Category: The Law Is A Ass

The Law Is A Ass

Bob Ingersoll: The Law Is A Ass #414

NEW YORK SHOULDN’T HAVE GIVEN THE X-MEN A PARKING PASS

Let’s say you’ve done something really stupid. No, let’s say I’ve done something really stupid; that’s more realistic. There are many answers I could give when someone asked me, “Why did you do that?” However, I presently subscribe to the theory championed by no less a personage than Harlan Ellison. The best answer is, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Sometimes, however, not even that answer – which, unlike me, is direct and to the point – will suffice. There are some stupid things for which the answer, “It seemed like a good idea at the time,” will not work because they are so monumentally stupid that they could never have seemed like a good idea at any time. Things like Clippy, New Coke, and X-Men Gold #1.

No I’m not saying the idea of publishing X-Men Gold was stupid. I’m saying that something that happened in X-Men Gold #1 was of the so-monumentally-stupid-that-it-could-never-have-seemed-like-a-good-idea variety.

After the X-Men Gold team saved Manhattan from an attack by former Galactus herald Terrax – Why did Terrax attack Manhattan; it seemed like a good idea at the time – they went back to the new Xavier Institute for Mutant Education and Outreach to have one of their relaxing Softball games. They were met by the City Register for New York who presented current X-Men leader Kitty Pride with the invoice for the first six months’ rent and property tax for the parcel of land on which the Mayor of New York agreed to let the X-Men relocate their school. Kitty was shocked when she read the bill. It was for eighteen million dollars. That’s eighteen million. With an eight.

Turns out the X-men relocated the Xavier Institute to the middle of Central Park.

And that’s what was so monumentally stupid that it could never have seemed like a good idea at any time. For both the X-Men and New York City.

Judging from Kitty’s shock at seeing the invoice, I can only conclude she signed the lease without reading it first and ascertaining how much the rent and property tax was going to set the team back. And there is never a time when signing a lease without reading its terms – especially its rent terms – could seem like a good idea.

Thirty-six million dollars a year in rent and property tax isn’t just steep, it’s pushing Sisyphus’ rock up a right angle. Unless every oil sheik and internet billionaire in the world has offspring in need of mutant training or Kitty can get a copyright on the word “The,” I don’t see how the Xavier Institute will ever earn enough money to pay rent and property tax that’s so x-orbitant.

And speaking of monumentally stupid ideas, which we were, who in the Mayor’s office thought it would be a good idea for the Xavier Institute to relocate to Central Park?

Central Park is home to a zoo, a castle, a carousel, a concert shell, several playgrounds, baseball fields, skating rinks, fountains, a boat house, several theaters, statues, gardens, a world-class restaurant, several other restaurants, even more hot-dog carts, jogging trails, horse-drawn carriage rides, a memorial to John Lennon, lakes, ponds, and enough trees to make Robin Hood, his Merry Men, and every dog in the tri-state area happy. It is the fourth most-visited tourist attraction in the world with forty million visitors every year. And this is where the Mayor of New York agreed to put a school that’s attacked so frequently its got a training facility called The Danger Room?

Your Honor, have you heard of “collateral damage?” In case you haven’t, collateral damage isn’t what the 2008 housing bubble burst inflicted when people got their collateral foreclosed on. It’s what happens to innocent people when they’re hanging around major battlefields.

Mr. Mayor, the X-Men have villains with names like the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Mr. Sinister, and Apocalypse. These are not nice people. They would think nothing of attacking the X-Men in their home. A home you just allowed them to put in Central Park. If even one percent of those forty million visitors get hurt the next time someone attacks the Xavier Institute, you’ve just opened your city up to about 400,000 lawsuits. I practiced criminal defense law for 28 years and don’t know a tort from a torte, and even I would know how to file the complaints for the class action suits that are sure to follow.

Mr. Mayor, you may have thought renting Central Park to the X-Men was a good idea at the time. You might have even thought it would be a win-win situation. And it will be. For the plaintiffs and their lawyers.

The Law Is A Ass

Bob Ingersoll: The Law Is A Ass #413

MATT MURDOCK HAS SOME INTERESTING CONFLICTS

Has this ever happened to you? You’re sitting there, minding your own business, reading your comic books, when something in the story makes you go, “Now, that’s not right!” Of course you have. You can probably count on the fingers of one hand, the number of times you’ve read recent comic books and haven’t found something that made you say that. And probably still have enough fingers left over for an obscene gesture.

I have a confession to make, I’ve done it, too. The difference being, when you do it you can complain on a message board or something. When I do it, then I get to do this…

So there I was minding my own business reading Jessica Jones #9. I had just gotten to the part where Sharon Carter, acting head of S.H.I.E.L.D., arrested Jessica Jones, the super heroine turned private investigator, and threw her into jail for being uncooperative. Oh, yeah, and for insulting Sharon’s hairdo. No, seriously, that’s why Sharon tossed Jessica in jail.

No, that’s not the part that made me say, “Hey, that’s not right.” I mean arresting Jessica for bad hair day in the first and throwing her into a cell on Ryker’s Island is not right, but this sort of thing has happened so often in recent comic books that I’m rather inured to it. What is it about being head of S.H.I.E.L.D.? First it turned first Maria Hill  and then Sharon Carter into ill-tempered, officious, untrustworthy tenants in Apartment 23  who think a Bill of Rights is what you pay when you buy from the remainder table of the Leftorium.

No, the thing in the story that gave me pause was when Jessica’s attorney showed up and got her released with a writ of habeas corpus. At least, I assume it was a habeas corpus. The story didn’t say, but I kind of doubt Jessica’s attorney used a Get Out Of Jail Free card. Those things were only honored by Warden Crichton on the old Batman TV series; and, judging how many repeat offenders that show had, with alarming frequency.

It also didn’t bother me that Jessica’s lawyer got her sprung from her bogus arrest by using the great writ; springing people from bogus arrests is exactly what habeas was writ for. No what bothered me was that Jessica’s lawyer was Matt Murdock.

Remember, the Purple Children made the world forget that Matt Murdock was Daredevil, meaning the New York State Bar Association forgot why it had disbarred Matt  and reinstated his license to practice law in New York, Matt has been an assistant district attorney in Manhattan. Matt doesn’t get people out of jail anymore, he puts them in jail. So for Matt to show up with a habeas corpus for Jessica would be a dubious course oops.

Could Matt have been representing Jessica through a private practice he maintained on the side to earn extra money? Probably not. Some jurisdictions do allow their assistant district attorneys to run a private practice on the side. I don’t know whether New York is one of those jurisdictions, but it really doesn’t matter. Even those jurisdictions that allow their prosecutors to have private practices on the side, don’t allow them to accept cases which would present a conflict of interests.

And that means district attorneys can’t usually handle criminal cases in their side practices. Courts tend to find conflicts when the same lawyer is actively trying to put criminals behind bars in the job while trying to keep them out of jail on the side. Even if there are no actual conflicts, lawyers are supposed to avoid the appearance of impropriety and earning money on both sides of the criminal justice system doesn’t do that.

Matt could write wills, do civil litigation, negotiate contracts, and that sort of thing. In The Unstoppable Wasp #6, Matt showed up as Nadia Pym’s immigration lawyer. Even that could be permissible. Criminal law and immigration law sometimes intersect, but not so often that being a prosecutor and an immigration attorney automatically cause conflicts of interest.

If Matt were representing an immigrant who was being deported because he or she was being prosecuted for a crime in New York, that would probably be a conflict of interests. But the conflict of interests decision would be made on a case-by-case basis and not require an automatic withdrawal. But Matt representing criminal defendants while also serving as a district attorney in New York? That’s as iffy as a Bread song.

Beside which, Matt is already in enough hot water with his boss at the District Attorney’s office. So, even if it weren’t a conflict of interests for Matt to represent criminal defendants in his side practice, I doubt he’d want to risk incurring his boss’s wrath even further by eating prosecute-to ham with a side of defense work.

And why did the story have to use Matt Murdock anyway? Jennifer Walters is a practicing attorney in New York City, she could have been Jessica’s attorney without the whole conflict of interest problems. Or maybe Jeryn Hogarth could have represented Jessica. Why, there’s even a Manhattan-based attorney in the Marvel Universe named Robert Ingersol. He could have represented Jessica. I happen to have personal knowledge that he could use the money.

The Law Is A Ass

Bob Ingersoll: The Law Is A Ass #412

FLASH DRINKS SOME MILK OF AMNESIA

How do research labs in comic book or science fiction universes or, in this case, the TV show The Flash stay in business? Given that their experimental default setting seems to be catastrophe, how can they afford their insurance premiums?

To no one’s surprise, an experiment in the Central City branch of S.T.A.R. Labs went wrong in the Flash episode “Cause and Effect.” The result – other than one of those marking time episodes that crop up when the season has three more episodes but the season-long arc only has two episodes worth of story – Barry (The Flash) Allen got amnesia. It also resulted in the world’s most unnecessary SPOILER WARNING.

By the end of “Cause and Effect” Barry got his memory back. And if you didn’t want to know that, you should have stopped reading two sentences ago.

The A plot of “Cause and Effect” doesn’t concern us now. (It didn’t even concern me while I was watching the episode. I knew Barry’s amnesia would be more temporary than a henna tattoo in a car wash.) It was the B plot that prompted me to get anal-retentive and anal-lytical.

There was this pyromaniac named Lucius Coolidge AKA the Heat Monger, which is a silly name. Mongers sell things. Heat Monger set fires for free so he was actually giving heat away. Coolidge was caught largely because of the forensic investigation of Barry Allen. Unfortunately, some judge had a hole in his schedule and unilaterally moved Coolidge’s probable cause hearing up to that afternoon on the very day that Barry Allen, unlike Cats, had no memory.

Without his memory, Barry couldn’t testify. Well, he could testify, but he wouldn’t be able to say anything more useful than my one-year-old granddaughter could. And he wouldn’t be nearly as cute saying it. If Barry didn’t testify, the judge would find there was no probable cause to bind Coolidge over for trial and dismiss the cause. Coolidge would go free.

Team Flash gave Barry a pair of glasses equipped with a heads up display in the lenses and warned him not to let them get wet. Barry took the witness stand while his supervisor, Julian Albert, sat in the courtroom. Julian typed the answers to the DA’s questions on his laptop which were transmitted to the lenses on Barry’s glasses so Barry could read them in court.

If I said that the scene then played out exactly as anyone could have predicted, I’d be selling the word “exactly” short. Julian used emojis which Barry read out loud. Julian typed too fast so Barry had to tell him to slow down. Barry started to sweat and shorted out the glasses. Barry couldn’t continue testifying and the judge dismissed the case. Coolidge was released.

All in all, a three-minute scene played for comedy relief – it’s funny because Barry perpetrated a fraud upon the court – that ended with a dangerous sociopath being released. Don’t worry about the sociopath, he celebrated his victory by setting fire to an office building in front of eye witnesses who identified him for the police. Worry about that preliminary cause hearing. It may not have been funny like the show intended, but it was laughable.

Did the DA never consider asking the judge for a continuance, because the key prosecution witness was ill and not able to testify? After all, the judge created the problem by unilaterally rescheduling the PC hearing for later that day just because he had a hole in his schedule. (Note: judges don’t normally do things like that because it doesn’t provide the parties with adequate notice to prepare for the hearing.) Heaven forbid that the judge use his free afternoon to read the motions filed in the other cases before him or an article on how to avoid judicial intemperance.

And if the judge denied the continuance? There’s still a solution that’s a lot simpler than creating makeshift and volatile Google glasses. Have Julian Albert testify, for crying out loud!

Julian was Barry’s supervisor in the Central City CSI division. He would have overseen Barry’s work. He would have been familiar with Coolidge’s file. He could have testified with as much authority as Barry.

But if Julian was testifying based on Barry’s notes, wouldn’t Julian’s testimony have been inadmissable hearsay? No. Barry’s test results were records kept in the ordinary course of business. As such, they fell under the business records exception to the hearsay rule; one of the many hearsay exceptions. As long as Julian authenticated the notes, he could have testified about them.

But what about Coolidge’s ability to cross-examine Barry, the person who performed the tests? Wouldn’t having Julian testify instead of Barry deny Coolidge his right of confrontation?

Not according to the case law.

In Crawford v. Washington https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/541/36/, the U.S. Supreme Court held that admitting out-of-court statements that fell under one of the hearsay exceptions violated the defendant’s right to confrontation, if the statements were “testimonial” in nature. If the statements were not testimonial, then standard hearsay rules would apply. If the statements were testimonial, then the Sixth Amendment superceded the hearsay rules and precluded admission.

The Crawford case also said that business records were not testimonial. So having Julian testify wouldn’t have violated Coolidge’s Sixth Amendment rights. Moreover, Coolidge’s attorney could cross-examine Julian as to the procedures that were performed, the test results, and Julian’s expert opinion as to what the business records meant. Coolidge would have been able to exercise his right of confrontation, so no harm.

Anyway, that’s what the case law holds. See how simple it is? Julian testifies and Coolidge is bound over.

Here’s the thing about all that case law, I think it’s wrong. I think its reasoning is flawed and it’s conclusion incorrect. Doesn’t matter. No matter how much I might not like it – and I don’t like it a lot – it’s still the law. And I can’t ignore the law no matter how much it would suit my needs.

And here’s the other thing about that case law; no matter how much it might have suited the show’s needs, The Flash can’t ignore it either.

The Law Is A Ass

Bob Ingersoll: The Law Is A Ass #411

JEFF SPENCER GIFTS US WITH THIS GEM

This week I have something old. Next time I’ll have something new. I’m aged enough that I might be living on borrowed time. But I’m not blue. Because I’m not writing about that which shall remain nameless but which rhymes with drivel bore pooh.

I was watching an old episode of 77 Sunset Strip– there’s no other kind – called “Mr. Goldilocks.” It was a typical episode; private eye’s on a case that he manages to solve in 60 minutes – of 40, if you zap through the commercials on your DVR. This week PI Jeff Spencer was trying to recover some jewels which had been stolen while they were being transported from a Palm Springs show back to Los Angeles. Spencer tracked the thief, Abern Wills, into the desert and got shot in the arm for his troubles. Which was just the beginning of his troubles.

The wounded Jeff stumbled through the desert until he chanced upon the cabin of Luther and Willie Lee Hanks, a grizzled father and dim-witted son who were looking for a lost gold mine and were just a burro shy of hitting the prospector cliché trifecta. Luther’s daughter, Polly, used a first aid kit to treat Jeff’s wound. Then she promised that when she got home, she’d call Jeff’s partners at 77 Sunset Strip to come and get him, because, unlike the cabin, her house had a phone.

Yes, I said “her house.” See, Polly didn’t live with her father. She was married and lived with her husband; you guessed it Abern Wills. She had no intention of calling Jeff’s partners there on the Sunset Strip. Instead, she and Abern planned on going to the Hanks’ cabin the next day, after the Hanks resumed their search for the lost mine, and kill Jeff, so they could enjoy the proceeds of Abern’s jewel theft.

What they didn’t reckon on was that Luther, like most proud papas, had a picture of Polly’s wedding in his cabin; a picture Jeff saw. Jeff recognized Polly’s husband as the jewel thief and realized he had been set up. So, when Polly and Abern returned, Jeff was hiding under the cabin. Polly stayed at the cabin, while Abern walked into the desert to look for Jeff.

After Abern left, Jeff tried to get to Polly’s car to escape, but she shot at Jeff and he stopped. Then Polly held Jeff at gunpoint. She intended to keep Jeff prisoner until Abern returned and killed him, but she only kept him until he escaped and really did flee into the desert. Abern went after him.

Jeff wandered around the desert; well not for forty days and forty nights. Not even for forty minutes, even if you didn’t speed through the commercials on your DVR. But he did wander around long enough to start talking to himself. Then start talking to the vultures, because, if he was talking to them and not himself, he wasn’t crazy; which is kind of a self-defeating distinction. He also wandered around long enough for one night to pass and for Polly to bring Abern a dinner of cold chicken and some more water.

The next day, Abern caught up with Jeff. They fought. Due to his weakened state, Jeff lost. Then, as Abern was talking toward Jeff to kill him, Abern troped and fell down the shaft of the lost gold mine to his death. (And who didn’t see that coming. This episode had more Chekhov’s guns than that Star Trek episode where Kirk, Chekov, and crew relived the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.)

Jeff went back to Luther’s cabin and told the prospectors he had to take Polly in for attempted murder, but not where the lost mine was. (Seems a trite and true dust storm blew up, disorienting Jeff and preventing him from marking where the mine was.) Luther wanted to help his daughter so he gave Polly a gun and had her shoot the arms off a cactus to prove she was a crack shot. If she had wanted to kill Jeff, she would have. She was shooting to scare not to kill, so it wasn’t attempted murder. Jeff promised he would mention this to the judge, which, Jeff being an honorable 50s private investigator hero, I’m sure he did. After which, the judge…

…sentenced Polly to several years in prison for attempted murder. Not to mention conspiracy to commit murder and kidnap. See, it doesn’t matter that Polly might not have been trying to kill Jeff when she shot at him, she was still guilty of attempted murder.

What Polly intended doesn’t matter, because what Abern intended was more than enough to convict her. Abern followed Jeff into the desert and shot at him a few times – and Abern was shooting to kill, he was just a member of that hoary villain cliché, the gang who couldn’t shoot straight. Then Abern was about to beat Jeff to death but forgot to mind his step then mined his step. So Abern did commit the crime of attempted murder.

Polly helped him do this by, if nothing else, bringing him that cold chicken dinner and extra water so he could keep looking for Jeff to kill him. Which means Polly was an aider and abettor to Abern’s attempted murder. She was just as guilty of the attempted murder as Abern was.

It didn’t even matter that Abern wasn’t convicted of attempted murder; what with him being dead and all, that would have been overkill. Under the aider and abettor law, an accomplice can be convicted of aiding and abetting the principal offender’s crime, even if the principal offender is never convicted. You might say Polly’s conviction and sentence was a fate accomplice.

At the story’s end, Luther and Willie Lee went back to looking for the lost gold mine. Jeff went back to his offices at 77 Sunset Strip and his next adventure. And Polly went to prison. Where, I understand, she asked that her cellmate be a woman who became a prostitute to raise money to buy drugs. Because – and all together now – Polly wants a crack whore.

The Law Is A Ass #410: Captain Marvel and I Indulge in Conspiracy Theories

I’ve never lied to you.

Last time I said I had no more Civil War II columns and here I am writing about Jessica Jones #6 and things that wouldn’t have happened without Civil War II happening. But writing about things that happened after Civil War II ended is not a Civil War II column. It’s a Civil War II aftermath column. So I didn’t lie. Technically.

And now that I’ve cleared my conscience, let’s get this over with.

Alison Green was one of the people that the Inhuman Ulysses Cain predicted was going to commit crimes. Which made her one of the people Captain Marvel arrested before they committed the crimes and threw into a preventative justice prison so that they couldn’t commit their future crimes. Unfortunately, Alison wasn’t going to commit a crime. Ulysses was as wrong about Allison as that soothsayer was about the Powerball numbers she gave me last week. And Captain Marvel was even more wrong to arrest Alison than she had been in arresting all the other people she was wrong to arrest.

Alison created an anti-super hero organization. Captain Marvel and Jessica Jones tricked Alison into believing Jessica Jones was disgraced so Alison would recruit Jessica into the organization. Which Alison did and got stung worse than Doyle Lonnegan after stepping on a hornet’s nest. Jessica helped Alison capture Captain Marvel, Then, when Alison thought she had the upper hand, she showed she had what it takes to be a comic-book villain; she went into full-blown monologue mode and revealed her master plan. Which was to kill the Champions in a way that would foster a huge anti-hero backlash and end the age of the super hero forever. (End the age of the super hero? I don’t think Disney pictures would like that very much.)

Captain Marvel said Alison’s Champions plan added conspiracy to commit murder to her other crimes. But I don’t know. See, the crime of conspiracy to commit a crime entails more than conspiring to commit a crime. As the details about Alison’s plan were sketchier than an Artist’s Alley commission, I’m not sure there’s enough there for a conspiracy charge.

Conspiracy has three basic elements. First, two or more people have to be involved. Second, they have plan together to commit a crime. Third, at least one of them has to commit some overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy.

Let’s take those one at a time. If only one person is involved, there’s no conspiracy. No one can conspire with him or herself. Even if all three faces of Eve agreed to commit the crime, that’s not a conspiracy because there’s only one Eve. And conspiracy is all about Eve and someone else planning a crime.

Second, the two or more people have to create a plan to commit a crime. They don’t all have to commit the crime. Even if only person commits the actual crime, as long as two or more of people planned the crime, they’d all be guilty of conspiracy. That’s two defendants for the price of one, what a bargain!

Third, at least one of the conspirators has to commit some overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy. If Bonnie and Clyde create a plan to rob the Commerce Bank in Beverly Hills then go to sleep so they can get a fresh start in the morning, they have not committed a conspiracy yet. However as soon as they do something else – drive to the bank, steal the getaway car, kidnap Sonny Drysdale  to use as leverage against the bank president – they’ve completed the crime of conspiracy. It doesn’t even matter that they haven’t actually robbed the bank yet. By making the plan and then doing an overt act in furtherance of the plan they committed conspiracy, even if they never accomplish their ultimate objective.

So did Alison conspire to commit murder? Well, first we’d have to know did Alison make her plan to kill the Champions with one or more people? And, if so, with which people? If the only person Alison made her plans with was Jennifer Jones, then there can be no conspiracy. Jennifer wasn’t really part of the conspiracy, she was an undercover government operative. Traditionally, when the only other party to a conspiracy is a government operative, then two or more people aren’t agreeing to commit a crime. One plans to commit the crime, the other is just pretending as part of the undercover sting and we’re back to the a person can’t conspire with him or herself rule. Recently, some states and the Model Penal Code have started to move away from this position and allow conspiracy convictions when the co-conspirators are government agents, because the criminal thinks he or she has entered a conspiracy.

So if New York allows conspiracies with undercover police of if Alison made her plans with anyone in her organization other than Jessica, then the first element of the conspiracy is met. She probably did, but we weren’t given enough information in the story to know this for sure.

Assuming that Alison and others did plan to kill the Champions, the second element is also met. I trust that I don’t have to convince you that murder is a crime. I think I have to convince some writers of that, based on the way they have their heroes kill. But you, I shouldn’t have to convince. As murder is a crime, making plans with other people to commit a murder would hit conspiracy’s second element.

Third element, did any of the conspirators commit any overt act in furtherance of the plan to kill the Champions? We don’t know. We do know they were supposed to carry out the plan later that same night, so it’s likely that somebody had done something, because time was a wastin’ but the law doesn’t allow us to assume the existence of an element. So I can’t say for sure that anyone did an overt act or that Alison is guilty of conspiracy.

Sure Captain Marvel said Alison committed conspiracy. But let’s face it, Captain Marvel’s grasp of the law is about as firm as if she were noodling for mercury. While wearing a catcher’s mitt on both hands.

Now while I may not be able to tell you whether Alison’s guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, I can tell you this; I just checked my pile of write-about-these-someday comics and there isn’t one of them that’s connected to Civil War II. So I should be done with it. Unless Marvel’s got some new story coming up that connects back to Civil War II. And I don’t think they do. Civil War II is so last year. This year Marvel’s too busy secreting Secret Empire stories.

The Law Is A Ass

Bob Ingersoll: The Law Is A Ass #409

JESSICA JONES RECONSTRUCTS THE CRIME

Well, I can’t put it off any longer no matter how hard I try. And believe me, I’ve tried.

The last time I started a column with those words we were engaged in a not-so-great Civil War. It’s how I began my multi-column series on Marvel’s Civil War II. Today we turn to the aftermath of Civil War II. Call it Marvel’s Reconstruction Era, only the historical one was probably less painful.

Inhuman Ulysses Cain predicted future crimes. Captain Marvel arrested everyone the predictions said would commit some future crime and put them in jail. I wrote about why this was against the law. You know, it’s a pity that this Captain Marvel is forcing a perfectly respectable Captain Marvel  to call himself Shazam.

One of the future criminals Captain Marvel imprisoned was Allison Green. Problem was, the prediction about Allison was wrong. She was neither a terrorist nor a criminal mastermind. Or wasn’t until she got so upset by what happened to her that she dedicated herself to bringing down Captain Marvel and other super heroes. Then she became both.

Toward this end, Alison formed an anti-super hero network which Captain Marvel wanted to infiltrate. Toward that end, Captain Marvel enlisted former super heroine turned private investigator Jessica Jones. They faked a fall from grace that sent Jessica to jail and ruined her reputation. Then they dangled the Jessica bait in front of Allison Green.

This fake-somebody’s-fall-so-the-badguys-will-recruit-him ploy was already old when 77 Sunset Strip used it in its first season, and that was so long ago that even men of a certain age are too young to have seen it first-run. (Only men of an more uncertain age, like me, had that chance.) Still, the ploy worked as well as it did back when Hector’s grandfather was a pup. Allison Green scooped up Jessica and in Jessica Jones #6, Jessica lured Captain Marvel into Allison’s trap.

This ploy only works if the big bad cooperates by revealing his or her plan. Allison did not disappoint, other than that she fell for a trick as old as the fruit salad in the Garden of Eden. She monologued like she was performing every tragedy Shakespeare ever wrote. She admitted she was going to kill the Champions and make it look like it was their fault then use the ensuing chaos to turn people against the super heroes. “The world is going to burn you all at the stake. The heroes are going to try to fight back and that ensuing ugliness is the end of the age of heroes.”

At which point, Captain Marvel and Jessica Jones revealed their plan, arrested Allison, and told her that she was going to a deep, dark prison cell where the S.H.I.E.L.D. Psych Squad would “pull all the other names and details of your burgeoning organization right out of your head … whether you like it or not.”

This story raised a few questions. I have a few answers. Let’s hope as many answers as there were questions.

Was faking Jessica Jones’s fall from grace so Allison Green would recruit her into her evil empire entrapment? No.

Entrapment happens when law enforcement officials originate a criminal design and implant the disposition to commit a crime into an innocent person’s head. If an undercover cop offers to sell someone drugs, that would be entrapment, as the government planted the idea of buying drugs into the innocent person’s head.

Allison Green was about as innocent as a newborn babe thirty-six years later; after he had become a paid assassin. She had already committed some crimes. She formed an organization to commit more crimes. Jessica did not implant the idea of committing crimes in Allison.

Did Allison’s monologued confession violate the Fifth Amendment guarantee against self-incrimination? No.

Captain Marvel and Jessica Jones tricked Allison into confessing, so there was state action. But the state action has to force the criminal to confess in order to violate the Fifth Amendment. Allison gave her confession like she was entering Dracula’s castle, freely and of her own will.

If the S.H.I.E.L.D. Psych Squad extracts information from Allison’s brain “whether she likes it or not,” would that information be suppressed under the Fifth Amendment? Hell yes!

In Schmerber v. California, the Supreme Court ruled the police could forcibly take a blood sample from a suspected drunk driver. But taking evidence using a bodily intrusion could only be done after the police obtained a search warrant. Schmerber allowed this because blood samples are not testimonial in nature. That meant only Fourth Amendment search and seizure law applied, not Fifth Amendment self-incrimination law.

Non-testimonial evidence is evidence which doesn’t require the suspect to reveal anything. As the Supreme Court noted in Curcio v. United States, the Fifth Amendment prohibits forcing someone to “disclose the contents of his own mind.” Ordering a defendant to produce blood samples, fingerprints, or the like does not require a defendant to “disclose the contents of his mind.”

Extracting thoughts from a criminal’s brain by telepathy “whether she likes it or not,” on the other hand, does force the defendant to “disclose the contents of [her] mind.” Literally.

So Captain Marvel, if you want to teep Allison’s house – well, her mental house, as it were – I have some advice; don’t. Any evidence telepathically extracted from Allison’s mind would be inadmissible because it would violate her Fifth Amendment rights. In addition, under the Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Doctrine, that evidence wouldn’t be admissible against any member of her “burgeoning organization” either. Apparently Civil War II didn’t teach Captain Marvel anything about the law, because her costume is still a fascist statement.

Last, and most important question, do I have any more columns about Civil Wars II on tap? You’ll be glad to know, the answer is no.

The Law Is A Ass

Bob Ingersoll The Law Is A Ass #408

THE CHAMPIONS LOGO LOW BLOW

Sometimes I’m not here to tell you what went wrong with a story. Not what I usually do, but sometimes a story just gets the law right. Doesn’t stop me from writing about it. I can have as much fun explaining why the law works the way it was portrayed in a story as I can explaining why the law doesn’t work the way it was portrayed in a story. In fact, I can have more fun. When I write about why a story is right, no one gets mad at me.

Champions v2 #7 is one of those stories that got it right. For those who haven’t read it, the new Champions comic tells the adventures of some teenaged Marvel super heroes who teamed up after they became disillusioned with the behavior of the adult Marvel super heroes. Particularly their behavior in Civil War II.

I don’t blame them. I’ve spent long hours writing about how I’m disillusioned with the recent behavior of Marvel’s heroes. Only I didn’t limit it to Civil War II. There’s also Standoff, Death of X, Inhumans v X-Men, Secret Invasion, Dark Reign and just about every crossover this side of Marvel’s first Civil War story. Or the other side of Marvel’s first Civil War  story, for that matter. (I’m looking at you Heroes Reborn.)

Anyway because they were disillusioned, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man (the un-Amazing Miles Morales version), and Nova left the Avengers to form the Champions. Other young super heroes joined them. Their goal was to become heroes who would not use excessive force or unnecessary death to accomplish their goals. (I presume Champions will still use necessary death; like when the book needs a sales boost, but maybe that’s just the cynic in me.)

After their first adventure, Ms. Marvel made a speech laying out the team’s manifesto. “We’re in a war for a better tomorrow. Join us. Help us to not take the easy road, and – I promise we’ll fight every fight they can throw at us. Help us win the hard way – the right way – not with hate, not with retribution, but with wisdom and hope. Help us become champions.” Videos of the speech went viral and made the Champions’ mission public giving them a manifesto destiny.

It also inspired other young people to do good things such as clean up beaches or build low-income housing. These people tagged their activities with the Champions’ C logo to show solidarity with the Champions’ agenda. So the Champions put their copyrighted logo into the public domain. That way anyone could use it when doing a good deed and promote the cause.

Now as this is a comic book story, we know no good deed – especially the good deed of a super hero team – goes … Well, I was going to say goes unpunished, but Frank Castle wasn’t anywhere near this story. Let’s say goes unopposed by a super villain team.

The super villain team du jour was the Freelancers, a team of super powered juvenile delinquents for hire. Usually by big corporations looking for someone to do their dirty work. Like shutting down protesters who were trying to block Roxxon from building an oil pipeline. Or displacing homeless people who were living in tents on land where some other corporation wanted to build luxury condos.

The Champions and Freelancers fought a couple of times until the Champions finally won a decisive victory. Or as decisive as any comic-book victory can be in an era where writers have discovered the phrase “To be continued!”

After their victory over the Freelancers in Champions V2 #7, the Champions learned two things. First, they learned there’s a SPOILER WARNING! coming. (As in I’m about to reveal the cliffhanger of Champions Vol 2 #7, so if you don’t want to know what it is, you might want to read something else; like Marvel’s original Champions series.) The second thing the Champions learned was that while they had put their copyrighted logo in the public domain, the Freelancers had received a trademark on the Champions’ C logo. Now the Freelancers were licensing the Champions logo for “huge amounts” of money to companies making, “Luxury goods. Gated communities. Cigarettes,” to undermine the Champions’ crusade and make themselves a fortune.

How could the Freelancers trademark the Champions’ logo, when the Champions had the copyright on it? Because like a lot of people, the Champions didn’t realize there’s difference between copyright and trademark. While both are part of what the legal profession calls Intellectual Property Law, they cover and protect entirely different things.

Copyright grants the creator of any creative endeavor the right to control who can make or distribute a copy of the work. Copyright is an IP protection for creators.

Trademark, on the other hand, is an IP protection for businesses. It means someone established a mark they use in their trade and have the right to dictate who can use the mark in their business. They can. Anyone they license it to can. But other businesses can’t.

Under current copyright law in America, a person gains a copyright in a work of art as soon as the artwork is completed. However, to obtain a trademark, someone must apply to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the mark. If the Office feels that the requested trademark is valid, it can award the applicant the requested mark.

Some things can be trademarked, even though the original copyright associated with the property has fallen into public domain. Edgar Rice Burroughs’s original novel Tarzan of the Apes fell into public domain in the United States many years ago. But Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. https://www.edgarriceburroughs.com still holds a valid trademark on the name Tarzan. So while anyone is free to reprint a copy of the novel, ERB, Inc. can prevent that reprint from using the trademarked name Tarzan on the cover.

In our story, the Champions owned the copyright on their logo and allowed it to go into public domain so others could use it to promote the cause. However, they forgot to get a trademark on the logo. So, unlike ERB, Inc., they don’t control their own logo. Instead the Freelancers control the Champions’ logo and are licensing it to any business that wants to spite the Champions.

The lawyer in me is amused by this story. Not only because it was perfectly correct in its portrayal of the legal system, but also because I can’t help but think it was inspired by the real-life legal dispute between Marvel Comics and Hero Comics over the trademark on the title Champions.

What trademark dispute? I may write about that one of these weeks. Just as soon as I figure out a way to make the topic entertaining. Remember, I said the lawyer in me was amused. But only lawyers would find a trademark dispute amusing.

The Law Is A Ass

Bob Ingersoll: The Law Is A Ass #407

AFTER CHICAGO JUSTICE, I NEED THE FIFTH

Things weren’t looking good. Not for Assistant State’s Attorney Peter Stone. And not for me. Not for Stone, because he was the star of Dick Wolf’s new TV show, Chicago Justice and things never look good for prosecuting attorneys in the first three acts of a Dick Wolf. Not for me, because I was watching Dick Wolf’s new TV show, Chicago Justice.

Stone was prosecuting Dylan Oates for arson and murder. Oates had set fire to a factory being used for a rave, resulting in dozens of injuries and 39 deaths. Oates was a smarmy, spoiled millennial whose condescending sneer alone should have made the jury want to convict him. But the case against Oates was coming in badly thanks to Oates’s high-priced and equally-smarmy defense attorney, Albert Forest. Stone decided he needed to establish a motive to secure a conviction.

Then fate dropped a motive in Stone’s lap. Forest’s response to Stone’s discovery request contained discovery and news articles about the factory. One article claimed pedophiles used the factory’s raves to attract under-aged teens. So, if Oates had been an abused child, then he had a motive; the article triggered memories, so Oates “lost it” and set the fire.

Stone’s boss, State’s Attorney Mark Jefferies, feared this evidence could hand Oates a sympathy defense. Nah. In my experience, juries aren’t simpatico to sympathy defenses. Juries don’t let criminals off because they feel sorry for them, because juries don’t feel sorry for them. Especially criminals who torch a rave, wedge the doors shut so no one could get out, and kill 39 people. Not a case that’s high up on the “Aww-poor-baby” scale.

Jefferies ignored another problem with the motive, there was absolutely no evidence Oates had been sexually abused as a child. Without that, how would Stone connect the purported motive to Oates? That question was rhetorical, by the way, without that proof, there is no, “Here’s how.”

Stone called the reporter who wrote the article. Forest didn’t cross-examine and Stone realized he’d been played like a… No, not a Stradivarius , I don’t want to give either Forest or Stone that much credit. Like a dime store ocarina.

Forest sent the article to Stone accidentally on purpose. He wanted Stone to introduce the article. It laid the foundation for Forest’s sympathy defense without him calling Oates as a witness; thereby waiving subjecting Oates to cross-examination.

Stone knew Forest was a typical Dick Wolf shyster. Why would Stone have trusted anything that Forest “accidentally” dropped into his lap? Only one reason, Stone was an idiot.

But Forest was an idiot, too. His strategy depended on Stone calling the reporter even though using it would have been an unethical misappropriation of Forest’s work product and even though Stone had no proof Oates had been sexually abused. Either reason was enough for Stone not to use the article by itself. Stone had both. So Forest’s strategy depended on Stone being an idiot. Moreover, it was also utterly unnecessary.

After Stone had planted the seed of the sympathy defense, Forest needed to establish the possibility that Oates had been sexually abused as a child. He called Oates’s mother. She testified that when Oates was 5, her brother took Oates fishing and did something to him. After Oates came back, he had changed. He was no longer her sweet boy. She carefully suggested that Oates had been sexually abused without ever actually saying it. Forest didn’t call any other witnesses.

Forest’s defense required two witnesses; the reporter and Oates’s mother. Forest could have established his defense without calling Oates or subjecting him to cross-examination. Forest didn’t need to get Stone to call the reporter with a dirty trick that shouldn’t have worked in the first place. So why did he use his dirty trick? How else could he establish he was a typical Dick Wolf shyster defense attorney, unless he showed he wasn’t shy-ster about using a dirty trick?

By now the show had reached the 40-minute mark. The Dick Wolf play book said it was time for the prosecutor to have a sudden, last-minute epiphany and come up with a strategy that would save the day. Chicago Justice didn’t disappoint; except that the last-minute strategy was so preposterous the fact that the show actually used it was disappointing.

When Forest tried to rest the defense case, Stone said he had the right to cross-examine Oates. Forest argued the Fifth Amendment prevented Stone from forcing Oates to testify against himself. Stone pointed out that on two different occasions during his mother’s testimony, Oates yelled, “You’re lying!” Stone argued, “[Oates] spoke. The jury heard him. That’s testimony. He waived his rights against self-incrimination.” And the judge bought it. She actually ruled, “I’ll probably be reversed on appeal, but I’m going to let you cross-examine him.”

Can I say bullshit here on ComicMix? I don’t think “bullshirt” will quite cut it.

When a defendant testifies, the defendant waives the right against self-incrimination and can be cross-examined. The defendant can’t answer all the questions the defendant wants to answer on direct examination then forbid cross-examination on the questions the defendant doesn’t want to answer by arguing it would violate the right against self-incrimination. So, yes, if Oates had testified, Stone would have been allowed to cross-examine him.

Thing is, Oates didn’t testify.

Testimony occurs when a person is in the witness stand and answers questions under oath. What do judges in TV shows and movies call it when a spectator who is not under oath yells something in court? Right, an outburst. Hell, Oates’s judge even warned Oates about making further outbursts. Oates didn’t testify so he didn’t waive his Fifth Amendment rights.

If Oates had called a prosecution witness a liar, maybe the judge might have called that testimony and allowed cross-examination. After all, the prosecution could argue that it had the right to repair the damage the defendant’s outburst had done to its witness. But I’ve never even seen that happen. Juries don’t give a defendant’s outbursts any credibility. It wasn’t expecting the defendant’s to say, “Yup, that’s how it happened. I’m guilty,” in the first place, so it ignores any shouts of, “You’re lying!” And we didn’t even have that strong an argument for cross-examination.

Oates called a defense witness – a witness whose testimony was supposed to help him – a liar. How was Stone going to argue he had a right to repair the damage, when the defendant’s outburst hurt the defense case not the prosecution’s case?

Last week I said that I didn’t know any judge who would allow a defense attorney to ask why a confession that had been suppressed wasn’t introduced. Well, I’ve met a few more judges since then and I don’t know any that would call a defendant’s outburst testimony and allow him to be cross-examined on it.

I especially don’t know of any judge who would make this ruling after first stating, “I’ll probably be reversed on appeal.” Judges hate being reversed, hate it more than Yosemite Sam hates rabbits.

Being reversed make judges look bad. And causing a trial to be reversed then retried wastes taxpayer’s money; a good way not to be reelected. Judges try not to do things they think might get them reversed and they definitely don’t do things what will “probably” get them reversed.

So, did Stone’s cross-examination trip up Oates so he said or did something that caused the jury to convict him? Or did Stone lose the case? Ah, that would be telling. You wouldn’t want me to be a spoiler, would you?

Still, this was the first episode of Dick Wolf’s new series about a crusading prosecuting attorney. It had already made its star look like an idiot because he fell for a dirty trick. Do you think the show wanted to start out by making its hero look like he was incompetent and a loser?

The Law Is A Ass

Bob Ingersoll: The Law Is A Ass #407

AFTER CHICAGO JUSTICE, I NEED THE FIFTH

Things weren’t looking good. Not for Assistant State’s Attorney Peter Stone. And not for me. Not for Stone, because he was the star of Dick Wolf’s new TV show, Chicago Justice and things never look good for prosecuting attorneys in the first three acts of a Dick Wolf. Not for me, because I was watching Dick Wolf’s new TV show, Chicago Justice.

Stone was prosecuting Dylan Oates for arson and murder. Oates had set fire to a factory being used for a rave, resulting in dozens of injuries and 39 deaths. Oates was a smarmy, spoiled millennial whose condescending sneer alone should have made the jury want to convict him. But the case against Oates was coming in badly thanks to Oates’s high-priced and equally-smarmy defense attorney, Albert Forest. Stone decided he needed to establish a motive to secure a conviction.

Then fate dropped a motive in Stone’s lap. Forest’s response to Stone’s discovery request contained discovery and news articles about the factory. One article claimed pedophiles used the factory’s raves to attract under-aged teens. So, if Oates had been an abused child, then he had a motive; the article triggered memories, so Oates “lost it” and set the fire.

Stone’s boss, State’s Attorney Mark Jefferies, feared this evidence could hand Oates a sympathy defense. Nah. In my experience, juries aren’t simpatico to sympathy defenses. Juries don’t let criminals off because they feel sorry for them, because juries don’t feel sorry for them. Especially criminals who torch a rave, wedge the doors shut so no one could get out, and kill 39 people. Not a case that’s high up on the “Aww-poor-baby” scale.

Jefferies ignored another problem with the motive, there was absolutely no evidence Oates had been sexually abused as a child. Without that, how would Stone connect the purported motive to Oates? That question was rhetorical, by the way, without that proof, there is no, “Here’s how.”

Stone called the reporter who wrote the article. Forest didn’t cross-examine and Stone realized he’d been played like a… No, not a Stradivarius , I don’t want to give either Forest or Stone that much credit. Like a dime store ocarina.

Forest sent the article to Stone accidentally on purpose. He wanted Stone to introduce the article. It laid the foundation for Forest’s sympathy defense without him calling Oates as a witness; thereby waiving subjecting Oates to cross-examination.

Stone knew Forest was a typical Dick Wolf shyster. Why would Stone have trusted anything that Forest “accidentally” dropped into his lap? Only one reason, Stone was an idiot.

But Forest was an idiot, too. His strategy depended on Stone calling the reporter even though using it would have been an unethical misappropriation of Forest’s work product and even though Stone had no proof Oates had been sexually abused. Either reason was enough for Stone not to use the article by itself. Stone had both. So Forest’s strategy depended on Stone being an idiot. Moreover, it was also utterly unnecessary.

After Stone had planted the seed of the sympathy defense, Forest needed to establish the possibility that Oates had been sexually abused as a child. He called Oates’s mother. She testified that when Oates was 5, her brother took Oates fishing and did something to him. After Oates came back, he had changed. He was no longer her sweet boy. She carefully suggested that Oates had been sexually abused without ever actually saying it. Forest didn’t call any other witnesses.

Forest’s defense required two witnesses; the reporter and Oates’s mother. Forest could have established his defense without calling Oates or subjecting him to cross-examination. Forest didn’t need to get Stone to call the reporter with a dirty trick that shouldn’t have worked in the first place. So why did he use his dirty trick? How else could he establish he was a typical Dick Wolf shyster defense attorney, unless he showed he wasn’t shy-ster about using a dirty trick?

By now the show had reached the 40-minute mark. The Dick Wolf play book said it was time for the prosecutor to have a sudden, last-minute epiphany and come up with a strategy that would save the day. Chicago Justice didn’t disappoint; except that the last-minute strategy was so preposterous the fact that the show actually used it was disappointing.

When Forest tried to rest the defense case, Stone said he had the right to cross-examine Oates. Forest argued the Fifth Amendment prevented Stone from forcing Oates to testify against himself. Stone pointed out that on two different occasions during his mother’s testimony, Oates yelled, “You’re lying!” Stone argued, “[Oates] spoke. The jury heard him. That’s testimony. He waived his rights against self-incrimination.” And the judge bought it. She actually ruled, “I’ll probably be reversed on appeal, but I’m going to let you cross-examine him.”

Can I say bullshit here on ComicMix? I don’t think “bullshirt” will quite cut it.

When a defendant testifies, the defendant waives the right against self-incrimination and can be cross-examined. The defendant can’t answer all the questions the defendant wants to answer on direct examination then forbid cross-examination on the questions the defendant doesn’t want to answer by arguing it would violate the right against self-incrimination. So, yes, if Oates had testified, Stone would have been allowed to cross-examine him.

Thing is, Oates didn’t testify.

Testimony occurs when a person is in the witness stand and answers questions under oath. What do judges in TV shows and movies call it when a spectator who is not under oath yells something in court? Right, an outburst. Hell, Oates’s judge even warned Oates about making further outbursts. Oates didn’t testify so he didn’t waive his Fifth Amendment rights.

If Oates had called a prosecution witness a liar, maybe the judge might have called that testimony and allowed cross-examination. After all, the prosecution could argue that it had the right to repair the damage the defendant’s outburst had done to its witness. But I’ve never even seen that happen. Juries don’t give a defendant’s outbursts any credibility. It wasn’t expecting the defendant’s to say, “Yup, that’s how it happened. I’m guilty,” in the first place, so it ignores any shouts of, “You’re lying!” And we didn’t even have that strong an argument for cross-examination.

Oates called a defense witness – a witness whose testimony was supposed to help him – a liar. How was Stone going to argue he had a right to repair the damage, when the defendant’s outburst hurt the defense case not the prosecution’s case?

Last week I said that I didn’t know any judge who would allow a defense attorney to ask why a confession that had been suppressed wasn’t introduced. Well, I’ve met a few more judges since then and I don’t know any that would call a defendant’s outburst testimony and allow him to be cross-examined on it.

I especially don’t know of any judge who would make this ruling after first stating, “I’ll probably be reversed on appeal.” Judges hate being reversed, hate it more than Yosemite Sam hates rabbits.

Being reversed make judges look bad. And causing a trial to be reversed then retried wastes taxpayer’s money; a good way not to be reelected. Judges try not to do things they think might get them reversed and they definitely don’t do things what will “probably” get them reversed.

So, did Stone’s cross-examination trip up Oates so he said or did something that caused the jury to convict him? Or did Stone lose the case? Ah, that would be telling. You wouldn’t want me to be a spoiler, would you?

Still, this was the first episode of Dick Wolf’s new series about a crusading prosecuting attorney. It had already made its star look like an idiot because he fell for a dirty trick. Do you think the show wanted to start out by making its hero look like he was incompetent and a loser?

The Law Is A Ass

Bob Ingersoll: The Law Is A Ass #406

CHICAGO JUSTICE JUSTICE NOT BELIEVABLE

Between the Law & Order franchise, the Chicago franchise, and the ill-conceived, even ill-advised, attempt to revive Dragnet without Jack Webb, Dick Wolf may be responsible for more hours of television that I haven’t watched than Susan Lucci. I know he’s created and produced some of the most popular shows on TV, but I think his collected works are oeuvre-rated. So when I watched the first episode of his new show, Chicago Justice, I wasn’t expecting much. But even I wasn’t expecting so little.

First, there was the problem that the first episode of Chicago Justice was the third part of a three-part cross-over event that started in Chicago Fire and continued in Chicago P.D., neither of which I had watched. Fortunately, television still does something comic books seem unwilling to do nowadays, give recaps. So I was able to pick up the story’s threads as easily as a seamstress with agile fingers.

Someone set fire to a warehouse that was being used for a rave. Thirty-nine kids died and dozens more were injured. In Chicago Fire, they put out the fire. In Chicago P.D. they tracked down the arsonist/mass murderer, Dyan Oats.

One of the main officers on the case was Alvin Olinsky. Not surprising, Olinsky is one of the main characters on Chicago P.D. What was surprising is that the Chicago P.D. allowed Olinksy anywhere near the case.

See, Olinsky’s daughter was one of the victims who died in the fire. I don’t care what kind of “I deserve justice” heartstrings Olinsky pulled, the Chicago P.D. would never let an officer who was so emotionally involved in such a high-profile case be personally involved in the investigation. They have rules about that sort of thing. But this is Dick Wolf television so excess drama co-opting express police procedure is part of the show’s procedure.

Finally in Chicago Fire, Oates stood trial. Which is where we come in.

As is usual in a Dick Wolf show, things didn’t go well for the prosecutor. Assistant District Attorney Peter Stone had an eyewitness who saw Oates start the fire. But her eyes were damaged in the fire so she was now blind. She couldn’t see Oats to pick him out in a line-up or to identify him in court.

Still, she could, and did, describe his height, eye color and hair color to the jury. And she described the brown cargo coat with the distinctive shoulder patch he was wearing and the even more distinctive silver skull ring he was wearing — both of which Oates was still wearing when he was arrested and were exhibits in the trial.

Pretty damning stuff, right?

But defense counsel pointed out that at the rave she had consumed two whole beers and a half tab of Ecstasy. And the rave had loud music and flashing strobe lights to distract her. So, naturally, she couldn’t be a reliable witness, now could she?

Well, not in a TV show, anyway. Honestly, eyewitnesses are discredited so easily in TV shows, I’m surprised that TV DAs ever bothered to prosecute cases with eyewitnesses in them.

Stone also had a confession mentioned in a police report, but he had problems believing it. The two officers who included the confession in their police report were series regulars, the aforementioned Olinsky and Hank Voight. So they were the officers the viewers have watched over the years and formed a bond with. Officers the viewers are supposed to trust. Stone, too. But Stone didn’t buy it.

Stone thought Oates never confessed and that Olinsky and Voight added a nonexistent confession to buttress the case. (Although I didn’t see the episode of Chicago P.D. where the arrest and confession allegedly happened, I got the impression from the episode of Chicago Justice I did see that the confession was bogus. So much for that whole officers the viewers can trust thing.) Stone was hoping some other police officer — any other police officer — could come in and corroborate the confession. When no other police officer corroborated it, Stone didn’t even bother to oppose the defense motion to suppress the statement. So out it went.

Stone had physical evidence. Voight testified that he found metal wedges in Oates’s apartment which matched exactly — as in same dimensions, same metal, and same manufacturer exactly — the metal wedges the arsonist used to wedge the doors of the warehouse shut so no one could escape. But defense counsel was able to discredit Voight by asking him about the confession mentioned in Voight’s police report. “It’s curious, don’t you think, that the People haven’t introduced that statement into evidence?”

ADA Stone quite correctly objected to this question. The judge quite incorrectly overruled his objection. So defense counsel got to ask the detective why the jury should trust the detective, when the prosecution didn’t even trust him.

Bunk. That question would never have been allowed in an actual trial, you know one operating under the Rules of Evidence and not under the need to go into commercial break on a strong story beat.

The same judge presiding over the trial also presided over the suppression motion. She knew that she had suppressed the statement, so it couldn’t have been introduced into evidence. I don’t know of any judge who would allow a defense inquiry into why a suppressed confession wasn’t introduced into the trial. And in my many years of practice, I knew many, many judges.

Now that’s a lot of legal poppycock for one story, but here’s the thing. I’m only just getting started. I’m almost 1,000 words in and I haven’t even gotten to the biggest problems I had with this episode of Chicago Justice.

Unfortunately, while I’m just getting started, I’m also finished. If I go on any longer this week, the column will take up more band width than the horn section at fat camp. So come back next time when I finish up with the first episode of Chicago Justice. It’s where we’ll get into things so outrageous that you won’t believe it until you see it. Hell, I saw it, and I don’t believe it.