Judas and the Judge

Tomorrow George Leniart will be sentenced as a capital felon. The state did not seek the death penalty. Why? Because the state had no body, no tangible proof that there was, in fact, a murder. But it went ahead and charged Mr. Leniart anyhow. It did so based on the word of several jailhouse informants. It did so by arguing to a jury that a prior guilty plea to a rape means he must have raped again, only this time killing and disposing of the body such that no sign of it has ever existed, anywhere.

The sentence the court must impose by statute is life without the possibility of parole. The court has no choice. Oh, it can stack some time on top of the only life that Mr. Leniart will live and call it justice. But such concurrent time is meaningless, a fool's errand.

The courtroom will be filled with thrill seekers of a different sort, all coming to see the hammer fall. The press will be there. Law enforcement officers will be there; indeed, lawmen have already thrown themselves a banquet to congratulate themselves on getting a conviction in this case. They believed Mr. Leniart to be a bad man. So they congratulate themselves on having Mr. Leniart behind bars for life, but the sad fact remains: the lawmen failed to solve the murder. They have no body to show the grieving family after 15 years of looking. What they have is half a case. What they have is the hope this speculative mound of evidence means what they say it does.

That the case was enough to convict Mr. Leniart does not surprise. Three jailhouse snitches came to court and ran their mouths about the things they contend Mr. Leniart told them. The stories do not match. The boy who was with Mr. Leniart and the victim the night she was last seen testified about what he did that night. He testified that he was only trying to mess with his father's head when he confessed to killing her.

Mr. Leniart sought to call an expert on jailhouse informants and the powerful pressures brought to bear on hopeless men locked in cages. The expert has testified before Congress, written scholarly articles and a book; she teaches law. But the judge muzzled her. The jury never heard a word of what she had to say. The trial judge concluded that it was within the province of the jury to know what kinds of games lawmen play with the heads of those locked out of sight and mind. On what planet do ordinary people know the look and feel of a cell?

Oh, that the judge were as sparing with the state's evidence. She permitted a woman who claimed she had been raped by my client just months before the victim in my case went missing. This woman was a drunken child at the time of the alleged rape. She described being strangled to the point of passing out, and awakening to see my client on her still. Armed with this vivid image and an isolated alleged comment to an informant, the state argued that the missing victim in this case was killed in just the same way as the all-too-real victim was raped and assaulted -- by a strangulation, only this time gone too far.

I argued that my client could not get a fair trial if evidence of the prior bad act were admitted. All that linked the living victim and the missing person was some chatter from a jailhouse snitch. No physical evidence corroborated the claim. The jury was invited to speculate that Mr. Leniart killed one girl in the same way he had assaulted another.

The rub in this case is that the judge slated to try the case was by consensus of all the lawyers involved in the case unlikely to admit the evidence of the prior strangulation. Had that judge tried the case, my client would today be free. But the judge got sick, and a different judge, this one recently a prosecutor, donned the robe. The consensus now was that the evidence would be admitted. It was. The result is mandatory life without possibility of parole for a man convicted because of allegations of a prior bad act. Forgive me if I call this something less than justice.

Tomorrow the courthouse will fill with groupies looking for a show. We have decided to say little and to save our words and hopes for an appeal and a new trial. When I look at the judge I will end such remarks as I make with the simple story of Jesus and Judas at the last supper. As Jesus and the disciples supped, Jesus knew Judas' intent. One of the other disciples turned to Jesus to ask what was the matter. Jesus looked to Judas and said: "That thou doest do quickly." So it will be from my lips to the judge's ears.

Impose the sentence you must, judge. The die is cast and was cast as a consquences of decisions made at trial about what a jury can and cannot hear. We do not expect justice. We expect a life sentence. Impose it and do so quickly. Let's end this charade so that we can seek justice in another court on another day.

Comments: (3)

  • With you in spirit tomorrow, Norm, praying for a l...
    With you in spirit tomorrow, Norm, praying for a life sentence so you can concentrate on winning on appeal...as wrong as that sounds.
    Posted on June 21, 2010 at 3:26 pm by Vidocq
  • The State of Konnecticut is able to charge anyone ...
    The State of Konnecticut is able to charge anyone with any crime, anywhere, any time, and get away with it in real time--without true oversight or accountability. Spoken by me and addressed to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, New York City, April 3, 2008. That appeal was a walk-through for all involved; the case pre-judged and I was given my five minutes. Representatives of the State were nonetheless hang-dogged. Their pathetic body-language said it all. These incompetent, unfeeling leeches feed at the public trough. Always watch for 'The Tell'.
    Even though Doriss lost, he won. Not the first time either! It's all about process, and not justice. What a farce! And you thought all the law-and-order shenanigans occurred in Sheriff Arpaio's Maricopa County, or Texas? The State of CT is running a criminal justice Ponzi Scheme of the highest order, in violation of the Constitution, case history and precedent.
    The way things are currently constituted, I would not be looking for any relief from the appellate courts. It's a toss-up: Heads they win; Tails, you lose. And now the State denies Skakel's latest appeal... Nothing changes in the UnKonstitution State, a state in Denial.
    Posted on June 22, 2010 at 12:51 am by William Doriss
  • The role of the legal system in the decline of the...
    The role of the legal system in the decline of the country has yet to be much covered. Though I have come face-to-face with it over the past decade or so. The role of the political system and the corporations, especially the financial sector, are becoming clearer. But the role of the legal system is harder to get a picture of. Most of what Pattis writes about in his postings gets at this in a fragmentary way.
    In cases such as this one Pattis discusses, one assumes that prosecutors and other law-enforcement officials believe that they have gotten the right one committing the crime even if the evidence is scant, porous, or virtually nonexistent as it is in this case. No matter though, most of the public accepts, they have gotten a bad character anyway, someone who should be off the streets in any event. This is law-enforcement's back-up position knowing they have a practically nonexistent or manufactured case. Yet as I have seen, many in law-enforcement are positively vicious. They don't care who goes to jail, as long as someone does. I can verify this as this is what happened in my case. Prosecutors and their allies knew beyond any doubt I was innocent of any crimes, yet they went ahead and got an illegal wiretap and tried to manufacture a case based on lies in the application for the wiretap.
    The Bush people fancied that they were somehow above and beyond reality; and they had scorn for normal mortals they saw stuck in a "reality-based system". It's no longer so much evidence, due process, professional ethics, plain decency, and the like which count in the legal system (any more than they count in the political or corporate system). But we see what happened to the country after the people in the Bush administration and the banksters in the financial corporations acted on their own demented, hallucinatory, amoral desires.
    It probably won't be long before the criminally- and fancifully-minded prosecutors and others in law-enforcement try to get others into jail for no reasons other than they have decided that such persons should be in jail, as they did in my case. Once I learned the state regarded me as an enemy, I became an enemy of the state. I'm sure the numbers of such are growing.
    Posted on June 22, 2010 at 9:28 am by Henry Berry

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