Lesson for the naysayers of William Wagener’s initiative: A NOT GUILTY VERDICT CANNOT BE OVERTURNED
Here is a quote from a site of Michael Jackson’s supporters:
- Let’s discuss this whole William Wagener affidavit to the court in the most calm way possible. We encourage discussion because it’s the only way to get to the essence of any issue in the MJGlobal community.
Okay, let’s discuss it in the most calm way possible. I agree that it is the only way to get to the essence of the issue in general and in the MJ Global community in particular.
The criterion for finding out the truth is very well worded by reader Krisheywood who looks at every action in the MJ fan community from the point of view whether it is harming or helping Michael Jackson’s legacy. This is indeed the best criterion for taking the right decisions and determining who is who among Michael’s supporters.
The arguments provided by naysayers of William Wagener’s affidavit are amazing. Let me omit their assurances that “every Michael Jackson fan would love to see Sneddon pay” for his malicious practices (in the circumstances these assurances seem unconvincing to me), and proceed directly to their arguments why we shouldn’t support the affidavit to hold Sneddon accountable for his crimes:
- “This type of case cannot be brought by anyone else except the person it was perpetrated against. Since ONLY Michael could bring such a case and the statutes of limitations have run out this is a moot point.”
After reading the above we are evidently expected to drop the issue altogether and go home to attend to some other businesses instead. What’s the point of discussing it if Michael is dead and cannot bring a case against Sneddon?
If you adhere to this point of view the rest of this post is not for you – you can go on comfortably sleeping while we will proceed and ponder on the “ramifications of having Wagener’s affidavit accepted” as these people suggest we do:
- “Let’s ponder on the ramifications of having William Wageners affidavit accepted and the verdict voided. Do we want the Not Guilty verdicts voided? We think not.”
No, we don’t want the Not Guilty verdict to be voided.
However, even if were the most vicious haters of Michael Jackson and wanted it to happen it would still be impossible to do so as in criminal trials not guilty verdicts are never overturned.
A non-guilty verdict in a civil trial can be overturned as a civil trial is a very much different matter. However Michael went through a criminal trial, and it makes all the difference in the world in terms of overturning the verdict – what is possible in a civil trial is totally ruled out in a criminal one.
By the way while studying the legal sources I found that the jury in a civil trial does not deal with the alternative of “guilty” or “not guilty” verdicts at all. The jury is asked to look into the evidence and decide the matter on the basis of its “preponderance” (superiority in weight, force, importance, or influence). The dictionary explains this term in plain English and says that it roughly means “more likely than not.”
Let us educate ourselves a bit on the difference between criminal and civil cases in the US. This education will be all the more valuable as it will help to understand the essence of the Chandlers’ lawsuit against Michael Jackson (which was money of course):
A criminal case takes place when the government seeks to punish someone for an act that has been classified as a crime by Congress or a state legislature.
A civil case, on the other hand, usually involves a dispute over the rights and duties that people and organizations legally owe to each other (for example, business disputes, consumer disputes, and family law matters).
Among the important differences between criminal and civil cases are these:
Who controls the case? In a criminal case, a prosecutor, not the victim, institutes and controls the case. The prosecutor may file criminal charges even if the victim doesn’t approve, or may refuse to file criminal charges despite the victim’s desire that criminal charges be filed. This method of initiating the case contrasts with civil cases, where the injured party is the one who decides whether to sue and starts the ball rolling.
Civil cases don’t result in jail sentences. People convicted of crimes may pay a fine or be incarcerated or both. People held liable in civil cases may have to pay money damages or give up property, but do not go to jail or prison. (We don’t have debtors’ prisons for those who can’t pay a civil judgment.)
Who pays the lawyers? In criminal cases, government-paid lawyers represent defendants who want but can’t afford an attorney. Parties in civil cases, on the other hand, usually have to represent themselves or pay for their own lawyers.
What’s the burden of proof? In criminal cases, the prosecutor has to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil case, the plaintiff only has to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant is liable for damages.
Who gets a jury? Defendants in criminal cases almost always are entitled to a jury trial. A party to a civil action is entitled to a jury trial in some types of cases, but not in others.
This makes us realize once again that the lawsuit filed by the Chandlers was all about money and Michael Jackson faced paying millions whichever direction the case took, irrespective of its outcome. Losing millions was his only option in the 1993 case – whether through a settlement with the Chandlers or due to the many months of the litigation process and not being able to work. Hence the difficult decision to settle which he had to take.
All this is very nice for our understanding of the impasse the Chandlers put Michael into in 1993, but how does it help us to see why a Not Guilty verdict in a criminal trial cannot be overturned?
The answer to that is given by experts who analyze another case (Anthony Casey’s) following a barrage of questions from citizens who wonder whether her Not Guilty verdict can be overturned one day. The legal answer given to them is a flat No – the Not Guilty verdict in a criminal trial cannot be overturned:
“No no no. You are thinking of civil verdicts (e.g., JNOV- a judgment notwithstanding the verdict). A criminal verdict can NEVER be overturned. This is because under the U.S. Constitution, Fifth Amendment (and as applied to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment), where there has been a FINAL verdict in a criminal case, a defendant may not be retried.
The only “exceptions” (but they aren’t really exceptions, because in these cases there is no final verdict) are:
– a mistrial. There is no final verdict. A prosecutor can retry. For example, if the indictment was defective, the case can be dismissed and retried.
– a hung jury. Where, in a case where a unanimous verdict is required (by the way, you don’t need unanimous verdicts where juries are 12, just juries of 6. But most states have constitutions that independently say you need jury unanimity).
– an appeal by defendant: say OJ was convicted instead of acquitted in 1995. He can appeal (not the final jury verdict, but the appeal court decision. Remember, the jury verdict itself cannot be overturned).
– a plea agreement: where the defendant agrees to a plea agreement, but then does not do what he promised in the plea. Say that the DA offers to not prosecute if Joe does something (maybe testifies). If he fails to do what he promises, the DA can recharge Joe with the original crimes.
None of the above exceptions apply to Michael Jackson’s case of course.
It was not a mistrial as the jury returned 14 final verdicts all of which said Not Guilty, and it wasn’t a hung jury either as the verdict was unanimous. Since the verdict was Not guilty, there was nothing to appeal for by the defendant and nothing to bargain about with the prosecution in a plea agreement (a plea agreement is when the defendant cracks under the stress of waiting for the jury verdict and pleads guilty to a lesser offense rather than take a chance with the jury. If the plea deal is agreed by both sides the jury is thanked for the service and is dismissed by the judge).
No, all this was absolutely not Michael’s case – he was found innocent from head to toe by the unanimous jury after several months of being tortured by Sneddon in a criminal trial. And in a criminal trial the verdict of the jury is considered FINAL and is NEVER overturned irrespective of the circumstances.
If you are still unsure here is an excerpt from an article which explains it in a marvelous way:
Overturning a “Not guilty” verdict
This is one delusion that needs to be nipped in the bud. Plenty of people are under the delusion that a judge can overturn a “not guilty” verdict returned by a jury. And I know from reading around that this is due to a major confusion regarding our entire court system, not just the criminal justice system.
First in a civil case such as a lawsuit, the jury does not hand down a verdict of “guilty” or “not guilty”. Instead the jury is asked to evaluate several questions against the evidence and determine, by a preponderance of that evidence, the likely answers to those questions.
Civil cases have much, much more lenient standards at play – and the only provision of the Bill of Rights that comes into play is the right to have that dispute heard by a jury. However civil cases never involve cases where a person’s liberty may be taken away. They are never subject to any jeopardy. As such, a jury’s verdict in a civil trial can be overturned, even by the original trial judge, regardless of in which direction the jury ruled.
Yet many are attempting to use a civil case as an example of how a verdict of “not guilty” in a criminal trial overturned.
Never, as I’ve already discussed, never can a judge set aside an acquittal, yet too many people do not want to believe that, especially with regard to cases like OJ Simpson and, most recently, Casey Anthony. Now I’m open to be surprised – and this would be one hell of a surprise. If you can find a genuine case in the United States where a judge presiding over a criminal trial has set aside a jury’s verdict of “not guilty”, I welcome the presentation. I’d even be willing to put money on it, but I don’t like to gamble, even though this would quite literally be the equivalent of a sure bet.
If even the above does not convince you here is an answer obtained by Cadeflaw from two lawyers who were asked a very specific question concerning an officer of the court who is thought to have committed “Fraud upon the court” (implying Tom Sneddon of course):
QUESTION: If the officers of the court are found to have committed “Fraud Upon the Court” does this overturn the not guilty verdict for the defendant?
ANSWER: The answer to your question is “no.” The defendant was found not guilty and that’s how things will remain. The defendant cannot be tried twice for the same crime (double jeopardy).
QUESTION: Can you explain the legal principles that are related to the facts I’ve described so that we can better understand the “why” of things.
ANSWER: The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides: [N]or shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb . . . .”
Since the defendant has already been acquitted, under the Constitution, he cannot be tried again for the same crime. The Constitution does not allow it. The not guilty verdict stands.
QUESTION: Is there any problem with me posting these answers in a public forum to resolve a legal dispute?
ANSWER: The Fifth Amendment is a part of a public document. You can post this link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/GPO-CONAN-1992/pdf/GPO-CONAN-1992-
Dialdancer supplements the answers with an excerpt from the Fifth Amendment:
RIGHTS OF PERSONS – FIFTH AMENDMENT
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury,…; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Our big thanks go to all those who took care to make these clarifications. For those people who were brainwashed into thinking that the verdict will be “void” if Sneddon is found guilty, the lawyers’ opinion is putting the final touch to the already clear picture – if Sneddon is found guilty of a fraud, Michael’s Not guilty verdict will still be valid and remain unchanged. It will not affect the outcome of the trial but will show that Sneddon was so desperate about lacking real evidence against Jackson that he fell as low as fabricating this evidence against him!
Since the verdict will not be void the premise our opponents started with was totally wrong. No wonder it took them on the road to further distortion of the truth:
- “if a fraud upon court is proven all of the orders and judgments are voided and this voids the verdict – How would this affect Sneddon? If the Board of Supervisor’s did open an investigation and found that Sneddon did participate in “fraud upon the court” what will happen to Sneddon? Nothing.
- The most they can do is suspend his license to practice law or disbar him- but as we all know Sneddon is retired and blissfully pulling in a government pension.
I cannot believe that this is said in full seriousness! So if Sneddon is found guilty of a fraud upon the court “nothing” will happen?
Really? I wonder how these people will feel if they find themselves in Sneddon’s shoes (i.e. are caught in a fraud). Will they continue to live in a bliss as Sneddon supposedly will? And will they like it if the general public learns of it and start doubting each of their words as the public surely will if Sneddon is found guilty of this crime?
Won’t Sneddon’s fabrication of evidence against Michael cast a heavy doubt on all other Sneddon’s words – for example, his statement that Michael’s photos allegedly matched Jordan Chandler’s description? Especially since NO ONE else confirmed this statement and all the others said that they were just “told” that it was a match?
Yes, all of them said that they didn’t have a chance to compare the photos and the description, including the very person who was supposed to make the final determination in the matter – Dr. Richard Strick who was specially summoned for the case and was representing the authorities!
And won’t the disclosure of Sneddon’s fraudulent deeds make the public look with different eyes on the veracity of stories by Diane Dimond and Maureen Orth?
These ladies were Sneddon’s special media friends through whom he constantly leaked to the public one-sided and unproven information about Michael Jackson. If Sneddon is found guilty of a fraud their close contacts with a Prosecutor, who fabricated evidence against the defendant, will turn from their big advantage into a dubious argument in their favor overnight…
All of the above is the highly anticipated (by MJ’s supporters) outcome which can result from William Wagener’s initiative – if it is successful of course. If it is not successful the very least the initiative will do is make more people aware of the gross misconduct Sneddon allowed himself during the 2005 trial – which is not a bad outcome either.
However instead of supporting the initiative which works both ways our opponents claim that William Wagener’s affidavit “should never have been put to the Board of Supervisors’! What are we supposed to think after that? That the people who claim it do not want any of the above to take place?
And what do they suggest doing instead?
- “it’s a lose, lose proposition and this Affidavit of William Wageners should NEVER have been put to the Board of Supervisor’s of Santa Maria County, NOR should ANY of Michael Jacksons fans supported this ill-thought out presentation and cause. ….
- All we ask from the MJGlobal family is to ask questions before you support a cause, understand the implications and ramifications of supporting it before you do”.
As regards the last point I agree and also ask the MJ Global family to think about the implications and ramifications of some people’s ideas before they rush to support them.
However there is one thing our opponents are totally right about:
- “We are all human and make mistakes – but as long as we learn from them they become lessons”.
If this is simply their mistake, let them think it over and learn their lesson.
But what if it is not and the whole thing is intentional?
The mere idea of it is so awful that I don’t even want to think in this direction…
* * *
These are the words of wisdom which I appreciate very much:
Please RT – Cadeflaw, Mary Brookins & William Wagener CLARIFY the issues.
Rather than taking an extra step and researching CA law more we posted a twitlonger yesterday, about an issue that we had not fully fleshed out and we are big enough to admit when we’ve made an error.
We, asked questions on that TL regarding the William Wagener Affidavit that he presented August 14th 2012 to the Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors.
We asked if he was successful in proving “Fraud on the Court” would it overturn the not guilty verdict of Micheal Jackson. We asked if this is what the Mj fanbase wanted.
We worried because of the information and wording in the 7th court tled us to believe that it would.
7th Circuit states “a decision produced by fraud upon the court is not in essence a decision at all, and never becomes final.”
This is vague and we should have dug further for answers and we do regret not taking that extra step.
How ever wrong our approach, we have asked questions and now we are being supplied with the govt links that are pertinent.
Our concerns were picked up by Mary Brookins of the Cadeflaw group, and she took the iniatitive to speak to TWO lawyers – which is what we should have done and what we will do.
THIS IS WHAT MARY POSTED ON FACEBOOK – LINK https://www.facebook.com/groups/408561919190327/
These questions that Mary Brookins took to these two lawyers shows a great proactive response on her part and she also had an emergency Blog talk radio show to have William Wagener to speak to our concerns.
We ended our last twitlonger with this sentence:
We are all human and make mistakes- but as long as we learn from them they become lessons.
This still applies. Our mistake was not taking the extra steps that Mary Brookins took to clarify this issue before posting our twitlonger yesterday.
We do apologize for any unnecessary angst it spurred in anyones heart, as we have never been out to stop Justice for Michael. We are pleased, however, that it opened up a much needed dialogue that we need in Michael’s community.
We would appreciate that this twitlonger be posted and retweeted as much as the twitlonger we posted yesterday so this information can be seen by the majority of the MJGlobal family.
Please listen do listen to Mary Brookins blogtalk show -William Wagener speaks during the last 20 minutes of the program
It is good that I have not seriously thought of the other, second possibility… None of us are free from mistakes and it makes you really happy to see people getting on the right track again. It takes a lot of courage and intergrity to admit the mistake so openly and so quickly!
Thank you for being courageous and non-hesitant in doing the right thing!
UPDATE August 18, 2012
Here is an important addition I need to make. I’ve read a comment on Facebook by the people who fear the consequences of holding Sneddon accountable for misusing his power against Michael Jackson:
“Please read more carefully. If fraud upon a court is committed, then any resulting judgements/verdicts become void. Such a motion is not the same as a verdict being overturned. So again, YES, going after Tom Sneddon for fraud upon a court would come at the price of Michael’s vindication. The not guilty verdicts would be voided. Voided verdicts do not lead to Michael being retried.
(For more on this please go to the next post or the comments section in the current post)