Trials and Verdicts

Case that depict the unique processes related to different courts
One real-life criminal case that depicts the unique processes related to different courts in US is the Burrage v. United States, No. 12-7515 which involved an appeal in the Supreme Court. The case involved a long time drug user, Banka who died following an extended drug binge including heroin purchased from Marcus Burrage. Banka, together with his wife Noragon met Burrage and purchased one gram of heroin from him. Banka then prepared the heroine and injected himself heroine three times at night and when his wife woke up, he found him dead. A search by police found 0.59 grams of heroin, oxycodone pills, hydrocodone bottle, alprazolam and clonazepam tablets, and other drugs.
Burrage was arrested and pleaded not guilty for distributing heroin and a violation of §841(a)(1). He was also charged with unlawfully distributing heroin to Banka and that death resulted from the use of the substance. This then subjected Buragge to a 20 year minimum mandatory jail term of §841(b)(1)(C). A forensic toxicologist determined that heroin distributed by Banka was not the main cause of death and that it was just a contributing factor. The District Court instructed the government to prove that the heroine distributed by Burrage contributed to Banka’s death and the jury convicted Burrage sentencing him to 20 years in prison consistent with §841(b)(1)(C). The Court of Appeal held the District Court contributing cause jury instruction and so the minimum sentence of 20 years was affirmed. The District Court was a lower court that handled the case and Burrage appealed in the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal too k over the case because there was a conflict of law as the heroine was not the only cause of Banka’s death. The court also took over the case because the district court denied Burrage’s motion for a judgment of acquittal which argued that the heroin distributed by Burrage was not the cause of Banka’s death.
Case that the defendant accepted a plea bargain as an alternative to trial
A real life case scenario whereby the defendant accepted a plea bargain as an alternative to trial is that of Floyd Mayweather Jr. who was facing felony charges for beating up his ex-girlfriend in front of his children whom he was also accused of threatening to beat if they called the police. As a result, Mayweather was facing a maximum sentence of 34 years in prsion. However, the defendant accepted a plea deal with his prosecutors whereby he agreed to accept responsibility for his actions and he pleaded guilty to domestic violence and harassment offence charges. In addition, Mayweather agreed not to contest a battery offence in a different case that involved him hitting a security guard. The Las Vegas judge sentenced Mayweather to 90 days in jail for pleading guilty and was also fined $2500.
Had Mayweather not accepted the plea bargain as an alternative to trail, he would have faced a full felony trial. The plea bargain enabled Mayweather to serve a shorter jail term and saved the court of a trial process. In this case, justice was served because Mayweather accepted his mistakes and he was ready to pay for his offence. In addition, the plea saved the court from a full scale trial which would have consumed a lot of time and resources. He also avoided the maximum sentence for the offence he had committed. The plea bargain also ensured the conviction of the defendant even if it attracted a lesser jail term. Even though the defendant served a shorter jail term, justice was still served because he was convicted of his offences.
Case that the defendant was wrongly accused and later vindicated
A real-life case in which a defendant was wrongly accused and later vindicated is The State of Texas v. Michael W. Morton, 86-452-K26. In October 2011, Michael Morton was freed from custody after a DNA test revealed that he was wrongfully convicted. In 1986, Morton’s wife Christine was murdered in their home in Austin, Texas. Even though there was no evidence linking him to the murder, he was taken in as the key suspect of the case. The court later convicted him in 1987 and sentenced him to life imprisonment. Morton spent 25 years in prison before a new DNA test linked another person, Mark Alan Norwood to the murder of Morton’s wife. Norwood was also linked to the murder of Debra Jan Baker who like Christine, was bludgeoned to death in her bed.
Morton’s wrongful conviction was uncovered by an advanced DNA testing that was never available during his trial. One aspect of the case that would have prevented the wrongful conviction of Morton is the case prosecutor, Ken Anderson, who failed to disclose a series of exculpatory police reports to the then presiding judge or the defendant’s defence lawyers. The prosecutor failed to avail the documents even though he was under a court order to produce them. The wrongful conviction of Morton may also have resulted in the death of another victim, Debra Jan Baker who was murdered by Norwood a year after Morton started serving his sentence. Morton was then freed following this and was later vindicated. However, Norwood was later convicted and the prosecutor who was now a judge was found of criminal contempt of court. He agreed to serve a 10 days jail term as well as 500 hours of community services and paid $500 fine.




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