“In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders.”
Kind of. If that Law & Order opening wanted to be a little bit more accurate it would read like this.
“In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. Except in cases where the prosecutor plays both roles. In which case there might be police involved, but a good portion of the investigative leg work is completed by the prosecutors who then decide whether to file charges.”
That’s what Jameis Winston is facing right now. Without going too much into the flaws of the “police investigation”, understand this. The police have pretty much done everything they’re going to do with this case. They’re no longer in charge. So all that crap about a botched investigation is in the midst of being cured (or attempting to be cured). Based on the information leaked, it doesn’t sound like too many pieces are missing.
That brings us to the case.
(1) Hey! DNA evidence can exist when someone is innocent. It is not like DNA just rears its head in a cases of wrongdoing. I think it was pretty clear from the beginning, there were relations between the alleged victim and Jameis Winston. If charges are filed, and it goes to a jury, the question will be whether it was consensual or not. Without breaking to down 1000 ways (because there are plenty of scenarios where DNA would become a major player), the DNA will likely be a small part of evidence, one that both sides will say exists. What is probably more vital is whether there are signs of struggle or injuries.
(2) Defense witnesses. Reports say that there are witnesses that exonerate Winston. Their stories have to be looked at and analyzed the same as the accuser’s or any other witnesses. Anything they say (and we don’t have copies of their statements at this time) should be taken into account (along with their credibility) when making a decision to file charges against Winston or not.
(3) Winston. You can’t look at his silence as proof of wrongdoing. (1) It’s a Constitutional thing. (2) His attorney is telling him to keep his mouth shut because talking doesn’t do him any good, even if he speaks only to his innocence.
(4) The officer’s comments. I don’t doubt something like that was made, and it is absolutely irresponsible, but it doesn’t change the case much. Despite police statements to the contrary, the victim wants to go forward, and the prosecutor is handling it from here. I’m sure the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will investigate and take care of any misconduct.
(5) Attorney fight. War of words between the alleged victim’s attorney and Jameis Winston’s attorney should be taken lightly. They’re going to say the things that most paint their sides in the best light. They’re not in court. They’re not under oath. They’re probably not telling you the flaws in their side. Don’t read too much into what is said.
(6) The alleged victim. Lets lay off her while this is going on. Right now, police say she stopped pursuing the charges in February. The victim’s attorney says that is not true. You can’t really make a determination from those conflicting statements.No outside observer really knows how she handled pursuing the charges.That will come to light down the line, whether charges are filed or not. If this happened to her, it’s horrific, and we have to keep that in mind.
(7) Charges being filed doesn’t mean he’s guilty. With the information known, this is as its purest form a case where no one can tell you what exactly will happen. Why? Because a jury of 6 would decide which side they believe and go from there. With the little information we know, and in my experience as a criminal defense attorney who has tried over 50 cases, these cases are always tough for the prosecutor.
(8) Just because an alleged victim says it, doesn’t mean it’s true. I say this while trying not to cast a shadow or say the alleged victim in this case is lying or was under the influence of something and doesn’t remember. But please keep that in mind. It has happened enough times.
The prosecutor has a lot on his plate right now, and there is a big decision in front of him (he has said he won’t take this to a Grand Jury. Hopefully politics and other pressures can be avoided, and justice be served.
(PS – Justice goes both ways.)