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Dictionary for the Politically Incorrect, Quick Update

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Inspired by, but not a report of, the Hennis case and the commentary thereupon, and in appreciation of so many other indignant DPIC stories of "the innocent."

 

Innocent (archaic)  --  Didn't do it.

 

Innocent (modern)  --  Not as "innocent as a newborn babe," as the DPIC now puts it, but kind of innocent  --  not in the wooden, old fashioned sense, but in the sense that the "alleged" killer was, you know, abused 30 years ago by his long-dead step-father, leading to his inability to form criminal intent notwithstanding that he stabbed the victims 20 or 40 times or something; and which step-father his lawyer would have found out about but for his sleeping through pre-trial preparation, not to mention the trial, leading to reversal for ineffective assistance.  So, you see, he was, to the more sophisticated among us, innocent.  See also "exonerated."

 

Innocence list  --  A compilation of people who either (a) did it, or (b) didn't do it, not that it matters that much, since the whole point is to conflate the two, so long as much of the media can be relied upon to portray the list as consisting only of (b).  See also Roger Keith Coleman, who never made the innocence list but served the same purpose despite his now quietly conceded abject guilt.

8 Comments

Bill, don't you know that your inability to tolerate cynicism leaves you incapable of seeing the light?

federalist,

Guilty as charged, your Honor. But you don't go far enough in describing my deficiencies. I am also incapable of seeing why anyone would WANT to be cynical in behalf of these guys. Maybe I should sign up for the NACDL mailing list to find out.

Well, allow me to share my view--it's the thrill of considering oneself more enlightened than the rest of us.

Maybe the DPIC can add this guy to their ridiculous "innocence" list:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2011562227_schierman09m.html

After all, he says he can't remember what happened, and after all, someone else might have done it.

notablogger --

So Mr. Schierman says he doesn't remember. I have to confess that sometimes I too don't remember. On the other hand, I think I'd remember if I woke up in a stranger's house splattered with blood and surrounded with a few dead bodies, and then promptly burned it down because, amazingly, no one would believe me if I said I couldn't recall what I was doing that night.

At least Schierman got that last part right.

The main reason I never cashed in and became a defense lawyer is that I don't want to spend my limited time on this earth assisting malevolent and dangerous people. But the other reason is that I don't want to make a public fool of myself. How these defense lawyers get up in front of a jury and spout this stuff is beyond me.

If you've ever talked to a defense lawyer and are able to share any insight on that, please, let me in on it.

Believe it or not, I actually know some defense attorneys who can make arguments in heinous murder cases that are not laughable. This case, however, does not involve not one of those.

No matter how the DPIC defines its criteria, its List and similar analyses are continually misinterpreted as meaning that the “wrong person” was convicted in every case. For instance, Senator Leahy has used the DPIC List to assert the following: “When dozens of innocent people are being sentenced to death, and dozens of guilty people are working [walking] free because the State has convicted the wrong person, we must ask ourselves what went wrong in that trial process....” 146 Cong. Rec. S4669-03, S4675 (6/7/00). Similarly, “[t]here is one other thing we should keep in mind. If the wrong person is on death row for a murder, if somebody is convicted of a murder they did not commit, that means that the real murderer is still running loose. Maybe everybody can feel comfortable that we have locked up somebody for the murder, but if there is still a killer on the loose, everything has broken down. Not only
is an innocent man on death row, but a guilt man is running free.” 148 Cong. Rec. S889-02, S891 (2/15/02). As explained in the text, the fact that a defendant is acquitted or a case is dismissed does not necessarily mean that a “guilty person” is still “walking free” or “running loose”. As recently as 2004, information from the DPIC List and similar studies was still relied upon fallaciously to assert: “What’s more, the conviction of these innocent people inflicted needless harm on the criminal justice system because every time an innocent person is convicted, that means the guilty person who committed the rape or the murder or the robbery has not been caught and is out committing other crimes.” (Prof. Samuel Gross, Univ. of Mich. Law School, NPR, 4/20/04, 2004 WL 56756464). Even in its most recent report, the DPIC cannot resist insinuating that its list demonstrates that the wrong person was convicted of the crime: “Besides the danger of establishing a class of individuals who are placed under permanent suspicion, the failure to acknowledge the innocence of those who have been exonerated retards the search for the real perpetrator.” Innocence & the Crisis in the American Death Penalty, Pt. IV. Most recently, at the hearings on the confirmation of Judge John G. Roberts as Chief Justice of the United States, Senator Feingold again misleadingly represented the status of the 121 inmates then mentioned on the DPIC List as “121 people who we know were sentenced to die for crimes they did not commit.” Transcript, Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings on the President’s Nomination of Judge John G. Roberts as Chief Justice of the United States, September 14, 2005.

More dictionary fodder

Abuse(abused)... a representation, most often made of whole cloth, that a deceased relative or neighbor (it only works when the perpetrator is dead and can't defend himself) sexually assaulted the defendant as a child leading to repressed memories that were conjured up only by the repeated coaxing and cajoling of the defense psychiatrist.

The fact that there are no witnesses, family members notwithstanding, and no contemporaneous reports of wrongdoing--does not dissuade the concerned, sympathetic, judicial officer from granting a big break at sentencing.

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