Jewish World Review Nov. 6, 2003 / 11 Mar-Cheshvan, 5764
Why so-called no-nonsense judges sometimes put up with a lot of nonsense
Every time a new judge is assigned in a high-profile case you hear some member of the media say this judge is known as no-nonsense. Judge Ito from the O.J. Simpson case was known as a no-nonsense judge before he presided over the most nonsense-filled trial in history.
Well here at the Laci Peterson case, I fear we're slinging into the world of well, some nonsense. This preliminary hearing is taking far too long. It was delayed four times. And since we started a week ago, there's been less than one full day of substantive testimony. Days and days of quibbling over statistics in mitochondrial DNA tests is part of a hearing within a hearing. The problem?
The statistics shouldn't determine whether this judge admits into evidence a hair found in Scott Peterson's boat. It should only go to the weight or significance he gives it. The prosecution says it was one in 112 chance it was someone other than Laci Peterson. The defense expert says no way. It could be as little as one in nine. OK, so the judge will have to decide who seems more credible.
But even the defense expert isn't saying this type of evidence is not and should not be used in courtrooms. He's saying you have to be careful. The presentation by prosecutors included the basics of what is DNA, the sort of drawn-out teaching exercise reserved for jurors. Did this judge really know nothing about DNA before this started?
And now the prosecutors are calling another witness to rebut the defense expert.
Why doesn't the judge say look, I get it. I get the disputes. I read the briefs, and for the sake of everyone involved, including families coming from out of town to be here, should say it's time to move on. Even though there is no camera in the courtroom, the world is watching.
It's time to prove that high-profile cases can be run by the judge, not the lawyers.
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