Friday, March 26, 2010


For those who may not know, the Herald has a video interview of the jury foreman seeking to defend the jury’s decision. I am hesitant in this post because juries should not be subject to ridicule because we do not like the verdict. The problem is this verdict is Brownsville’s OJ Simpson’s verdict. Pat Almighty will never be innocent in the eyes of the people. The outrage of the people, which the jury foreman agrees is real, is major.

I have no way to know what evidence was presented and not presented inasmuch as I was not at the trial. I also know that just because someone speaks in a near incoherent manner does not equate to ignorance. In listening to this man’s explanation I have to try and focus in on his factual claims.

I am bothered by three things he said. Several times he stated the DA failed to present any evidence. Apparently the tape showing the mayor making the deposit is not evidence. He then suggests that the teller should have been prosecuted. This is important because it tells me he had zero understanding of the jury charge. One might make a case that the teller should have been prosecuted as a coconspirator, but you only get there if Pat Almighty is also charged. This one statement forces me to pause and ask the question, did this jury engage in jury nullification of did they simply lack the intellect to understand the evidence and jury charge?

There is a third choice based on the third thing he said. He went after Villalobos big time. It is clear from the interview he has a huge axe to grind with Villalobos. The axe may be 100% political. There is no doubt that in my mind that his dislike for Villalobos was a a major factor in his decision.

The question then becomes, can one juror control the process? It is hard for me to speak to this issue because although I have been chosen twice for jury service in felony cases, in both cases the DA offered the defendant a sweet heart deal before the end of the trial. I have never been part of jury deliberations.

But I have seen bizarre verdicts which caused the judge to declare a mistrial. In one case the entire jury confirmed for the judge they did not believe one word of the complaining witness’s testimony. When the judge asked why they convicted my client of assault if they did not believe the alleged victim, they said, he looked like a bully. We got a new trial.

In another case the defendant testified she caused the car accident. The jury came back and found my client who was a passenger in another car caused the car accident. Again we got a new trial. I do not trust the jury system. I also do not trust the judges. We have to do something which brings the jury nullification under control without turning jury service into something people fear.

I also think we have outgrown our common law legal system. Most people do not know, but you do not need to be a lawyer to be a federal judge. Our Founding Fathers had enough insight to know that the law is very mechanical at one level, but intellectual at another. They understood that a well educated person can act as a judge with the right training. In today’s world of new science and engineering most judges are ill equipt to handle the technical side of the legal issues. It may be time that the President consider appointing several highly qualified scientists and engineers to the federal bench so see if we can improve the system of justice.

I will sum this up with a quote from Mark Twain. I saw this posted in the Herald then verified it through my own google search.

“ We have a criminal jury system which is superior to any in the world; and its efficiency is only marred by the difficulty of finding twelve men every day who don't know anything and can't read.
- 4th of July speech 1873.”


The Court of Appeals denied his mandamus. This is significant because it flushed out the court on his appeal. It is like I said yesterday, this means he lost his appeal. Some good knowledge has been obtained by this exercise. I am being told he will go to the Texas Supreme Court today. Technically it will be filed on Monday.

I know enough to know that our courts are so politicized, that the law has very little to do with any ruling. But, this case is interesting because federal law bars the state from discriminating based on a foreign criminal conviction unless the state law expressly provides for same. No such state law exists. If the Texas Supreme Court chooses to ignore federal law, it then becomes a federal case. It will be too premature to go to the Supreme Court because it has not been vetted by the lower courts with published opinions. But is will be very ripe for federal court. I would hope that local lawyers if need be will help Rubio find a national organization to finance a strong federal lawsuit. My choice would be to have it filed in Austin, but Brownsville seems to be the only real option.

We shall see what is to come - but in my view when the law is ignored as a mechanism to silence dissent our democracy becomes the victim. This is a case which should concern every American regardless of political affiliation.


Anonymous said...

I have sat as a juror twice. Both trials went to a verdict and in both cases we convicted. I was impressed with the seriousness with which the members of the jury treated the process and the efforts everyone seemed to make to be fair and impartial. We paid attention to instructions and helped each other not jump to conclusions or use personal knowledge. We considered only what was presented during the trial though I remember we wished that certain issues had been develooped farther and that others had been answered in more detail. But since they weren't we worked hard at not projecting. I have no reason to believe that the two juries I served on were not typical. I would not want to do it again but I must admit, it increased my confidence in the system. I for one would have no trouble putting aside my personal belief that a defendant was guilty and voting to aquit if the DA's office didn't make the case.
In the case of Ahumada, I think he is guilty but I also believe the DA's office didn't meet the required standard of proof. If the jury felt that the standard was not met, they had no choice, they had to go with the defendant.

BobbyWC said...

I suspect you are 100% right - I think they intentionally did not meet the standard

Bobby WC

Fred Drew said...

I have always viewed hizhonor as passionate about whatever strikes him at the moment but undisciplined and unfocused. Unless an activity is the interest at the moment it gets less than detailed scrutiny. I can see the possibility of seeing a check and thinking only that it is to be deposited now. Were it to sit for awhile I suspect it would find itself forgotten in a file somewhere.
Had it been demonstrated how the check got into his hands I may well not think the same way.
If it was shown he actually redirected the check to himself, that would seal it.
This is based on three conversations with him and observing his mercurial eruptions.
He screwed up but criminally I have a doubt.

Anonymous said...

When you are ask to be in a jury, it shouldn't matter whether you like the D.A. or not.
If they turn this clown loose as a form of protest, it could be jury misconduct.
I have been in juries in where everybody just wants to leave after the 3rd. day.
He will screw up again, and why charge the teller her job is to deposit the money, plain and simple, it sounds like a bunch of dummies who got called for jury.