Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Over the last several months Buz has been pondering the upcoming trial of our beautiful, fit mayor, Madam Sheila Dixon.
Buz had a strong hunch: ain't no Baltimore City jury gonna convict her for nuthin'. (Please forgive the street lingo, sometimes a habit is hard to break). The reason: it only takes one juror to hold out and say that they are not going to vote to convict. They can give any reason to why they have reasonable doubt and/or why they don't believe one or more of the state's witnesses. Perhaps in a perfect world, we wish it weren't so, but it is. Thus I predicted a hung jury. And if the state retries her, another hung jury.
So, as part of my research, I pestered 4 judges (one retired) in my travels and asked them whether or not they agreed with me. Three out of 4 agreed that Buz is quite likely correct in his assessment of a likely outcome. One judge took the Warren Brown approach: that juries do not like stealing from the poor. While we agree with that in general, and that is possible, this is not a typical case. This is a mayor who is very popular in the community, and many people think that, other than this ethical taint, she is doing a good job and appoints good department heads (except all those folks on the Internet sites who want her burned alive at the stake or crucified; oops, wait a minute, isn't that Frank Reid's take? Oh, never mind).
One of my interviewees did go a step further though, based on his experience: he said that if one or two strong African American males step up and argue for conviction, they could convince the rest of the jury to go along. He has seen this happen in several cases. We're not sure that would happen in this case.
One high Baltimore executive interviewed in buz's gym said that he might not vote for conviction, and probably a lot of white people wouldn't either. He said that he would weigh the evidence, but, at the end of the day, he might say: yeah, what she did was wrong, but I'm not going to find her guilty of a crime here. She's suffered enough humiliation.
The beautiful woman who cuts Buz's hair in her Hampden shop said, for example, this is bullshit; they've spent 10 times the money chasing after her than what they said she stole.
But now, a new revelation: the state lost all courage and is refusing to call the affable Mr. Lipscomb to the stand. I'm sure I know why: the defense was just licking it's chops ready to cross-examine him and destroy him on the stand. Can you imagine the questions they would ask? And, even more, can you imagine the image he and his answers would represent in the mind of jurors? Um, Mr. Lipscomb, how many LLCs are you involved with? Why so many?, etc.etc.
So, now, the jury is left with what? Your consultant (who doesn't do jury consulting) can just imagine the jury thinking: is that all there was? Some gift cards left at city hall, the our lady mayor might have used one or more of? But she never acknowledged them or ever thanked him for them--even though she was later with him at a small party. And why is a developer, who wears a beard, and a suit coat with no tie, and builds fancy, schmancy condos out of old grain silos (costing zillions of $$) leaving gift cards for the mayor? Like, what sort of favors does he want? Like, why didn't he say: sure, I'll give gift cards to Goodwill, Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, and Beans & Bread. Nah, I'll drop em off at city hall with the mayor's name on em; they'll, you know, get where they belong.
Now, Buz really, really thinks, not only hung jury, but a good chance of outright acquittal.