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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Weight of the Evidence



The Court of Appeals ruled the coaching testimony was proper based on the literature and the fact that the expert had ten years of experience as a therapist and supervisor at a children's assessment center. The court specifically rejected the defendant's objection that her testimony about coaching lacked support in studies using statistical analysis. According to the Court, the absence of epidemiology "goes to the weight" of the evidence, not its admissibility.

This is explaining the Court of Appeal's response to part of Coy’s appeal, in which his lawyer objected to Susan Szczgielski’s opinion on coaching. The ‘weight of the evidence’ refers to its scientific backing; the more backing it has, the weightier it is. Admissibility is whether or not it’s allowed in court.

 If I understand this correctly, the state’s expert said “This girl shows no signs of having been coached."

The defense lawyer said “But there are no ‘signs of coaching’. It’s not a fucking science; it’s not something that can be proven one way or the other, how are you going to let this woman testify as an ‘expert’ that Jane Doe does not show any non-existent “signs”?”

The court’s response “Look, the fact that she produced no scientific proof of her claims is enough to let the jury know that she’s testifying about something that’s un-provable and subjective. There’s no reason not to allow it.”

In ‘Moham Mitchell’ Carlos Coy said “I shot the Tooth Fairy trying to reach under my pillow”. Let’s submit this as evidence to an imaginary court.

1.      I testify “Coy says he shot the Tooth Fairy.””

Well, there’s not a lot of weight to this evidence. I can prove he said it, but I’m not offering any proof that the statement is true.

2.      Coy testifies “I shot the Tooth Fairy.”

There’s a little more weight here; Coy is admitting that he himself shot her, and if he can be relied upon as a truthful witness, we have reason to believe him. But it’s probably not enough for a conviction, outside of Texas.

Has anyone seen the Tooth Fairy lately? Was there any sparkly blood drops picked up from Coy's car by the forensics team? Did Coy have a history of unpleasantness with the fairy or any of her relatives? Answers to these questions will either add or remove weight from his confession.

3.      Coy testifies “I shot the Tooth Fairy, and I have her little pixie body in my pocket.”

This evidence carries a great deal of weight; the confession of Coy, combined with the physical proof of the fairy body riddled with bullet holes, gives this testimony a great deal of weight. Of course, Coy could be covering for someone, so we add or remove weight by examining the bullet wound, and comparing it to any guns that Coy had access to. We check his hands for gunshot residue. We find out where he was when the shooting occurred. Weight is added through scientific verification.

Of course this is all ridiculous, because the Tooth Fairy’s non-existence means that any testimony about her would be laughed out of court; in a word, inadmissible. But you know what else doesn’t exist? Signs of coaching; there’s no concrete list of things a child does or says that indicates they have or haven’t been coached.

I’m not saying that ‘coaching’ doesn’t exist; the courts themselves admit that it does.  What does not exist, as far as I can tell, are consistent signs or symptoms that it’s happened. No one can say “The fact that this child is/is not doing A, B, or C is proof that they have not been coached.” All anyone can do is form an opinion based on their own personal experience, biases and interpretations.

The problem I see here is that this woman’s opinion carried with it all the weight and authority of the court that declared her an expert. Denying that the jury would have taken it more seriously than they should have is asinine and na├»ve in a really disgusting, self-congratulatory sort of way.

It’s mentioned in the appeal that the state expert’s testimony lacked support in studies using statistical analysis and that there was an absence of epidemiology (statistical studies measuring the existence of these ‘signs’.)

If they’re going to allow their experts to pop off with this kind of “it’s only an opinion wink wink” type of evidence, I think it would only be fair to require them to precede every bit of unweighty-but-admissible testimony with an announcement from the judge: “Now y’all listen to this bullshit here.”


Links:
http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/lg/2003.html

http://law.justia.com/cases/texas/first-court-of-appeals/2003/79743.html

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Soo true....

Incandesio said...

Anonymous said...

Yup

Incandesio said...

FUCK this new blogger interface. Fuck fuckety fuck fuck fuck.

Okay, once more:

I accidentally deleted a comment (now two). SOmeone posted this yout tube video: http://youtu.be/pc0qBmsh36I

...and asked me to respond. I said I may write up a response, but it will have to be on the blog because there's not enough space on the youtube comments.

Now excuse me while I go tinker with this new comment manager.

Dammit.

Anonymous said...

Are you channeling Bridget Jones' best friend?

martin (OCM) said...

saw that video.... well its just another dude takin the side against Los, yes he is more educated in the trial and (his) facts about what happend but he neglects to acknolege the other facts ( the ones that would have set Los Free) he starts the video with SPM music and says he likes his music Bullshit. He a hater and he say he was raised around (what i took it Gangstas) cuz he said he could relate to Los music. Again bullshit he looks like on them preppy ass muthafuckers that look down on people.

Anonymous said...

hes SO stupid !
that video is stupid AF !
the systems brought up the charge of the 13 year old ( back in 1993 ) when he got arrested for agg. sexual assault . & then the 2 charges of the 14 year old got added AFTER he was already charged . that shit looks set up . he got sign to universal in 2000 ( when he started bank'n it )

FUCK WHAT A HATER SAYS !
FREE SPM ♥ CARLOS COY

ibump dope house records till i die ^___^t

ELchapoGUZMAN82 said...

Free tha Mojado!

salvadorboy13 said...

have you written a response to that video yet?

Incandesio said...

Nah, I'm talking to the guy; you can see the conversation so far in the comments.

I am putting together a response for the blog, but that won't be up for a week or two.

salvadorboy13 said...

i dont see it... what article is it on?

Incandesio said...

Are you talking about the video 'rant' that was posted? It's here: http://youtu.be/pc0qBmsh36I

You can see our conversation in the comments below it.