Criminal Justice … err Legal Defense … System
We are back in Las Cruces New Mexico for the retrial of the man who killed my brother. You can read my first blog post here. I do hope it is clear that I am passionate about our court and the rights of the accused — even though it is a very very difficult situation for my family. That has not changed. But since asked, I figured I’d write a blog post, so there is no confusion and naivety about the way our criminal justice system works. At least for some defendants. And from my perspective.
If you are family or a friend, a member of this beautiful community or a regular Joe or Jane watching from afar, this particular trial can seem confusing and frustrating. In fact, at times it will be downright ludicrous and even a bit foolish.
Our family appreciates those who approach us in the community to say so. It really means a lot. We all know, and we are living this together.
So, let’s be honest — our court system at times may seem more about legal defense than criminal justice. And that is sad.
Burden of “Truth”
If you don’t know, you should. The defense attorney is paid very very well to say anything, anything at all. It doesn’t have to be true since there is no burden or requirement for them to prove anything. And they can hire B-list so-called “experts” who fly in from the middle of nowhere to say anything for a buck. And they can all act unethically (although they shouldn’t) and do anything, absolutely anything without fear of any significant consequences. At least outside of court.
Their only job is to get their client off of the charges brought against them. That’s it. They are paid well for it too. They are paid to confuse the jury, say anything to the public and try the case in as many ways as they can, including the media and public perception before, during, and after the trial. Even if not true. The truth is not what they are paid to discover or divulge. They don’t seem to care about truth — evident in part by how much their “truth” shifts, and their story changes.
And often, I’m convinced the defense must believe they get extra points if they can blame the victim or at least make it seem like he wasn’t a human life worth saving anyway.
My family and I have lived this firsthand. And it sucks. But we have sat quietly believing that in time, the truth will come out, and justice will prevail. And we hope it does. But it might not — at least in an NM court. I mean, life is not fair and bad things happen to good people. But in the end, even if the very end, final judgment will be pronounced and consequences will be realized.
Just ask OJ Simpson. Bad people eventually get what they have coming.
Fighting with a fair disadvantage
District Attorneys represent the people and they cannot (nor should they) use unethical practices. They have to (and I mean, have to) ensure a fair and neutral trial. The burden of proof is and always should be on the government bringing charges against its citizens. Even if they are not “good people.”
That’s why you rarely hear from the prosecution in the media — unless necessary, and they reserve their fight for the court — with integrity.
But that does not make it easy for the family of the man shot five times in the back as he ran. Or the community who had one of it’s finer hotels shot up — and the man who admits to it walking free in the city for the last 30 months as he is out on bond and living with his girlfriend (now wife) who is a defense “witness.”
I felt it was time to address some of the shenanigans the defense has leveled at my deceased brother, the only victim in this case. So I put together a few responses to their crazy claims.
Jeremy did not do drugs. — “A white powdery substance consistent with drugs in Jeremy’s wallet.” Remember this headline? Yeah, we knew what it was — Jeremy, just like his dad, always kept BC Powder aspirin in his wallet. They both had headaches from time to time and found it convenient to carry aspirin in this form rather than in a bottle. And of course, the media ate it up, and the defense gave all sorts of interviews and made lots of speculative claims — even his former law office blogged about it. It was everywhere. Of course, everyone was silent when an analyst clarified under oath that it was aspirin. That headline didn’t seem to grab much attention. The truth can be boring.
Jeremy was not a “gay basher, ” and he was not homophobic — Wow… Really? Jeremy apparently made a comment to someone using a slang word. And while it might have been inappropriate if it were actually said, it was blown way out of context and proportion, and the defense went wild. The truth is a couple of young guys watching a Monday night football game having a few beers might cut up and tease each other. Careful tho, you might get shot for saying something offensive! But for what it is worth, I think a comment might be closer to the truth of what pissed off the defendant. We know of the argument between Jeremy and Tai, and it wasn’t a gay joke gone wrong. But, what Jeremy told his family, friends and a fellow deputy via text, a call, and Snapchat is hearsay so we can not testify in court.
There was neither a hidden vault nor a “secret life” — The family has the photos in question — and the defense is using an inappropriate term to describe deleted photos and an app used to store and send pictures (i.e. Snapchat). The truth is Jeremy was a young man who liked taking selfies and sharing a bit of humor with friends. And he was proud to be putting on weight and developing muscle tone, so he sent a few pictures from the gym to a female associate who shared a passion for fitness and a close family friend who happens to be gay. Frankly, it is nobody’s business, I only mention it because the defense does. And if that weren’t enough, he sent all the same photos to his wife, usually at the same time. There was no “secret life.” But again, be careful, taken out of context how many photos on your phone can be explained in a poor light by a defense team or a defendant that never actually knew you?
Jeremy was not prejudiced — Not at all. The defense tried to make this assertion last week but wasn’t permitted to continue. I’ll bet it comes up again next week. Not the Jeremy we knew. It would take too long to allow the rich ethnicities and people of various races to provide character witness for Jeremy at the trial. And other than in the media, Jeremy is not on trial, so it is considered a waste of the court’s time. That said, we can line up a long list of people who knew Jeremy to be a fun loving and kind man who held absolutely no racist views. In fact, he and his wife often attended an African-American church because they liked the style of worship and the diversity. You should talk with their pastor. Moreover, Jeremy grew up on an Apache Reservation where he himself was not in the majority.
It was not self-defense — No way, Jeremy was not the aggressor. I won’t spend much time here. Watch the first trial and pay attention. The jury was instructed they had to find for not guilty if they believed here was a shred of truth to the claim of self-defense. Not a single juror did. The physical evidence and witness accounts do not support this theory. At all. It is, however convenient that between the only two who can testify to what actually happened in the room, one is dead and the other is charged with first-degree murder. Regardless, at no time is shooting someone in the back while they run away from you self-defense. It just isn’t. Not even in the wild west.
Trying our brother in the media — For the most part, the media has been great. More so than not in fact. However, it has never been publically disclosed that one of the defense attorneys has been on the payroll of a major news channel out of Albuquerque (I’ll tell you who if you ask). Which makes sense given that this is the only major station in the state that has not contacted our family for a statement or our perspective as the story has been unfolding. In fact, I have screenshots of headlines that are changed overnight to be more tantalizing, presumably after the defense logs into the website and makes the edits — who knows. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they will only start live streaming when the defense starts their portion of the hearing. And it only took a private investigator about 15 minutes to uncover that the juror who spoke out about the first trial (who again, still found for guilt), has a close relative who is politically motivated. Unbiased? I think not.
Timing and sensationalism — several times the defense has chosen to make statements they do not follow up with or release a motion to the media a full day or two before filing it with the court. And they love nights and weekends — right before the news hour. A couple of times claiming new information had come to light when in fact it was always there, and the court would not permit it… in part because it has no legal basis on the proceedings or is complete baloney (that’s a legal term in Texas). Just read some of the judge’s admonishments and rulings… I find some comfort in the court’s neutrality and integrity — although I’ll admit, I don’t always like it’s ruling.
And last but not least, the defense and defendant blame everyone but the guy who pulled the trigger. They find fault with witnesses, and they are really really hard on some genuine people — who were under extreme stress at the time they saw what they saw and heard what they heard. And they even find fault with the first responders, a dog named Zero, detectives, expert witnesses, and of course the State who represents the people. They will do and say anything to pull fault away from the guy with the gun. It is their job… just a shame, so many good people in this community have to sit there and get the brunt of their criticism and trick questioning.
Well-paid lawyers who talk fast and distort the truth can tarnish the beauty of our legal system. Clearly, this is how unscrupulous wealthy people attempt to avoid personal responsibility for their actions. But it is important that we do not allow their unethical behavior to sour our resolve to abide by our Constitution and honor the Bill of Rights. We have a great system, and like anything, sometimes we have to take the bad with the good. And realize that while most will be protected, others will take unfair advantage.
As for us…
We are waiting for our turn and considering our options to file suits and ethics complaints with the Disciplinary Board. All that matters to us right now and in the long run is that Jeremy’s name is cleared and that a killer is brought to justice — and the streets of this beautiful city are just a little safer. The people here have a rich heritage, and profound honor and they have worked very hard to turn this desert soil. They deserve no less.
As for our family, we are more than okay. And we know the good guy always wins — even if justice has to wait.