“Wizard’s First Rule: people are stupid…given proper motivation, almost anyone will believe almost anything. Because people are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want to believe it’s true, or because they are afraid it might be true.”
-Terry Goodkind, Wizard’s First Rule,Tor Books, 1994.
“To a jury about to convict a man of a capital crime, any doubt is reasonable.”
-Commentary on the O.J. Simpson trial.
In recent months I have had two different District court judges, lower two different counts of Home Invasion to either Unlawful entry, or Trespassing. Their reasoning? One said that even though we identified the defendant’s fingerprints on an item in the residence which was handled, but not taken. Even though he had no business being in the residence- because there were other fingerprints which we did not identify (we eliminated a number of prints belonging to the owner and his family) we could not show that the defendant had any intent to commit a larceny, one of the “unidentified” persons could have committed the larceny.
The second said that even though the suspect was observed in the area of the home, and was foolish enough to leave behind (inside the home) the bag the jail put his property in the last time he was locked up. (Which had his name, date of birth, and photo on it). Because he had apparently been living in the home, knowing the owner was in France for a lengthy stay, and having gained entry left the residence unsecured to facilitate easy coming and going, we again could not show any intent to commit larceny on his part…anybody could have come in and committed the larceny.
Beside the fact that both of these rulings are ludicrous, is that both were made as part of a preliminary exam…questions of intent are normally left to the finder of fact at a trial (the Jury), and are not something which must be “proven” at a preliminary exam. The only proofs required are that a crime was committed, and probable cause that the defendant committed it.
It seems that the courts are looking for greater and greater certainty before they will even try a defendant, let alone convict one. This places an ever greater burden on those of us in the business of providing the evidence on which to base a conviction. We must work to provide everything we can to the courts so that the “Wizard’s First Rule” doesn’t overcome justice.
Daryl W. Clemens, Editor