I found an interesting article from the Houston Press. It was published 5/24/2002. After the guilty verdict was handed down, the punishment phase of the trial began; witnesses were called to help the jury decide whether Coy should receive anything from probation to a life-sentence. The defense called Sylvia Coy, his sister(emphasis mine):
"I know he didn't molest a 9-year-old girl. There has not been any evidence whatsoever," Sylvia Coy, 37, said before being cut off by an objection from prosecutor Lisa Andrews.
Defense lawyer Chip Lewis asked Sylvia Coy what things about her brother the jurors should consider in deciding whether to give him probation.
"There was no evidence," she began again, prompting state District Judge Mark Kent Ellis to remove the jury.
Now, I’m not a lawyer. I don’t know what the rules in ‘punishment phase’ are. I don’t know the grounds on which Lisa Andrews objected to Sylvia Coy pointing out what had already been thrown around the courtroom for days; if I had to make a guess, I’d say the court wants people to believe that every conviction is righteous, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Allowing jurors to soften punishment because the prosecution made a weak-ass case and the jury really only convicted out of some sense of obligation weakens the court’s image.
So maybe pointing out the sniveling soppiness of the state’s case against Coy was against the rules. I don’t fucking know. What caught my attention was how this event relates to another article published five days before, right after the guilty verdict was given:
Jurors, who were sequestered Friday night in a hotel, deliberated about seven hours over two days.[…]
Defense lawyer Chip Lewis said he was curious about how the jury reached a verdict 20 minutes after returning from lunch, after having spent hours in deliberation over two days.
The alternate juror told him the jury had been leaning toward acquittal, Lewis said.
"It certainly makes you raise your eyebrow and wonder what the quick change was," he said
So I’m just thinking here…The prosecutors made a weak case. The jurors are leaning towards acquittal, but suddenly decide to convict.
Then along comes Coy’s sister, pointing out that they made this decision based on no evidence whatsoever. The judge is so pissed-off by her bringing this up that he sends the jury out of the room, and threatens not to allow her to finish testifying on Carlos’s behalf unless she shuts up about the complete failure of the prosecution to produce one solid piece of evidence
Again, I’m not a lawyer. Maybe there’s some super-nuanced legal interpretation of what was going on here that I just don’t understand, but it looks to me like this guy knew he had barely managed to squeeze a conviction out of these people, and he didn’t want to risk letting them think back on how they made their decision.
I suspect he didn’t want them to give Coy a light sentence based on the weakness of the prosecution’s case. He didn’t want them looking back and saying “Hmm, we found this guy guilty based on the testimony of a child who wasn’t sure that it happened, a cop that spews her vitriolic opinions like a fact-generating fire hose, and a therapist that didn’t think her patient’s history was important enough to read...Maybe we were wrong; gee, I’d hate to see an innocent man go to prison, maybe we should give him probation.”
You can’t maintain the integrity of the justice system and the all-important ‘Finality of Conviction’ if you’re willing to question yourself; after all, there aren’t degrees of ‘guilty’. You’re either guilty or you’re not; except on Planet Ruiz, where Coy was not just guilty, but ‘more guilty’ than any other criminal in her universe.