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DADDY WARBUCKS
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Judge Overturns Andrea Yates' Murder Convictions
Mom Convicted Of Drowning Five Children

POSTED: 9:34 am EST January 6, 2005

HOUSTON -- A state appeals court has overturned the capital murder convictions against Andrea Yates and ordered a new trial in the drownings of her children.

The Texas First Court of Appeals issued its ruling in Houston today in a 12-page opinion signed by court Justice Sam Nuchia.

A three-judge panel found that the Harris County trial jury might have been prejudiced against Yates by the false testimony of a prosecution expert.

Park Dietz testified he consulted on an episode of the NBC-TV show "Law and Order" about a woman with postpartum depression acquitted by reason of insanity in the drowning of her children. It was later revealed that no such program existed.

The Houston mother was serving a life sentence for the 2001 drownings of three of her five children. All five children were drowned in a bathtub at the family's home.
 

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Yippie... the venerable "justice" system at work.

Lynch
 

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DADDY WARBUCKS
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Well, as much as I want to see her disposed of, if a key prosecution witness is guilty of perjury you are going to get the verdict reversed.

I think that is just.
 

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In principal I agree.

However, my only question is... what impact, if any, did his tall tale have on the conviction as a whole?

As much as I agree... I think there is room for common sense... folks having their convictions overturned due to some issue of little significance to the case or over a technicality isn't justice... nor is it a wise use of the taxpayers money.

Lynch
 

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President for Life Field Marshall Doctor Bluedog D
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Lynch said:
Yippie... the venerable "justice" system at work.

Lynch
seems to be. The prosecution presrnted false testimony, and the Court of Appeals is attempting to secure a fair trial. IF the lie was harmless, why did he feal it was needed?
 

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DADDY WARBUCKS
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The prosecutor called this witness. That tells me he made an operational decision that it was pretty probative evidence otherwise you don't clutter up your case. The person who calls the witness is responisble for him. If you don't prep the witness and do your homework, you are setting yourself up for wearing the asshat.

One man's technicality is another man's fundemental right.

I am not much of a believer that technicalities exist. In almost 100% of cases there is a really solid reason behind them. If you don't like the reason, change the law.

It is similar to the "frivilous' lawsuit crisis. I do not believe there are many of them. That is the problem. The suits are based upon solid, longstanding precedent. The solid, longstanding precedent is the problem.
 

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President for Life Field Marshall Doctor Bluedog D
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Frivolous lawsuits get dismissed. It's the non-frivolous one the insurance companies are worried about. They spend millions to avoid paying out the benifits we rely upon. Do you guys know any poor doctors?
 

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I used to do expert witness work at one time. I finally figured out that it sucks, but that's a different story.

The first thing that happens when you're put on the stand is that the court determines whether you're qualified to testify as an expert, so you start testifying in response to questions about your education, training, experience, etc. That's where whether his guy had consulted on a Law & Order episode came in; otherwise, on the face of it, you'd think that was pretty irrelevant to the Yates case.

Anyway, he testified that he had in order to show he had experience that would qualify him as an expert.

Once the court accepts you as an expert witness, you get to testify with your opinions on stuff. Most witnesses are material witnesses, and only get to testify on what they saw, etc., they don't get to give their opinions on stuff.

Upshot of all this is that his having lied about his experience means that the court accepted him as an expert based upon a falsehood - and the jury should never have heard any of his expert witness testimony. It's not like he said one bad thing - it's that everything he said should have been withheld from the jury because he qualified himself as an expert with a lie.

This was a good call. I do hope they go after the guy for perjury. I especially would like to see him facing a civil suit for the costs of Yates' retrial!
 

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DADDY WARBUCKS
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Dizzy makes a good point.

Only qualified expert witnesses are allowed to give opinion testimony.
 

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"Park Dietz testified he consulted on an episode of the NBC-TV show "Law and Order" about a woman with postpartum depression acquitted by reason of insanity in the drowning of her children. It was later revealed that no such program existed."

None of us know the details... so maybe it's a mute point... but I don't get the impression that this piece of testimony is what established him as an expert, nor would I be inclined to think it weighted the "expertness" of his opinion. Point... the man had to have had other credentials which validated his opinion above and beyond "I consulted on a movie set"... or I stayed at a Holiday Inn express last night.

Regarding technicalities... people are flawed... it's a fact and nothing, absolutely NOTHING would surprise me when it comes to the "justice" system... or any other system or group, or company, or man. On the common sense side... yeah, it's a balance between the letter of the law and common sense. The woman murdered her 5 kids... period. Murder is the taking of a life without provocation or justification. It should have zero to do with degrees of intent, mental capacity, or whether or not a testifying expert consulted on a TV show or not.

There's a price to be paid regardless of the why.

There's things that folks in their right mind don't do... murder being one of them. How does not being in your right mind make murdering 5 kids any less a murder?

The courts need to stop trying to judge men's hearts and minds... that authority belongs to a higher power, and start judging their actions... harshly.

Lynch
 

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DADDY WARBUCKS
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Lynch, I do not want to face a conviction or lose a civil suit where the expert witness, who is the only type of witness who can give "opinion" testimony, lied under oath about credentials or experience.

You retry the case with honest witnesses.
 

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Mystic Knight of the Sea
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I'd hit it! :nanabang:




With a piece of 2x4 about 3 foot long. In fact I'd hit it perhaps a dozen times.
 

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Lynch said:
...None of us know the details... so maybe it's a mute point... but I don't get the impression that this piece of testimony is what established him as an expert, nor would I be inclined to think it weighted the "expertness" of his opinion. Point... the man had to have had other credentials which validated his opinion above and beyond "I consulted on a movie set"... or I stayed at a Holiday Inn express last night.

Regarding technicalities... people are flawed... it's a fact and nothing, absolutely NOTHING would surprise me when it comes to the "justice" system...
I can think of no way that whether he had consulted on Law & Order would be relevant except in the process of qualifying as an expert witness - it completely irrelevant to the material facts of the case. And, yes, this would not be the sole foundation for his establishment as an expert - but had it not been a part of establishing himself as an expert, it wouldn't have been said. As you note, qualification as an expert is the sum of a number of parts - but when one of those parts is a simple lie, the entire sum become suspect.

Not to mention that this also means that the prosecution had on as an expert witness a person who perjured himself.

And this is not just one of those mere technicalities - that he would lie in the course of qualifying himself as an expert trashes the validity of the actual content and the admissabliity of everything he then had to say as an expert.

And what he had to say as an expert was a significant element of the prosecution's case - otherwise the prosecution wouldn't have bothered to put him on the stand. You don't clutter up a murder case with irrelevant witnesses. Looks to me like the content of his testimony was directed towards trashing her plea that she was not guilty by reason of insanity.

What an idiot.

Anyway, I do think she deserves a re-trial - although I expect that she'll again be found guilty. I also think the so-called expert witness deserves a trial...
 

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I understand that.

My point is... the trial was over wether she killed the kids or murdered them... not over wether she did it or not... but rather... what *was* what she did.

Frankly... they could have put Mickey mouse up on the stand as an expert witness... it makes no damn difference to me... she murdered those kids.

Bottom line... my opinion... is that the premis or contention of the trial was a farce in the first place.

Capiche?

Lynch
 

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Lynch said:
...The courts need to stop trying to judge men's hearts and minds... that authority belongs to a higher power, and start judging their actions... harshly.

Lynch
I am in full agreement if we are speaking of the so-called expert's hopefully impending trial for perjury.
 

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He was an egomaniac... innocent by reason of insanity.

[edit]

Make that... "He was a suffering egomaniac... innocent by reason of insanity."

Bleeding heart liberal drivel just isn't right without turning the perpetraitor of the crime into an innocent victum of circumstance.

Lynch
 

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Lynch said:
He was an egomaniac... innocent by reason of insanity.

Lynch
Hah! You fool! We can easily refute that defense by bringing in an expert to give an opinion that his perjury was not the product of a mental disorder, and that he was capable of understanding the moral quality of the act. Of course, our expert will purjure himself in the course of becoming qualified to give that opinion, but that is of little matter.
 

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Dzerzhinsky said:
...but that is of little matter.
Bingo!!!

Because why... we're in court to judge his actions... and he did what?

He perjured himself.

Lynch
 

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Lynch said:
Bingo!!!

Because why... we're in court to judge his actions... and he did what?

He perjured himself.

Lynch
Yes, and...

When what is before the court is a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, what the court is trying to figure out is whether the crime was the product of a mental disorder and/or whether the defendant was able to comprehend the moral quality of the act. Actually, that's the variant of the M'Naughton rule that California used when I used to do expert witness work, don't know whether it's been changed or not since then. The M'Naughton rule has an interesting history, and has been modified over time by a number of folks in a number of ways:
http://homepage.mac.com/belacqua/eng190_f2001/papers/ingram.html

Actually, an option that I rather like for dealing with folks who commit crimes that they likely wouldn't have committed if they hadn't gone nuts is a "Guilty but Insane" plea instead of a "Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity" plea. That's been proposed a few times, but I don't know if any state adopted that tactic for dealing with crazy people who commit crimes.

Little known fact that in many states - California is one - is that if you commit a crime you're actually better off just pleading guilty than pleading not guilty by reason of insanity. If you're found not guilty by reason of insanity, the State owns you for the maximum time that you could have been sentenced to had you been found guilty. For example, you can end up doing the rest of your life in a state hospital for the criminally insane, when you could have gotten paroled out of prison in a few years had you plead guilty.
 
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