Jewish World Review Dec. 15, 2003 / 20 Kislev, 5764
Why the case of 16-year-old convicted murderer highlights the problem with some defense attorneys, to whom the truth is sometimes beside the point
Lionel Tate was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison for killing a 6-year-old playmate when he was just 12. Florida Court of Appeals ruled the conviction should be reversed because Tate's competency should have been assessed before trial.
At trial, a jury didn't buy his defense, that he was play-wrestling with little Tiffany Eunich (ph) when she accidentally died. The defense team even had him reenact the supposed game on a videotape.
Well, now the defense is changing its strategy. A new attorney, Richard Rosenbaum, suggests he'll argue Tate accidentally stepped on Tiffany as he was running down steps, not what Rosenbaum called the, quote, "bogus" wrestling defense.
So his new attorney is saying that the previous defense was a lie, bogus, invented, I guess, to try to deceive the jurors. But even the court of appeals recognized this was a, quote, "brutal slaying," that she had 35 injuries, and that none of the experts for either side believed it was accidental.
So it starts to sound like maybe we should prepare for another bogus defense.
Look, I don't think life in prison is appropriate for this case for a 12-year-old boy. I wish his mother had accepted the offer of three years in a juvenile detention facility.
But inventing possible scenarios is not the answer. Defense attorneys should do everything they can to advise their clients, protect their rights, particularly a child being tried as an adult. And I'm certain a deal can be worked out now, but that should not include defense attorneys corrupting the process by shopping different so-called defenses at different times.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington
and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor Dan Abrams anchors The Abrams Report, Monday through Friday from 9-10 p.m. ET on MSNBC TV. He also covers legal stories for NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, Today and Dateline NBC. To visit his website, click here. Comment by clicking here.
12/11/03: Tweaking Miranda
12/10/03: Why the accused in "Central Park jogger" case aren't falsely accused angels
12/08/03: Lawyers blaming the media
11/20/03: Why it's time to throw out the insanity defense, as we know it
11/14/03: What happens when jurors leave their common sense at the door?
11/13/03: Are the Brits finally learning that the risks of suppressing or banning speech are greater than allowing it and then punishing the violators?
11/12/03: Fairer fare
11/06/03: Why so-called no-nonsense judges sometimes put up with a lot of nonsense
10/23/03: Why the presumption of innocence does not and should not exist outside a courtroom
10/22/03: College kid (in)security maven deserves country's gratitude
10/21/03: If you don't like it, you can drive
10/17/03: Blurring the line in the Kobe Bryant case between what is significant and what is just salacious
10/16/03: Why prosecutors and the judge shouldn't let Kobe's lawyer hijack the preliminary hearing
10/15/03: False bravado from the mayor of New York
10/13/03: The media circus myth
10/10/03: Angry electorate?
10/07/03: Why a recent ruling in the case of Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker is no cause for concern
10/02/03: Children, guns and political fear
10/01/03: Why you should hold off on thanking politicians for passing and signing the national do-not-call list
09/30/03: A star Ohio State running back is suing to become eligible for the NFL draft
09/25/03: The effort by some law schools to keep military recruiters off their campuses
09/23/03: What a hurricane can teach us about dealing with terrorism
09/22/03: Why I'm tired of criminal defense attorneys in particular in high profile cases complaining about media leaks
09/18/03: How budget cuts nationwide are starving many of the state courts and allowing some criminals to go free
09/17/03: Charging wounded soldiers for food!?
09/16/03: al Qaeda has finally found a media home
09/15/03: Journalists who exposed security threat, now being punished?
08/14/03: The California student council blue light special election
08/13/03: Why the Transportation Security Administration needs to start getting it's priorities straight
08/12/03: Let local U.S. attorneys do their jobs
08/07/03: Why itís time to release the documents surrounding Kobe Bryantís arrest
08/06/03: Terror warnings do serve a purpose
08/03/03: How even the most pro-Saudi polls still make many of the Saudi people seem like enemies of America
08/01/03: Why is the outgoing president of one of the most influential legal organizations advising attorneys not to represent certain clients?
07/31/03: Class action lawyers get huge fees while their clients get squat
07/30/03: Why it makes no sense to keep the public and the victims in the dark about a key section of the 9/11 report from Congress
03/27/03: Homeland Security update
03/20/03: Did I misunderstand the French?
03/18/03: No longer shielded from reality
03/17/03: Franco-phobic nonsense sweeping the nation
03/14/03: An exception to my "be extra tough on terrorists" rule
03/13/03: Whiner Assad still doesn't get it
03/11/03: What a new deadline for Iraq should really mean
03/10/03: The dishonest arguments against war with Iraq
03/07/03: On Iraq, the administration seems undeterred. It seems, there is no other way out
03/05/03: The so-called human shields in Iraq, now coming back from Fantasyland
03/04/03: Michigan backing off of mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug crimes
03/03/03: Why military tribunals could be the best optione of defining them as military
02/28/03: Is prez signaling a return to the American Bar Association ratings for prospective judicial candidates?
02/26/03: And now the "don't-blame-me" attitude is extending to mass deaths
02/10/03: Avoid politicizing the shuttle disaster
01/29/03: A litany of violations? That Saddam has not disarmed is already a given
01/23/03: Why the feds should not give up on the prosecution of alleged 20th hijacker in a federal court
01/22/03: What was Powell thinking?
01/21/03: Human rights groups still don't get it when it comes to the new war on terror
01/16/03: Yet another reason why we shouldn't trust the Saudis
01/13/03: Why the administration should share intelligence with U.N. inspectors
01/10/03: From a special punishment to a garden variety one
01/08/03: Should victims of a terror attack sue the city?
01/06/03: The "Jackpot Jury" syndrome continues
12/30/02: It's the holidays, let me order my wine!
12/20/02: The judge who dropped the ball in the battle over who owns Barry Bonds' 73rd home run ball, valued at nearly $2 million
12/19/02: Requiring Pakistani and Saudi male visitors to register with the INS
12/18/02: Why many seem to misunderstand Iraq's international obligations
12/17/02: Shouldn't there be a standard for what would trigger a war with Iraq?
12/13/02: Judge Rose by what he did on the field
12/12/02: Manhattan prosecutors making a mistake in the Central Park jogger case
12/11/02: Why our government refuses to fully cooperate in the prosecution of a possible 9/11 conspirator
12/10/02: Hezbollah, not a terrorist organization, says Canada
12/09/02: The world's cynical view of America
12/04/02: Why we need to stop electing judges
11/27/02: Why men should be able to sue women who lie about who's the daddy
11/26/02: Training lawyers to be touchy-feely
11/25/02: The story of a real American hero
11/22/02: In Illinois, academics lawyers, judges hurting their pro-life cause
11/15/02: A close reading of Iraq's letter of acceptance makes it clear that Saddam will almost certainly refuse to live up to its terms
11/14/02: Al Jazeera: A state-sponsored mouth-piece
11/13/02: Should Moussaoui be sent to a military tribunal?
11/12/02: Should human rights activists complain about the detainees' treatment?
© 2002, MSNBC