General discussion


legal process and justice

By jck ·
It seems that this John Cooey who killed 9 year old Jessica Lunsford in Citrus County, FL might get off because, even though he voluntarily confessed to the crime, he had requested an attorney and not been given one right away. Since he gave the info where to find her and details in that confession, none of it might be admissible in court to convict him.

When a guy is blatantly obviously guilty of the crime, should it be right to let him go just because the information he volunteered (and didn't keep his mouth shut til he got a lawyer like he was told he could in his Miranda warning) is not "admissible" to convict him??

This conversation is currently closed to new comments.

Thread display: Collapse - | Expand +

All Comments

Collapse -

The process is more important than a single case

by stress junkie In reply to legal process and justice

Edit: This post may sound emotional but it is not intended to be. I was not 'impassioned' when I wrote it. I just wanted to list several points.

First of all it seems to me that the police should be able to gather enough additional evidence to convict this guy. So his confession isn't admissible. So what? What if he hadn't confessed? The police and prosecutor would be in the same position that they are in now. They would still have to build a case without his confession. I don't see any problem with that.

As to the fact that his confession before he saw a lawer being inadmissible, that is a mistake make by the police department. It is conceivable that the accused person just blurted out his confession but it is trivially easy for the police to just ignore this. The fact that they asked him to show where the body was before an attorney for the accused person arrived was a procedural mistake.

We have got to cling to the procedural mandates that ensure our protection from police torturing a confession out of a suspect. The exclusionary rule which is the basis of the Miranda rights cannot be dismissed when "we know that this person is guilty". That is not the way our system works. The police can always claim that they "know that this or that person is guilty" whether they have evidence or a confession or whatever. The police can always beat a confession out of a suspect. The exclusionary rule and the Miranda rights are a protection of all people suspected by the police of committing a crime. Sometimes the police make mistakes. Sometimes they accuse the wrong person. So, even when a person confesses after having asked for an attorney and before the attorney is made available that has got to be discarded as evidence. Even when the person demonstrates how the crime was committed and where, in this case, the dead body is located that fact has got to be discarded because the police messed up. We cannot afford to allow the police to make procedural mistakes and allow the evidence gathered from those procedural mistakes to be used in court. That is a how the judiciary protects innocent and guilty people alike from procedural misconduct by the police.

If you want to get angry then get angry at the police who didn't follow their procedures. They are the ones that are responsible for this confession being inadmissible. They are the ones that are responsible for the fact that the suspect showed the police where to find the body is not admissible in court. The police messed up, not our judicial protections.

Collapse -

just remember

by jck In reply to The process is more impor ...

misconduct and mistake are two different words

misconduct is intentional wrongdoing

a mistake is a wrong action or statement proceeding from faulty judgment, inadequate knowledge, or inattention

one is is not

As for being able to establish a case...just remember...not only can that confession be dismissed from evidence, but any information gathered as a result of that confession has to be thrown-out as well because the inadmissable confession was why it because part of "discovery".

They have to go back, prove that through other means of their investigation that they would have found her, proven it was him, and collected sufficient evidence to link the crime to him.

It's just absurd to me though. If someone has been read their rights and knows they can ask for an attorney and then refuse to speak until such time, he is just as much at fault for not following the process as the police were for not following theirs.

I can understand having process to protect people from persecution from government, but not when it also allows for the obviously guilty (the guy is a previously convicted sex offender who wasn't even supposed to be living in that neighborhood with his sister) to ignore the law, commit more crime, and get away with these criminal acts.

He was not beaten or coerced into giving that statement. And, he told exactly where that girl's body was, how she was buried, and what he'd done to her previous to it.

I hope for the guy's sake he gets the death penalty or life in prison. If he were to walk, he wouldn't live more than a month. There are too many country folks up there in Citrus County who'll hunt him down.

Collapse -

Hunt Him Down

by DMambo In reply to just remember

"If he were to walk, he wouldn't live more than a month. There are too many country folks up there in Citrus County who'll hunt him down."

It's so tough to look at this type of case rationally. As a parent of a 9-year old daughter, my first instinct is to let this guy loose with an OJ-style news helicopter following him and let the viewing public track him down and take care of him - slowly.

But, when I try to look at this type of case in light of what I'm taught (to forgive everyone, that everyone has a soul, that our justice system needs to protect the rights of the innocent, etc) I just chalk it up to the fact that I'm a fallible human and would never be able to forgive someone who did this type of thing to a child.

When the evidence is overwhelming, as it appears to be here, let's hope that the prosecution has enough admissible evidence to constitute a preponderance to the jury. I'd be willing to bet that it'll be VERY difficult for a jury not to be somewhat prejudiced by media coverage and if Bozo were the prosecutor, this non-human would be found guilty.

Maybe he'll have a jailhouse "accident" and won't even make it to trial (uh-oh, there's the Dad in me speaking again.)

Collapse -

that's a good possibility

by jck In reply to Hunt Him Down

if they don't move the trial...and even then, he'll be a target if the inmates find out who he is elsewhere.

Three things you don't want to be in prison:

- A man who beats women or kids
- A man who rapes women
- A man who molests kids

You'll get killed real quick

Collapse -

Or, like the South Carolina judge once said:

by TonytheTiger In reply to Hunt Him Down

"Bring that guilty bas--rd up here so we can give him a fair trial."

Collapse -

I agree with a lot of what you are saying.

by stress junkie In reply to just remember

First I want to mention that I added an addendum to my first post which simply says that although it may sound emotional it really isn't. I was completely calm and 'academic' when I wrote that post. The same applies to this post.

I completely agree with your paragraph which starts "It's just absurd to me though." It is difficult for reasonable people to accept that a confession would have to be ignored in court. It makes me sick to think that what would be an open and shut case is now dependent on other evidence, if any exists, to convict him. The worst part is imagining that the prosecution may not be able to make a good case against him on other evidence. If this person is acquitted of this crime I will be one of the people most upset at the injustice. Worse, if this person is not convicted then he will be allowed to continue to live in the community where he will be a deadly threat to everyone near him.

I am hoping as much as anyone else that this person is convicted and permanently taken out of the community. Any reasonable person would have to hope for this. I agree that the idea of allowing a confessed murderer go free because the prosecution couldn't find enough admissible evidence to convict this guy is outrageous and it is insane. We'll just have to hope that the prosecution can make a convincing case and that this guy is convicted.

It is a sad day when a genuine confession cannot be used in court. It is a sad day when a murderer who shows police where the body is hidden cannot have that held against him. This kind of case tests our judicial system's principles and our individual commitment to those principles. It's good that this kind of problem causes us to discuss how this kind of situation is a problem. Maybe one day someone will come up with a solution. I agree that the current system is flawed. I just don't know how we could fix the problem without losing our protection from the possibility of police abuse.

I wish that we had a better answer. I'm sure that we all wish that our judicial system could handle these kinds of problems better.

It sounds like I'm getting repetetive because I can't think of a closing line so I'll just stop writing here. :-)

Collapse -

IF the police read him teh miranda rights

by Oz_Media In reply to The process is more impor ...

And he conciously CHOSE to disregard those rights he can go right ahead and tell them whatever he wants. You don't HAVE to seek legal counsel, anything you say can and WILL be used against yo in a court of law.

Th eonly way to wriggle out is to claim you were not of sound mind and body to make that decision. If that fails, an insanity plea is a peice of cake.

Whe you are read your rights you are asked if you understand your rights, if you answer a coerent YES and not just start blabbering about something else, you have no insanity case.

Again, speaking with a lawyer is NOT mandatory, it is a right but you don't have to take it, you can go right ahead and confess without a problem, the cops were NOT at fault for accepting his concious choice to not retain a lawyer before speaking with them, IF THEY HAVE CLEARLY READ AND HE HAS UNDERSTOOD HIS RIGHTS BEFOREHAND.

Collapse -

but Oz

by jck In reply to IF the police read him te ...

at one point, evidently before he confessed all the information, he had supposedly requested an attorney.

That's what I'm saying.

Collapse -

that doesn't help though

by Oz_Media In reply to but Oz

Certainly he can request an attorney, they are not required to present an attorney in 10 minutes though. Even in a fast system, it take take a day or so to get initial legal contact and then weeks to prepare the accused for questioning with a lawyer present. DURING this time, the police can try and coerce information from him, they can request a polygraph test, they can request DNA etc. It is up to HIM as the accused to withold his confession and stay put until his attorney is present.

Just because you request an attorney, it doesn't mean the police can't TRY and question you, that's the point. As long as the police had placed a request for an attorney, whatever happens after that is up to him.

If I was to be taken in and requested an attorney before answering questions, they may try and tell me that an attorney won't help at his point, they have unsurmountable evidece against me, they can even lie and tell me someone ele has already come forward and pointed me out as the offender.

It is up to ME to stay silent and NOT answer further questions, submit fluid samples etc.

Otherwise everyone would just clam up and many cases would be let off due to a silver tongueed attorney haveing all the say. The police are well withing their rights to TRY and obtain information, even after you have ASKED for an attorney as long as they act upon your request.

Now if I ask them for my attorney, and they say, sure but that's not gonna help you now, we have this and that against you, then I decide to fess up, my testimony is 100% admissible. It's up to the accused to practice their rights, not for the police to insist upon or enforce them. He could have just not said anythign until he spoke with an attorney, but he didn't. HE chose to speak freely.

Collapse -

here's a bit of the info from CNN

by jck In reply to IF the police read him te ...

John Couey, accused of murder in the death of Jessica Lunsford, asked for an attorney on March 17, the day before he confessed, according to the transcript of his questioning released by police.

At the time of his request, Couey was maintaining he had nothing to do with the girl's disappearance. His request came after Citrus County, Florida, detectives asked him if he would take a lie detector test.

The transcript reads:

Couey: "I want a lawyer here present. I want to talk to a lawyer 'cause, I mean ... if people trying to accuse something I didn't do. I didn't do it."

Detective: "OK. Hang on, hang on, hang on, hang on. ... So if we were to do a lie detector test, you'd want to get a lawyer for that ?"

Couey: "I want to talk to a lawyer first."

But instead of providing an attorney, the questioning continued and, according to the transcripts, Couey continued answering questions without mentioning his request for an attorney again.

The next day, March 18, Couey agreed to take a polygraph, after which he confessed, sources said. According to the transcripts, his Miranda rights were read to him on several occasions over a three-day period.


So...he'd asked before he confessed or took the polygraph or anything.

I'll read the full transcript tonight.

Related Discussions

Related Forums