Today’s lesson in legal whining and nonsense is presented to us courtesy of the prosecutors in Will County who are taking on the case of “putting away” former Bolingbrook cop Drew Peterson.
|PETERSON: A body-blow for prosecutors|
They’re the ones who are upset that an Illinois appellate court this week ruled that they can’t use hearsay evidence in their case against Peterson, who faces criminal charges related to the death of wife number three (and whom some are convinced caused wife number four to “disappear”).
NOT THAT THEY’RE respecting the appeals court’s decision. Will County officials say they’re seriously thinking of asking the Illinois Supreme Court to get involved and overturn the appeals court panel.
Now I can comprehend why prosecutors are upset. This ruling will make it more difficult for them to get a conviction against Peterson. Heck, his attorneys are going around telling the newspapers that this ruling will result in his acquittal.
And if that happens, the people who are all worked up over Casey Anthony’s acquittal in a Florida courtroom will go back to treating her like the “nothing” that she is. Because they will have a new target for their outrage.
There are those people who want Drew Peterson to suffer every indignity imaginable. I’m sure they also are among those who will think the Will County prosecutors are somehow being picked upon.
YET A PART of me has a problem with the legal strategy that was being used by prosecutors against Peterson. If anything, the appeals court panel that ruled against prosecutors was merely upholding a strict interpretation of the “letter of the law.”
Nobody should have a problem with that.
|BLAGOJEVICH: Has he been topped?|
So what is the great controversy involving Peterson’s prosecution? The problem for prosecutors is that there is little hard evidence to support the idea that Peterson killed his third wife – whose death at one time was officially classified as accidental.
It was only when the public outcry over the disappearance of Peterson’s fourth wife grew to national scales that local officials “reinvestigated” the death of wife number three, and reclassified it as a homicide. That led to the charges that now are pending against Peterson, and result in him living for the past couple of years at the Will County Jail in Joliet.
PROSECUTORS WANT TO use letters from the two women that contain statements that, if interpreted in a certain context, could be construed as suspicious.
But they are regarded as “second-hand” statements and inadmissible because the women aren’t present to explain for themselves just what they meant. Which means that it would be evidence that Peterson could not properly refute during a trial.
He wouldn’t be able to cross-examine the letter-writers.
Which is why eight such statements have been stricken from use as evidence during any future trial of Peterson, and why prosecutors had hoped the appeals court panel would be more sympathetic.
THEY WERE NOT.
So now, we have the prosecutors in Will County upset because they are confronted with the fact that the physical evidence against Peterson is weak. This case could crumble, and the wrath of the nation could soon turn on them for failing to get a “guilty” verdict against Drew.
Which on the one hand would be bad because that man’s bloated ego would surely go about for the rest of his life believing he was unjustly wronged – and he’ll ensure we all have to listen to the misery he suffered.
But we have the system of justice based in that presumption of innocence until guilt is proven. If prosecutors can’t prove it, then the right thing is to move on.
INSTEAD, WE’RE GOING to hear continued whining about how the prosecutors aren’t being allowed to do their job – even if they have to rely on flawed “evidence” to do so. That is just wrong.
If anything, it bothers me even more than Rod Blagojevich’s whining earlier this week that the judge in his political corruption case is being mean to him – thereby requiring a new trial.
Anytime somebody’s behavior starts becoming comparable to that of Blagojevich, you know there’s a serious problem and that you should probably ease up.
Instead, we get people pushing for changes such as Drew’s Law, a measure that would make hearsay testimony acceptable in Illinois if a judge is willing to approve it.
THAT MEASURE IS just about as absurd as the Florida people who now want Caylee’s Law (making it a felony for a parent not to report their child missing within 24 hours).
Either way, it’s over-reaction, which may be the ultimate evidence that our judicial system has a certain warped balance. There is evidence that defendants , prosecutors AND outside observers are capable of behaving in a silly manner