Saturday, September 26, 2015

State's Attorney purpose - justice or Win?

As I think about the operations of the office of the McHenry County State's Attorney office, I wonder if the public really understands what has been happening in McHenry County.

Is the purpose of the State's Attorney office to see that "justice" is done? Or just to have another Win chalked up on the scoreboard in the lunchroom?

Several cases come to mind, the most recent being the efforts of the State's Attorney office to crucify Mario Casciaro. They lost two rounds and then went for a third. They won that one - temporarily. Now that conviction has been over-turned.

Another case that comes to mind is the Gary Gauger case. If you haven't read Gary's book, pick up a copy of In Spite of the System: A Personal Story of Wrongful Conviction & Exoneration, by Gary Gauger and Julie von Bergen. (Amazon will be notified to correct the title.)

And still another story that comes to mind is the senseless prosecution of a Harvard man who killed a vicious dog that was attacking him on his own rural property. The State's Attorney's office won that one by "selling" an ignorant jury and "humanizing" the dog. It seems the homeowner could have used deadly force against a human being attacking him, but you can't use deadly force against a vicious guard dog that is loose and roaming off its own property. That homeowner never should have been charged in the first place. I've always wondered whether there was a personal vendetta against him prior to the shooting.

If you want to see the State's Attorney office at work, drop by a McHenry County courtroom and watch the dog-and-pony show. Watch for "huffing and puffing out of chests" and flamboyant gestures (and senseless wording). All that does influence a jury, even though the jury is warned (informed) that statements of the attorneys are not evidence and are to be disregarded.

This is why a jury trial in McHenry County is a high-risk venture for a defendant. It's going to come down to which side has the better "salesmen". I have thought for many years that you are much better off with a bench trial, as long as you don't get one of the current "wrong" judges (who should have retired years ago).

Want to read another great book?

Read Justice Overruled: Unmasking the Criminal Justice System, by former California prosecutor and former judge Burton S. Katz. He'll tell you about "testilying" and other tricks used to win convictions.

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