Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hand In Cookie Jar

I am adding a follow-up comment to the previous Jeffs conviction reversal blogpost.

A closer read of the Utah Supreme Court opinion reveals that the Court adamantly disagreed with the prosecution's theory arguing that Jeffs was guilty of being an accomplice to rape.

From the start of this case, it was evident that Shurtleff, DuPaix, Fischer, Hoole and company were NOT sincerely interested in nailing Allen Steed. They were so driven to target Warren Jeffs, that nothing else mattered. If anyone seriously believed that Allen Steed was a "rapist" for marrying his young cousin, then no one really followed through. To this day, nothing has happened in the Steed rape case (and it probably won't). This was all about twisting, bending, tweaking, torquing, contorting, plying, manipulating and contriving the accomplice liability standard, in order to ensnare Warren Jeffs.

Problem is - they messed up! The Court articulately reprimands the State for contriving a theory of guilt which misinterprets the Utah statute. The State complains that Jeffs held a position of "special" trust in Wall's life. True - no one disagrees. The problem with this reasoning is that, if Steed was the real rapist - the real "actor", then we must ask if Steed was the one who held a position of special trust (and he didn't). The other problem is that, in order for accomplice liability to be met, Jeffs would have had to satisfy ALL of the following three elements:

1. He would have had to have a (mens rea) desire that a "rape" occur.
2. He would have had to exercise that "desire" by acting, coaxing, fomenting, assisting the rape to occur.
3. The actual crime of rape has to have been shown to have been committed (which it wasn't).

The Court observed that the State failed to show that element #1, INTENT, truly occurred. The Court also points out that the State completely BUNGLED its identification of the DEFENDANT (Jeffs) and the [alleged] ACTOR (Steed). The State was so blinded by its thirst to target Jeffs, that it forgot to cleanly distinguish between the two parties - Actor and Defendant, oftentimes treating Jeffs as the Actor, when he plainly was not the Actor (rapist), thus conflating the two.

This is the simplest explanation I can give of some of the legal logic behind the reversal. What is also fascinating is that Shurtleff announced today that he likely will not seek a re-trial, partly because, if the previous contortion of the jury instructions was ineffective (unconstitutional!), then no amount of legal acrobatics will get those jury instructions to work at a new trial. Furthermore, if this witch hunt had not been disingenuous in the first place, wouldn't Shurtleff be racing to the U.S. Supreme Court to get it to overrule this Utah decision which so "disappointed" him?

What I find truly pathetic is Shurtleff's remark that he will perhaps go "back to the legislature" and try to get some legislation that will more successfully focus on this type of crime. Maybe he wants to get the Utah legislature to modify the Constitution so that it can better attack Warren Jeffs. Wasn't Shurtleff satisfied when he rammed through his pet (hugely unConstitutional and NEVER-USED) "Child Bigamy" statute? Wasn't he satisfied when he wooed Texas's legislature into adjusting its laws to directly attack the FLDS? The Court made it perfectly clear that you cannot be classed as an accomplice to crime merely because you did a certain thing - just as a homeowner cannot be charged as an accomplice to burglary simply for forgetting to lock his doors. DUUUUUUHHHHH !!!!!!

Plus, Texas is itching to get its hands on Jeffs. Utah has to hurry up and decide if it wants to waste years and $$$millions on a pointless re-trial, or let Jeffs go home a free man. If justice doesn't always work, karma and poetic irony sure do help out sometimes.

In a further irony, a Texas man was recently convicted of molesting a 13-year-old girl whom he also impregnated (when she was 15). The man got a sentence of two years of probation! I have to ask myself if he should not have been subject to Hildy Harferbrain's (79-year) sentencing enhancement by virtue of the fact that the pair were "legally not able to marry".

Perhaps Texas will soon have the "Yellow Egg Of Texas" all over its face, just as Utah got its little red hands caught in the proverbial cookie jar.

Go Christine !!!!! Go Wally !!!!!

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