Mid-December to end of January is when the Evil Princess and I usually take a sabbatical from teaching to get caught up on accounting, scheduling, and just take a bit of a breather. Unfortunately, we can’t control the court schedules, which on the expert witness side of what I do is something I always have to allow for.
That part of my year started early with good news: January saw prosecutors drop a case against a law enforcement officer who was looking at a criminal homicide charge, because the facts showed that any reasonable officer in the same unusual situation of deadly threat would have fired a shot just as our defendant did.
When we see high-profile cases of shootings turned into murder or manslaughter charges by prosecutors who are unscrupulous, politically motivated, or simply clueless, we have to remember that the vast majority of prosecutors understand that their duty is to be ministers of justice, equally concerned with exonerating the innocent as they are in prosecuting the guilty. In this case we had an honest prosecutor, dealing with a defense attorney who had earned his respect, and willing to look at the totality of the circumstances as the defense presented early on.
And justice was done.
Let’s remember that while injustice inflames the public – and us, when it happens to “ours” – that most of the time, the criminal justice system in our country works as it should.
Me not having to testify in that case is the least of the reasons why the prosecutor’s decision is a welcome relief. Let me publicly congratulate that prosecutor (whose name I don’t have permission to mention); defense attorney Jeff Weiner, the former president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; and the brilliant expert witness and neuropsychologist Dr. Anthony Semone. I am proud to call them both my friends. And I should add that I’m happy that the potential defendant, whom I have come to know and respect, has had this particular millstone lifted from around his neck, and the collective neck of the family who has gone through this ordeal with him.