DA Attempts to Blow Domestic Dispute into Burglary Charge; Jury Disagrees

Share:
courtroom.jpgA Yolo County Jury has acquitted a young man charged with burglarizing the Davis home of his former girlfriend, in a case that was highly questionable as to whether it should have been criminally charged in the first place. The DA’s office charged him with grand theft and first degree burglary, with an enhancement because the girl’s roommate was in the house at the time of the burglary.  Mr. Estep faced five years in prison if he were convicted.
Daniel Estep thought he was in a long term relationship with his girlfriend Chelsea Stewart. They had met over the winter of 2007 in Oroville when Ms. Stewart was home for the holidays from a UC Davis study abroad program in Sweden.

Ms. Stewart would return to California around the spring of 2007, continuing their relationship, and Mr. Estep moved in with Ms. Stewart at the home of her parents in Oroville. However, in late October 2007, they would break up., after Ms. Stewart returned to UC Davis and moved to Davis. According to his mother, Robin Lowe, when Mr. Estep and his girlfriend separated, they did like most people would do and set a time to meet at the place where they were residing for Mr. Estep to collect his belongings. 

He arrived late on the Friday in question, and since it was late, they agreed that he should come back the next day.  According to Mr. Estep, Ms. Stewart said she’d leave the key of her place under a plant pot in the morning as she left, so that he could enter. That way, he could wait in her room for her, since after he checked out of his motel in the morning he would not have anywhere else to wait for her. She said she had a commitment the next day but would try to get away and come home to meet him there.

However, Ms. Stewart failed to show and Mr. Estep waited inside all day, claiming that he had obtained entrance  by retrieving the key from under the potted plant as arranged, and that the roommate had seen him  Finally, having to leave and failing to contact her, he collected his belongings and left. Ms. Stewart was later to say that there had been no arrangement about the key, and that she arrived home later that day, only to find her key missing from her key chain and had to call the roommate to let her inside.

“Unbeknownst to him, a couple of days after that, not even that day, she filed a police report saying that he had robbed her house,” said his mother Robin Lowe in an interview with the Vanguard. “What was a domestic dispute, no more than that, turns out with him possibly facing at least five years in prison.”

The Vanguard became aware of this trial due to Deputy District Attorney Clinton Parish.  Two weeks ago, the Vanguard published an article that criticized some of DDA Parish’s courtroom conduct in Judge White’s court.  Keeping that in mind, Mr. Parish asked jurors whether or not they read the Davis Vanguard.  The question caught the attention of Robin Lowe.

“When Mr. Parish was posing arguments prior to the jury, they hadn’t come to the point of even picking the jury, he wanted to have a stipulation that anybody that was being interviewed for the jury needed to be asked a question in relation to whether or not they had read [the Davis Vanguard]. And if they had, he didn’t want them seated,” she told the Vanguard.

“No one claimed that they had read the blog.  But he was allowed to ask that question of the jury.  He was given permission by the Judge to ask that question and if someone had said yes they were excused.  But that didn’t happen,” she said.

But what did happen is that when she went home she looked up the Vanguard and invited us to watch the case.

From the start, it seemed to be a case that never should have gone through criminal proceedings. Apparently Ms. Stewart was most concerned about recovering an external hard drive, that she had purchased in Sweden, for a computer that Mr. Estep claimed to have purchased from an acquaintance, and for which he produced a receipt in court. She said that she had her school work on this hard drive.

She had called Mr. Estep and he returned that hard drive. On several occasions, Ms. Stewart said on the stand that she was most concerned about the external drive and her school work, and that she was surprised that the state and District Attorney’s office had pressed charges.  She claimed it was out of her hands and she could not stop the process from going forward. That did not stop her from continuing to make a variety of charges about stolen items.

It was not until six months after the fact that Mr. Estep learned that she had filed a report with the police. “They put a warrant out for his arrest and some months later, a few months later, he was picked up on that warrant.  He had no idea anything was going on,” said his mother.

There was a clear dispute between the two sides as to what happened. However, it seems, given the scope of this case, mediation would have been a better remedy than to use court time. Nevertheless, the DA’s office charged him with grand theft, first degree burglary, and the enhancement for the presence in the house of the girl’s roommate at the time of the alleged burglary.  Again, Mr. Estep faced five years in prison if he were convicted.

According to Mr. Estep, he took only his belongings from the residence. These included a computer purchased for $300, a camera purchased for $40, a size 11 ring, some clothing and a phone charger. He only took the external hard drive because it was attached to the computer at the time, and he wasn’t really aware of it.

However, Ms. Stewart argued that the above items were gifts and that he did not keep any of his personal clothing at her Davis residence. According to her, when she returned that evening she was unable to enter her home because her key was missing. A roommate came to unlock the door for her. Ms. Stewart entered her room and found it turned upside down, her belongs strewn everywhere, items missing. She called Mr. Estep who stated to her that he’d taken the items and done it to “hurt you the way you hurt me.”

While she claimed her room was trashed and turned upside down, there was no evidence presented in court other than testimony to support the claim. There were no photos introduced to show that this had occurred.
According to her, the most important items stolen were her computer with accessories ($300), camera ($450), external hard drive, jewelry made and given to her by her late father, and a collection of nude photos of her. She says she had purchased the computer from the same people Mr. Estep claims to have purchased it from, and she also provided a receipt for it.

In the dispute over the nude photos, she claimed in pretrial that they were an artful collection which  was “tastefully done, but certainly nothing I’d want my ex-boyfriend to possess.” Mr. Estep claimed that they were given to him by Ms. Stewart a month prior, while Ms. Stewart claims he stole them from her residence.

This was a problem for the defense because the prosecution brought in the photographer to say he’d developed them only a few days prior to the time Ms. Stewart says they were taken, which contradicted Mr. Estep’s claim of when he was given them. Even the Public Defender Teal Dixon, in her closing argument, said that the photographs were “a problem” and that it was possible that Mr. Estep’s memory was inaccurate as to when he got them – a weak explanation.

In closing arguments, DDA Clinton Parish argued that Daniel was bitter and had a hard time getting over the breakup , so stole the items as vengeance against Ms. Stewart. He said that Mr. Estep didn’t have a job so would not be able to afford a computer. He said that Mr. Estep’s lifestyle included keeping his clothes in trash bags , so he couldn’t have kept a receipt for a computer for months and months.

Mr. Parish argued that even though Mr. Estep didn’t have intent to steal the first time he entered the property, after he went outside with a load of belongings, his re-entry into the house was subject to his new intent. He said that the photographer’s testimony that the photos had not even been produced at the time that Mr. Estep claims they were given to him by Ms. Stewart is proof that Mr. Estep is lying.

Public Defender Teal Dixon argued that Mr Parish was right about some things, specifically that this case was about credibility. She stated that Ms. Stewart’s testimony made no sense. The police report that was made the next day after the discovery of the alleged missing items does not contain the item that Ms Stewart said was amongst the most precious, namely, the jewelry that her late father had made for her.

Ms. Dixon contended that even though victims usually remember more things as time goes on, Ms Stewart had all night and the next day to think about it and didn’t report that precious item at that time. She said we should be wary that Ms Stewart’s list grew from small to huge.

Judge Timothy Fall’s Conduct

The trial was also marred with the abrasive and at times demeaning conduct of Judge Timothy Fall to Deputy Public Defender Teal Dixon. It was clear for those watching the case that Ms. Dixon was relatively inexperienced as a defense attorney in a felony case. However, Judge Fall treated her in a condescending, if not abusive, fashion that threatened to bias the jury against the defense.

There were multiple occasions in which Judge Fall berated the public defender when the jury was not present, but there were also several times when he did it in front of the jury. I personally observed him condescendingly instruct Ms. Dixon not to refer to her own client by his first name. “You must call an adult by his formal name, i.e. Mr. Estep, not Daniel.” 

He told her that she could not pause to read her notes before asking the next question or pause to take notes after she’s asked a question. He instructed her not to leave the evidence document on her desk because it would get lost and told her, again condescendingly, to put it back on the clerk’s desk.

One of the worse cases was when she was going to show the jury a photo and he angrily demanded she not hand it to them,  but rather hold it up for them. He then asked her, condescendingly, if she understood why. When she gave the wrong answer, he mocked her.

Later he said, “I didn’t ask you to explain your question, I asked you to repeat the question.”

When she was going to give her closing remarks, she asked if she could move the podium away from the window so she could use it.  He said, “Having been in my courtroom you should know by now that you don’t have to ask to move the podium [away from the window].  No I don’t expect you to stand on the window sill [as jury members are entering the courtroom].” 

Personally by that point, I would have asked him if I could blow my nose, because you never knew how he was going to respond. This is not unique for Judge Fall. In another case we are following, he had the defense attorney so confused after he berated him for failing to stand when addressing him, that now the attorney does not know when to sit and when to stand.

Another witness bumped the mic in this other case, and as she was trying to explain herself, he said that if she interrupts the judge, she is done, and proceeded to tell some strange story about the microphone having a defense mechanism.

His conduct had implications. He said again rudely, “No we can’t discuss lesser included charges because you didn’t bring it up in my chambers yesterday.” Ms Dixon raised the topic of including lesser charges. Judge Fall denied that discussion on the grounds that she had not mentioned it the previous day when they two attorneys had met with the Judge in his chambers. He had stipulated at that earlier meeting that the following day they would only be allowed to discuss with him the topics they had raised in that meeting. She had apparently not mentioned lesser charges at the meeting in chambers. Judge Fall added that the evidence also did not support lesser charge of theft. He said that if Mr Estep did it then he did the whole thing , i.e. the grand theft. If he didn’t do it then he did no theft at all.

That decision, supported strongly by Mr. Parish, may have cost them a conviction, although since no has spoken to the jury it is unclear what they believed about the case.

Why was this case even prosecuted?

One of the biggest questions from the start was the question as to why this case was prosecuted to begin with.  It seems like it should have been settled through some sort of mediation, where the two parties could get together and decide whose property was whose. 

Instead the case dragged on for two and a half years. Robin Lowe, mother of Mr. Estep, was angry about the entire incident.  “What was a domestic dispute, no more than that, turns out with him possibly facing at least five years in prison,” she told the Vanguard.

Ms. Lowe blames it squarely on DDA Clinton Parish.   “It was Clinton Parish, he went on a rampage after my son and was not going to stop and did not stop. Ran it through the course for two years plus. My son was in court at least once every month for the past two and a half years.”

“[DDA Parish] took the word of one woman and ran with this thing,” she continued.  “It was like being in a twilight zone, the whole thing is something out of a nightmare.”

“Mr. Parish was the one who was the total motivator of all of this,” Ms. Lowe said.  “[Ms. Stewart] said on the stand a number of times that she did get the one thing that she wanted back out of the deal.  She was surprised to find out that the state had already run and pressed charges for doing that.”

Worse yet, she claims her son was abused in custody in Yolo County.

“I could not afford bail so I proceeded to try to get him out on his own recognizance since he had no priors or anything like that,” she told the Vanguard. “That was almost impossible, it took me weeks to accomplish that. He had had to agree to a restraining order to get released, but he had never so much as cursed at her, much less anything else.”

She continued, “When we did get him out, he did have humongous gouges in his leg from where they shackled him and made him walk.  They actually took photographs of this and made him sign papers saying he would never sue them in order to get out of jail.”

“They put handcuffs on his legs, damaged him, and made him sign his rights away in order to get out of their jail,” she claimed.

“That to me is such a human rights violation, especially given the fact that he wasn’t guilty of any of this.  He was being treated like a criminal, like he had been convicted of something until the very end,” she said. 

“That’s not the way it was supposed to be,” she added.

Concluding Thoughts

We are left now to ponder the waste of time, energy, and resources. From the start this seemed like a domestic dispute that should never have been elevated into the criminal system. The jury, though we have not had a chance to talk to them, appears to have agreed.

Based on this case, we are concerned with the use of finite and scarce resources by the DA’s office. Given their claims of poverty, it seems strange that they would pursue this case in the criminal system.

Moreover, we are increasingly concerned with the conduct of Judge Fall. We have witnessed him on numerous occasions making questionable decisions (more on that at a later point) and treating attorneys in a demeaning and condescending manner.  He was challenged by DDA James Walker a few years back, and if anything, his conduct seems to have gotten worse.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

Share:

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Related posts

30 thoughts on “DA Attempts to Blow Domestic Dispute into Burglary Charge; Jury Disagrees”

  1. Mr.Toad

    Ex=boyfriends have murdered and shot women in Davis in the last few years.

    This guy goes into his ex’s house tosses her room and takes things. I believe that Burglary is defined as: Entry into a structure with the intent to commit burglary or any felony. So you can see why this hinges on his intent when he entered. Seems reasonable to ask a jury to decide his intent.

  2. David M. Greenwald

    “This guy goes into his ex’s house tosses her room and takes things.”

    There was no evidence that he did that, she claimed it. But no photos were taken and introduced the jury.

  3. Plankton

    Great story DG! Really too bad a juror couldn’t be interviewed. But even in this form it provides an interesting glimpse into two obvious pockets of disturbia existing, and potentially controlling (if we happen to be very unlucky) our lives here in Yolo County.

  4. jake wallace

    We are now left to ponder! Greenwald, Yolo has a cache of judges that do the county’s bidding. Fall, Rosenberg, Steve Basha, frmr judge Donna M. Petre. And the county pays these stats judges, too. It’s all to quaint & comfortable, with kick backs disguised as extra compensation.

    The DA & the Yolo state court operate like a cabal. Look at qui tam suit CV06-581, filed against the Yolo state court, grand jury & juvenile justice commission. Then presiding judge, Donna M. Petre & the council, Steve Basha, appointed now Sacramento probation chief, Don L. Meyer, out from under a fabricated felony foster youth abuse & hate crimes investigation—fabricated by Chief Meyer w/ the help of then a subordinate now Calaveras chief, Teri Hall.

    Greenwald, the judicial watch should look at this & another qui tam suit and it becomes very clear that Calif judges, no great thanks to lame duck, chief just George, have a stay out of jail card.

  5. jake wallace

    We are now left to ponder! Greenwald, Yolo has a cache of judges that do the county’s bidding. Fall, Rosenberg, Steve Basha, frmr judge Donna M. Petre. And the county pays these stats judges, too. It’s all to quaint & comfortable, with kick backs disguised as extra compensation.

    The DA & the Yolo state court operate like a cabal. Look at qui tam suit CV06-581, filed against the Yolo state court, grand jury & juvenile justice commission. Then presiding judge, Donna M. Petre & the council, Steve Basha, appointed now Sacramento probation chief, Don L. Meyer, out from under a fabricated felony foster youth abuse & hate crimes investigation—fabricated by Chief Meyer w/ the help of then a subordinate now Calaveras chief, Teri Hall.

    Greenwald, the judicial watch should look at this & another qui tam suit and it becomes very clear that Calif judges, no great thanks to lame duck, chief just George, have a stay out of jail card.

  6. Alphonso

    “When Mr. Parish was posing arguments prior to the jury, they hadn’t come to the point of even picking the jury, he wanted to have a stipulation that anybody that was being interviewed for the jury needed to be asked a question in relation to whether or not they had read [the Davis Vanguard]. And if they had, he didn’t want them seated,” she told the Vanguard.

    Does that comment mean that Mr. Parish will be allowed forever to release all potential jurors who read the Davis Vanguard? And now will Mr. Fall also reject jurors from his court room for the same reason? I suppose this will help Vanguard readership, but it certainly reflects poor behavior by the Yolo judicial system. Are they afraid of jurors who go beyond the biased DA press releases in an effort to really monitor what is going on? It is too bad the local papers don’t see their lack of journalistic oversight is contributing to a weak judicial process in Yolo County.

    One thing could be added to this story – which Davis Police officer “investigated” this case and what charges did he/she arrive at. These cases move forward because the police, the DA and the Judge are all performing at a substandard level. With respect to the DA’s organization, it also means they have too much money to play with. Cut the budget and force them to prioritize – they need more incentive to do the right thing and money talks.

  7. Davis Enophile

    David

    I once gravitated in the same social circles as Judge Tim Fall. Back then his behaviour outside of the courtroom was not much different than you describe here. I would wonder to myself if it took such ego to survive and sustain being a judge.

  8. E Roberts Musser

    Just some observances:
    1. You interviewed the mother of the defendant only, but not the mother of the victim.
    2. The jury acquitted, so obviously did not find enough evidence of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt to convict – notwithstanding all the “bad behavior” you allege by the judge and DDA that would have tainted the case in favor of the prosecution’s case.
    3. “Retribution” of any kind by a boyfriend too often ultimately leads to the murder of the girlfriend, so the DDA may have had deterrence in mind when prosecuting this case.

  9. Fight Against Injustice

    David: Your work with the Judicial Watch has obviously made an impact with the District Attorney’s office. Excusing jurors because they have read your website makes no sense.

    The DA sends press releases that are printed verbatim in the Daily Democrat and Enterprise. The editor from the Daily Democrat even admits this. So does that mean that jurors that read the Daily Democrat and Enterprise should be excused too.

    So a juror that reads the DA’s side of the story is ok?

    And one that reads the Vanguard, a different point of view, is not ok?

    How can an unbiased judge support this view?

  10. Primoris

    David, David, David:[quote]There was no evidence that he did that, she claimed it. But no photos were taken and introduced the jury.[/quote]

    Evidence takes many forms. OMG! Dude, you continue to crack me up!

    IMHO, this is an example which showed our judicial system worked as designed.

    Elements of the crime existed, hence charges. The decision is not the mother’s, a blogger’s, or a poster’s. It belongs to the DA (or his designee).

    Victim, Police, DA, and Jury (trier of fact) decided, period.

    I also find it laughable that the mother attempts to characterize the crime of residential burglary as a “domestic dispute.” Clearly she does not know what she is talking about.

  11. Primoris

    ERM wrote: [quote]Just some observances:
    1. You interviewed the mother of the defendant only, but not the mother of the victim.
    2. The jury acquitted, so obviously did not find enough evidence of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt to convict – notwithstanding all the “bad behavior” you allege by the judge and DDA that would have tainted the case in favor of the prosecution’s case.
    3. “Retribution” of any kind by a boyfriend too often ultimately leads to the murder of the girlfriend, so the DDA may have had deterrence in mind when prosecuting this case. [/quote]

    Salient points & nice post!

  12. David M. Greenwald

    “IMHO, this is an example which showed our judicial system worked as designed. “

    I disagree. An innocent many had to go through two and a half years of hell. He ran through his family’s money and they had to then go to a public defender. In a case, that had no evidence that he stole anything other than the word of the victim. It should have gone to mediation where they could have figured out who owned what and returned it.

    All these people talking about boyfriends killing girlfriends, fine, put those people away, this was up in Oroville and had no contact with her for six months when he was arrested, he was no threat.

    And to Elaine, I interviewed the mother of the defendant because (A) it put background on the story and (B) it explained how we got contacted in the first place, an interesting side story, I did not do it to validate one side of the story. What deterrence are you referring to? If the guy was a threat to her safety, then that’s another matter. But everyone testified including the girl and her mother that he was a nice guy and that they trusted him completely.

  13. E Roberts Musser

    dmg: “Moreover, other than the girl’s mother testifying I never saw the mother and certainly had no way to contact her. If I had, I might have interviewed her. I can say she testified that Mr. Estep was a good guy who she would trust with her life. That’s certainly as good as an interview, no?”

    Nowhere in the article that I could find did you state the girl’s mother testified the defendant was “a good guy who she would trust with her life”. (Let me know if I somehow missed it.) Most of the time, your articles are replete with the defendant’s view of things or those views of the defendant’s supporters, but not the victim’s view or that of the victim’s supporters – which makes for very biased reporting. IMHO, you seem to take the defendant’s word for things as gospel, and the words of his supporters.

    dmg: “What deterrence are you referring to? If the guy was a threat to her safety, then that’s another matter.”

    It is very common for abusive boyfriends to suddenly become “nice” after the fact, to the point where victims recant testimony of previous violence. The DDA may have believed in his judgment the defendant was not over his infatuation with the girl, and might do her harm at a later time, based on the violence of the burglary, where everything was ransacked. Look at your own words on the subject:

    dmg: “According to her, when she returned that evening she was unable to enter her home because her key was missing. A roommate came to unlock the door for her. Ms. Stewart entered her room and found it turned upside down, her belongs strewn everywhere, items missing. She called Mr. Estep who stated to her that he’d taken the items and done it to “hurt you the way you hurt me.””

  14. David M. Greenwald

    We watched the case, and evaluated it accordingly. Our view was the girl was not credible, there was no independent evidence corroborating her claims, and the jury evidently agreed in this case.

  15. Alphonso

    “IMHO, you seem to take the defendant’s word for things as gospel, and the words of his supporters. “

    In this particular case, the Jury apparently agreed with the defendant’s mother or at least something very close to the version she told.

    If you want to complain about biased reporting please comment on the press releases coming from the DA’s office – one sided and self serving pieces that never ever attempt tp provide the entire story. The DA could have released a story about this case, but they run and hide from losses. Before the Vanguard came around we only read in the papers distorted DA press releases. It is better to have some balance.

  16. E Roberts Musser

    dmg: “Our view was…”

    And your view seems to consistently be in favor of every defendant that you hear, with the assumption that the DA is overreaching…no?

    It is very difficult to Monday morning quarterback a trial. Each juror brings their own experiences and prejudices into a trial. Everyone views evidence through their own personal lens. Then they deliberate among 12 jurors and come up with a conclusion. Ultimately it is the jury that decides – which they did…

  17. David M. Greenwald

    “And your view seems to consistently be in favor of every defendant that you hear, with the assumption that the DA is overreaching…no? “

    No for instance, we’re covering a trial this week and it’s pretty clear that the defendant is guilty and the DA operated correctly. The focus of our coverage however has been to look for more controversial cases to cover.

    However, this was a case where the DA took a minor dispute over whose stuff was whose and turned it into a big conflict. All this stuff about violence does not apply to this case.

    “It is very difficult to Monday morning quarterback a trial. “

    Not really when we are observing the trial ourselves, we see the same things that the jury is able to see.

    “Ultimately it is the jury that decides – which they did… “

    And I think at times, they make mistakes. In this case, I think they got it right.

  18. Adrienne Kandel

    [quote]And your view seems to consistently be in favor of every defendant that you hear, with the assumption that the DA is overreaching…no? [/quote]
    An investigative reporter’s task is to look into and report on cases or conduct that might be egregious, not every case in the courts. Our DA and apparently deputy DA have made several egregious calls, inflating minor crimes like bad checks or shoplifted cheese into major felonies causing years of cruel and expensive jail time (2 eyes for an eye and the whole jaw for a tooth?). If the public defender was engaging in egregious behavior (for example questioning the sex life of a rape victim) I expect David would also report and comment.
    I think the problem is Jeff Reisig’s overzealous pursuit of victory and jail time in several instances, not David Greenwald’s choosing to report on them.

  19. Fight Against Injustice

    Adrienne: Good call. I agree with you. If Jeff Reisig acted in the best interest of justice, then David would have nothing to report.

  20. Primoris

    Greenwald believes: [quote]I disagree. An innocent many had to go through two and a half years of hell.[/quote]

    An acquittal equates to innocence, really?

    Hint: burden of proof.

    (BTW, I’ll presume you meant man (not many)…

  21. Primoris

    [quote]It should have gone to mediation where they could have figured out who owned what and returned it.[/quote]

    Is that your opinion? Or the victim’s? — who initiated the wheels of justice when she summoned law enforcement in lieu of a “mediator,” counselor, cleric, etcetera.

  22. Primoris

    [quote]And I think at times, they make mistakes. In this case, I think they got it right. [/quote]

    Please expound on and provide credible verifiable support for your posture.

    David, in your “view” just exactly how many times (out of a hundred) Yolo County juries have made mistakes and rendered an incorrect verdict.

  23. Alphonso

    “An acquittal equates to innocence, really?”

    Too many people have difficulty with this concept.

    A person is innocent until proven guilty and an acquittal maintains that innocence – there is no in between.

  24. David M. Greenwald

    “An acquittal equates to innocence, really? “

    As Alphonso pointed out, yes, an individual has the presumption of innocence until the state proves otherwise.

    “Is that your opinion? Or the victim’s? — who initiated the wheels of justice when she summoned law enforcement in lieu of a “mediator,” counselor, cleric, etcetera. “

    It would be interesting to find out how she feels now. Even on the stand, she seemed a bit leery about having the state press charges, it sounded like she just wanted her hard drive back and maybe the pictures returned.

    “Please expound on and provide credible verifiable support for your posture. David, in your “view” just exactly how many times (out of a hundred) Yolo County juries have made mistakes and rendered an incorrect verdict.”

    Sorry but I think you are asking for something I cannot quantify at the moment. We have watched several trials that at the very least did not meet the burden of proof, how many? I cannot say, since this project is only seven months old. Give me a few years and I might have a number for you. But you can start with the Ornelas trial that we watched last week for starters.

  25. E Roberts Musser

    dmg: “primoris: “An acquittal equates to innocence, really? ”

    As Alphonso pointed out, yes, an individual has the presumption of innocence until the state proves otherwise.”

    From a legal perspective, a person is innocent until proven guilty. From a common sense approach, acquittal means the prosecution could not prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt – but it is still possible the defendant committed the crime. Look at the O.J. case…

  26. Alphonso

    EMG “From a legal perspective, a person is innocent until proven guilty. From a common sense approach, acquittal means the prosecution could not prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt – but it is still possible the defendant committed the crime. Look at the O.J. case…”

    Certainly a Jury may arrive at the wrong conclusion, however the errors can go in either direction. We should be more concerned about finding an innocent person guilty than the other way around. To have any faith in The System you must conclude the jury is right most of the time and therefore a not guilty verdict usually means the defendant is innocent. The DA may defend a loss by bringing up Burden of Proof but all that reflects is a sour grapes reaction by the loser.

  27. Primoris

    Alphonso Wrote:[quote]Certainly a Jury may arrive at the wrong conclusion, however the errors can go in either direction. We should be more concerned about finding an innocent person guilty than the other way around. To have any faith in The System you must conclude the jury is right most of the time and therefore a not guilty verdict usually means the defendant is innocent. The DA may defend a loss by bringing up Burden of Proof but all that reflects is a sour grapes reaction by the loser. [/quote]

    Incorrect! There is no plea of innocent — Guilty, Not Guilty, No Contest/Nolo Contendre, correct? But no “innocent.”

    Ergo, a not guilty finding does not constitute innocence.

    Alphonso, ever hear of the “Blackstone ratio?”

    And I will go out on a limb to note that you understand that presumptions are rebuttable. So a “not guilty” finding does NOT “usually” constitute innocence in the least.

  28. Logos

    E Roberts Musser

    For your edification, jury verdicts are influenced by more than the respective experiences and/or prejudices of the empaneled group.

    The inclusion/exclusion of testimony, evidence, witnesses, along with the deportment of the magistrate, including BAJI instructions has more to do with shaping the cognitive template and context of how/why a jury renders a particular decision than your supercilious commentary implies.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for