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katatonic
09-22-2008, 01:51 PM
Hey everyone, i'm working on a short story that requires a hot shot lawyer getting a child murderer off. I've been brainstorming but haven't come up with anything. My knowledge of the court system is terrible so any input would be greatly appreciated.

Here's what i'm stuck with:
How to get the child murderer off of murder charges in a smart way.

How long would it take before he's back out on the streets?

I apologize for the way i've explained it.

Once again, any opinions would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers

HeronW
09-22-2008, 02:21 PM
several ways:
1--chain of evidence is f--ked up so the main link to the murders is gone due to sloppy police procedure i.e.:
they didn't have a search warrant,
they didn't mirandize the perp,
got evidence in an illegal way--like bringing the person a cigarette, then taking it away frm him for dna off the saliva vs waiting for the perp to put the extinguished cig down, discarding it--which is legal to pick up.
2--bad lab work: contaminated samples due to mislabeling, spilling coffee on it, dropping the sample, or deliberate manipulation by someone paid to mess things up
3--mistrial called: a jurist talks when they shouldn't or is intimidated and refuses to come to a consensus, or the judge recuses himself for conflict of interest, a new witness blows the prosecution's case out of the water, an exact murder happens--same MO and with the perp in jail, he can't have done it-ergo he's not guilty of the first one.

MelancholyMan
09-22-2008, 05:29 PM
Look for technicalities. Was the evidence collected illegally? (Perhaps a urine or blood sample?) If so it is inadmissable in court. And minors must be handled very carefully according to the law. Their names can not be released. They can not be placed with adults. They can not be forced to provide samples of genetic material. Anything like this can be used to get a kid released and perhaps have the case thrown out. Especially if you have a liberal judge more interested in protecting the guilty than prosecuting them. This really isn't a hard one if you follow the news. Almost anything you come up with will be believable even if you - the writer - can't believe it. If the kid is older and very savvy and good looking, maybe he/she seduces a guard and then claims rape. In our justice system the possibilities are limitless.

IceCreamEmpress
09-22-2008, 07:02 PM
Read a few of Erle Stanley Gardner's Perry Mason books. Now, Perry's clients are always innocent, but he's always using courtroom tricks to undermine the prosecution's case. Said tricks would probably work just as well with a guilty client. ;)

Smiling Ted
09-22-2008, 07:09 PM
Look for technicalities. Was the evidence collected illegally? (Perhaps a urine or blood sample?) If so it is inadmissable in court. And minors must be handled very carefully according to the law. Their names can not be released. They can not be placed with adults. They can not be forced to provide samples of genetic material. Anything like this can be used to get a kid released and perhaps have the case thrown out. Especially if you have a liberal judge more interested in protecting the guilty than prosecuting them. This really isn't a hard one if you follow the news. Almost anything you come up with will be believable even if you - the writer - can't believe it. If the kid is older and very savvy and good looking, maybe he/she seduces a guard and then claims rape. In our justice system the possibilities are limitless.

First of all, is this about a child who murders?
Or someone who murders a child?

If it's a child who kills, even if the child is convicted, he'll usually be released when he becomes a legal adult. You know, unless you get one of those conservative judges who likes to lock up innocents, six-year olds, and the mentally retarded, even if their legal representative was paid lunch money to represent them and fell asleep in the courtroom during the trial.

I was a juror in an attempted murder case. We had a hung jury - a deadlock - not because of anything the judge did, but because the prosecutor didn't have enough evidence to support his charge. If he had gone for a lesser charge, like accessory, he'd have won the case. But he decided to go for broke, all or nothing, and he got the goose egg.

RJK
09-22-2008, 08:13 PM
Questions we need answered:

How old is the child?
What did he do?
Were there witnesses?
What evidence does the police have?
Did the child confess?
Were his parents present when he was questioned?

Lots of holes need to be filled before I could give you a useful answer.

TsukiRyoko
09-22-2008, 08:22 PM
Read up on the OJ Simpson case, and talk to someone with legal experience. Be sure to ask about any loopholes in the system, the different types of techniques that can be sued in defense, and how specific situations can affect a trial.

Good luck!

Williebee
09-22-2008, 08:25 PM
Like I'm gonna tell you how I got away with it... oh, wait. :)

#3 from Heron works for me. And it could just be a jurist who got pinned down by a tv camera crew and panicked. Or was trying to talk about how much he knew, so that he'd get his "book deal".

Izunya
09-22-2008, 08:57 PM
If we're talking a child who killed someone, there's also the option of just shamelessly playing with the jurors' emotions. A lot of people believe that children are innocent and need to be protected. A lot of people have a hard time envisioning a murderous child, even though we know it happens. (Although come to think of it, the only examples that are coming to my mind right now are murderous teenagers; the exact age of the child would make a huge, huge difference, IMO.) If the accused is prepubescent and sweet-seeming and can get the jury's sympathy, they might acquit even if the evidence was pretty good.

Izunya

jennifer75
09-22-2008, 09:06 PM
Hey everyone, i'm working on a short story that requires a hot shot lawyer getting a child murderer off. I've been brainstorming but haven't come up with anything. My knowledge of the court system is terrible so any input would be greatly appreciated.

Here's what i'm stuck with:
How to get the child murderer off of murder charges in a smart way.

How long would it take before he's back out on the streets?

I apologize for the way i've explained it.

Once again, any opinions would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers


You could use the OJ Simpson trial for ideas on how to get off murder charges....the glove dont fit, or....well, money can buy freedom.

How soon will he be on the streets, as soon as they threaten to take away his golf clubs.

jennifer75
09-22-2008, 09:07 PM
Read up on the OJ Simpson case, and talk to someone with legal experience. Be sure to ask about any loopholes in the system, the different types of techniques that can be sued in defense, and how specific situations can affect a trial.

Good luck!

D'oh! I was too slow.

katatonic
09-23-2008, 03:30 AM
Thanks for all the replies

I should have been clearer.

Here's what i'm after.
I need to show a hot shot lawyer getting off a child murderer in open court. It's obvious that the man is guilty as hell, but the hot shot still gets him off. Later he questions his decision and conscious, but by then it's already bit him in the ass.

So to answer the questions.
The victim is a child (around 6 years old) and the murderer is a 50 year old man. They protagonist of the story is the lawyer. I need to show him as an arrogant, smart, cut throat man without a conscious.

Once again, thanks for all your replies.

j.s.cutler
09-23-2008, 06:50 AM
A motion to suppress under Miranda would work (i.e. fruit of the poisonous tree)

The issue there is that no good defense lawyer is going to wrestle with his conscious about whether to do it or not. If there's any chance it will get his client off he/she would be duty bound to pursue it or be disbarred. That's not to say a defense attorney might not struggle with a child-murderer case.

I was a criminal defense attorney for a few years and got tired of it. My clients were all low-level screw-ups. I can't imagine doing a murder trial.

I think you need more of a gray area situation: An incriminating document is inadvertently sent to the wrong place. The client lies to the lawyer about something that puts him in an awkward place. The prosecution makes a slip up and the defense attorney has to decide whether to come forward. The attorney knows the defendant is going to lie on the stand and has to decide how to handle it. The attorney gets dirt on a potential witness and weighs how to use it.

Those are a few. You probably need to do some research to come up with something really interesting. Check out lawyers weekly or one of the legal publications online. Truth is usually stranger than fiction. I'm sure if you look around you can find a real case that you might be able to borrow from.

To answer your other question if there was a motion to suppress or any kind of exculpatory motion and it was granted by the judge the perp would be back on the streets the same day unless there was some other independent evidence. You have to have probable cause to hold someone and if there's no evidence you can't hold them.

hammerklavier
09-23-2008, 06:50 AM
He might make a case that the DA (district attorney) or the sheriff/police chief have a personal vendetta against the man (you'll need to come up with a reason they might not personally like the man).

For instance, in the OJ murder case, the police detective was painted as a racist by the prosecution.

RJK
09-23-2008, 06:14 PM
Let's see:

The confession was tainted
The evidence was tainted
A witness was tainted
Witnesses testimony conflicted
Errors in police procedures
Errors in handling evidence
Defense witnesses lie for defendent


ETA: the murderer tampers with the jury and his lawyer knows about it.

ideagirl
09-23-2008, 07:09 PM
3--mistrial called: a jurist talks when they shouldn't or is intimidated and refuses to come to a consensus, or the judge recuses himself for conflict of interest,

If there's a mistrial the guy doesn't get off--the prosecutors can just have another trial. And when a judge recuses him or herself, you simply get another judge--it wouldn't normally provoke a mistrial, but if it did, see point (a) above--i.e. if it did, they'd just start the trial over with a new jury.


a new witness blows the prosecution's case out of the water, an exact murder happens--same MO and with the perp in jail, he can't have done it-ergo he's not guilty of the first one.

If this happens during the trial, the jury could still find him guilty; it by no means guarantees that he'd get off. And another murder with the same MO could simply be a copycat, or another killer who happens to have the same methods.

And for RJK's point on conflicting witness testimony--there's usually/always conflicting testimony at a trial, and sometimes there's even conflicting testimony from the same witness (e.g. person who changes their story or has a bad memory). That's the kind of stuff that the jury is there to sort through. It doesn't mess up the case or get the defendant off--it's just part of the trial process.

RJK
09-23-2008, 07:53 PM
And for RJK's point on conflicting witness testimony--there's usually/always conflicting testimony at a trial, and sometimes there's even conflicting testimony from the same witness (e.g. person who changes their story or has a bad memory). That's the kind of stuff that the jury is there to sort through. It doesn't mess up the case or get the defendant off--it's just part of the trial process.

I agree with ideagirl, but the idea is to instill a reasonable doubt in the jury's mind. A good defense attorney will jump on the conflicting testimony, stressing that you can't believe anything the witness said.

Another issue I forgot to bring up is discrediting the witnesses, as Cochran did with Mark Furman, bringing up his racist past. Furman could have done everything perfectly by the book, but once he was discredited, anything he said was tainted.

Soccer Mom
09-23-2008, 08:36 PM
The simplest and easiest solution is that evidence seized was inadmissable. You have to make it something crucial. It's possible to lose half your evidence or a confession and still have a proveable case. My suggestion would be an illegal search that locates the murder weapon which was found in the defendant's possession. Losing a piece that crucial could result in a guilty person going free (which is my understanding of what you were looking for).

ETA: And if the defendant is found Not Guilty, that person would be released immediately.