In “False Accusations and Self Inflicted Injuries” Florida defense lawyer Ron Chapman tells the story of a case where his client’s wife accused him of cutting her wrists with box cutters. I don’t know Florida’s penal statutes but that’s aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in Texas – 2nd degree felony – punishable by 2 to 20 years.
The accuser is in the midst of divorcing Ron’s client, has a history of mental health problems, and – oh yeah – insists he didn’t do it. So Ron hires an expert for a scientific opinion:
I sent the photographs of the wife's injuries to a forensic pathologist who immediately concluded that they were self-inflicted. When I told this to the prosecutor on the case (and to his boss), both dismissed the expert's conclusion. The case proceeded to trial.
At trial the jury (aided by the forensic pathologist's testimony) concluded that my client was not guilty of any wrongdoing. After the trial, several of the jurors asked me why the case had not been dismissed by the prosecutor since the woman's injuries were clearly self-inflicted.
I have since wondered why experienced prosecutors could not see what was so obvious to those jurors who had no training in the law.
I’m guessing it’s a knee jerk reaction by a prosecutor who thinks “paid testimony” is automatically – I don’t know – perjury? That the defense lawyer can just pay any old scientist to come in, swear falsely in an affidavit, testify under oath to whatever the defense needs… for the right fee.
If only they would apply that same logic to snitches. There’s no difference really – except that a drug addled felon with a history of crimes involving moral turpitude looking to save himself some time in the pen might be more willing to lie than some professional who is simply accepting fair compensation for his services and rendering an expert opinion.
Never mind. There I go talking like a crazy defense lawyer again.