Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tim Smith trial set for Monday

Timothy Smith's trial is set for Monday, February 25.

In Judge Prather's court today, the motions that were in the way were cleared away, reducing the possibility that the trial will be delayed - at least for those reasons.

Judge Prather does a good job of being heard in the courtroom when she calls a case. After that? She lowers her voice so that it can barely be heard beyond the lawyers at the bench, and she allows the lawyers to speak in tones so low that they cannot be heard in the courtroom.

Why is McHenry County so prone to keep the public in the dark as to what is said at the bench? It would be an easy matter for judges to direct the lawyers and witnesses to speak up and for the judges themselves to speak loudly enough to be heard. No one needs to shout - just speak in normal tone of voice.

If the bailiff keeps the noise down in the courtroom and in the vestibule, everybody will be able to hear everything.

So what happened today? It sounded like Judge Prather okayed calling Kimberly Smith, Timothy's wife, as a witness. Some people think that a wife doesn't have to testify against her husband, but one of the Motions in limine clarified that. The lawyers obviously know the law; the judge knows the law. The point of the Motion was, probably, to get it on the record and avoid the issue in court.

What was covered in the Motion? Generally speaking, one spouse might not have to testify against the other spouse. The prosecution wants to call Kimberly Smith in Timothy's trial.

The prosecution expects that Kimberly will refuse to testify and will invoke her right against self-incrimination. BUT a judge can grant immunity to Kimberly, and it sounded like that was what Judge Prather did this morning. Because Judge Prather could not be heard clearly in the courtroom, I'm having to guess at this, and I could be wrong.

According to the Motion filed by the prosecution that was heard in court this morning, if Kimberly refuses to testify in Timothy's trial, then the prosecution believes that Kimberly could be found in contempt of court for refusing to testify. After all, whatever she says in court cannot be used against her in her own trial that is scheduled to start in March, so why shouldn't she answer questions?

Kind of a Catch-22, isn't it?

By granting immunity, could this mean that the prosecution is, in effect, willing to throw out its case against Kimberly in its effort to convict Timothy?

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