HALL VERDICT: ‘GUILTY’ … MANNER OF DELIBERATIONS LEADS TO A FAIR QUESTION: DID JURY UNDERSTAND MEANING OF “REASONABLE DOUBT”?
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY, FEB. 7-9 WEEKEND EDITION, 2014) — As we said in the Muir case so
we say in the Adam Lee Hall case. The first found the defendant not guilty of sexual assault charges. The second found the defendant guilt of murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, assault and battery, and intimidation of a witness. In both cases, the system did its job.
District Attorney David Capeless issued the following statement:
“I want to extend my appreciation and thanks to the jury for providing five weeks of service on behalf of their fellow citizens, their attention to the evidence throughout the trial, and for their obviously careful and thoughtful consideration of the evidence in the case. I also want to thank all of the many witnesses who came forward and testified. They should be congratulated for their willingness to share their testimony, and participate in the pursuit of justice on behalf of David Glasser, Edward Frampton and Robert Chadwell,” he said.
“These verdicts have resulted from a through and relentless investigation, one which will not rest as we prepare for trial for the co-defendants. All the investigators involved should be proud of what they have accomplished, and the citizens of Berkshire County should be grateful that they are here to serve and protect them.”
There have been many cases of the system letting the guilty go and also convicting wrongly. This case does not seem to be one of them. A trial is society’s mechanism for deciding between two conflicting and sometimes equally compelling version of a set of events. It does not decide “Truth.” It can only reach a verdict on the evidence presented. In this case, the jury heard both sides testify about the meaning of certain evidence, most of it circumstantial.
The only thing a jury can do is arrive at conclusions and making inferences on the facts as they were presented to them.
The jury found call guilty based on the evidence. After three days of deliberation, they were unable to reach a verdict. The main question THE PLANET would raise is the manner in which the jury acted. Initially on Friday, they reported being deadlocked. The judge sent them back in for more deliberation. Not even two hours later, they reached their findings.
THE PLANET would raise the question of “reasonable doubt.” If would appear at least one member of the jury had reasonable doubt in light of the circumstantial evidence. “Reasonable doubt” is a high standard of proof. Used in criminal trials, the standard allows tenable doubts about guilt as a reason to find “not guilty.” Reasonable doubt is a benchmark for proof much higher than finding on a “preponderance of evidence.” The latter allows a verdict where “one side has more evidence in its favor than the other, even by the smallest degree” (source: The Free Dictionary: Legal, thefreedictionary.com).
What makes a person change their mind so quickly? Did a member of the jury cave to peer pressure? Did the jury understand the concept of “reasonable doubt”? What could happen in less than two hours to change the mind of a juror that could not convince one or more jurors after three days? It would also make one wonder is Hall’s attorney will be encourage by the manner of the deliberation to launch an appeal.
Conviction on a murder charge in Massachusetts is mandatory life sentence without the chance of parole. Sentencing is due Monday.
“And oftentimes there crept into his ears / A sound of alien pity, touched with tears” — Edward Arlington Robinson, “Aaron Stark”
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE”
LOVE TO ALL.