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Author Topic: Thoughts on the Jena 6  (Read 28613 times)

credo

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Re: Thoughts on the Jena 6
« Reply #50 on: September 24, 2007, 03:33:47 PM »
Sands, I recognize what you and P are saying about the attempted murder charge.  But intent is routinely demonstrated through inference.  Maybe the prosecutor thought there was a possible inference here.  I dont know though, I havent seen the DA's file.  I mean if the defendants were like "yeah were just going to rough this guy up a little" or were like "OK lets stop he might be seriously hurt" then yeah that speaks pretty strongly against intent to kill.  Without that kind of evidence either way though it all comes down to inferences.  Ultimatley the judge (I think?) didnt find PC on the attempted murder charge, so it was reduced.  Thats looks like the system worked to me.


I agree that the Jena Six were not treated fairly, but why has no one mentioned that Mr. Bell has a pretty lengthy criminal record including a battery convinction.  I'm not sure I would consider him a hero; he seems like somewhat of a troublemaker (aside from this case).

Prof. Overton noted (and I agree) that Mr. Bell could have pleaded to a lesser charge, and most likely would have not served a lengthy prison sentence.  Being willing to take such a stand, whether you are previously deemed a saint or not, is, in my mind, what makes you worthy of heroic praise.

Yeah he could have pleaded to Aggravated Battery which is what he was convicted of.  Doesnt sound like theres much question as to whether he and some compatriots stomped some kid.  If you did it you did it.  No going to fault the guy for going to court but c'mon hero for what?  It sounds like he was on probation for battery, possibly for breaking some girls jaw???  Sounds to me like he was a little more gangster than revolutionary...

Was the kid they stomped an a-hole? Probably
Was there a bunch of f-d up racial stuff directed at the black students? Yes
Were some other incidents in the town handled in an inequitable fashion? Sounds like it.
Was the defendant a great D-I football prospect? Yes
Did he have a criminal record? Yes

Should this stuff matter for the purposes of whether the defendant was guilty in this incident? NO

Now to talk about the fairness of the sentences, I personally feel that yea 15 years or whatever is over the top, and that since this was a school incident involving teenagers it makes more sense to try them as minors, but then again I wasnt at the trial.
  

Miss P

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Re: Thoughts on the Jena 6
« Reply #51 on: September 25, 2007, 12:12:14 AM »
Sands, I recognize what you and P are saying about the attempted murder charge.  But intent is routinely demonstrated through inference.  

Not usually in an attempted murder case.  You can infer recklessness from the actus reus, but not purpose. 
That's cool how you referenced a case.

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credo

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Re: Thoughts on the Jena 6
« Reply #52 on: September 25, 2007, 01:58:54 AM »
Sands, I recognize what you and P are saying about the attempted murder charge.  But intent is routinely demonstrated through inference.  

Not usually in an attempted murder case.  You can infer recklessness from the actus reus, but not purpose. 

What?!?! Ms.P, please! 

Where are you getting that from? Is that a Louisiana specific deal?  I was under the impression you could normally infer intent based on attendant circumstances and probable consequences. 

ie Defendant punches victim in face causing him to go unconcious and his teeth to fly out (he has inflicted GBI) but then keeps pounding the guy in the face as he lays on the ground from which you might infer that he was not content with just causing GBI but wanted to actually kill him.


Miss P

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Re: Thoughts on the Jena 6
« Reply #53 on: September 25, 2007, 02:18:38 AM »
ie Defendant punches victim in face causing him to go unconcious and his teeth to fly out (he has inflicted GBI) but then keeps pounding the guy in the face as he lays on the ground from which you might infer that he was not content with just causing GBI but wanted to actually kill him.

The Louisiana standard is that the act has to be one that a reasonable person would believe would result in death with a "probable certainty" for such an inference to be made from the act itself.  If the guy doesn't die or miraculously escape death, it's very difficult to make such an inference.  Moreover, in this case, the kids either stopped when they realized he was unconscious or stopped without realizing he was unconscious, or he was never unconscious, depending on which reports you believe.  There was no evidence of any kind that they were trying to kill him.

You can also infer intent from attendant circumstances, e.g., confessions of intent to kill, plans to kill, use of deadly weapons.  None of these were available in this case.
That's cool how you referenced a case.

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credo

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Re: Thoughts on the Jena 6
« Reply #54 on: September 25, 2007, 04:27:32 AM »
ie Defendant punches victim in face causing him to go unconcious and his teeth to fly out (he has inflicted GBI) but then keeps pounding the guy in the face as he lays on the ground from which you might infer that he was not content with just causing GBI but wanted to actually kill him.

The Louisiana standard is that the act has to be one that a reasonable person would believe would result in death with a "probable certainty" for such an inference to be made from the act itself.  If the guy doesn't die or miraculously escape death, it's very difficult to make such an inference.  Moreover, in this case, the kids either stopped when they realized he was unconscious or stopped without realizing he was unconscious, or he was never unconscious, depending on which reports you believe.  There was no evidence of any kind that they were trying to kill him.

You can also infer intent from attendant circumstances, e.g., confessions of intent to kill, plans to kill, use of deadly weapons.  None of these were available in this case.

Well Im guessing that to ascertain the "probable certainty" of an act killing someone youd have to look primarily to the facts/evidence. 

I agree that the act of "kicking someone," of itself, is not probably certain to kill someone.  The manner in which you kick someone could definately raise that probability though, wouldnt you agree? 

So yes if the defendants in this case didnt act in such a way as to raise the possibility of death to a probable certainty then yea theres no business charging them with attempted murder.  Ultimately its a fairly nuanced factual call though (im assuming "probable certainty" is construed as something significantly less than 99%, maybe even below 51%) it sounds like there are conflicting accounts as to what went on and really it would only take one account meeting that threshold to justify taking that charge to prelim.  Im assuming the DA was a little more up on the whole picture than the various media accounts floating around out there  hence my skepticism that the charge was an abuse of discretion.  Obviously this guy stepped on his own male private part in not having them tried as minors which doesnt win him any points as far as competency/ethics.

How about this though: just because theres no clear evidence a defendant intended to kill the victim, should that necessarily preclude filing an attempted murder charge if there is also no clear evidence that the defendant didnt intend to kill?  Say for example the defendant refused to give any statements to the police, but the prosecutor felt, based on is interpretation of whatever evidence is available, they had the intent.  Sure it might not survive prelim or grand jury but so long as the prosecutor isnt being tainted by "bias for or against any groups or individuals" or some other ulterior motive I dont see it as wrong.

Burning Sands, Esq.

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Re: Thoughts on the Jena 6
« Reply #55 on: September 25, 2007, 12:45:00 PM »
Sands, I recognize what you and P are saying about the attempted murder charge.  But intent is routinely demonstrated through inference.  

Not usually in an attempted murder case.  You can infer recklessness from the actus reus, but not purpose. 

What?!?! Ms.P, please! 

Where are you getting that from? Is that a Louisiana specific deal?  I was under the impression you could normally infer intent based on attendant circumstances and probable consequences. 

ie Defendant punches victim in face causing him to go unconcious and his teeth to fly out (he has inflicted GBI)but then keeps pounding the guy in the face as he lays on the ground from which you might infer that he was not content with just causing GBI but wanted to actually kill him.



I dunno about that theory, Credo.  I'm inclined to agree with Miss P on this one.  Just look at the few cases I cited earlier for examples.

Seeing as how I have nothing to do today, this will give me a good research project!


EDIT:  Just to be clear, the ISSUE IS...whether intent can be infered from attendant circumstances and/or probable consequences for the charge of Attempted Murder where 6 high school students attacked another high school student with sneakers.
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PNym

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Re: Thoughts on the Jena 6
« Reply #56 on: September 25, 2007, 03:54:04 PM »
ie Defendant punches victim in face causing him to go unconcious and his teeth to fly out (he has inflicted GBI) but then keeps pounding the guy in the face as he lays on the ground from which you might infer that he was not content with just causing GBI but wanted to actually kill him.

The Louisiana standard is that the act has to be one that a reasonable person would believe would result in death with a "probable certainty" for such an inference to be made from the act itself.  If the guy doesn't die or miraculously escape death, it's very difficult to make such an inference.  Moreover, in this case, the kids either stopped when they realized he was unconscious or stopped without realizing he was unconscious, or he was never unconscious, depending on which reports you believe.  There was no evidence of any kind that they were trying to kill him.

You can also infer intent from attendant circumstances, e.g., confessions of intent to kill, plans to kill, use of deadly weapons.  None of these were available in this case.

Out of curiosity, does Louisiana law allow for an "attempted manslaughter" or somesuch charge? I've heard various pundits state that the Jena 6 did, in fact, beat the victim while he was unconscious, but as you suggest, it seems likely that they stopped after a period of time.

I don't know if the blows delivered to the head would be enough to satisfy Louisiana's standard for attempted murder, where that "the act has to be one that a reasonable person would believe would result in death with a 'probable certainty.'" But, arguing from a normative perspective, it seems as though the law should have a charge for that act separate from normal battery, since blows to the head are clearly potentially lethal (sufficient blunt trauma to the base of the skull can kill a man), moreso than, say, a kneecapping with a tire iron (which, while brutal and abhorrent, would probably not be lethal).

PNym

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Re: Thoughts on the Jena 6
« Reply #57 on: September 25, 2007, 04:04:49 PM »
How about this though: just because theres no clear evidence a defendant intended to kill the victim, should that necessarily preclude filing an attempted murder charge if there is also no clear evidence that the defendant didnt intend to kill?  Say for example the defendant refused to give any statements to the police, but the prosecutor felt, based on is interpretation of whatever evidence is available, they had the intent.  Sure it might not survive prelim or grand jury but so long as the prosecutor isnt being tainted by "bias for or against any groups or individuals" or some other ulterior motive I dont see it as wrong.

That the attempted murder charge was primarily filed as a hedge against the uncertainties of the facts, or as a legal strategem, seems plausible enough to me, although admittedly I have little knowledge of how a prosecutor plans a prosecution.

If what you describe is what occurred, then at least to me, the demonstrators are clearly overreacting, especially since the charge has since then been reduced to a battery one.

PNym

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Re: Thoughts on the Jena 6
« Reply #58 on: September 25, 2007, 04:13:51 PM »
On a related, but different issue, what do posters think of demands that the defendant be set free on bail pending his retrial? I don't think he should be free on bail; the defendant was already found guilty as an adult, so it's unlikely that he would be found innocent when retried as a juvenile. Letting free a defendant who is likely to be found guilty makes it likely that he will flee, rather than stand trial.

PNym

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Re: Thoughts on the Jena 6
« Reply #59 on: September 25, 2007, 04:26:48 PM »
If what you describe is what occurred, then at least to me, the demonstrators are clearly overreacting, especially since the charge has since then been reduced to a battery one.

Except that many of the protestors are worried about more than just the charge, but also the circumstances surrounding the whole series of events.

Initially I had a similar reaction, because I didn't think that tennis shoes qualified as a deadly weapon, which, according to the media reports I first read, was required to prosecute for an attempted murder charge.

But if what credo alleges is true, then I think the prosecutor's behavior is fine, because he had to pick an initial charge based on the evidence he initially had on hand.

Without further knowledge of Louisiana law, though, and assuming that there is a clear-cut reason for not charging the defendant with attempted murder, I would agree that a prosecution in court for that charge is a little suspicious. But if whether the facts fit that threshhold is a murky question, then I'd give the benefit of the doubt to the prosecutor.

It's pretty tough for a 3rd party, such as myself, to know what is going on in a DA's office. That fact might be lost on the protestors who are rushing to display their moral indignation.

(That's not to say that some protestors aren't taking a more measured examination of this case, but I have the suspicion that these types of protestors are in the minority.)