise were excluded as a Defense.

4. The Trial Court refused to sequester the Jury for the guilt phase.

Even though the trial had to be moved because of negative media exposure, with obvious evidence that the negative media exposure was increasing, not decreasing, with the onset of the trial, the Trial Court refused to grant the Defense motion to sequester the Jury. This negative media saturation could not have been avoided by the Jurors, no matter how well-intentioned they were.

5. The Jury conducted its own demonstration during deliberations.

The Jury asked to see the boat during deliberations, which request was granted. Two of the jurors requested permission to get into the boat, which request was granted. The two jurors then proceeded to rock the boat and otherwise test it for stability. At least one Juror admitted a negative interpretation of Scott's reaction. A Jury is not allowed to consider anything that is not presented during the course of the trial as evidence.

6. The Jury did not begin their deliberations after two jurors were dismissed and alternates took their place.

Juror Richelle Nice admitted that the Jury did not start all over again with its deliberations when she took her place among them. She was the last of the two alternates to do so. She said it was only necessary for her and the other alternate to be brought up to speed, not for the others to begin again. The Jury was specifically instructed after each juror dismissal that they had to start all over again, as though their previous deliberations had never occurred.

7. The unprecedented dismissal of two Jurors after deliberations began.

This is an area of debate, whether the dismissal of a juror after deliberations began requires the dismissal of the entire jury and a new trial. Normally, alternates are selected in case a juror has to be dismissed during the trial. In this case, two jurors were dismissed after deliberations began.

8. The Trial Court erred in allowing the dog-trailing evidence.

The Trial Court conducted 402 evidentiary hearings in February and March of 2004. Two dog handlers testified at those hearings about the results of their trailing and cadaver dogs. The trailing dogs failed to follow Laci's scent from the house (523 Covena) to the truck to the Warehouse on Emerald Street, even though the State's theory was that Scott carried Laci's dead body from the house and loaded her into the truck and then drove to the warehouse. That is exonerating evidence. The cadaver dogs failed to alert to in the house, anywhere on the property, in the truck and in the boat. That is exonerating evidence.

The only portion of the dog evidence allowed in was the alert at the Berkeley Marina, under the claim that the bodies being found where they were was corroborating evidence. Yet no evidence was even produced at the pre-trial hearings to establish that the bodies washed ashore from where Scott was fishing. The Trial Court just assumed they had.

To allow only the incriminating dog evidence while excluding the exonerating evidence was unduly prejudicial against Scott.

9. The Amber tapes were prejudicial, not probative

The jury was subjected to hours and hours of taped recorded conversations between Amber Frey and Scott Peterson. These tapes had no evidentiary value. Their sole purpose was to inflame the Jury against Scott. The Trial Court allowed them under the pretext that they showed his state of mind after Laci disappeared. However, an analysis of the phone calls, and the calling pattern, demonstrates that each day Amber was the first to call, and often a couple of times, and Scott's calls to her were late in the evening when nothing further could be done to look for Laci. Indeed, the analysis suggests that Amber is the one engineering the continued phone relationship, not Scott. Since she was working for the police as their agent, this may well constitute entrapment.

10. The Trial Court erred by not allowing the Defense to present its boat demo.

The Defense prepared a demonstration with someone in a boat similar to Scott's and in the same area of the Bay attempting to put an object the size and weight of Laci overboard and into the Bay. The Trial Court refused to allow this demonstration on the basis that it could not precisely duplicate the conditions that Scott faced on December 24, 2002. Yet the Trial Court allowed the Prosecution to present a demonstration of a woman the size of Laci and pregnant getting into the boat and curling up to fit in between the seats. This demonstration did not duplicate the conditions Scott would have faced. Laci was dead, not alive. Laci had to be put into the boat, she couldn't climb into it herself. Laci had to be forced between the seats, she couldn't twist and turn until she fit. Most importantly, Laci most likely was at maximum rigor mortis.

The Trial Court also allowed the testimony of David Weber, VP Engineering, Lowe Boats, regarding the boat's stability when those stability tests are undergone under remarkably different conditions than Scott would have faced.

11. The concrete weights, alleged to have been used to weigh Laci down, were never found in spite of extensive searches after Laci and Conner were found.

On the Record with Greta Van Susteren -- Update about Scott Peterson's Appeal

For those of you that missed it, on Tuesday nite, Greta's coverage consisted only of a recap of Laci's disappearance and the investigation, trial and conviction of Scott.

Tonite, Greta covered 3 points that Scott's supporters claim warrant a new trial.
  • The jurors got into the boat and conducted their own test during deliberations
  • The concrete weights, alleged to have been used to weigh Laci down, were never found in spite of extensive searches after Laci and Conner were found
  • The Jury changed three times, twice after deliberations began

What was not included, because of the extensive southern California fire coverage, were interviews with some people close to Scott and his appeal. The teaser is that we will be surprised by their identities and what they have to say.

These interviews will be shown tomorrow night.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

On the Record with Greta Van Susteren -- Update about Scott Peterson's Appeal

From Greta's website:

Tuesday, October 23:

He murdered his wife and unborn baby. Now, three years later, Greta examines Scott Peterson's appeal.

The 2-part series starts tonight 'On the Record'

Monday, October 22, 2007

US v. Jones, No. 06-15203 -- Jury coerced by the Judge to reach a verdict

Our Constitution provides certain rights to Defendants, a major one being trial by jury. Each of the 12 jurors is under sacred obligation to vote his conscience when deciding guilt and innocence, and if he has reasonable doubt, he has a moral and legal obligation to acquit. Jurors are not to abandon "honestly held beliefs" about the guilt or innocence of the defendant in order to reach a verdict.

In the above cited case, after 2 hours of deliberation, the Jury sent its second note to the Judge that it was deadlocked. The Judge did not accept the Jury's deadlock and ordered them to appear the next day to continue deliberating, and added, "we will do this until you reach a verdict."

The next day, one of the jurors called in sick, and an alternate took her place. The new Jury was told to begin deliberations again, but that "there was no need of sending the court any notes that the jury can't agree, because you are going to stay here a long time." After an hour of deliberation, the Jury convicted the defendant.

In 1965, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Jenkins, ruled that "An instruction which appears to give a jury no choice but to return a verdict is impermissibly coercive." Furthermore, the instruction is "plain error," meaning that objection by Defense Counsel is not necessary in order to preserve the error on appeal.

"Such an error seriously affects the fairness, integrity, and public reputation of judicial hearings."

Based on this plain error, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for a new trial.

Read the full opinion . . .