Saturday, August 30, 2008

Law and Order complaints

Well, as long as I'm complaining about Law and Order, I thought I'd complain about the legal stuff in another one. Here's the plot: Famous Baseball Player kills Limo Driver. Famous Baseball Player is taking steroids. Prosecutor thinks the motive is that Limo Driver was blackmailing Famous Baseball Player about steroid use. Prosecutor gets some sort of package from Defense and finds a memo that was put in the mail by accident. This memo mentions that Mystery Witness will not testify (doesn't say what this has to do with case). Prosecutor interviews Mystery Witness and finds out that Mystery Witness is Famous Baseball Player's gay lover and that this was what the blackmail was about --not about steroids. Judge rules that Prosecutor cannot use this information about mystery witness because they got it from Defense work product.

So far, I'm following. Now comes the strange stuff: Prosecutor tries to call Steroid Witness to show that Famous Baseball Player was being blackmailed for steroid use. Defense objects that Prosecutor is arguing a false theory. Prosecutor argues that he is only going to present evidence and let the jury draw its own conclusions. Judge rules in favor of Defense and Prosecutor's Annoying Assistant gets all indignant that Prosecutor would even try such a thing. Since Prosecutor cannot offer either theory of a motive now, Defense tries to convince the jury that there was no motive; Famous Baseball Player just went into steroid-induced rage for no reason, so he should be found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Questions:

1. How did it become undisputed fact that the motive for the crime was the gay-lover blackmail? Why can't the Prosecutor say that the gay-lover motive is open to question and go ahead with the steroid motive?

2. If it is undisputed fact that the motive for the crime was gay-lover blackmail, then why is it OK for the Defense to argue a false theory (that the murder had no motive) but not OK for the Prosecutor to argue a false theory?

3. If the gay-lover-blackmail motive is undisputed fact and there is a double standard about who can argue false theories, then why didn't it occur to Prosecutor (or Prosecutor's Annoying Assistant) that the defense memo that eventually got both blackmail theories thrown out was put in there intentionally for just that purpose? Why not ask Defense under oath if the letter was put in accidentally? If it was deliberate and if Defense is unwilling to commit perjury, then surely this would reverse the previous decision about Mystery Witness because then the memo becomes a deliberate disclosure to Prosecutor.

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