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Monday, September 3, 2012

Positive Stereotypes - Wearing a Uniform Doesn't Make a Hero

Many trial lawyers believe that a trial is won in voir dire, before the jury is ever seated. We use stereotypes - younger people,, blacks and Jews are better for defendants, older, white, Republicans are better for the prosecution. If it's a personal injury case, the same demographics apply. We classify potential jurors by their occupations - engineers, accountants, medical professionals are good defense lawyers; factory workers and other blue collar types are better for the plaintiff. What about military service? Some believe that enlisted personnel are good defense jurors in criminal cases and plaintiff's jurors in personal injury cases. We apply stereotypes to the parties in the trial too. For example, if a defendant is a current member of the military or a vet, he starts out with goodwill from many jurors. We all need to consider that anyone, no matter the race, occupation, religion, or gender, can be a criminal. Here are a few examples: Timothy Hennis, a master sergeant in the Army, raped a young woman then brutally murdered her and two of her children in Fayetteville, NC in 1985. He was acquitted in his first murder trial in state court. In 2006, a cold case detective at the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office took new interest in the case. He found a vaginal swab that had been taken from Kathryn Eastburn's body that contained semen from the man who'd raped her. The detective sent it to a crime lab for DNA testing -- a forensic technique that was not available at the time of the earlier trials . . . . The military jury rejected the defense's arguments, and in April 2010, found Hennis guilty on three specifications of premeditated murder. Hennis is now on death row at an Army facility in Fort Leavenworth, Kan., while his lawyers plan his appeal. The case could eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court. Iraq case where 3 soldiers raped and murdered young girl US soldier admits killing family after raping girl In 1986, three enlisted men with the fabled 101st Airborne Screaming Eagles were left unsupervised for extended periods, drank and smoked opium on duty, and progressed to rape and murder. 'An American soldier yesterday pleaded guilty to the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the killing of three members of her family in a village near Baghdad in March in one of the most brutal examples of attacks on civilians in Iraq. The soldier, Specialist James Barker, also agreed to testify against three other accused soldiers. He agreed to the plea in return for a guarantee that he would not face the death penalty, his lawyers said. The murders took place on March 12 in Mahmoudiya, 20 miles south of Baghdad. Prosecutors allege that five soldiers stationed at a checkpoint there raped the girl, Abeer Qassim al-Janabi, then burned her body to hide the evidence, and killed her father, mother and six-year-old sister. The ringleader, Private Steven Green, was discharged from the army in May for a "personality disorder" before the crime came to light. He is being tried as a civilian in a federal court in Kentucky, and has pleaded not guilty to charges including murder and sexual assault." Col. Russell Williams, Canadian Air Force base commander, pleads guilty to 88 crimes against women "In a case that has shocked Canada, the former commander of the country's largest Air Force base pleaded guilty Monday to a horrific spree of crimes that included the torture and strangulation of two women, two sexual assaults and dozens of voyeuristic break-ins." Williams was so highly regarded he was selected to fly the Queen around when she visited Canada. Hasan's beard may delay trial past holiday season Arraigned more than two years ago, Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan charged with killing 13 people and wounding 32 others, never has entered a plea. . . . With over a million active duty military personnel, logic dictates that some will be bad apples.

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