P-D, on the SLPD sending more and more violent crime files to Callahan instead of Joyce.
You knew that everyone involved would do their usual BAWK AMENDMENT 5 BAWK AMENDMENT 5 BAWK AMENDMENT 5 Macaw parrot games. But through it all, they let some nuggets of truth spill out:
But Dotson also is taking some homicide cases to U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan, because he believes federal judges and juries are tougher on crime and defense attorneys aren’t as willing to take a gamble at trial, even when witness credibility issues are a concern. He said his detectives were looking for ways to take a case federal from the beginning of a homicide investigation.
“If I have a choice, and there is a nexis to a federal crime, I’ll take it to federal courts because I have better outcomes in federal courts,” Dotson said. “There is more consistency in sentencing from the federal courts, and defendants must serve 85 percent of their sentence. I’m dealing with a state court where a guy can shoot at a cop and get (probation).”
Traditionally, Callahan’s office prosecutes only murders in which a federal official is involved. “But we do prosecute conspiracies involving guns and drugs, and if those conspiracies result in someone being killed, the punishment can go up to life or the death penalty,” he said.
The biggest obstacle to prosecuting cases is witness credibility, Joyce said.
“We’re not talking about someone that a jury won’t believe, we’re talking about someone we don’t believe,” she said. “And the feds have the same standard on that.”
But Dotson believes that when faced with the threat of a federal charge, defense attorneys are more likely to negotiate plea deals rather than take a gamble at a trial with an unfamiliar federal jury composed of residents from the eastern region of Missouri. He also added that federal investigators have access to other strategies and tools that can boost a case when witness credibility is a concern.
Joyce said urban residents tended to be more distrustful of the police, especially in drug possession cases in which an officer’s testimony may be the only evidence. But she said her office had had high success securing homicide convictions.
And when you need someone to net things out in plain English, you call on a good blogmeister.
1. State level trials in the St. Louis City circuit, the 22nd Circuit, involve jurors that can only come from St. Louis City, while Federal trials for the Federal trial level circuit for eastern Missouri in St. Louis involve jurors from the Missouri side of the metro area and many surrounding counties. It means that a state trial will have lots of black jurors while a Federal trial will have lots of white jurors. While almost all criminal cases are pled out in both the state and Federal levels, the question of who is on juries is a heavy consideration on who gets the better of plea deals; in state business, the defendants tend to get better deals because Joyce knows that failing that, there’s a black jury, while with the Feds, the prosecution generally gets the better deals because the defendants fear a quality white jury.
2. State level trials on violent crime are on hard meat and potatoes cases that are both hard to prove and heavily rely on witness credibility, which, as you can read above, is often a problem. Federal trials on violent crime almost always involve conspiracy charges, which are easier to prove.
3. And then there are the judges. A judge on the 22nd Circuit must live in St. Louis City, and you know what that means. Especially when the state has a Democrat Governor doing the appointing, which, by the end of next year, Missouri will have had for five of the last six terms. Of all the judges on the 22nd, there are only two that I like and one that’s sorta okay, the rest aren’t worth the time of day.
However, there is a big threat to this strategy.
When you have everyone from Baraq Obama to Rand Paul complaining about all these black men getting long Federal sentences for seemingly trivial Federal crimes, you’re seeing growing political pressure for either mass commutations on Obama’s part, and/or legislation doing the same thing on the part of Congress.