In Fall River, another prosecutorial shoe dropped in the ever-expanding Aaron Hernandez case(s).
This time, the criminal justice spotlight fell on the fiancée of the former New England Patriots tight end.
The charge? That she lied to the prosecution.
Nearly 30 times.
The alleged lying took place in the grand jury while the prosecution was trying to indict her beau…which the somehow were able to do without her assistance. An example of the vicious lies? She said that she could not recall where she left a large box Hernandez allegedly told her to dispose of.
Gee, seems to me there is a 5th Amendment privilege that may have been of help there…
Another example of the lies, prosecutors say, is that she said she could not remember conversations about Lloyd’s murder that she had with Hernandez.
The girlfriend, Shayanna Jenkins (hereinafter, the “Defendant”), has now been indicted herself in Fall River Superior Court. The charge is perjury. She has pleaded not guilty and her attorney has accused prosecutors of overreaching.
Hernandez has pleaded not guilty in the killing of Odin Lloyd, who was dating Jenkins’ sister. He is being held without bail.
Attorney Sam’s Take On Lies And Prosecutions
First of all, if you are a regular reader to this blog, you know that there are other charges which could probably have been brought against the Defendant. These include charges like Intimidation of a Witness and conspiracy.
Still, clients tell me that they are surprised when they learn (usually too late) what the rules of the game are.
That’s right. I said “game”. I will get back to that below.
During the course of its criminal investigation, the Commonwealth may lie to you. The law is clear on that subject. Lying to a suspect or some else involved in a criminal investigation is called “good police work”. They prefer not to admit this of course. However, as was the case in a recent sexual assault trial I just won, they must admit it when under oath. During my trial, the officer called it a “tactic”. So, when being questioned, understand that whatever you are being told by the Commonwealth may or may not be truthful.
I point out, however, that when you have an attorney involved, and that attorney is speaking with prosecutors or police officers, the lies do not come as free flowing. They know we know better and we will remember for next time who’s word cannot be trusted. You do not know. They count on that.
So, if during questioning, the Defendant was lied to by the Commonwealth, that would be ok. However, if she returns the favor, felony charges can be coming soon.
“Ok, Sam, but isn’t this really wrong? I mean, she was protecting her man. Surely they can understand that, right?”
Nope. Not according to present law. The Commonwealth and the federal government have no reluctance forcing people to testify against loved ones when a legally-recognized privelege does not protect the witness. For example, there is the privilege against incriminating oneself…which, again, I do not understand why it was not claimed in this case. Another is attorney-client, patient- physician and like privileges. You should also be aware that, except in cases where a child is the victim, the law protects private conversations between legally married spouses.
Anything else goes. Mother against child, child against father, brother against sister, lover against lover. It does not matter.
“Wait, Sam, if I do not lie, then I am ok, right? I mean I can refuse to talk to the officer at my door.”
True. But if you get summonsed to testify before the grand jury, you are legally obligated to show up and take the stand. Once there, you will have to answer the questions, truthfully, unless you fall under one of the recognized privileges.
Now then…why did I call it a “game”?
Well, there are many reasons. However, relevant today’s blog, consider one example.
The job of the Commonwealth is to seek truth and justice. One would imagine this would be done on a somewhat even-handed basis, even if the hand is a fist. Perhaps, then, you could explain to me why it is that when it becomes clear that a witness has testified against a particular defendant falsely, there is seldom if ever a prosecution? In fact, what about when it is clear to everyone in the courtroom with a functioning brain that a complaining witness is lying to simply “get at” a defendant (who has now likely lost a year of his/her life, some liberty and thousands of dollars), the Commonwealth simply shrugs its shoulders and turns to the next case? It happens more than you might want to know.
Why are only the lies that do not help a prosecution illegal? I mean…even excluding the lies presented by the Commonwealth’s own agents.
So, you tell me that it is not a game and that the prosecution is only seeking the truth and looks to protect All its citizens against predators of all kinds and seek to punish all such predators.
It seems to me that a vicious crime is still a vicious crime even when the prosecution is used as the weapon.
But, that’s just me…!
Tomorrow: Another sports related story as tweeted by Attorney Steven Altman earlier today
To read the original story upon this blog is based, please go http://cdn.localwireless.com/wap/news/text.jsp?sid=254&nid=2288496135&cid=10006&scid=-1&checksum=368106363