Thursday, June 18, 2015

Making Something out of Absolutely Nothing: Why Civilian Juries Fail

The other day I received a notice to serve on a jury in my county. I sent it back with a note in the section that allows a person to give a reason why they shouldn't have to. I wrote that I refuse to serve because I do not believe in the jury system that we have in the United States, that I won't serve with a gaggle of untrained citizens who have no background in crime scene analysis or behavioral analysis, who do not have any experience in making deductions in a scientific manner, to make a life and death decision with a group of people, well-meaning though they might be, who pretty much just got picked randomly off a bus stop to be criminal profilers for the day or weeks on end.

Recently, in the Madeleine McCann case comes a prime example of what kind of thing can go on in the minds of a jury. Someone checked the Wayback Machine, an Internet thing that allows you to check what happened on a particular day on the Internet in the past and they came up with a page labeled April 30th with an announcement by the governmental agency, CEOP - The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) is a command of the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) - of Madeleine McCann's disappearance. All hell has broken loose on the Internet....many, including some folks who have written books and made films on the case....are claiming this is unquestionable proof that Madeleine McCann did not die or disappear on May 3rd, the date Kate McCann claimed she found her daughter missing after doing a check on her children, but, instead Madeleine was already gone days before which therefore proves that there is some huge conspiracy afoot which includes the government and a gaggle of accomplices, a conspiracy in which some shady super powerful people did something to Madeleine McCann and then had the McCanns and their friends (and other possible accomplices) carried on a hoax for days in Praia da Luz, pretending Maddie was alive until May 3rd at which point they staged a really pitiful fake abduction so that all would think that she disappeared on that date and not that something happened to her days earlier! In spite of all the "proof" folks have been batting about - a "fake" last photo and "forged" creche records, stuff that some think proves Madeleine was already dead and gone by May 3rd - NOW there is DEFINITIVE proof with this April 30th CEOP page that Madeleine did not die or disappear on May 3rd and the government clearly is involved with some incredibly big hoax with the McCanns in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Oh my god, I have a really bad headache.

Clearly, there is just a glitch on the Wayback site because it just makes no damn sense. Common sense - which seems to be missing in this case - should tell anyone that the government is not going to accidentally put up a webpage that a child is missing three days before the parents report her missing to the police. If a conspiracy is SO big that the government is in on the disappearance, they are hardly going to do something so incredibly stupid. The whole idea just makes my head hurt and want to slam it into a wall. And this comes from a person who DOES believe there is evidence to support a theory that Madeleine came to an accidental death in the vacation flat and the McCanns did false report and cover up her death.

But, this is the whole point as to why I want the civilian jury system to end in the United States. Juries can be manipulated and confused by attorneys, both defense and prosecution, into thinking some of the most ridiculous things which then allows them to either convict an innocent person or let off someone who is guilty as hell. Instead of using scientific, objective deduction, they get carried away with some scenario and can't recover. In the case of O.J. Simpson, "if the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit" allowed the jury to override massive evidence of guilt in spite of the fact the whole glove thing was just a silly lawyer trick. In the Casey Anthony case, Jose Baez got the jury to ignore a pile of evidence which hands down proved Casey Anthony guilty simply by suggesting her Daddy might have sexually abused Casey and had some hand in what happened to little Caylee. This ignited some kind of highly improbable scenario in the heads of the jury and, in spite of the fact no such evidence existed that any such scenario occurred and, in spite of the fact there was overwhelming evidence - both physical and behavioral - that Casey Anthony premeditatedly murdered her daughter, the jury found her not guilty. This was the day I lost total faith in the civilian jury system and realized just how ridiculous it is to put completely untrained people into a room with highly trained lawyers and expect they can do the job. The only reason it seems to work most of the time is because most cases that go to trial are slam dunks with clearly guilty people; this is why prosecutors can have such high convictions rates.

Can one imagine being on a jury now trying to decipher what happened to Madeleine McCann and having the jury believe that the government put out a webpage looking for a missing child prior to anyone knowing she had gone missing? Oh, god, I would be sitting in that jury room with my head on the table, crying. And, I would be the lone holdout for days while the other jury members tried to convince me of this nonsense until finally there was a hung jury because I refused to believe in the most ridiculous conspiracy theory ever.

I am not saying professionals are always right, but at least we ought to try to stick with analyzing the evidence as properly and scientifically as we can and no one should be arrested and prosecuted and convicted without having professionals be a methodical and logical as possible, making sure they don't take one weird or confusing element and spinning it out of reason until they make it fit some theory they have, ignoring all of evidence to the contrary. We could either hire already properly trained professionals for the jury or we could actually have a degree to become a professional juror, but we need to find a way to make sure that the jurors in the box actually have the knowledge and experience to properly evaluate evidence.

The civilian jury system needs to be dismantled and a proper professional jury system set up in its place. It still won't be perfect but at least we can have a far better shot at jury members understanding evidence and not getting swept away by some snake oil salesman attorney's attempt to win his case by confusing and winning over a bunch of people who have no more knowledge of analyzing criminal evidence than they do of how to fix rocket engines. Civilian juries are a crazy idea and why they still exist boggles my mind; I guess because lawyers like it that way.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

In many, many ways I agree with you Pat. It all starts long before a case even gets to a Courtroom, if it ever does. There are armchair detectives on the Internet, which is fine, the Internet is a great tool, but interfering in Police business and taking things into their own hands instead of just handing over what they think they may have found to the Police or not believing what they read and then going to the source of that information to investigate themselves, is in my view not acceptable.
Everyone, I'm sure means well and are eagar for justice to be done but for that too happen, we need to assist the Police not cause even more confussion.

Pat Brown said...

Anon 9:15, actually, the armchair detectives have very little affect on the police. Police don't pay the slightest bit of attention to them. What DOES affect them is the media and the lawyers speaking out in the media. Also, lack of training so that they themselves are little more than armchair detectives....I have a training program for detectives I am launching in 2016 with my police chief partner; we are hoping to help them not do the same thing juries do; jump on theories without evidence. But, then, we have the civil jury system which is such a ridiculous concept (I get that originally it was to keep the government from railroading people) but it has turned into kindergartners (the jury) trying to play with PhDs (the lawyers and their paid often lying experts) and we, the citizens, thinks this make sense. If those jurors have watched enough CSI and police shows they either actually have a little more knowledge to analyze stuff or they have fallen for silly Hollywood script writers version of how to analyze cases and completely go around the bend. Professional juries are not going to be 100% accurate but they would be a whole lot better than what we have now. If, for example, I were a professional juror, I would have no emotional stake in the case (like many civil jurors do for racial reasons or gender reasons or sexual identity reasons or personal reasons) and I would be able to understand the evidence and not fall for lawyer and expert shenanigans. I think professional should apply to be jurors or we could have an actual degree to become a professional juror in which they would have to learn all about how to properly analyze physical and behavioral evidence. It is not that I think civilian jurors are stupid; just that they are not trained properly and not selected properly. Some civilians could become excellent professional jurors.

Pat Brown said...

By the way, I often feel really sorry for civilian jurors. They give up their time, have to try to stay awake during long hours in the courtroom, they really DO try their best to make a proper verdict. It is not their fault....they are trying their best and I appreciate that.

Pat Brown said...

Some people are attacking me, claiming I am a snob and arrogant for saying I don't want to serve on a jury with "regular" folk. Yet, these same people think attorneys and judges must have training and degrees and they think I don't have enough credentials to testify in court as an expert. Yet, a jury of totally untrained people should make the final decision over the attorneys and the experts!

So, to all those who think I am wrong to say only professionals and trained people should be on a jury, feel free to have me over to fix your car or administer medical care to your child....I am sure I am just as good as a trained mechanic or a trained doctor.

Anonymous said...

sorry Pat I vouch for trial by your peers all the time and every time. Crime is a violation of rules set out and agreed by society, therefore, it must be members of society that, after proper vetting and suitability to participate in the instrument of jury service, continue as such and prevent the introduction of a 'one tier' professional judicial service which will further alienate the unprofessional and civilian population.
The present civilian jury system is by no means perfect but it offers a notion of fairness which I believe would be lost in a medieval type land owning class who knows best when handling upstarts.
Commoners as jurists do possess many skills and intellect which professional jurists seek, eg, common sense in abundance.

Pat Brown said...

Anon 3:06, I understand a lot of people think the way you do but I do not see so much skill in commoners when it comes to analyzing crime scene evidence. Really, why do we even bother to train police and evidence experts if they could do it without any training? I have see the convoluted thinking of too many people (like the CEOP issue I just wrote about) and this has a direct impact on the jury trying to figure out the verdict.

No one is vetted properly in our jury system. It is made up of people who don't know how to get out of jury duty and some who truly feel it is their citizen's duty. The defense attorney will eliminate anyone he feels knows too much or won't be sympathetic to the defendant. Yes, it can be considered a problem to have, perhaps, the state more in control of commoners, but, if you don't think money and our attorney system already have that locked up, heh, well. And, yes, the crime has been committed in theory against the community, but as the law states, the state only prosecutes what is of interest to the state (which means the lawmakers, not the people, although it is not supposed to be that way). I think, perhaps, the German system of three professional judges and two lay judges might be more reasonable. Personally, I would be terrified to go in front of a jury of my supposed peers and hope they have a clue to what the evidence means and aren't going to be duped by the attorneys. If so many people can believe as they do about the CEOP thing - and these people include some who have previously had brains - I am concerned that objectivity and logic will go out the window. I would prefer having a panel of judges - chosen from the proper pool at random - to decide my case.

AnneGuedes said...

I understand you refused being part of a jury, Pat, as you are a profiler.
I don't know how jurors are selected in the US. In France, there is a debate about the question of professional ones. I'm not convinced, I think jurors have to be ordinary people, of course people capable to think by themselves. Manipulation/intimidation might be easier in the US. I recently read Steve Thomas' book on the Ramsey case and I was amazed that "authorities" had no doubt about who was involved but denied that inconvenient reality, choosing to behave as if it hadn't occurred ! But they would investigate, making police officers loose time and energy just for the sake of appearances !

Pat Brown said...

Anne, jurors here are not really chosen. Citizens get notice in the regular mail that they have a date to come to court for jury selection. Smart people just toss them and never respond (after all, there is no proof the intended recipient got the) and others come up with a good reason to be excused. That leaves people who are so smart or people with no job or people who truly care about doing their duty or people who want the cheap thrill of being in a courtroom and deciding a verdict. Then, out of those who show up, the defense attorney gets rid of anyone who, for example, 1) doesn't have a relative in jail (I was thanked and excused when I failed to say I had a felon in the family) and 2) anyone with too much education who might actually really understand the evidence and the lawyer games.

I haven't seen all that much jury intimidation but I have seen much manipulation by lying lawyers and lying experts which the jurors can't decipher. Although one might say these folk are capable of thinking for themselves, they are products of their environment; they come in with all kinds of subjective issues; good looking guy can't be bad, women can't be psychos, women who claim rape are all telling the truth, creepy guy must have done it, etc. Also, people with personality disorders are on juries so they can become manipulative and controlling or refuse to cooperate because of narcissism; they can be closet homophobes or racists....so, there is nothing fair about the group of people who land on a jury. IF we had a professional jury system, we could at least be sure they are trained to understand evidence and work enough trials consistently to not be easily swayed by shenanigans in the courtroom. One of the problem we have with detectives, is they lack training and experience and this throws cases off track because they go with gut instead of evidence. Same is true for juries of the same type...they go with gut and not evidence. At least a panel of trained jurors or judges (and they can be trained lay judges as opposed to phds) we would have much more sensible verdicts.

AnneGuedes said...

Pat, the less we speak of conspiracy fanatics, the better, it's like naming mass murderers. I was almost ashamed when GA told the ridiculous story allegedly reported by the PO who drove MH to Faro airport. A MI5 was waiting for him at the UK airport ! And MH would reveal this to a driver ! In English ?

Pat Brown said...

Ha! Anne, true, but the problem is people can veer dramatically off the evidence to propel some theory because they haven't the benefit of understanding physical and behavioral evidence and the totality of this. Let me use as an example the death of Cleopatra. The most beloved theory is she committed suicide with a snake in a tomb, locked in with her handmaidens. That theory has persisted for 2000 years until I did the Discovery documentary and used evidence, physical and behavioral to exonerate the snake. So, if the evidence was always there to exonerate the snake, why did it never happen? As I pointed out in my book and lectures, I am not in Mensa! I am no genius, so how did I manage to free the poor cobra? Why me?

I focused on the evidence and not the cool story...simply that. Historians forever have been entranced by the story and it seem reasonable to them (this is subjective) that Cleopatra, having just lost her beloved husband to death and about to be taken back to Rome and paraded in Octavian's triumph, would want to commit suicide. Okay, I get it, but where is the evidence that this is so? It seems, no one bothered to actually LOOK at the evidence. And there was so much of it! I approached the case without particular concern whether the story was cool or not, whether Cleopatra wanted to commit suicide or not; I really didn't have a stake in the outcome. I wasn't a particular lover of all things Egyptian or obsessed with Roman history or even worried about changing the queen's image. I just analyzed the scene to see if suicide was the manner of death. Interestingly, I actually was even making sure I was Devil's Advocate, because I didn't want to go on air and tell a stupid story just for airtime and a paycheck. So I worked as objectively as possible examining every angle of the crime, physical and behavioral, and came up with homicide as opposed to suicide, the snake having no place in her death at all.

But, when people love a particular angle or story, in or out of court, they will twist evidence to fit that theory and ignore evidence that says otherwise. In one case I worked, the detectives were so intent on their theory of a gang killing, they accepted without question the statement given by the victim's son that he gave her CPR in spite of the fact he had not one drop of blood on his clothing (and she was soaked in blood) and she was in deep rigor mortis which would lead me to think no one would think CPR would be of much use at that point. But, is lie didn't fit with their theory, so they just paid no attention to it (that and a dozen other quite obvious things). So, while there is something amiss in the McCann case, the theories have gotten more and more bizarre over time, kind of like mold growing in a Petri dish! ::sigh:: But, that happens in courtrooms as well, the defense attorney or prosecutor spinning a story and the jurors getting caught up in it until, in the end, the story wins over the evidence. This is why I believe in objective, trained jurors...who, at least, will have a better chance of being scientific about case and not go so badly off the rails to a horrible verdict.

AnneGuedes said...

I see your point, Pat, I think the sorting out of jurors is about the same in France, except that having someone in jail is no argument, as well as having a high education. A lady who was abused by her father in her youth would hardly be considered fit for a rape trial. The "popular" jurors answer "in the name of the French people" and it's a legacy of the French revolution. The president of the trial, the two assistants, the public prosecutor and the attorneys of both parties have the duty and the right to question the jurors before the trial starts.
Some changes to avoid the problems that you denounce (they of course have a specific form in countries of Inquisitorial System) have been suggested in a book by a French barrister that now I feel like buying and reading !

Pat Brown said...

Anne, it certainly isn't easy to try to have the fairest system possible but here in the US, the civilian jury system is considered the only possible choice and touted as the best system in the world as though it, regardless of any of its problems, it is the gold standard! And, yet, we see horrible verdict after horrible verdict and these are only the ones the public knows about; when someone is convicted with a lack of evidence, this rarely makes the news because they are cases with defendants that got no publicity and few care about or they are defendants no one liked and so no one complains when they get railroaded by the prosecution and the jury.

If you read the French barrister's book, I am curious what you learn!

Anonymous said...

awk pat, what you are advocating is not new, it has been tried before but failed each justice system and it's people. We need a broad consensus of people derived from everyday members of society and not professional quango as you promote.
I think the internet with all it's faults has illustrated the power of democracy within individual interest groups searching and promoting their basic human right to be heard and action to occur. We are in a new age, politicians, legislators and the media should wake up and live with the times. accountability which went unnoticed is now being debated in forums globally.
Furthermore, what is wrong with the current legal judicial situation? What would happen if your proposed jury makeup had a combined intellect far superior to the judicial court? Balance enables justice, juries need to be impartial, independent, derived from the broad society and not to intellectually threaten or usurp the authority of the court.

Pat Brown said...

Anon 6:13 Eh? I am not sure i think any of that makes sense, but okay. I also do not think the Internet spawns democracy and though it does allow certain avenues of expression, "free speech" does not necessarily blossoms into a free society. Afghanistan and Iran were far freer in the past and now there is the Internet and so? The Internet can be used for positive free expression of negative tyranny as is being proven by ISIS and lesser forms of fear provoking and bullying on the Internet.

What I look at is a system that everyone raves about yet seems to really have no idea of its true worth. Like that kid with the Emperor, I feel like I am pointing out something pretty simple, that you can't have completely untrained people deciding life and death decisions in court anymore than you want to pull a bunch of people of the street and put the in surgery rotation. I don't understand how it is not consider absolutely silly to pull people of no known character, intelligence, and education and stick them in analyst positions. Good lord, I am not even teach six year olds how to read and do addition and subtraction without a degree but it is okay for anyone to analyze blood spatter pattern, causes and manners of death, DNA, and behavioral patterns of criminals.

Thomas Baden-Riess said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pat Brown said...

Thomas, I think you are confusing some issues. First of all, believing or not believing in the CEOP thing is not just about technical issues and if one hasn't examined the technical issue to the level of absolutely proof, then there is no other set of thinking skills that can be valuable. As a profiler, I look at other things as well including behavioral evidence. You compare two scenarios: CEOP and the car DNA and you surmise that accepting either means one must accept bizarre behavior and, therefore, if one accepts the car DNA then one has no reason to not accept the CEOP possibility as well, but the two are apples and oranges and is has nothing to do with whether one can accept the possibility of a conspiracy. It as to do with how humans behave.

The evidence in the McCann case supports an accident on May 3rd and a panicked couple trying to preserve what remains of their life. Due to their personalities, each subsequent choice played out according to need and desperation. It spun into what it spun into. Likewise, the media spun into what the media spun into, and the governmental support as well. There were probably quite a number of reasons things happened at the time they happened which we are unaware of which ending up with the McCanns receiving an unprecedented amount of support and there are likely some things behind the scenes that explain this that we are not privy to which is what the mystery truly is.

On the other hand, there is no evidence of any conspiracy to have Madeleine disappear in Praia da Luz as some sort of huge hoax. This whole concept is riddled with fallacies and twisted logic and fabrication, a theory people search for any odd bit to use as support. The CEOP matter is an extreme example of this. The theory requires Madeleine to have been hidden or dead days before June 3rd and, in order to have her gone for so long, one must involved a huge number of people in the conspiracy and have the alter every evidence of Madeleine being in PDL; all sightings of her have to be bogus, photos have to be tampered with, the creche records have to be forged, the Tapas 9 have to invent stories of Madeleine's existence on holiday, and the entire evening of May 3 has to become an incredible setup for having an already missing child go missing. Originally, this whole scenario of Madeleine going missing earlier than May 3rd involved an earlier accident or act of homicide and the Tapas 9 using days to set up an elaborate plan (one that is both ludicrous if one had that amount of time and horribly enacted). Not only does the scenario end up with no evidence of abduction (a real open window, some tool marks, a disturbed room, etc), we also have claims that to create belief in a kidnapper we not only have a created statement by Jane Tanner but we also have Gerry McCann or another of the Tapas 9 running about town with a Madeleine stand-in just so he can run into the Smith family and have them see a guy carrying off a child. The whole scenario is outrageous and NOT how human beings behave but this is what happens when people stop basing theories on evidence and become very creative with alternative possibilities.

Pat Brown said...

Thomas (Part Two)


Then, the theory took on more creativity with the Gasper statements, the Smith family, and Robert Murat all somehow merging into co-conspirators to cover up some child pedophile ring and then this spun into a governmental conspiracy of child pedophilia and now seems to have morphed into some massive hoax thing that just has no basis in reality. And, in order to support a monumental conspiracy of some sort, the CEOP page with an earlier date than Madeleine going missing PROVES that it isn't just about a couple of doctors and their friends on holiday when an unfortunate accident occurs, but some big huge plan to, I don't know, make a big bunch of money for the McCanns and maybe cover up some big pedophile ring and give Scotland Yard a lot of work? THIS whole creative story has absolutely no basis in evidence or logic and this is why the CEOP date issue is completely erroneous. Even without have final expert proof of the technical matters, I can confidently state that CEOP having made a webpage three days prior to the announcement of Madeleine's disappearance is absurd and I say this fully being willing to believe that conspiracies do exist in the world, just not the kind of conspiracy that has been spun about the Madeleine McCann case.

Why the McCanns have attained such a level of support is indeed a mystery, but the evidence in the case still supports a rational theory of Madeleine meeting an accident on May 3rd and panicked parents dealing with the disaster.

Thomas Baden-Riess said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pat Brown said...

Thomas, I have no problem understanding crime at an upper level. But I have to have evidence that proves this and while I see evidence that the McCanns have received help after the fact, I do not see any evidence to support a conspiracy to support Madeleine being purposefully going missing prior to that.

We will have to agree to disagree.

Thomas Baden-Riess said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Pat,
located in USA, I think, you seem not to know, how dangerous it is for a British person, who did that, to publish such a statement about the reconstruction of the CEOP page of April 30th 2007.
If it is a Hoax, why would someone go into such danger as dead Brenda Leyland or Colin Sahlke were, or to be sued by CR as Tony Bennet, only with a Hoax?

Anonymous said...

You seem not to know how to apply the rules of evidence. You can't just dismiss evidence because you think it is far fetched. You test the evidence first and if it holds up then it is true, no matter how far fetched. If everyone thought as you do we'd still believe in a flat earth.

Pat Brown said...

The "dangers" are well overstated. Brenda Leyland committed suicide, she didn't get murdered. Many, many claims have been made about this case and some of them very inflammatory and nothing has happened, certainly no one has been taken out. I have had my book removed by Carter-Ruck and I have had to deal with them, so, of all people, I have had more reason to be concerned about threats, although not physical threats. I have worked many cases that have had coverups and other questionable dealing and never have I felt physically threatened; I have had my reputation trashed and I have been threatened with lawsuits, but, in the end, nothing of great concern.

And why do people take such risks? Because they are caught up in the excitement of exposing some huge conspiracy and that is worth taking a risk for many people. Even psychotic people who think the government is implanting chips in their brains and spying on them through television ratchet up their claims and send out massive numbers of letters to newspapers and such.

I don't think the claim that the CEOP page is real is a hoax; I think people truly believe this. I think that the page date is simply a glitch and there is no hoax with the page by CEOP nor is there a hoax by people who think it is a hoax by CEOP. It is simply not really anything at all but people think it is because it would be proof of a really huge conspiracy if it were so.

Pat Brown said...

Anon10:28

I do understand how to deal with evidence. I am not saying one can't explore this CEOP page. What I am saying is this "evidence" which has not been proven to be valid, does not represent anything that makes sense in the totality of the other evidence. When one is working a case, one has to decide how much effort to put into information and possible evidence. For example, a man is seen running out of a house with a bloody knife in his hand saying, "I killed the bitch." He has scratches on him made by the victim, his DNA is under her fingernails, he took a video of himself raping and killing the woman, and he has a history of serial homicides. BUT, then the semen found inside the victim is not his DNA. Mind you, he has thrown away a condom in his vehicle which has both his and her DNA BUT another's DNA is found inside her and then starts the theory that some unknown person raped and killed her in spite of the ridiculous amount of evidence pointing to the man running from the scene. Just because the woman had sex prior to her rape and murder with an unknown person who never comes forward, does not mean that this unknown person has anything to do with the crime. I have seen many a case where all the evidence points in one direction, but I get requests to waste hours of my time on some piece of "evidence" that is not connected to the crime or is totally unlikely to be connected to the crime. One has to weigh investigative leads; one can't followup on every tip and bit of physical evidence that exists without good reason.

There is no good reason that CEOP would construct a page prior to Maddie going missing and put it on the Internet. It is silly. Therefore, this piece of "evidence" is almost surely a glitch that hasn't been figured out yet. If one wants to spend time figuring it out, fine, but to claim it is proof of anything without making damn sure of this, is really jumping the gun. I believe it will come out that this is indeed a glitch, but a whole bunch of people are going to claim that this TOO is a lie and a hoax and this story about CEOP putting up a page on April 3rd declaring Maddie missing will never go away.

Pat Brown said...

BTW, in the real world, time, manpower, and money is limited. One cannot waste time following up every far-fetched lead...well, unless you are Scotland Yard and the taxpayers of the UK don't revolt against they incredible waste of money. IF Scotland Yard were acting appropriately, they would use their money and manpower to work on the most credible leads on as many cases of missing children as possible. But, it is a farce, so they are not. Likewise, when people give money to the McCann fund, they should expect that only sensible leads be followed up, using their money wisely.

Yes, sometimes following up a seemingly crazy theory does pan out, but, any good investigator will tell you that you must dedicate your efforts to leads that make the most sense.

Pat Brown said...

Oh, and back to the point of the article, this is exactly the problem with the thinking of some jurors. They decide even the craziest theory MIGHT be possible and so they will not convict on the pile of evidence in front of them.

Pat Brown said...

The legal accepting of the Wayback Machine data is more about what was actually contained on the page around an approximate date than the date itself. For example, supposed I wrote on this blog today some slanderous statement about the President of the US. Then, when it comes to light through some other person making a statement about the slander, I go back and change what I said on the page. In court, the Wayback Machine will prove that, indeed, I did make that slanderous statement around a particular time and then clearly changed it later. I am not sure how often the exact date has been at issue; I think it is mostly about content that has existed in the past.

AnneGuedes said...

Pat, about June 18, 14:19, there's a main difference between Common Law and Inquisitorial System on the topic of the jury.
First it is the president of the trial who leads the debates. A juror has the right to question the defence, the accusation, a witness or an expert, but the question must be clearly neutral. If the juror doubts being capable of that the juror may write it down and hand it to the president who will ask the question or reformulate it.
Jurors mainly listen.
For the deliberation, the jurors are in a special room with the president and the assistants. They have to give their opinion on 2 points : guilty or not guilty and the sanction. They are allowed to question the president and the assistants to help make up their minds. The decision is taken by a secret vote (a blank vote or a scribbled on are considered as in favour of the defence. After they've been read, all papers are burnt. At least 8 on 12 (9 jurors = 3 president and assistants) votes for guilt are needed.
The jurors are bound to keep secret what happened in the deliberation room. Telling is risking a fine or even jail.

I find you extremely patient..

Anonymous said...

I NEVER SAID, that Brenda Leyland was murdered, but she was chased. Why commit suicide, when you are not in danger or trouble? Why was she chased so hard by press only for some twitters she said about Amy Tierney and something, she knew about her, located near Amy and the McC.s? She was near the truth and that cost her life, suicide or not, she is dead and can't further speak. I must say again, you can't understand british people, you can't understand how Brenda had felt, when her IP-adress and her home was found out and she was chased by Martin Brunt. She had to stand bullying so hard from McC. supporters, for what? Only for saying that she knows the truth about Amy.
You are safe in the states, british ppl are not, why should they risk their life for a hoax?

Anonymous said...

"There is no good reason that CEOP would construct a page prior to Maddie going missing and put it on the Internet. It is silly."

It sounds silly but there are several factors you're not taking into account:

1. The page was there, it existed. Wayback Machine crawlers do not capture pages that do not exist. The date is embedded in the source code. The date and exact time of archiving is embedded in the url of the archive, or was as it has since been removed, a suspicious act in itself. The date and time were used to name the file into which the capture was stored.

2. No hard evidence but a great deal of circumstantial evidence tends to suggest that something happened to Maddie before she was actually reported missing. This CEOP/Wayback brouhaha actually lends credence to and bolsters other evidence of a prior event, speculation of which occurred before the CEOP/WBM revelations.

3. Good investigators look at evidence from all angles. Instead of dismissing it with a wave of the hand and saying 'this is silly' why don't you ask "If this is true what could it mean?"

Until this CEOP/Wayback Machine is CONVINCINGLY debunked with a real and credible explanation from the company itself, which it has not been, not by a long shot, the fact remains: A mccann.html page existed on the CEOP website on April 30, 2007.

The page was frozen in time--static--while links on the page may direct to updated material--dynamic. There just isn't any question. This is a bombshell, a smoking gun.

Pat Brown said...

Anon, it is ridiculous to claim I do not understand how a British person would feel...you are not in the Congo or in Syria. Brenda Leyland was no nearer the truth than all the many people living in the UK who are tweeting on the Internet. She was hounded for a good story, because she was local and she wrote a very high number of tweets. The media was terrible to her, not the original interview with Brunt but the horrific troll headlines. She was a person with serious mental issues and she could not take the scorn. I feel saddened over what happened to Brenda but she wasn't murdered or chased to her death to keep her quiet.

No one is being murdered in the UK over this case. All that is happening is civil lawsuits when the McCanns feel they can shut people up. The McCanns are not sweating that they are about to be exposed. Scotland Yard is not investigating them and the media is soundly on their side. People sharing theories and, even worse, conspiracy theories that are outlandish, are not going to turn the tide of events. Only finding Madeleine's body with DNA that will prove someone is connected or confessions will make a difference. I wish it were, otherwise; aftter all, I have spent a lot of time on this case an written a profile of it and I would like to see it concluded with justice. Not going to happen.

Please do not respond to this with another ad hominem attack against me and Americans or I will have to remove your posts.

Pat Brown said...

Anon 3:49

I welcome others to spend there time on the CEOP thing, but I just wish they would not declare that this is proof of a big conspiracy of Maddie missing prior to May 3rd.

As for myself, I HAVE taken the evidence into account, and I believe the evidence clearly, very clearly supports Maddie coming to an accident on May 3rd. As a criminal profiler, this is my determination and I have laid out my many, many reasons in my book and in my blogs. And, since I believe the evidence supports the theory that Maddie came to an accidental death on May 3, there is no way anyone could have written about the future on April 30. Along with that, I think the who concept of a governmental conspiracy to MAKE Maddie go missing is not reasonable.

Pat Brown said...

Anne,

It is truly interesting to see the effort made to have neutrality and a fair trial; each country coming up with some sort of method to try to prevent the government from putting in place puppets to do their will (well, there are countries that do just that, but I am talking about those that are trying for proper justice) and at the same time, try to have some sort of intelligent analysis by the jurors. I suspect the problem seems to be that the more educated and professional the jurors are, the more people think they are just like the lawyers in the courtroom; part of the system and not neutral. Yet, when we put in citizens with no training, even with opportunity to question and such, they still have no experience or education to help them come to a proper analysis. Now, it is kind of funny, many people get really bent out of shape at the suggestion that regular citizens aren't qualified to be jurors/criminal profilers, but they also get bent out of shape went they think people are doing work without a piece of paper from a college or training program stating they have passed some level of criteria to do the work. And jury duty TRULY is a matter of life and death,

I think there are many ways to become intelligent in all fields, even criminal profiling. I had one student when I taught my college program who was a 19 year old secretary and she was the best profiler in my classes ever. She was naturally logically and she truly paid attention to the material. She would have made a fabulous juror and I would love to see someone like her get a certificate as a Professional Juror. If we taught this all over the country, I would think we would have a very large pool of people to choose from that would be in no way worse than pulling in people off the streets. I still don't know why we think people off the streets are necessarily neutral or fair or capable, never swayed, not nuts, etc. We just seem to think that once you seat a jury they become miraculously qualified to profile and do battle with attorneys and experts. Some of these people couldn't even read a textbook on evidence or understand anything legal. And, yet, they are decided legal and forensic cases. I dunno....just seems crazy to me!

PS. I don't know that I am patient...more resigned to reality.

Pat Brown said...

Anne,

It is truly interesting to see the effort made to have neutrality and a fair trial; each country coming up with some sort of method to try to prevent the government from putting in place puppets to do their will (well, there are countries that do just that, but I am talking about those that are trying for proper justice) and at the same time, try to have some sort of intelligent analysis by the jurors. I suspect the problem seems to be that the more educated and professional the jurors are, the more people think they are just like the lawyers in the courtroom; part of the system and not neutral. Yet, when we put in citizens with no training, even with opportunity to question and such, they still have no experience or education to help them come to a proper analysis. Now, it is kind of funny, many people get really bent out of shape at the suggestion that regular citizens aren't qualified to be jurors/criminal profilers, but they also get bent out of shape went they think people are doing work without a piece of paper from a college or training program stating they have passed some level of criteria to do the work. And jury duty TRULY is a matter of life and death,

I think there are many ways to become intelligent in all fields, even criminal profiling. I had one student when I taught my college program who was a 19 year old secretary and she was the best profiler in my classes ever. She was naturally logically and she truly paid attention to the material. She would have made a fabulous juror and I would love to see someone like her get a certificate as a Professional Juror. If we taught this all over the country, I would think we would have a very large pool of people to choose from that would be in no way worse than pulling in people off the streets. I still don't know why we think people off the streets are necessarily neutral or fair or capable, never swayed, not nuts, etc. We just seem to think that once you seat a jury they become miraculously qualified to profile and do battle with attorneys and experts. Some of these people couldn't even read a textbook on evidence or understand anything legal. And, yet, they are decided legal and forensic cases. I dunno....just seems crazy to me!

PS. I don't know that I am patient...more resigned to reality.

Pat Brown said...

Ad hominem attack deleted. Please do not post on this blog again.

AnneGuedes said...

Well, in France you don't become a juror in a nutshell. There are various steps. First the major publicly draws names on electors lists (> 23 yrs), the persons get a letter saying that they might be called in the following year. The annual list of jurors is then established by a second drawing, usually one juror for 1300 inhabitants).
A month before the start of the trial, 40 names are drawn to form the titular jurors, while 12 are drawn to form the supply list.
If you were drawn, you receive a notification, but you only know whether you'll be a juror when the trial starts. Then a new drawing occurs to keep 9 jurors (12 if High Court). Along this drawing process, the defence may reject a juror (5 maximum)without justifying it. The prosecutor may reject up to 4.
To be a juror you can't have been condemned to more than 6 months jail. You can't be a magistrate,a parliament representative, a member of government, a police officer or a soldier.
You can't be related to the accused, to the barristers or to one of the Court magistrates.
You can't refuse to be a juror, unless you prove sickness or a family issue, if you're older than 70 (that doesn't leave me much time !!), if your address is no more in the same county as the Court of Justice, or if your knowledge of the French language is weak.
If you just don't pop up, you risk a fine of 3750 € !
Your boss has to let you participate, the State will compensate you, minimum fees... And after asking a lot of documents...
There is half day familiarization of the jurors to the magistrates' functions and the ritual of a court.

After all that, don't you consider your task seriously ? They say there's a special atmosphere in courts, people usually feel "sorted out" and react trying to give the best, they all equal, the cleaning lady will be heard with the same attention as the doctor.

Pat Brown said...

Anne, that really is fairly similar to the American system with a little less early weeding; they just hope you show up with the first notice.

I DO think many jurors take their task seriously, but, I can REALLY want to fix your car but I am wanting to fix your car isn't going to confer skill to fix it. So, if a doctor and a cleaning lady and I all show up to work on your car, I am going to bet you are going to tell us you would rather have a certified mechanic look at your car rather than have us all muck around with it.

I would prefer trained jurors analyze my case and not a bunch of people with God knows what sense of logic and knowledge and mental problems!

Pat Brown said...

Comments will be deleted if not on topic.

AnneGuedes said...

The jurors don't have to analyse a case, they have to be critical and if they note something doesn't fit they may ask for clarification. Mainly they have to listen and to ratiocinate and finally express their opinion "guilty" or "not guilty". The president of the trial, neutral, deliberates with the jurors, in fact he/she's the most important person in a trial.

Clint Mathis said...

Please explain, and I am sorry if I missed it, how do you propose implementing an alternative? It is easy to say the jury system is broken and the innocence project can show many instances of horrible mistakes placing innocent people on death row, but how do you see a "professional" jury being created? Surely you are not suggesting that it would be okay if the jury was paid and educated by the same system that is seeking to place a defendant in jail. That would be a clear conflict of interest.

Perhaps trained juries could be organized and educated by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers....but that would be stupid because I guarantee you that the institutional bias present in that association would influence them. Maybe, as the nation with the largest prison population, that is what we need.

All I am certain of is that the most important aspect of the system we have now is that if provides you with an opportunity to have a jury that is not connected to the government. It is far from perfect. It is a terrifying system. But after 18 years in the practice of criminal defense I am at a loss as to how to achieve what you are suggesting.

Also, to claim that just because you are professional that there is no emotional stake in the case is quite a reach. Perhaps we should have robots make the decision because as long as humans are involved institutional bias, cognitive dissonance, and the effect their personal beliefs will play a role in their decision making process. At least in my opinion.

Although we are diametrically opposed in our orientation, I welcome the opportunity to have a conversation on a very difficult issue. Thank you for your consideration in advance.