The Leann Etchison Case is Not a Facebook Problem

By Bernie on 06 Sep 2010

twelve angry men

I received a comment from someone claiming to be Leann Etchison in response to my article Jabbar Collins 16 Years in Prison Because of Prosecutor Lies.

In that article I wrote: "My experience has been that most juries are asleep at trials, witnesses mis-identify the perpetrators, police lie to get a conviction, and prosecutors hide evidence to further their careers."

I should have added that most jurors make up their mind before they are even selected as jurors, after all, the guy wouldn't have been arrested if he wasn't guilty; before they even sit down to hear the prosecution's case; and certainly way before the defense begins its presentation.

Here is Ms. Etchison's comment:

I have been convicted of a crime I didnt committe, but I cant get anyone to take my story and hear my case. Hadley Jons got coverage because she used facebook to convict me before she even heard my side. Hadley 20 years old recieved a 250 dollar fine and a 5 page eassy on my 6 amendment rights. I feel that the jury was tainted by her thoughts the next day. I was order to show up for court by mail a month later and still not miranderized the Macomb daily states that I was found guilty for ressiting arrest but never arrested and convicted, but not correctly charged. I really want to know what is the conquence of the police sending death threats to my son and me and lying under oath. I still believe in peace on earth and charges shoul be file against these officers. I am being charged with a felony and my teaching career down the drain. I have not been in trouble with the law to deserve this kind of treatment or injustice. Watch fox news to see Hadley Jons statement " I can't wait to go to court and tell the defendant she is Guilty" I know God is still here and we will all see him face to face. THE WORLD NEEDS TO STOP JUDGING PEOPLE BEFORE THE TRUE FACTS COME OUT. YES THIER ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE FACING LIFE IN PRISON AND TRUELY DIDN'T COMMITTE A CRIME, I HVE A BROTHER THAT HAS BEEN IN PRISON FOR 24 YEARS IF YOU DON'T HAVE MONEY THESE COURT APPOINTED ONLY CAN DO SO MUCH. AMERICA NEEDS TO WAKE UP YOU ONLY BELIEVE WHEN YOU OR YOUR FAMILY HAS STEEPED IN IT. GROW THE HELL UP.

And here is what Hadley Jons did wrong:

Time Magazine,
Back To School: Judge Sentences Juror to Essay Assignment for Facebook Gaffe

Three weeks ago, Hadley Jons was wallowing in a defendant's potential demise on her social networking account. Now, Jons has received her own sentence, which includes some heavy writing.

The AP reports that the Detroit-area juror caught using her Facebook status to comment on a verdict was sentenced to a $250 fine.

Jons' Aug. 11 profile read "gonna be fun to tell the defendant they're GUILTY." Even though the defendant was eventually found to be guilty, Jons' decision was a potent mix of immature and premature. The AP writes that the infraction was discovered by a member of the defense team's 17-year-old son, prior to that side's chance to testify.

"I'm sorry, very sorry," the 20-year-old told Macomb County Circuit Judge Diane Druzinski on Friday. Jons had no further comment outside of the court's chambers.

The money is only one of two steps Jons will take to make amends for her miscue. In addition to paying the aforementioned fee, the wire service reports that the former juror must also deliver a five-page essay. The subject: the importance of the 6th amendment of the Constitution, which insures a person's right to a fair trial.

Leann Etchison, who was charged with resisting arrest, was eventually found guilty.

I am not surprised that juror Jons already made up her mind before the defense presented its case. What judges need to do, in addition to admonishing the jury not to discuss the case, text about it, or post comments on social media, is to also tell the jury at the very outset of the trial, that the defendant is innocent and the job of the prosecution is to prove his or her guilt. Currently judges merely instruct that the defendant is "presumed innocent," a meaningless phrase ignored by everyone.

The truth is, under the law, every defendant before trial is really, actually, fully, totally, completely innocent in every respect. Judges should tell this directly to the jury before a single sentence is uttered by the prosecution. The judge should say, "Mr or Ms X is an innocent person. He has been arrested for no good reason. The police could have fabricated evidence against him. The prosecutor may very well be holding back exculpatory evidence. Your job, as jurors, is to take the evidence you hear and make a decision based solely on the evidence.

"This defendant, who is innocent, does not have a burden to prove his innocence since he is already innocent."

If the defendant is guilty, and the cops have not lied, and the prosecutor has not withheld evidence, and the evidence proves his innocence beyond a reasonable doubt, and the jury is not asleep or has not prejudged the case, then all the above admonitions will not keep a truly guilty person from being found guilty of his crimes. But hopefully, it will change the attitude of jurors, that they can ignore the presumption of innocence.

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