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Hit-and-run victim left for dead -
March 7, 2002 7:32 AM   Subscribe

Hit-and-run victim left for dead - Not your typical hit and run either... this might be the most messed up thing i've heard in awhile. "Maybe we've just redefined inhumanity here."
posted by clang (113 comments total)

 
unbelievable... I still can't believe that this was real life and not a David Lynch script. Is it just me, or is the preponderance of f'ed up news from Texas?
posted by machaus at 7:46 AM on March 7, 2002


Mallard told police she periodically went into the garage, apologizing to him but ignoring his cries for help.

there's something very dysfunctional about this.
posted by kliuless at 7:46 AM on March 7, 2002


Her attorney, Mike Heiskell, said the accusation against her was unwarranted.

"I think this is overreaching on the part of the prosecution and the police and, in the end, I believe the law will shake out that this was simply a case of failure to stop and render aid," he said.


Huh ? Let the guy bleed to death over a 3 day period of time, in your garage, and this lawyer thinks it only amounts to failure to stop and render aid ?

No, this is murder. She knowingly let someones life expire in her garage. At any point she could have gotten him to a hospital and he could have survived.

She should be next in line after the Yates woman.
posted by a3matrix at 7:48 AM on March 7, 2002


I'm a tad worried that there was a witness, who saw her go out and "apologize" to him, and leave him there still alive, who didn't simply walk to a pay phone, if need be, and dial 911.

That person's humanity is not much better than the drivers... unless they were just a kid, or an invalid.

No, we haven't redefined inhumanity. Not even close... but it confirms the belief that the acceptance of humane... and responsible... behavior is a long way from universal.
posted by dissent at 7:49 AM on March 7, 2002


The victim of a hit-and-run accident lived at least two days trapped in the windshield of the car that struck him, according to Fort Worth police.

Geez, 2 days she knows that a person is in the garage dying, and she does nothing!

I too hope she gets the death penalty. She obviously doesn't care about anyone but herself and her driving privileges. In fact, I bet thats why she didn't do anything to help the guy and tried to cover it up: to save her drivers license.
posted by Keen at 7:51 AM on March 7, 2002


This reminded me of a story I heard many years ago about a guy who drives home drunk after a long night at the bar, only to discover the next morning that a young girl is imbedded in the grill of his car. Sure enough, snopes has that one covered. That one always sounded too gruesome to be true. Yet I think this one might be worse {shudder}.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:12 AM on March 7, 2002


Well, anyone who drives around on the highway hopped up on ecstacy and drunk obviously doesn't have much concern for human life anyway. Unfortunately, I don't think there is much else to be said about this case. I don't think it's anymore of an indictment of humanity than say, Matthew Shepard's murder or 9/11. I suppose the indifference apparent in the perp is what makes it so gruesome. Way to make my day a bit gloomier. Thanks clang :-(
posted by evanizer at 8:19 AM on March 7, 2002


there's something very dysfunctional about this.

DYSFUNCTIONAL! Good god man, what an understatement. This is an absolutely horrifying, goose bump-inducing act of grotesque disregard for all things decent.

I am positively agape.
posted by glenwood at 8:21 AM on March 7, 2002


The combination of alcohol and ecstasy is unlikely and strange.
posted by bingo at 8:21 AM on March 7, 2002


What puts it so far beyond is the time involved. Matthew Shepard's murder horrified me, but it didn't really surprise me; passion (good and ill) happens. Passion can not explain this.
posted by NortonDC at 8:28 AM on March 7, 2002


The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has a few more details. As a former resident of the area, one thing that amazes me is how she drove four miles home, using a normally busy highway and street, and no one took notice of the man embedded in her windshield. [The star is her house; the accident occurred to the southeast near the intersection of highway 287 (Mansfield Highway) and loop 820.]
posted by rcade at 8:38 AM on March 7, 2002


I thought I'd read enough shitty stories of people's cruelness to each other to not be particularly shocked any more.

I'm shocked.

Death penalty. She is a net loss to this society, and we don't need to keep her around.

We could get rid of the sleaze that is defending her, too. I don't give a good goddamn that it's his job: he can choose to refuse. She has confessed to the crimes: there is no defense.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:41 AM on March 7, 2002


five fresh,

I'm almost ready to agree with you. This is more than negligence, or mean-spiritedness. It's far worse, in my opinion, than taking out a gun and shooting someone to steal their money.

It's just unbelievable. So outside the scope of what I deem as fathomable behavior that I don't have the words in my vocabulary to talk about it.
posted by glenwood at 8:46 AM on March 7, 2002


The combination of alcohol and ecstasy is unlikely and strange. maybe so, but it's effects dont last two or three days. she might have kept popping pills, and that would be interesting to see in the subsequent investigation. however, it doesnt excuse her for being a complete and utter inhumane bitch.
posted by sixtwenty3dc at 8:46 AM on March 7, 2002


We could get rid of the sleaze that is defending her, too. I don't give a good goddamn that it's his job: he can choose to refuse.

Not necessarily. He could have been a court-appointed lawyer or simply a public defendant. On a side note, F U five fresh fish for your "refreshing" view of lawyers. It's BS assholes like you that keep the public misinformed about honest, moral attorneys.
posted by BlueTrain at 8:47 AM on March 7, 2002


you're pretty knowledgeable about ecstasy-user behavior, bingo, for someone who's taken the drug only once. while the alcohol/mdma combination is not optimal for the enjoyment of either substance, it is far from uncommon. and in no way does it explain/justify this heinous act (as your post seems to be leaning towards saying).
posted by mlang at 8:49 AM on March 7, 2002


People, please don't let BlueTrain derail the thread with his or her uncalled-for personal attack on five fresh fish.
posted by glenwood at 8:49 AM on March 7, 2002


Wow. As an added ironic twist, according to rcade's link, she was a nurse's aid. Meaning, at the very least she knew he could have been saved.
posted by glenwood at 8:53 AM on March 7, 2002


not something i want to spend too long pondering, but, how does one get stuck in a windshield?
this woman was a 'nurses-aid', which adds a further dimension of confusion for me. i assume she had some medical training.
she may have been in shock at the time, i imagine she may have hoped he'd just go away. inhuman, but not unakin to some responses to problems which are 'too difficult' to broach.
that she admitted the crime in public (at a party) adds fuel to a 'temporarily insane' defence. she got friends to help with the disposal and then tells the police he asked for help before he died. this woman is as confused as i am about what made her do it, i think. not a professional.
just goes to show what the human mind is capable of ignoring.

this is chris morris territory. i wish it were a hoax.
posted by asok at 8:57 AM on March 7, 2002


I would have to agree with five fresh five... if I were a lawyer, I would refuse to defend such an individual. The notion that any individual, no matter how guilty, is entitled to a best defense, is silly.

A lawyer can choose not to practice law, if the practice of law will led to immoral consquences. Anything less than blunt, brutal punishment for this women *is* immoral.

How can one trust the law, which places "ethics" above "right"? I might respect the law a bit more if it allowed a "greater good" defense which would allow someone to kill such as this woman, if that person could prove she commited the crimes detailed, without repercussions to that person who killed her. If her crimes could not be reasonably proven by the one killing her, then, of course, that person would be held to be a murderer.

Some people need to be removed from this world, for the greater good. Pure and simple.
posted by dissent at 8:58 AM on March 7, 2002


DYSFUNCTIONAL!

very, very dysfunctional :)
posted by kliuless at 8:59 AM on March 7, 2002


Bluetrain: he has choices. No one is holding a gun to his head, forcing him to defend the undefendable. He could fucking quit, push comes to shove.

"I'm just doing my job" has been the excuse for doing the unexcusable far too often. I'll invoke Godwin's law here, indirectly. I'll also leave out examples of good employees putting their jobs or lives at risk to not do the illegal or unethical tasks their bosses have presented them.

It's BS assholes like her lawyer that keep the public hating lawyers. And rightly so: if lawyers want a good public image, they're going to have to do better than make obviously illegitimate excuses like "this was simply a case of failure to stop and render aid."
posted by five fresh fish at 8:59 AM on March 7, 2002


My body felt about twice as heavy after reading that.

Five Fresh Fish: If it were not for attorney's willing to defend people like this EVERYONE'S rights would be at risk.
posted by anathema at 9:04 AM on March 7, 2002


Actually, the court has a duty to make sure she has a competent legal defense. And a defense attorney who has the same loathing you and I do for the events may find value in participating to explore a point of law that, while significant, fails to compete with revulsion in our reaction to the events, such as whether the events, legally, are premeditated murder or negligance leading to manslaughter. None of that means the lawyer has a rosier view of the woman and her actions than we do.
posted by NortonDC at 9:12 AM on March 7, 2002


A lawyer can choose not to practice law, if the practice of law will led to immoral consquences. Anything less than blunt, brutal punishment for this women *is* immoral.

When a doctor researches medicine that isn't socially acceptable, do doctors decide that they should stop practicing in fear of immoral peers? No. Any professional does the best they can in their environment. Why should a lawyer stop practicing law just because their peers may perform unethical activities?

How can one trust the law, which places "ethics" above "right"?

This isn't "ethics" vs. "right". To be defended is the law. THE LAW. Everyone is granted due process by the law according to the Constitution.

He could fucking quit, push comes to shove.

As I said before, we STILL don't know if he was appointed or if he chose to take this case. If he was appointed, and he quit, what would happen to his family, his own needs? Suddenly ethics are more important that affording a meal or paying rent? Sometimes you have to shovel shit to find the gold. Don't judge people you know nothing about.

if lawyers want a good public image, they're going to have to do better than make obviously illegitimate excuses like "this was simply a case of failure to stop and render aid."

If he doesn't spin this, he won't find an unbiased jury. He needs to defend her with any defense possible. Again, it's his job; you may not like it, and thankfully, you're probably not a lawyer.
posted by BlueTrain at 9:15 AM on March 7, 2002


five fresh fish:

Bluetrain: he has choices. No one is holding a gun to his head, forcing him to defend the undefendable. He could fucking quit, push comes to shove.

what you're suggesting, then, is that there are some people beyond our judicial system; there are some people who need no trials, but rather swift execution. what a shame for you, fish, that you live in america.
posted by moz at 9:15 AM on March 7, 2002


... saying this woman doesn't deserve a fair trial is a very small step away from saying 'let's just take her out to the town square and hang her from a lamppost right now.'

we're trying to have a society here.
posted by Sapphireblue at 9:19 AM on March 7, 2002


The notion that any individual, no matter how guilty, is entitled to a best defense, is silly.

What an absolutely horrid thing to say. The right to competant defense is a cornerstone of our legal system. Saything that it is "silly" is just wrong. It is not silly. It is necessary so that people that are accused of crimes, no matter how horrible, can get a fair trial.* No matter how much anger and horror this woman's actions provoke, it is still not enough to deny her fundamental rights. Otherwise we make hypocrites of ourselves and permanently damage our justice system, all for the pathetic actions of this one person.

*I don't have to explain why the concept of a fair trial is necessary, right?
posted by thewittyname at 9:20 AM on March 7, 2002


I understand that, eventually, the court will find some lawyer to defend her. They certainly aren't all likely to quit out of disgust.

But that doesn't mean they need to condone her behaviour by trying to write it off as "a simple case of failure to stop and render aid." There is no value to that line of argument: if it were to succeed, it only succeeds in ruining justice.

An acceptable argument would be "she's obviously fubared, and we beg the mercy of the court."

BlueTrain: You're gonna 'force' me to do it, aren't you? "Your honour, the defendent had a difficult childhood. It's not his fault he ordered the execution of five million Jews." Needs to defend her using any spin he can, indeed. Talk about perverted.

Moz: damn straight. She's admitted to the whole sordid story. What need is there for a defense or a trial?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:22 AM on March 7, 2002


Now I see several more thoughtful arguments than mine posted above, making the same point. I thank you all that share my view, and to see that fffish's views on justice and lawyers are not universal is heartening.
posted by thewittyname at 9:23 AM on March 7, 2002


[hoo-boy. better duck and take cover now! no defense or trial for me, not on me-fi! :-) ]
posted by five fresh fish at 9:23 AM on March 7, 2002


What need is there for a defense or a trial?

Oh, I don't know....maybe so that there can be a full disclosure of the facts? Maybe because she's entitled to make arguments in her defense, instead of going directly to death row? Maybe because justice-by-public-opinion-via-whatever-facts-the-press-decides-is-tantalizing-enough-to-report is not a good model for our criminal justice system?
posted by thewittyname at 9:27 AM on March 7, 2002


Moz: damn straight. She's admitted to the whole sordid story. What need is there for a defense or a trial?

judicial action (such as a sentence) requires judicial inquiry and hence a trial. even if she enters a guilty plea, which she may well do. defense, as you should know, is a constitutional right. i never get too worked up over what lawyers say; it's all simply talk with a strategic goal (in this case, a few less years of jail time).
posted by moz at 9:34 AM on March 7, 2002


What, if anything, does it say to us that this woman "apologized profusely" to Biggs yet simply let him die? I was going to characterize her as "amoral" but there's something else at work here...some kind of affect disorder or something. I'm not out to excuse it, just trying to grasp for some sense here in an act of utter senselessness.

Is she just not 100% in tune with reality, or what? And if she isn't, then I hope to hell she's not currently at work as a nurse's aide, because I sure wouldn't want her anywhere near me if I were incapacitated due to injury or illness. Although it doesn't say where or in what capacity she worked, this situation puts incidences of medical personnel killing their patients in a whole new light for me.
posted by alumshubby at 9:47 AM on March 7, 2002


Is she just not 100% in tune with reality, or what?

I honestly think she panicked. What I hope doesn't happen is that some psychiatrist comes in and says that she's suffering from some disorder. If I read the articles correctly, she even showed off at a party that she did this shit, and that's how she got caught. That's just nuts.
posted by BlueTrain at 9:53 AM on March 7, 2002


This case poses an interesting question: Is this premeditated murder? On the one hand, she probably didn't intentionally hit him with her car and one could argue her irrational behavior immediately after the accident was derived from the shock of the accident. But, on the other hand, at some point she calmed down, knew she had a dieing man in her garage, and planned and carried out his execution by willfully allowing him to die.

Maybe they should pack her into one of those chicken cannons they use for testing airplane windshields and fire her into a car windshield then leave her there to bleed to death. That would be justice. And just to make sure it's fair we'll let the cannon operator pop some X and get good and wasted first...
posted by plaino at 9:53 AM on March 7, 2002


She should be next in line after the Yates woman.

Mental illness happens. If America would acknowledge and treat mental illness, these sorts of things might happen less often. Sidewalks in big cities might probably be nicer places as well.

we're trying to have a society here.

I wish we were trying a little bit harder.
posted by joemaller at 9:53 AM on March 7, 2002


Wow. It's astonishing and tragic, but also fodder for a great deal of sick humor that I will spare y'all.

Except for this....

She would have been truly evil were she driving an SUV.

(see thread below this one)
posted by ebarker at 9:54 AM on March 7, 2002


Fish: It's not a defense attorney's job to decide which clients deserve a vigorous defense and which clients deserve to be thrown to the wolves.

You're expecting a defense attorney to act as a judge, deciding whether a client is guilty and letting that decision dictate the kind of defense that is offered. That's a terrible misuse of the process -- our system of justice requires defense attorneys to advocate the client's interests.

As for what this woman has admitted, that comes from the police who investigated the case. We should just believe them without question, right?
posted by rcade at 9:57 AM on March 7, 2002


It will be interesting to see what the charges are. If she had just hit and killed the guy it would obviously be manslaughter. As a law student (no Crim. law yet) I am curious how you work the murder charge in, if you do at all, considering the situation.
posted by anathema at 10:01 AM on March 7, 2002


Jairus just posted a link to Designer Drugs and Raves. Inside, it says this about Ecstasy: "Ecstasy creates feelings of wellbeing, energy and confidence; it also gives users a feeling of 'personal insight'" (p.10). I wonder what great personal insight dear Ms. Mallard was channeling while Mr. Biggs expired in her garage?
posted by michaelbrown at 10:07 AM on March 7, 2002


What am I thinking? The charge will be murder. Maybe first degree.
posted by anathema at 10:10 AM on March 7, 2002


Even when there's no defense for the patently indefensible, there's still a mandate that the defendant is allowed to face his/her accusers, tell his/her side of the story, and have some level of competent legal representation when doing so. The underlying concept, as I understand it, isn't to try to beat raps, but to make sure that criminals' basic rights are protected.

I dunno if you guys ever saw ...And Justice for All, but bear in mind that "defense" attorneys are kind of stuck in situations like this because, as Al Pacino's character says in the movie's climactic courtroom address to the jury, "There's a problem here. Both sides want to win." This case is making me wonder where "representing the client" stops being an attempt to guarantee evenhandedness and starts becoming a contest to see who can outmanuver whom in order to "win."

In that context, I suspect that defense counsel is outta his fuckin' mind if he thinks he's going to get this reduced to a case of failure to stop and render aid.
posted by alumshubby at 10:12 AM on March 7, 2002


Not to derail the derailment of this thread, but I found this quote particularly striking:
Meredith Biggs said she and her daughter, Janeen, had recently begun looking for him. They were frightened when a search on an ancestry Web site a couple of months ago indicated that he had died. They prayed it was a hoax.
The internet is amazing sometimes. I wonder how long it would have taken them to find out about the victim's death without it.
posted by bshort at 10:14 AM on March 7, 2002


mlang and sixtwenty3dc: I wasn't trying to suggest that the combination of alcohol and E would have justified her actions, even if she had been continuing for 3 days straight. I'm just saying that it's yet another strange thing, and it makes me wonder if there isn't more to this story than we're being told.

mlang, but someone close to me is very active in the rave scene, has done a lot of E, also knows a lot about chemistry. It's from him that I get most of my information, or referals to sources where I get it from. He has stressed to me on a number of occasions that alcohol is really not part of the rave experience. Yes, there are those who would disagree with him, and there are those who take E in a non-rave context. As you say, it's not conducive to the maximum enjoyment of either substance, and maybe this is just a case of someone who wanted to ingest a combination of chemicals for the thrill, without bothering to learn what would happen.
posted by bingo at 10:16 AM on March 7, 2002


"There's a problem here. Both sides want to win."

That's a problem? I think a much bigger issue is the number of court-appointed defense attorneys who could care less whether their client is found guilty or not. Remember the story about the death penalty case in Texas where the defense attorney slept through portions of the trial?
posted by rcade at 10:20 AM on March 7, 2002


Murder hell...she should be charged for Crimes Against Humanity. This is one of the sickest actions I have ever heard. Absolutely disgusting.
posted by mathis23 at 10:22 AM on March 7, 2002


> As I said before, we STILL don't know if he was
> appointed or if he chose to take this case. If he was
> appointed, and he quit, what would happen to his family,
> his own needs? Suddenly ethics are more important that
> affording a meal or paying rent?

Ethics are more important than me eating a meal. Ethics are way more important than me holding any particular job -- such as concentration camp guard or, in this case, court-appointed attorney.
posted by jfuller at 10:23 AM on March 7, 2002


Suddenly ethics are more important that affording a meal or paying rent?

If you believe in civilized so-ciety then ethics have ALWAYS been more important than affording a meal or paying rent.
posted by glenwood at 10:25 AM on March 7, 2002


People take drugs in strange combinations all of the time.
E may have gotten a lot of it's publicity from the rave scene, but non-ravers are usign it and mixing it with other things all the time.
posted by goneill at 10:41 AM on March 7, 2002


Hmmmmm......She was released on a $10,000 bond. Seems a bit low, but the articles don't say why.
posted by anathema at 10:42 AM on March 7, 2002


BlueTrain - I suspect she panicked, too, but panic does not last two or three days.
posted by NortonDC at 10:45 AM on March 7, 2002


The whole thing is just sick sick sick.

And yet...

I too, wonder whether a charge of murder can be made to stick. From a moral point of view, I think we'd all agree that she's guilty of murder, but law courts work only on what is strictly legal. As others have pointed out, a simple hit and run would probably be manslaughter. Failing to help a dying person would also probably be manslaughter.

I hate the way this thread has seemingly been derailed by questions of the lawyer's ethics. Every person is entitled to a proper defence. That means as a lawyer, whether you are hired or assigned to the case, you have a duty to give it your best shot. In an adversarial justice system that we have in both Britain and America, neither the prosecution or defence are really interested in what's morally right. They are both interested in convincing a jury or their argument.

To deny this woman a proper legal defence would be a very very slippery slope. Justice must not merely be done, it must be seen to be done.
posted by salmacis at 10:47 AM on March 7, 2002


If we don't have defense attorneys who try their hardest to prove their clients innocent, then we can't be sure that a trial that finds them guilty was conducted fairly.

goneill: All right, I shouldn't have used the word "unlikely," perhaps just "dumb" would have been better.

P.S. I hope you set up buffyfilter before the show sinks so far into oblivion that it isn't worth analyzing anymore.
posted by bingo at 10:48 AM on March 7, 2002


concentration camp guard or, in this case, court-appointed attorney

Nice...very nice jfuller. Now please explain to the crowd exactly how this comparison between the attorney is a hypothetical SS guard is valid. Make sure to explain away the following logical incosistancies in your statement:

1) How are the actions of the guard, which contribute to an ongoing crime (genocide) comparible to the actions of the defense attorney, which contribute to nothing more than a valid legal defense?

2) How is the crime of the SS guard (genocide) comparible to the crime that this woman is charged with (homocide)?

3) Why must the lawyer stick with your version of "ethics"? Perhaps his ethic is to make sure that this woman has a fair trial. An ethic, it should be noted, that is enshrined in the Constitution.
posted by thewittyname at 10:51 AM on March 7, 2002


rcade, the adversarial model of criminal justice is one kind of problem. Lazy-ass PDs sleeping through their clients' capital-murder trials is another. The latter is easy to fix: Disbar their useless butts. The former would take a major overhaul, though.

anathema, I'm betting it's because she's too patently stupid to constitute a legitimate flight risk.
posted by alumshubby at 10:53 AM on March 7, 2002


I wish I had a more thorough alternate explanation, but I'm increasingly convinced that something basic is wrong with this story -- that things didn't quite happen as reported. Like asok, I can't quite picture how someone gets "stuck in a windshield," and, like rcade, I don't know how you drive along a freeway in a major metropolitan area with someone "stuck in your windshield" without attracting notice.

I don't believe that this is a pure urban legend -- I believe the newspaper is reporting the story the police believe. But the story doesn't quite make sense.
posted by argybarg at 10:54 AM on March 7, 2002


And, btw, even if the story is exactly as reported, the ridiculously inhumane action of one person out of the 260,000,000+ U.S. residents does not compel us to question the morals of our time or the nature of humanity.
posted by argybarg at 10:57 AM on March 7, 2002


the ridiculously inhumane action of one person out of the 260,000,000+ U.S. residents does not compel us to question the morals of our time or the nature of humanity

If only one person out of 260 million was ridiculously inhumane, this story would be headline news all over the world.

The continued inhumane actions of countless people in countless countries may very well compel us to question the morals of our time, however.
posted by Jairus at 12:17 PM on March 7, 2002


In that context, I suspect that defense counsel is outta his fuckin' mind if he thinks he's going to get this reduced to a case of failure to stop and render aid.

He doesn't think that at all, but he is obligated to offer the best possible defense of her actions. And that's exactly what he's doing. In this case, "the best possible defense" is so ridiculously flimsy, it amounts to "damning with faint praise." He's practically admitting that she's guilty.
posted by kindall at 1:04 PM on March 7, 2002


Like asok, I can't quite picture how someone gets "stuck in a windshield"

From the Star-Telegram story (linked above) it sounds like he went through the windshield headfirst, and ended up with his legs protruding out onto the hood. By "stuck" I would imagine they mean "hurt badly enough that he could not free himself." I don't find this somehow unbelievable.

and, like rcade, I don't know how you drive along a freeway in a major metropolitan area with someone "stuck in your windshield" without attracting notice.

Neither story mentions what time the accident happened. People who have been out drinking and X-ing tend to stay out pretty late. There aren't many cars on the roads late at night. I'm imagining that it wasn't during rush hour. She only had to go four miles. Having lived in FW previously, I don't think that area of town is particularly densely populated or happening. Seems plausible.
posted by sad_otter at 1:54 PM on March 7, 2002


I can't quite picture how someone gets "stuck in a windshield"

Break both of your legs and then impale a windshield with your body, plus add the shock and trauma of being hit by a moving car. Ok now wiggle free.

I don't know how you drive along a freeway in a major metropolitan area with someone "stuck in your windshield" without attracting notice.

Middle of the night, darkness abounds...you know how this works...

As others have pointed out, a simple hit and run would probably be manslaughter. Failing to help a dying person would also probably be manslaughter.

Ok let's try this: hit someone with your car, take them home, lock them in your garage while they bleed to death for 3 days.

Hell, let's do it this way. I'm driving down the highway, and I see you laying on the ground after being hit by a car. I then pick you up, throw you in the trunk of my car, and take you home to die slowly in my garage.

Christ people is it really that complicated? If this story unfolded as we are told, then the bitch killed the dude. No question.
posted by glenwood at 2:12 PM on March 7, 2002


She's a heartless bitch (well, she did say she was sorry), but what about her acquaintances who helped her remove the guy's body, haul it to the park, and dump it? They're just as reprehensible as she is, without any conceivable excuse she might have for being traumatized, and they should be accessories to whatever she's charged with.

Based on the Texas Penal Code, the charge would probably be manslughter ("A person commits an offense if he recklessly causes the death of an individual.") or criminally-negligent homicide ("A person commits an offense if he causes the death of an individual by criminal negligence.") rather than murder. Murder is applicable if the person "intentionally or knowingly causes the death of an individual," so knowingly would apply, but I'm not sure about intent.

I'm not a lawyer, but I watched a lot of L.A. Law.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:28 PM on March 7, 2002


It could be argued (and probably will; we're talking about Texas) that she injured him through negligence, but killed him with premeditated denial of assitance, assitance she was personally qualified to give (or at least start) as a trained medical professional.

I saw elsewhere that hit and run is a felony, and that causing someone's death during the commision of a felony is an automatic murder charge in Texas. I don't know if that's really true, but it sounds plausible.
posted by NortonDC at 2:36 PM on March 7, 2002


is the basic concept of our justice system really so incomprehensible?

a person is suspected of doing something illegal, the government has a trial, one person's job is to prove that it was illegal, and another's job is to defend the person. at the end of their "presentations" a decision is made about the legality of their actions. if no one defends, then all trials will be won by the government. you can't not defend someone because you think they've broken the law, everyone that has a trial is a suspect, *someone* thinks they have all broken the law.

to say, "x person doesn't need a trial because they are guilty" completely misses the point, the trial is what tells if they are guilty. it's like saying, "billy doesn't need to take the test, because he failed"

an alternate trialless system would put the police in charge, if they say you did something illegal they lock you up, or punish you however the law allows, if that's what you want you should state it plainly.

i would say that this lawyer is a hero, s/he is willing to fight for justice and equality in the face of a somewhat surprisingly large group of people that consider him a greedy heartless person. does s/he think the person is guilty? that isn't relevant, what is important is that even if the lawyer does think the person is guilty their sense of duty is strong enough that they are unwilling to throw out justice.
posted by rhyax at 2:38 PM on March 7, 2002


to say, "x person doesn't need a trial because they are guilty" completely misses the point, the trial is what tells if they are guilty. it's like saying, "billy doesn't need to take the test, because he failed"

rhyax, and if you have to put it to these terms to someone, then they're never going to get it anyway.

I think the definition of "hero" has gotten a little bit loose in the last year or two, though.
posted by glenwood at 2:52 PM on March 7, 2002


Very well stated rhyax.

NortonDC: I did a little research and believe that your second theory in some form is the likely bet.
posted by anathema at 2:53 PM on March 7, 2002


TheWittyName:

> please explain to the crowd exactly how this comparison
> between the attorney is a hypothetical SS guard is valid.

Waaal hello Godwin. Witty, your request contains a concealed conclusion. I never mentioned any SS guards. I'm only talking about good, legal concentration camps of the sort that we ran.


> 1) How are the actions of the guard, which contribute to
> an ongoing crime (genocide) comparible to the actions of
> the defense attorney, which contribute to nothing more
> than a valid legal defense?

Another concealed conclusion: conflating "legal" with "valid." Witty, you'd never make it as a dealer in Vegas. Take out the conclusion and I'll wrestle with what's left of the question. In the meantime let's examine that conflation:

The available valid defenses in a given case are a small subset of the available legal defenses. The set of valid defenses includes those that do not require concealment or distortion of the truth of the case; the larger set of legal defenses also includes any that might get the defendent off the hook, guilty or not.

Leaving aside for the moment whatever the legal profession as a whole may accept as ethical (I'll return to that shortly), where an individual is in fact guilty of some heinous deed which is also a crime, an individual attorney who is ethical as the ordinary world understands ethics must advise such a defendent to plead guilty, tell the truth, and hope for mercy (or shout defiance, if he insists.) That is the best and only valid defense. It is utterly fair. It violates no constitutional guarantees (there is no constitutional protection against being advised to incriminate oneself.) It is in the client's highest and best interest.

Other legal defenses there may be, but an attorney who is ethical as the ordinary world understands ethics may not advise the client to use these defenses--on pain of being (correctly) considered a contemptible wretch. Which, by the way, is the answer to your third question.

Now then, to return to the question of what the legal profession as a whole considers ethical: there may not be any difference between legal ethics and standard ethics. I mean "may not be" in the sense "it is disallowed." If (I say if; you may know the facts better than I) if the legal profession as a whole considers it ethical to advise a client to mount a defense with no regard to any consideration except beating the rap, however that may legally be accomplished, then the profession as a whole richly deserves the opprobrium ... no, I'm being mealy-mouthed ... the smoking-turd contempt with which it is in fact generally regarded.


kindall:

>> In that context, I suspect that defense counsel is outta
>> his fuckin' mind if he thinks he's going to get this
>> reduced to a case of failure to stop and render aid.
>
> He doesn't think that at all, but he is obligated to offer
> the best possible defense of her actions. And that's
> exactly what he's doing. And that's exactly what he's
> doing. In this case, "the best possible defense" is so
> ridiculously flimsy, it amounts to "damning with faint
> praise." He's practically admitting that she's guilty

What a bizarre, notion, then, of "best possible defense."


rhyax:

> is the basic concept of our justice system really so
> incomprehensible?
>
> a person is suspected of doing something illegal, the
> government has a trial, one person's job is to prove that
> it was illegal, and another's job is to defend the person.
> at the end of their "presentations" a decision is made
> about the legality of their actions.

The person with job a) must not try to prove a defendent guilty when he knows the defendent to be innocent. That's prosecutorial corruption, and everyone here is rightly outraged when it happens. The prosecutor is expected to reveal any exculpatory knowledge he may have.

Very symmetrically, the person with job b) must not try to prove a defendent innocent when he knows the defendent is guilty. That is attorney corruption. A defense attorney who possesses inculpatory knowledge must reveal it -- or leave the case, or leave the profession.
posted by jfuller at 3:23 PM on March 7, 2002


NortonDC: I saw elsewhere that hit and run is a felony, and that causing someone's death during the commision of a felony is an automatic murder charge in Texas.

She could be prosecuted for murder: "A person commits an offense if he…commits…a felony…and in the course of and in furtherance of the commission…he commits…an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of an individual." I couldn't find a citation, but hit-and-run is generally a felony.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:48 PM on March 7, 2002


an individual attorney who is ethical as the ordinary world understands ethics must advise such a defendent to plead guilty, tell the truth, and hope for mercy (or shout defiance, if he insists.)

First, ethics are completely relative. Second, the attorney's position is to maintain her innocence unless compelling evidence exists. We are innocent til PROVEN guilty. Just because we are guilty doesn't necessarily mean that we can be proven guilty. These articles do not give us enough insight to her guilt. The facts given to us are what the prosecution and police have discovered. For all we know, the defense attorney has other evidence.

if the legal profession as a whole considers it ethical to advise a client to mount a defense with no regard to any consideration except beating the rap, however that may legally be accomplished, then the profession as a whole richly deserves the opprobrium ... no, I'm being mealy-mouthed ... the smoking-turd contempt with which it is in fact generally regarded.

The sworn duty of a criminal defense attorney is to defend the interests of their clients. Your contempt for the legal profession is quite unnecessary for this discussion. In fact, worthless because of its ignorance.

Very symmetrically, the person with job b) must not try to prove a defendent innocent when he knows the defendent is guilty. That is attorney corruption. A defense attorney who possesses inculpatory knowledge must reveal it -- or leave the case, or leave the profession.

I've already answered this in my response, but again, you are ignorant to the profession. Attorney corruption is not based on hidden knowledge. It is based on obstruction of knowledge/justice. If the client tells the attorney that she is guilty, does the attorney tell the judge that his/her ethics have been compromised?

I'm tired of ethical high horses. You want to be ethical and fair? Go for it. I recommend it. I try to live my life toward personal ethical standards. But to shove your ethics upon everyone else is elitist and arrogant. If your company is dumping toxic waste into a lake, but you're just a techie working on server glitches, do you quit based on ethics? Hell no, you probably have some financial obligations that require you to continue your work. Everyone loves to talk about ethics. In the real world, ethics are relative to your situation.
posted by BlueTrain at 3:50 PM on March 7, 2002


NortonDC: I saw elsewhere that hit and run is a felony, and that causing someone's death during the commision of a felony is an automatic murder charge in Texas.

She could be prosecuted for murder: "A person commits an offense if he…commits…a felony…and in the course of and in furtherance of the commission…he commits…an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of an individual." I couldn't find a citation, but hit-and-run is generally a felony.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:53 PM on March 7, 2002


What the hell is the world coming to?
posted by crankydoodle at 4:02 PM on March 7, 2002


> The sworn duty of a criminal defense attorney is to
> defend the interests of their clients.

Well? Don't swear that. Flip burgers rather than swearing away your freedom of conscience.


> If the client tells the attorney that she is guilty, does the
> attorney tell the judge that his/her ethics have been
> compromised?

Only if he wants respect.


> ethics are completely relative.

As Dr. Johnson said, when this person visits our house let us count our spoons.


> I'm tired of ethical high horses.

I take it you're a lawyer? If not, I hear pre-law calling you.
posted by jfuller at 4:42 PM on March 7, 2002


Well? Don't swear that. Flip burgers rather than swearing away your freedom of conscience.

Yes, and then when you are falsely accused of a crime by the police and a confession is beaten out of you, you will do what, exactly? Order a hamburger as a last meal from the defense attorney you don't need?
posted by kindall at 5:05 PM on March 7, 2002


BlueTrain: ethics are completely relative.

Guess that solves that.
posted by argybarg at 5:28 PM on March 7, 2002


Did I ever say I would never under any circumstances need a lawyer? I don't think I did. But if I were the person this thread was originally about, and if the facts of the case were as they have been presented here, and if the attorney told off by the court to defend me knew this, then that attorney should advise me that it is in my highest and best interest to tell the truth and leave my fate in the hands of my fellow citizens.

And if that attorney's professional association and professional ethic will not permit him to give me this advice then he should leave the profession and the professional association should be horsewhipped. I don't know whether it's possible to horsewhip a professional ethic but it's an interesting question and I'll give it some thought.
posted by jfuller at 6:08 PM on March 7, 2002


That's completely idiotic. It's not in this woman's "highest and best interest" to admit full culpability for any offense the state might charge her with and throw herself on the mercy of the jury.

where an individual is in fact guilty of some heinous deed which is also a crime, an individual attorney who is ethical as the ordinary world understands ethics must advise such a defendent to plead guilty, tell the truth, and hope for mercy (or shout defiance, if he insists.

You're putting the cart before the horse. When a defense attorney is preparing a defense, guilt has not been established. It's the job of a jury or a judge to consider the evidence in the case, the charge that has been made against the plaintiff, and whether the plaintiff is guilty of that offense.

In this case, the defense attorney may know the woman is guilty of something. However, should he conclude that she's guilty of murder and act accordingly, when its possible the prosecutor may charge her with a lesser offense a few weeks from now? Should he conclude that since she's guilty of at least manslaughter, it's unethical to defend her?

I think the system works much better when defense attorneys presume the innocence of their client and advocate his or her best interests.

I would describe that as heroic, because as this discussion illustrates, few people are willing to consider the possibility of a defendant's innocence in a sensational offense. The lawyer who stands up for Danielle van Dam's accused killer in San Diego when the nation is screaming for his head (including me), is making a heroic and unpopular stand. Without defense attorneys willing to do that, in fear of being scorned by people who are looking for more reasons to hate lawyers, our system of justice fails utterly.
posted by rcade at 6:23 PM on March 7, 2002


"Just because we are guilty doesn't necessarily mean that we can be proven guilty."

And that, in a mere fourteen words, explains why the system is so fucked up. And why so many people despise lawyers so much.

You're going to make a wonderful lawyer, BlueTrain. A completely lousy practitioner of justice, mind you, but an absolutely brilliant lawyer.

"Ethics are relative." Why, with that sort of attitude, you'll have no problem fighting real hard to help ol' Chante walk free, even though she has confessed her role in the act.

"By Mallard's account, as told to police, she had been drinking and using Ecstasy that October night and was driving home when she struck a man. The impact hurled him headfirst through the windshield, his broken legs protruding onto the hood.

Biggs pleaded for help, she told police.

He got none. Not then, or for the next two or three days, as he remained lodged in the windshield, bleeding and slowly going into shock, police said.

Mallard told police she periodically went into the garage to check on the man. She said she apologized profusely to him for what she had done but ignored his cries for help."


"Ethics are relative." Yes, you'll have no problem letting this black-hearted killer back into the public.

Hope it's not your wife she kills next, eh?
posted by five fresh fish at 6:44 PM on March 7, 2002


You're going to make a wonderful lawyer, BlueTrain. A completely lousy practitioner of justice, mind you, but an absolutely brilliant lawyer.

You're already a wonderful troll.
posted by rcade at 7:06 PM on March 7, 2002


Some of you people are scaring me to death. I sure hope none of you have any real political influence, because if you do, this country is fucked. Hard, anally, and in a handbasket.

Here are a few facts. Mallard has not been found gulity in a court of law. Therefore, at the moment, she is, by definition, legally innocent. People accused of crimes have a right to the best defense possible, even if what they are being accused of is odious and the defense being used is stupid. That is the way this country's justice system works. I like that it works that way, because it protects me from little things like being imprisoned or executed for something I didn't do.

If Mallard committed the crime of which she is accused, then most likely she will be convicted by a jury. Juries are not so stupid they can be swayed by lame arguments that she is guilty merely of "failure to render aid." If the evidence against her is stronger than that defense, then she will be found guilty. But the burden of proof is on the state; she is presumed innocent.

Now, some of you want an agent of the government (a public defender) to subvert that presumption by finding out ahead of time if she is "really guilty" and if so advising her to give up her right to plead not guilty. Sorry, it is not the public defender's role to determine guilt. It is the role of the jury or judge. The role of the public defender is to defend, hence the job title. It is this way for a reason. While her confession is damning and will probably be sufficient to convict her, nevertheless her crime must be proven "beyond a reasonable doubt" and it is explicitly the job of the defense attorney to raise reasonable doubt so that this standard of proof can be seen to have been met.

fff: I will single you out and remind you that it is not your role to determine guilt any more than it is the media's or a defense atttorney's, and I found your remarks particularly odious, being as they are in complete oppsition to the founding principles of justice in this country.
posted by kindall at 7:17 PM on March 7, 2002


Oh, puh-leeze. Bits of body and lots of blood were found all over her car, bits of her car were found in the body, and she's already confessed.

I haven't determine her guilt: she has determined it.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:43 PM on March 7, 2002


You're going to make a wonderful lawyer, BlueTrain. A completely lousy practitioner of justice, mind you, but an absolutely brilliant lawyer.

You're already a wonderful troll.


Big time.
posted by jpoulos at 8:35 PM on March 7, 2002


Did I ever say I would never under any circumstances need a lawyer? I don't think I did. But if I were the person this thread was originally about, and if the facts of the case were as they have been presented here, and if the attorney told off by the court to defend me knew this, then that attorney should advise me that it is in my highest and best interest to tell the truth and leave my fate in the hands of my fellow citizens.

And it is very possible that this lawyer did so. However, if the client does not take his advice, then he is still obligated by the canons of ethics to provide Ms. Mallard, as odious as she may be, with not just a stock defense, but a zealous defense. That means coming up with a theory of the incidents involved and presentation thereof which will aid Ms. Mallard's desire to be found not guilty of a felony murder charge. That is his job, that is the standard he is held to by the oath that he has sworn.

And as for his chances of being able to get out of defending her? Slim and none, if he's appointed. He'd have to have a conflict of interest or he'd need to demonstrate her unwillingness to allow him to defend her.

And on preview - FFF guilt is a legal conclusion, the result of a defendent's acceptance of a plea arrangement or a finding of fact by a judge or jury. Right now, Ms. Mallard has offered her rendition of the facts of the case, she has not made an admission, and her case has not been adjudicated. She may be loathsome and lower than low, but she's not guilty yet.
posted by Dreama at 8:39 PM on March 7, 2002


Oh, puh-leeze. Bits of body and lots of blood were found all over her car, bits of her car were found in the body, and she's already confessed. I haven't determine her guilt: she has determined it.

She has not had a trial and is therefore presumed innocent. (If it will help, I will be happy to investigate ways of making the last two words of that sentence bolder.)
posted by kindall at 8:53 PM on March 7, 2002


kindall & fff: "I'll teach you differences": you're quibbling without distinction over, respectively, legal guilt vs. objective guilt.
posted by EngineBeak at 9:03 PM on March 7, 2002


EngineBeak:
:-)
posted by five fresh fish at 9:09 PM on March 7, 2002


Oh, puh-leeze. Bits of body and lots of blood were found all over her car, bits of her car were found in the body, and she's already confessed.

Wrong. Somebody else says that bits of body and lots of blood were found on her car. Somebody else says that bits of her car were found in the body. Somebody else says that she's confessed.

Until she's had her day in court, and a jury of her peers has heard her say these things for herself or through her legal representative, she hasn't said or done anything.

I'm Joe Sherriff. I hate your guts, FFF. I lock your ass in jail, dupe up some evidence and say you confessed. Do you want a lawyer? Thought so.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:50 PM on March 7, 2002


People, due to psychological problems, out of a desire to protect loved ones, or acting under extreme duress (torture), will confess to crimes they did not commit. If there is any chance to bring such circumstances to light, it is during a trial. A trial will take into account all available evidence, including but not limited to her confession (if she stands by it), and come to a conclusion, aided by experts in the relevant fields. This, I think we can all agree, is better than some jerk in an internet discussion who has read one article on the subject making the decision. If she is guilty, there is a small chance she will get off, true; if she is innocent, there is a small chance she will be punished anyway. However, if you throw out the trial, the chance that she will be set free if guilty drops a tiny bit from small to very small, while the chance of a mistake in the other direction (a mistake that cannot be undone, for those of you so ready to see her blood) rises dramatically.

This is the first metafilter thread that actually scared me, the first half reads like the shouting of a lynch mob. There was a thread a while ago in which people were advocating torture, but at least there it was a minority opinion.
posted by Nothing at 11:38 PM on March 7, 2002


I agree Nothing. And how many defence lawyers have the same attitude and don't bother mounting proper defences because everyone presumes the defendent is guilty and the defendent him/herself doesn't have the power, intelligence or gumption to question the lawyer?
posted by Summer at 1:56 AM on March 8, 2002


thank you for repeating the graphic details of the impact glenwood. i must have missed them on first scan.
what struck me initially about this story was the confusion shown by mallard.
for the sake of argument, i propose that this woman is not deserving of the level of hatred being exhibited in this thread. her behaviour, alledgedly reported by herself, is (what the young people call) pretty random.
she has confessed, people, this is usually a sign of honesty. the report suggests a candid report of the events from her point of view.
she has confessed to drinking and driving - why?
she did not destroy her vehicle (and possibly claim insurance) - why?
but, she did make a half-assed attempt at cleaning the crime scene.
she involved others in this sorry saga - why?
(has she never seen any crime drama on tv? body disposal is something that is a recurrent theme)
she told police that Biggs pleaded for help - why?
she did not need to tell them any details about him, she could have said 'he just didn't move' or something.
all of the information about this event appears to come from her.

if she had destroyed the vehicle, disposed of the body and lied to the police, then i would say she was a menace to society. that she didn't may show that she understood what she had done was bad, but could not cope. she is possibly partially 'rehabilitated', i.e. not a complete monster already. she may have shown remorse.
not the actions of a serial killer, or even a serial offender, certainly not lacking in emotion - so no sociopath (according to my cod-analysis).

i would like to think that a jury would consider her honesty as a positive, in this gamut of negatives. perhaps in a perfect world a defence council would not be required. if she could explain her feelings at the time, people might be able to empathise. one get's the impression that she is being scapegoated for showing that inhumanity can happen everywhere, that the strength of character required in such situations might not be as easily summoned as it is in the movies, or simply that the world is a difficult place to live sometimes.

save your pronuciations for those who deny their actions, obfuscate justice and have no concerns in doing so. they are undisputably enemies of society.

alternatively, let's all meet at Moe's Tavern, 'there's no justice like angry mob justice'.
posted by asok at 5:49 AM on March 8, 2002


I'm all for a fair and speedy trial, with all the Bill of Rights trimmings, so whatever evidence and testimony there are to be discovered can be revealed to a jury. My two cents' worth is not "string the bitch up" but "there's definitely a short between her earphones," be it from the drugs and booze, the psychological trauma, or a combination thereof.

However, I'd like to point out that Texas has this legal notion of "capital murder" which consists of murder committed in the context of committing another felony, such as hit-and-run. As the name implies, a capital murder conviction in Texas usually gets the death penalty.

That being said, I wonder whether the DA would try to prosecute a capital-murder case here. The standard of proof is necessarily considerably higher than for felony hit-and-run and failure to stop and render aid.
posted by alumshubby at 6:51 AM on March 8, 2002


Mallard. Chante Mallard. Maybe she yelled "duck!" and he thought she was just...

Forget it.
posted by pracowity at 7:23 AM on March 8, 2002


Down a bit in the AP story (via CNN):

The tipster said Mallard drove home, had sex with her boyfriend, then went back to the garage to find Biggs still alive, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

Mallard later told investigators she apologized to the victim when she returned to the garage several times, but she never called for help as he moaned and pleaded with her, according to the affidavit.


Ok. Homeless dude with broken legs stuck in windshield. Drive home, park car. Have sex with boyfriend, go and say you're sorry to the dude, and go back in the house. Nice.
posted by adampsyche at 7:26 AM on March 8, 2002


Here's an update, with some words from the victim's son:

"I'd just like to talk to her. Just ask questions and see why, to get a better understanding I suppose"

While what this woman alledgedly did was very, very wrong, those of you clamoring for her head on a stick would do well to take a page from this kid's book and try to get a good grasp of exactly what happened brfore screaming for blood.
posted by andnbsp at 7:33 AM on March 8, 2002


Oh, ass. Before, not brfore.
posted by andnbsp at 7:43 AM on March 8, 2002


I'd think that those of you who are so desperate to see this woman punished would be glad of the defence attorney. Without a fair trial with a competent defence, a guilty verdict could easily be overthrown under appeal.

That being said, I'm glad to see that people like andnbsp, asok and others are here, because I find the idea of throwing out judicial procedure to placate a lynch mob far scarier than what this woman did, horrible as it is.
posted by biscotti at 8:04 AM on March 8, 2002


Hey now, let's not go slagging off lynch mobs! They're extremely useful, and one of the prime ways I expect to dispose of my enemies when I seize power in a bloody coup.
posted by aramaic at 8:19 AM on March 8, 2002


"In recounting how she hit a man while driving under the influence of alcohol and ecstasy, Mallard giggled and remarked that after the accident she had sex with a friend at her home, the affidavit says."


My vote is still for the head on a stick.
(After all of this is proven in a court of law of course!)
posted by glenwood at 8:22 AM on March 8, 2002


LOL. Okay, okay: the lawyers win. She can have her day in court.

She is, nonetheless, some fucking sick. Unless, of course, the entire story is a fabrication.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:33 AM on March 8, 2002


Just for closure, we can all read the Arrest Warrant Affidavit.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:15 PM on March 8, 2002


"secreted him in her garage"

Heheh.
Eew.
posted by andnbsp at 3:33 PM on March 8, 2002


obiwanwasabi: Wrong. Somebody else says [...]

Somebody else says what the gravitational constant is, that it isn't worth re-proving predicate calculus, and what Pres. Shrub is doing. That doesn't make it wrong, just reported.

If we trust the reports, it is reasonable to form opinions on them. The determination of guilt (actual, not legal) in our own minds is predicated on these reports. From those reports, if true, we have determined that the crime is particularly heinous. However, our "lynch mobs" have indicated that they wish the strongest possible LEGAL penalty.

Well, that head on a stick thing is a bit over the top, but every mob has a fringe element. (hi, glenwood!)
posted by dwivian at 4:19 PM on March 8, 2002


"Cheri Orr, who lives across the street from Mallard and occasionally visited with her, described her as a nice woman who kept her lawn neatly manicured and could often be seen dressed up on her way to Sunday church services.

'It's sad. It's devastating, really. It's a shock,' said Orr, 39. 'You don't expect your neighbors to do nothing like that.' "

Who would expect it?! Geez...

From a Star-Telegram update.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:25 PM on March 8, 2002


Am I the only one who thinks America needs a sub judice law. Whilst not wishing to throw myself to the mercy of this lynch mob, can I just put forward the idea that the media may have a vested interest in making this sound more salacious than it actually is. Why can't they wait until trial before reporting their version of events?
posted by fullerine at 7:24 PM on March 8, 2002


Because the media's role is to inform. Just like what you're participating in here. Exactly like what you're doing here, in fact.
posted by NortonDC at 7:30 PM on March 8, 2002


um, no, I am putting forward my opinion and not claiming hearsay as fact.

Semantics aside, the media cannot examine this case as objectively as a court of law due to time/space restrictions. Therefore they omit huge swathes of the argument and subjectively choose what to inform you about.

Next you'll be telling me the police always tell the truth.

posted by fullerine at 8:05 PM on March 8, 2002


the media cannot examine this case as objectively as a court of law due to time/space restrictions.

The media's task is not to examine this case. The media's task is to report facts as they become available. The media reported the evidence the prosecution is using against this woman. When the defense prepares a case, the media will report their defense, if it's made public.

Therefore they omit huge swathes of the argument and subjectively choose what to inform you about.

Wrong...they omit the unnecessary details. What YOU are referring to is prejudice on the part of the journalist. This is why we have editors. If the journalist appears to show bias, the editor will tell him/her to fix it. IF we believe the NY Times has a liberal bias, for instance, then we assume that the editors allow journalists some creative liberty. The media's task is to inform objectively. The editorials and tabloids are for subjective information.

FWIW, OF COURSE the media wants to make the news more salacious...BUT they MUST tell the truth, or else be subjected to lawsuits of slander and libel.

Again, in this case, all we have is the prosecution's case. In a few weeks, months, we'll understand the defense and eventually a verdict/judgement/settlement will be reached. At that point, the newspapers will summarize the events.
posted by BlueTrain at 10:26 PM on March 8, 2002


Hell readies another room
posted by MaddCutty at 1:12 AM on March 9, 2002


Again, in this case, all we have is the prosecution's case. In a few weeks, months, we'll understand the defense and eventually a verdict/judgement/settlement will be reached. At that point, the newspapers will summarize the events.

I bet you 10 base units of your country's currency that this will not be reported as widely.

The media's task is to report facts as they become available.

I thought the media's task was to sell more media.

Did she do it? I would say that the evidence looks bad for her, but there hasn't been any evidence, has there.

I'm sorry to sound callous and pedantic, but the case hasn't come to court and there are people debating what to do with this woman as she's obviously guilty.

Try having a look at the mountains of research into media bias.

Wether it be FAIR's republican bias or MRC's liberal bias, there is a slant in the media.

All I'm trying to say is "Don't believe half of what you see and none of what you hear".

When people talk about sending someone to their death on the evidence of a biased media then I get kinda jumpy.

posted by fullerine at 3:44 AM on March 9, 2002


fullerine - The "media," which does include you as you participate in this publicly published exchange, traffics in both opinion and fact, and it is right for it to do so. Saying that you are stating your opinion does not draw any distinction between your actions and the other parts of the media you point an accusing finger at in this medium.
posted by NortonDC at 5:54 AM on March 9, 2002


Well, there was this guy that lived down the street from me a few years ago and he said he ate babies.

Did you see what I did then?

When I have a primetime news show or publish in a newspaper then you can equate me to CNN but until then, as was said elsewhere my opinion doesn't carry the same weight.
posted by fullerine at 8:13 AM on March 9, 2002


He doesn't think that at all, but he is obligated to offer the best possible defense of her actions. And that's exactly what he's doing. In this case, "the best possible defense" is so ridiculously flimsy, it amounts to "damning with faint praise." He's practically admitting that she's guilty.

Actually, this appears to be a very common defense to not argue the facts. Instead, the defense admits guilt to a lesser crime and then hopes to plant a reasonable doubt regarding the more serious crime charges. The hope is that the jury will find the defendant guilty on the lesser charges (hit-and-run) while not returning a guilty verdict on the murder charge.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:44 AM on March 9, 2002


Somebody else says what the gravitational constant is, that it isn't worth re-proving predicate calculus, and what Pres. Shrub is doing. That doesn't make it wrong, just reported.

My point was that it doesn't make it true. And anyway, bzzzt, red card. Argument by analogy, and some pretty fucked-in-the-head analogies at that. 'Predicate calculus'? Gimme a break.

How about this: the statements referred to by five fresh fish were, at the time of my comments, merely allegations, their veracity having not yet been determined through the objective evaluation of relevant evidence before a jury of the subject's peers in accordance with the laws of the state and/or country in which the subject resides, and/or the laws of the state and/or country in which the alleged crimes were committed, and as such, the statements cannot be said to be 'true'. Happy?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:02 PM on March 10, 2002


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