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  1. #1
    Ride more, eat less cat0020's Avatar
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    DA Explains His Actions in Not Prosecuting, right or wrong?

    This may have been posted before..

    A cyclist named Sheri Mann was killed a few months ago while riding her road bike in Redding, CA. Mrs. Mann was a well known and avid bicyclist in the area. The young mother who struck her was not prosecuted though. She struck Mrs. Mann while reaching into the back seat of her car for a baby bottle.

    Redding District Attorney published an open letter in The Redding Record Searchlight, explaining why he made the decision he did to not prosecute the driver of the car. Here is the link:

    http://redding.com/news/2008/jan/22/...up-in-redding/
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    The DA is a coward, or lazy or just doesn't like cyclists. His argument about not prosecuting is a complete dereliction of duty.

    Most states define wreckless driving as willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others. Clearly, willfully taking your eyes off the road for no good reason shows wanton disregard for the safety of others when you are propelling a 3000 pound vehicle down the road at double digit speeds.

    Face it, there is a huge bias against bicycle riders. In the back of the DA's mind is the notion that bicyclists are taking their lives into their hands when they ride on the street, shouldn't ride on the street and that they get what they deserve.
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  3. #3
    Carpe Diem bdcheung's Avatar
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    So you would rather the DA waste resources? The guy says the investigation did not turn up sufficient evidence to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a criminal act occurred.
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    Senior Member Bicure's Avatar
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    As previously noted, only one thing wiill change such motorist behavior: attaching massive mandatory fines and jail time to ANY injury or death resulting from motor vehicle operation.
    "What about the 55,000 Americans who'll die on the highways this year? That's nearly 6 or 7 times the number that'll get killed in Vietnam. Why aren't you up in arms about that? Or is dying in a car somehow moral?" - Jack Webb as Sgt. Joe Friday lecturing some no-good dirty hippie-punks on Dragnet 1968

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    Quote Originally Posted by bdcheung View Post
    So you would rather the DA waste resources? The guy says the investigation did not turn up sufficient evidence to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a criminal act occurred.
    Beyond a reasonable doubt is up to a jury, the only thing the DA has to show is a primae facie case, one that will not be dismissed by the judge, and her admission that she turned all the way around to reach for something in the back seat is more than ample prima facie evidence. And as a DA, he has a duty to bring charges against someone when he has a primae facie case.

    The problem is that DA's have almost limitless discretion in deciding to bring a case or not. And since the DA is human, he will let his biases influence his judgement. Why do you think that so many white people that committed crimes against blacks in the South in the early to middle 1900s never got prosecuted? Because the DAs were white and prejudiced against blacks.

    This DA is prejudiced against cyclists.
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    Senior Member Bicure's Avatar
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    San Ren for Prez!

    The DA is clearly biased, and understands how biased the (motorists) on a jury would be.

    They'd all be sitting there thinking "ooo - what if that were me?"

    As the DA said, "if taking one's eyes off the road while driving were a crime..."

    He's perfectly articulated the sentiments of any potential juror, ALL of whom would be motorists.

    That's why MANDATORY fines/jail time are essential - it takes prosecution out of the realm of discretion & bias, and would transform driving.
    "What about the 55,000 Americans who'll die on the highways this year? That's nearly 6 or 7 times the number that'll get killed in Vietnam. Why aren't you up in arms about that? Or is dying in a car somehow moral?" - Jack Webb as Sgt. Joe Friday lecturing some no-good dirty hippie-punks on Dragnet 1968

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    What lawyer on the prosecution side would allow the jury to be made up exclusively of motorists?

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    Senior Member Bicure's Avatar
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    DH, what else would s/he have to choose from?
    "What about the 55,000 Americans who'll die on the highways this year? That's nearly 6 or 7 times the number that'll get killed in Vietnam. Why aren't you up in arms about that? Or is dying in a car somehow moral?" - Jack Webb as Sgt. Joe Friday lecturing some no-good dirty hippie-punks on Dragnet 1968

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    Quote Originally Posted by dhofmann View Post
    What lawyer on the prosecution side would allow the jury to be made up exclusively of motorists?
    He's limited to the jury pool and I would speculate that 99.999% would be drivers.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bicure View Post
    San Ren for Prez!

    The DA is clearly biased, and understands how biased the (motorists) on a jury would be.

    They'd all be sitting there thinking "ooo - what if that were me?"

    As the DA said, "if taking one's eyes off the road while driving were a crime..."

    He's perfectly articulated the sentiments of any potential juror, ALL of whom would be motorists.

    That's why MANDATORY fines/jail time are essential - it takes prosecution out of the realm of discretion & bias, and would transform driving.
    Thanks for the nomination but I was born in Cuba, so I couldn't be president!

    Just imagine if the same woman, doing the same thing, turning around and reaching into the back seat while driving, hit a cop who was outside his vehicle while doing a traffic stop. Hanging would be too good for her.
    Il faut de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace

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    Quote Originally Posted by San Rensho View Post
    Most states define wreckless driving as willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others. Clearly, willfully taking your eyes off the road for no good reason shows wanton disregard for the safety of others when you are propelling a 3000 pound vehicle down the road at double digit speeds.
    So, the DA says that it is not "wanton" and you say that it is. Presumably, the DA is using a legal definition of "wanton" and you are using a non-legal definition. Who do you suppose knows more about the law? You or the DA?

    Is this case being treated any differently than accidents which don't involve bicylists? Is this case being treated any differently than a car/car collision that happens to kill somebody? Is this case being treated any differently than a car running over and killing a pedestrian? I can't be sure but I suspect that it is being treated the same way.

    Have you ever been the cause of an accident? Did you get charged for a criminal act as a result? If not, should you have been?

  12. #12
    Senior Member Pig_Chaser's Avatar
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    ^^^ Long on questions, short on answers ^^^

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    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    To sum up the DAs reasons.

    The chances of winning the case are slim.

    The sentence even with a win is slight and often adds insult to injury

    And the big one... The victims husband does not want to prosecute.

    Number 3 says it all for me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
    So, the DA says that it is not "wanton" and you say that it is. Presumably, the DA is using a legal definition of "wanton" and you are using a non-legal definition. Who do you suppose knows more about the law? You or the DA?
    Is this case being treated any differently than accidents which don't involve bicylists? Is this case being treated any differently than a car/car collision that happens to kill somebody? Is this case being treated any differently than a car running over and killing a pedestrian? I can't be sure but I suspect that it is being treated the same way.

    Have you ever been the cause of an accident? Did you get charged for a criminal act as a result? If not, should you have been?
    Well, I am a lawyer and I know what the definition of wanton and willful is and based on these facts, the DA could bring a reckless charge that would stick. DAs charge people who flee in cars when stopped by the cops with intent to committ homocide with a dangerous weapon whenever the cop is on foot and the car comes anywhere near the cop. Its a judgement call, and when they want to, DAs can make a charge stick.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by San Rensho View Post
    Beyond a reasonable doubt is up to a jury, the only thing the DA has to show is a primae facie case, one that will not be dismissed by the judge, and her admission that she turned all the way around to reach for something in the back seat is more than ample prima facie evidence. And as a DA, he has a duty to bring charges against someone when he has a primae facie case.

    The problem is that DA's have almost limitless discretion in deciding to bring a case or not. And since the DA is human, he will let his biases influence his judgement. Why do you think that so many white people that committed crimes against blacks in the South in the early to middle 1900s never got prosecuted? Because the DAs were white and prejudiced against blacks.

    This DA is prejudiced against cyclists.
    +1 on bias against cyclists in the legal system.

    as in the Portland cases, there should be lesser charges with lower standards of proof available, such as vehicular manslaughter. Right now there appears to be nothing between criminally negligent homicide and a traffic ticket. Is this true in CA as well as OR?

    There could also be 'vulnerable road user' protections for pedal and motor cyclists and peds

  16. #16
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith99 View Post
    And the big one... The victims husband does not want to prosecute.
    who would want to go through the death of their spouse and a trial about it, with at best a 50-50 chance of overcoming the social and cultural biases against cyclists and winning?


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    Senior Member StrangeWill's Avatar
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    Thats bull****, there is a difference between threads like the trucker with the blind spot that had practically no choice other than to assume someone is in his blindspot ignoring his signs 24/7, and someone that does dumb **** like reaching into their back seat enough that they can't maintain a proper lane-position while driving. Do that **** in a DMV test, auto fail, do it and kill someone, it's okay apparently.


    And this idiot will continue to be on the road...

  18. #18
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    The legal system is heavily biased in favor of motorists. During voir dire, I was dismissed from a panel of prospective jurors in a vehicular manslaughter case specifically because I did more than a very casual amount of bicycling. The defense attorney secured a "Runaway Jury" of 12 noncycling motorists, so the defendant got a trial by a jury of his peers, such as they were.

    MADD has made some significant progress against inebriated drivers, but now we need a similar effort against inattentive or distracted motorists. I predict much more innocent blood will be spilled before society finds the political will to address the solution by actually holding individuals accountable for their actions (novel thought there ... ). In the meantime, I hope the victim's husband considers a civil suit, because the criminal injustice system has failed him miserably.
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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bicure View Post
    As previously noted, only one thing wiill change such motorist behavior: attaching massive mandatory fines and jail time to ANY injury or death resulting from motor vehicle operation.
    Punishment has only marginal effect on behavior.
    The behavior you're trying to prohibit has to be perceived as being wrong in order to effectively inhibit it.

    That's why murder, ****, burglary, driving at night without lights, driving on the wrong side of the road, etc., are relatively effectively inhibited by the law, but minor speeding, rolling stops, and using drugs... not so much.

    When a mother has years of experience of driving without incident in a particular type of situation, during one instance of which her baby suddenly expresses a need for a bottle, she's not going to think "oh, I better ignore my child or I might get a $300 fine" - she's going to give the baby the bottle. That's human nature, and you're not going to change that, no matter what. And if you think you're going to get her to think about the remote possibility that she might end up killing someone the thousandth time she does something she's always done before without incident, you're really not getting it, especially if you think realizing she might crash her car and kill someone is not enough to get her to change her behavior, but realizing she might crash her car, kill someone AND go to jail will be enough. I mean, let's be realistic.

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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by San Rensho View Post
    Beyond a reasonable doubt is up to a jury, the only thing the DA has to show is a primae facie case, one that will not be dismissed by the judge, and her admission that she turned all the way around to reach for something in the back seat is more than ample prima facie evidence. And as a DA, he has a duty to bring charges against someone when he has a primae facie case.

    The problem is that DA's have almost limitless discretion in deciding to bring a case or not. And since the DA is human, he will let his biases influence his judgement. Why do you think that so many white people that committed crimes against blacks in the South in the early to middle 1900s never got prosecuted? Because the DAs were white and prejudiced against blacks.

    This DA is prejudiced against cyclists.
    It's not only that the DA is human, but he or she wants to be reelected, and conviction rate, based on the cases he or she decides to bring to court, is key to that.

    And, frankly, that's a good thing. I, for one, don't want the justice system burning up all kinds of money and resources on cases that the DA does not believe has a reasonably high likelihood of achieving conviction.

    Besides, the system couldn't handle it. Assume we could quantify that DA's confidence about a case achieving conception in terms of percentage. Let's say right now his cutoff is that he has to be 95% confident about a case to bring it to court. If he lowered that cutoff to some lower percentage, say 90%, that could double the number of cases he brings to court. Now say his confidence in this case is 50%, and if he lowered his threshold to that, he would bring 20 times more cases to court. Is that what you want?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head View Post
    Punishment has only marginal effect on behavior.
    The behavior you're trying to prohibit has to be perceived as being wrong in order to effectively inhibit it.

    That's why murder, ****, burglary, driving at night without lights, driving on the wrong side of the road, etc., are relatively effectively inhibited by the law, but minor speeding, rolling stops, and using drugs... not so much.

    When a mother has years of experience of driving without incident in a particular type of situation, during one instance of which her baby suddenly expresses a need for a bottle, she's not going to think "oh, I better ignore my child or I might get a $300 fine" - she's going to give the baby the bottle. That's human nature, and you're not going to change that, no matter what. And if you think you're going to get her to think about the remote possibility that she might end up killing someone the thousandth time she does something she's always done before without incident, you're really not getting it, especially if you think realizing she might crash her car and kill someone is not enough to get her to change her behavior, but realizing she might crash her car, kill someone AND go to jail will be enough. I mean, let's be realistic.
    But criminal justice not just about general deterence, getting the population in general to stop certain behavior, its about specific deterence, first of all, making sure this woman never does it again and making her lose her license through criminal prosecution is certainly a deterrent.

    But more important, criminal justice is about punishment, making someone pay for their criminal behavior. We will never stop drunk driving, it can't be dettered, so do we just not punish drunk drivers because it will not be a detterent? Of course not, we punish them because of the consequence of their actions.
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  22. #22
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head View Post
    Punishment has only marginal effect on behavior.
    The behavior you're trying to prohibit has to be perceived as being wrong in order to effectively inhibit it.

    That's why murder, ****, burglary, driving at night without lights, driving on the wrong side of the road, etc., are relatively effectively inhibited by the law, but minor speeding, rolling stops, and using drugs... not so much.

    When a mother has years of experience of driving without incident in a particular type of situation, during one instance of which her baby suddenly expresses a need for a bottle, she's not going to think "oh, I better ignore my child or I might get a $300 fine" - she's going to give the baby the bottle. That's human nature, and you're not going to change that, no matter what. And if you think you're going to get her to think about the remote possibility that she might end up killing someone the thousandth time she does something she's always done before without incident, you're really not getting it, especially if you think realizing she might crash her car and kill someone is not enough to get her to change her behavior, but realizing she might crash her car, kill someone AND go to jail will be enough. I mean, let's be realistic.
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    Last edited by randya; 01-23-08 at 04:27 PM.

  23. #23
    ♋ ☮♂ ☭ ☯ -=(8)=-'s Avatar
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    The DA's excuse making for the driver is inexcusable.
    All of his points in the letter can be argued by existing law.
    Taking your eyes off the road momentarily is not against the law but when you
    kill someone, it is. Why all the phoney, never-to-be-used text messaging laws
    coming into effect in different states now, then ? All these have to do with taking
    your eyes off the road. The DA, although a lame dumass is smart enuff to know
    that prosecuting a Mom taking care of her cute little baby would be the career suicide
    and doesnt want to go there. I bet if it was a middle eastern guy taking his eyes
    off the road to read a passage of the koran it would have been a public stoning.
    We will never win in the U.S., all we can hope for is to live to ride another day.
    There can be other punishments than jail for first time felons of this nature such as
    working with people who have been hit by cars a few days a week or having to drive
    with a tag saying "Im a killer".............
    Last edited by -=(8)=-; 01-23-08 at 05:27 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head View Post
    It's not only that the DA is human, but he or she wants to be reelected, and conviction rate, based on the cases he or she decides to bring to court, is key to that.

    And, frankly, that's a good thing. I, for one, don't want the justice system burning up all kinds of money and resources on cases that the DA does not believe has a reasonably high likelihood of achieving conviction.

    Besides, the system couldn't handle it. Assume we could quantify that DA's confidence about a case achieving conception in terms of percentage. Let's say right now his cutoff is that he has to be 95% confident about a case to bring it to court. If he lowered that cutoff to some lower percentage, say 90%, that could double the number of cases he brings to court. Now say his confidence in this case is 50%, and if he lowered his threshold to that, he would bring 20 times more cases to court. Is that what you want?
    You are assuming that the DA's excuse, that the case is unwinnable, is correct. Well according to common wreckless driving statutes its not. This incident demonstrates a primae facie case of wreckless driving which has a very good chance of winning at trial, or achieving a plea bargain so that the woman is brought to justice.

    As I posted above, if this woman had reached into the back of the car and run off the road and killed a cop that on the roadside, giving someone a ticket, would the DA have just left it at that? The woman would have been hauled off in handcuffs and charged with the maximum crime possible.

    Criminal prosecution is a limited resource which has to be used judiciously, but DAs also have an ethical duty to indict whenever the evidence is there, and this case certainly warrants prosecution. I don't buy the Da's self-serving excuses. Its bias against bicyclists that is at the forefront in his refusal to indict.
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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by San Rensho View Post
    You are assuming that the DA's excuse, that the case is unwinnable, is correct.
    No, I'm assuming that the DA's belief that the case is not sufficiently likely to be won to bring it to court is correct. It's the DA's call, and it's his or her career that's on the line. Now, the system is biased to favor erring on the side of assuming a case is less likely to win that it is, and not bringing it forward. But our whole justice system is predicated on the notion that it's better to let 100 guilty men go free than to wrongly convict 1 man, or however that saying goes. You don't seem to agree with that. I think you put too much stock into the role that punishment plays in changing human behavior, but I addressed that topic in a separate post.

    Quote Originally Posted by San Rensho View Post
    Well according to common wreckless driving statutes its not. This incident demonstrates a primae facie case of wreckless driving which has a very good chance of winning at trial, or achieving a plea bargain so that the woman is brought to justice.
    So says who? You? And we're supposed to take your word for it, and discount that of the DA?

    Quote Originally Posted by San Rensho View Post
    As I posted above, if this woman had reached into the back of the car and run off the road and killed a cop that on the roadside, giving someone a ticket, would the DA have just left it at that? The woman would have been hauled off in handcuffs and charged with the maximum crime possible.
    If so, I suspect that would be because he felt that a woman who killed a cop is much more likely to get convicted than a woman who killed a cyclist, and he's probably right. But he has to deal with the real world, including the likely makeup of the jury and the likely prejudices they will hold. He also has to assume the defense attorney will do the same, and all that will be reflected in any plea bargaining. He probably knows the jury conviction probability is so low that a plea bargain is highly unlikely.

    Quote Originally Posted by San Rensho View Post
    Criminal prosecution is a limited resource which has to be used judiciously, but DAs also have an ethical duty to indict whenever the evidence is there, and this case certainly warrants prosecution. I don't buy the Da's self-serving excuses. Its bias against bicyclists that is at the forefront in his refusal to indict.
    It might be bias, but it's likely to be more the likely bias the jury will have, which he would be derelict to ignore, than his own bias. And even if it is his own bias, it's probably a fair approximation of the likely jury makeup. As John E noted above, the defense attorney is probably going to make sure there are no bicyclists on the jury. Eliminating a jury of pro-biker bias is easy; eliminating a jury of pro-cop bias is difficult (though it can be done in certain areas, as was shown in the OJ trial). All this must be taken into account by a competent DA, and, apparently, has been.

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