A blog by Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Brian Tannebaum. Commenting on criminal law issues of local and national interest.

Friday, September 21, 2007

"Who is OJ Simpson?"

This is what my 8 year old asked repeatedly the other night as I was discussing the case with my wife. After asking a couple times, I looked at her and realized she was born 5 years after the not guilty verdict in the murder case. She wasn't just doing that "I need to know everyone you are talking about" thing that little kids do, she really had never heard of OJ Simpson.

This has nothing to do with what I will write here, it's just an anecdote that puts some things in perspective.

Here's my thoughts on the latest "OJ."

[1] In my legal opinion, looking at the media reports, reading the police report, and having no working knowledge of Nevada law (as do not a one of the "legal experts" pontificating on TV), the case is in a word, stupid.

[2] It's as much an "armed robbery" as a burglary with assault is when an ex-boyfriend is prevented from going into his ex girlfriend's house to "get his shit," and as a result, he pushes her away from blocking the door.

[3] Anyone else, and hotel security would have walked in the room and made everyone leave.

[4] The case has revived the "talking head" market on cable television. I have one question, can they not find a single criminal defense lawyer from Vegas who actually knows the law and procedure there, instead of lawyers from California, New York, Florida, and every other state? Do they not want to hear what "IS" going to happen, instead of playing the guessing game? "Well, I don't know the law in Vegas, but in Tupelo Mississippi, OJ would........."

[5] OJ will not go to jail. The case will fall apart. He will plea to a misdemeanor and be on probation, which he will violate by doing something stupid, for which he will also not go to jail.

[6] The case is only important because the vast majority of people think he got away with murder.

[7] I am one of those people in [6].

[8] Now that OJ is back home (10 minutes from my house), the media will begin their "are we covering OJ too much?" I know this because yesterday's big story was......."who is OJ's girlfriend?"

[9] People are annoyed by the accusation that we are obsessed with celebrity justice, because the truth is that as a society, we just can't help ourselves. What else are we going to pay attention to, health care? Education? All that other stuff? GIVE US MORE OJ!!!!!

Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense attorney in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court. To learn more about Brian and his firm, Tannebaum Weiss, please visit www.tannebaumweiss.com

Thursday, September 06, 2007

"As appalling as it sounds, in Ohio a mistake is not a crime"

This is what I heard this morning from a reporter on the Today show regarding an Ohio mother who left her 2 year old child in the car for 8 hours, and found her dead at the end of the day.

The mother went to buy doughnuts and thought she had dropped her daughter off. She went to her job as an assistant principal, and came out to her car at the end of the day to find her child dead in 150 degree heat inside her car.

So I hear this, and get a deep pain in my stomach. I have 2 young children. I can't imagine. How dreadful. This mom, who has a reputation of being a good person, left her kid in the car and now she's dead.

In Ohio, a prosecution for this only occurs if there is "recklessness," not just "negligence." So as the reporter said, "In Ohio, a mistake is not a crime."

But that's appalling to some. In fact, there is outrage in Ohio that this mom is not going to jail. The child welfare office is investigating whether she is fit to take care of her 5 year old.

Guess who's speaking out in her defense? The prosecutor who decided he could not prosecute.

But there's outrage. Why? Because we live in a society where we've been conditioned that every human failure should require jail. It makes me sick. Every single time there's a mere car accident reported on the news, the story ends with "no word on whether the driver will face charges," or "charges are pending." Pending what? Your next report? Charges aren't pending until they're filed. The fact that a police officer was called to the scene doesn't mean "charges are pending."

My thoughts here are not really about the media though. They're about those in Ohio, and maybe around the country who are "appalled" that this mother won't be charged.

Let me ask you something? You think she cares? You think she needs to "learn a lesson?" How about a judge or jury telling her she's "guilty?" Maybe she needs someone or some body of people to advise her that she is "guilty" for leaving her baby in the car. Maybe the system should teach her to "never leave her 2 year old in the car by mistake again."

Maybe, as the prosecutor said this morning, the fact that she will have to live everyday of her life knowing she did this," isn't enough for you.

Put yourself in her shoes, if you can stomach the thought.

Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense attorney in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court. To learn more about Brian and his firm, Tannebaum Weiss, please visit www.tannebaumweiss.com