Monday, June 6, 2011

Follow felony trials via blog

Why wait for a scriptwriter to fashion his or her version of a trial? Or why wait for Judge Wapner's successors to show a trial on TV?

There is a blog called The Felony Calendars that blogs about interesting trials in progress. Here's the About page:

"The Felony Calendars" is a blog about criminal trials in D.C. Superior Court,* where the majority of felony cases are assigned to judges on the "Felony I" and "Felony II" calendars. The most serious cases, such as murders and sexual assaults, are assigned to the Felony I calendars.

The author is a lawyer whose work in private practice has focused on criminal defense work and civil litigation. But beware: the contents of this blog are not legal advice.

* Except when a particularly interesting case in one of the region's other state or federal courts beckons.

I ran across the blog because of its account of a defense lawyer's closing arguments. You can either argue that this is the CSI Effect gone mad, or legitimate concerns about a lack of evidence. (For the record, the trial resulted in a hung jury.) Here is part of the account of the defense lawyer's arguments:

Blumenthal started with a list of evidence that had not been presented in the case: testimony that Burns had been seen with a gun; testimony about Burns having mentioned a gun; gunpowder residue, DNA, fingerprints. Each missing piece of evidence is a reason to doubt, Blumenthal said.

In fact, he argued, the government had no more evidence at trial than they did the day of the arrests -- when police were unable to conclude whose gun it was, and arrested both Burns and Johnson.
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