Monday, May 11, 2015

Pedro Hernandez: (Aftermath 1): (Etan Patz case); Publisher's view; In defence of holdout Adam Sirois - labelled as a "rogue juror" by the New York Post;

PUBLISHER'S VIEW: Dear readers: Permit me to vent about the following story in which the New York Post reports through "a law-enforcement source familiar with the case," that Pedro Hernandez  will be retried. (1): It angers me that juror Adam Sirois, the lone holdout, is described as a "rogue juror". Oxford Dictionary definitions of "rogue" include "A person or thing that behaves in an aberrant or unpredictable way, typically with damaging or dangerous effects: he hacked into data and ran rogue programs a rogue cop who took the law into his own hands."  Oxford also says that "rogue" also means:  "A dishonest or unprincipled man: you are a rogue and an embezzler." There is nothing I have read about the case  that  indicates  Adam Sirois was anything but  a conscientious juror, who took his sworn oath seriously, and rendered his contrary decision in the face of what must have been extraordinary pressure from his fellow jurors and the trial judge over 17 days. Jurors such as Adam Sirois are the strength and conscience of the American criminal justice system. They do not deserve to be branded as "rogue." (2): "The unidentified law-enforcement source is quoted as saying, " “Those handling the case are convinced beyond any doubt of the defendant’s guilt, and justice needs to be done.” Do you really expect prosecutors who have lost such a high-profile  emotion-laden case to say anything different? (3) The story refers to "determined prosecutors" who will attack the case basically the same way - an obvious attempt to buttress public confidence in the prosecutors. Well. I guess that's better than having the public represented by "undetermined prosecutors. But it sure looks to me like the Post is trying to boost public confidence in the prosecutors - as if this was an editorial rather than a news story. (4): I am really fired up by the passage from "another source" who added:  “They spent a lot of time and money, and put a lot of effort into this. They would like a win. They could really use a win.” This reminded me of a quote by former Louisiana prosecutor Marty Shroud admitting his role in Glenn Ford's wrongful conviction and 30 year incarceration: "I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” It looks like prosecutors in New York may not be  immune to  the same arrogance and twisted view of their role. Lastly, the reporters tell us that Jose Ramos "has denied being involved in the boy’s disappearance." I'm shocked!

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.

STORY: "Prosecutor's plan to retry Hernandez in Etan Patz case," by reporters Jamie Schram, Larry Celona and Rebecca Rosenberg, published by the New York Post, on May 11,  2015.

GIST: "Manhattan prosecutors plan to retry the man accused of kidnapping and murdering Etan Patz — using what they learned from the lone holdout juror who caused a mistrial in the case on Friday to try to nail him the second time around, sources told The Post. Rogue juror Adam Sirois has said he wasn’t convinced the 6-year-old Soho boy wasn’t killed by another man — a convicted pedophile — and insisted that disturbed suspect Pedro Hernandez’s confession may have been made up. “I understand that the case will be retried,” a law-enforcement source familiar with the case said Sunday. “Those handling the case are convinced beyond any doubt of the defendant’s guilt, and justice needs to be done.” The determined prosecutors — who steered jurors through four months of testimony before the panel deadlocked 11-1 on Friday after 17 days of deliberations — will attack the case basically the same way, with a few minor adjustments, sources said. Among the strategy-session topics will be the reasons Sirois gave for adamantly refusing to join the 11 other jurors who were set to convict Hernandez of kidnapping and murdering little Etan, who was abducted from the street and killed the first time he walked by himself to catch a school bus in 1979. Sirois said Hernandez’s mental-health issues could have led him to give cops a false confession. He said it also bothered him that investigators and prosecutors never produced the “bag” that Etan was disposed in, or any other evidence corroborating Hernandez’s tale. Sirois explained he wasn’t convinced that another suspect, Jose Ramos — who was found liable for Etan’s disappearance at a civil trial — is completely out of the picture, either. Prosecutors are expected to address those concerns during a retrial, the sources said.......... “The basic strategy will be the same, although, in cases of retrial, there is always a hope to tweak for the better,” the source said. “In this case, comments of the lone dissenter may prove helpful.” Another source added, “They spent a lot of time and money, and put a lot of effort into this. They would like a win. They could really use a win.”...Ramos has denied being involved in the boy’s disappearance."

The entire story can be found at:

 See Jesse Wegman New York Times blog: "In Etan Patz mistrial: A latter day Henry Fonda;" "It is a devastating, unimaginable tragedy, and for more than three decades it has remained one of New York’s most confounding mysteries. Etan’s parents, Stanley and Julie Patz, have bravely endured the scrutiny of the media and the rest of the country as they are forced to relive their child’s disappearance over and over with each new revelation. But their suffering, as real and horrible as it is, is a different matter from whether or not Mr. Hernandez is in fact guilty of killing Etan, as prosecutors — and 11 jurors — believe he is. Mr. Sirois disagreed. His longest explanation to date, which he gave in a 45-minute interview published in today’s New York Post, should be required reading for all potential jurors in criminal cases throughout the country. It is one of the most insightful, articulate and self-aware treatises from the inside of this complex American institution, as well as an object lesson in the proper way to approach the juror’s unique role. And it is all the more remarkable for coming in such a high-profile, emotionally anguishing case. “I knew that I would start from the presumption of innocence,” Mr. Sirois’s account begins. “I knew that because we are told we should start from that presumption.” This is exactly the right attitude — indeed it is necessary to uphold the central feature of the American criminal justice system. And yet, Mr. Sirois said, several jurors “came in thinking he was guilty right off the bat.” It was clear from the start, he said, that “some people were never going to change their vote. I wasn’t one of those. Although I’m sure some of my fellow jurors would say I was, but I wasn’t.” Mr. Sirois freely admits that he experienced moments throughout the trial where he was certain of either Mr. Hernandez’s guilt or his innocence. For example, he pointed to Mr. Hernandez’s “chilling” videotaped confession: If that had been the only evidence, he said, it would have been hard to acquit. “But we’re told we are not supposed to judge a person only on his own words,” Mr. Sirois told the Post. He explained his concerns over various pieces of evidence the prosecution presented, over the existence of another possible and long-rumored suspect, and over the question of Mr. Hernandez’s mental health, which raised the possibility of a false confession. False confessions are far more common than most people realize, and Mr. Sirois, who has a background in public health but not mental health, said he was asked to explain to the other jurors how someone could possibly confess to a crime he did not commit. In the end, he said, “A lot of the things you have to believe for Pedro to be guilty just don’t add up.”  Mr. Sirois was not able to do what Mr. Fonda’s character did, and actually convince eleven other jurors to vote to acquit. In fact, according to the jurors’ own reports of their deliberations, he lost jurors along the way. But Mr. Sirois did the harder thing, which was to hold to his principles against what was surely intense psychological and emotional pressure to vote guilty. In New York, as in 47 other states, that was enough by itself to stop the conviction. (Had the trial been held in Louisiana or Oregon, the only two states that allow nonunanimous jury verdicts, Mr. Hernandez would have been convicted.) Being a juror in a murder case is one of the harder things American citizens are called on to do, and it’s easy to roll your eyes and make jokes about talking your way out of jury duty. But through his actions in the jury room and his later explanations, Mr. Sirois showed how important it is. He understood that the job of the twelve people who spent 100 hours deliberating in that room was to decide not exactly what happened to Etan Patz on May 25, 1979, but whether the prosecution had met its burden of proof against Mr. Hernandez. “I’m not absolutely sure that it’s not Pedro Hernandez,” he said. “But that’s [not] how our legal system works.”

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