Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Scales of Justice

One morning last winter, our morning news reported a man dead after a train hit a car on the railroad tracks in the wee hours of the morning in a nearby town. At first blush, that sounded unfortunate but not out of the realm of sad but ordinary. As details emerged, it became clear that it was anything but ordinary. The car was down the tracks away from the crossing. More details--the train was only going 25 miles per hour and the man in the car had died from injuries unrelated to the train crash. Oh dear, this began to sound grisley--more like Law & Order than the bucolic life in the mountains.

A young man was arrested on circumstantial evidence.

One of my friends took the case as the defense attorney and yesterday the young man was acquitted after a week long trial.

There are lots of feelings in the community when something like that happens and I would not presume to characterize or minimize all of the emotions, but I am very proud of my friend. He protected his client and he protected the Constitution and he held the State to its burden of proof.

12 comments:

Steve said...

Yep, that's pretty neat. Was he Public Defender or regular defense attorney? I keep hearing about how overwhelmed/underfunded the PDs are here in Virginia

Beth said...

He was court-appointed. We don't have a public defenders office in Maine so private attorneys agree to take indigency cases at the court-appointed rate. In western Maine, all of us take court-appointed cases and in my experience the representation is exactly that same as that received by paying clients. There aren't very many attorneys practicing out here in the willywacks but we all take our responsibilities seriously.

Nan said...

I wonder if they will find out what really happened. Is anyone doing further investigation?

Beth said...

Nan, I don't know what the state police will do. I hope that they will keep investigating. It is disquieting to have violence happen in such a beautiful spot.

Jayne said...

It's why our system is designed the way it is. If, after hearing all the evidence, there is enough doubt, then it's not right to convict someone to prison. I do hope upon further investigation, they can sort out what happened.

Carey's Corner said...

Was justice served? Based on the limited details given, I would have reservations. Maybe it's because of my law enforcement background and my work with crime victims. I don't think anyone warrants praise in this unfortunate tradegy. It does appear the young man had competent counsel. I hope all is well with the family.

KGMom said...

What to say--of course, serving the constitution and the client is important.
But your tale is tantalizing in the sparse details. Why down the railroad track? Death not due to crash? How did the victim die? What circumstantial evidence?
You can see I am one of those folk who has to understand before I can process.

Beth said...

I purposely didn't get into the merits of the case because I wasn't on the jury and don't really know what they heard and how they assessed the evidence. My point was only that each piece of the cog did its job including my friend who was acting in the role of oft criticized and underpaid court-appointed counsel.

Talitha said...

I get it. Good job for him. The balance is key to justice.

Nan said...

Beth, I meant to ask if you've been following the six year old death of the boy in Lincoln. Sorry such long addresses. I haven't mastered the link thing yet in comments.

http://www.doj.nh.gov/publications/nreleases2009/072309.html

http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090914/NEWS/909140302

and the most disturbing of all (and I could get only the cached version -something happened to some pages of the newspaper):

http://74.125.113.132/search?q=cache:bGi9CguF_IoJ:www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article%3FAID%3D/20090920/NEWS/909209983+/search%3Fhl%3Den%26safe%3Dactive%26q%3D%2Bsite:www.capecodonline.com%2Blincoln%2Bnh%2Bpatric%2Bmccarthy%2B2003%2Bdeath&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

Nan said...

and I see that the addresses didn't come through. If you are interested you could type this into google:
lincoln nh patric mccarthy 2003 death

KGMom said...

Beth--I for one really appreciate attorneys who defend people. I briefly considered going to law school, a bit later in my life, and had I--I wanted to do public defender work.
I have served on jury duty about 6 different times--I keep getting called, and I ALWAYS agree. I figure a jury of your peers should be that. That said, it is frustrating being on a jury because you know you ONLY hear what either side wants you to hear. So, things are sometimes left vague. I think juries should be able to ask questions. Might be a bit too confusing, however.