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How does this happen?


merlot
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I found this story off one of the motorcycle boards I visit.

 

The story

 

This just amazes me. This guy had 3 prior drunk driving incidents, yet the jury somehow thinks he's excused of this behavior because of flashbacks. This is so fucked up. This guy lucked out because he got a group of the dumbest people in the same jury.

 

I'd just like to point out again that HE HAD THREE PRIORS (not that having no priors excuses him).

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Dunno about DUI in Wisconisin specifically, but generally speaking, a defendant's priors are not part of deliberations. That comes into the picture at the sentencing stage if the defendant is found guilt.

 

Conrgats to Madison's Channel 15 for not taking the opportunity to mention that or explain why. Basically, a jury is asked to determine guilt based on the evidence at hand, not whether they think the defendant is guilty because he or she was guilty of something before.

 

There are limited exceptions. For example, such evidence might be admissible where it is probative of another fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action (like proof of intent).

 

Like you said, it might come down to a dopey jury.

 

-j

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This is sickening, but I hope they at least lock him up in a hospital if they really do consider him mentally ill. There's no way he should be allowed right back out on the street.

I'm sure he'll be back on the streets with a valid drivers license in a few years time. :?

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Originally posted by Robot Monkey@Aug 16 2004, 08:34 AM

a defendant's priors are not part of deliberations. That comes into the picture at the sentencing stage if the defendant is found guilt.

Well there's part of the reason that I feel our judical system is wrong. Shouldn't an evidence of past behavior help prove of ones guilt or innocense?

 

The fact that this guy has driven in an automobile drunk and was caught 3 times doing so says something about his behavior. Just think how many times he probably has driven under the influence and was not caught.

 

Furthermore, at least in NJ, there are varying penalties that get worse for each time you are caught under the influence. These are based on priors, so why should the deliberations not be?

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Originally posted by merlot@Aug 16 2004, 11:44 AM

Shouldn't an evidence of past behavior help prove of ones guilt or innocense?

Not at all.

 

You can't say "well, he's done it before, he probably did it this time" just as you can't say "well, he's never done it before, so he probably didn't do it this time".

 

Jay's right, the proper place for prior infractions to be considered is in the sentencing phase.

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If the jury was not allowed to know this than I agree with Merlot that our system is f'd up bigtime.

 

The reason this is in effect is to protect the innocent, not to condemn the guilty (like much of our justice system.) If you could use prior arrests as evidence for new crimes, cops would just go out and round up the "usual suspects" for a crime knowing that they could convict one of them on priors alone. And then it's a self feeding cycle: they arrest those with prior records first, then those people get convicted more, when they get out now they have another prior arrest that makes them even more convictable.

 

It isn't a perfect system, but it does what it can...

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Interesting thoughts all around. And I share Mike and Woo's disgust with a guy skating on three prior DUI's. But like others have pointed out there are big (and fundamental reasons) why priors are not part of the deliberations.

 

Along with the philosphy that it is better to let a guilty person skate than convict an innocent person, it helps to balance the overwhelming power of the state. This is also why, for example, evidence obtained in an illegal search is genereally not admissable.

 

-j

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