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post #71 of 790 Old 12-13-2018
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Re: Suicide at Sea and captain charged

Four people at departure. Three people at arrival. That’s never goes well for the Captain. Are those basic enough facts we can agree upon?

Bodies do not immediately, permanently sink. Couldn’t contact anyone that day, but could the next? My BS meter is pegging. It’s all for a trial jury to decide, ultimately. I made my prediction early in this thread. I bet he doesn’t do time, but he’s going to pay.
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post #72 of 790 Old 12-13-2018
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Re: Suicide at Sea and captain charged

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Originally Posted by Don0190 View Post
All it really is is a chance for a prosecutor, and only the prosecutor, to spoon feed the jury the absolute barebones of the "facts" in order for the grand jury to believe that there "may" have been a crime that "that person may have done it". The bar is so low an ant can jump over it.
A good prosecutor uses a grand jury as a tool to evaluate the chances of winning a case at trial. It's essentially a focus group, which are now used frequently in civil cases. As with a focus group, a good prosecutor will present the problematic evidence to a grand jury to see how it is received, because that problematic evidence will later be presented by the defendant at the trial. An important measure of a prosecutor's job performance is conviction rate at trial (no one cares about indictment rate at the grand jury), so there are not many prosecutors who would want to skew the evidence in the prosecution's favor with a grand jury, only to go on and lose at trial when a good defense attorney presents all the problems with the case. Actually, I'd say the opposite is more likely. A prosecutor who doesn't like the chances of winning at trial can tank the case in front of the grand jury, and have an easy out when the boss and victims want to know why the case is being dropped.
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post #73 of 790 Old 12-13-2018
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Re: Suicide at Sea and captain charged

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I bet he doesn’t do time, but he’s going to pay.
I agree.

But he is already 'paying' with 3 years of anguish. However he obviously hasn't had an epiphany that has produced empathy. Maybe thats hard when you have a lawyer. But hell, if only 3/4 of the people on my boat arrived at shore I would be extremely apologetic to the family and do everything in my power to show them that I am commiserating with them for the loss of their son.
My prediction, too, is no jail time but such a stern lecture that the captain realises that he made the entirely wrong decision/decisions (if the facts are anything like this article).


Now - Can I turn to how employers need to treat employees with mental health problems? Google it. And don't tell me that because you're on a flippin sailboat you can suddenly act like Captain Bligh.

For those that believe that you as a skipper can abrogate responsibility because you are at sea let me dump a few links about Captains responsibilities to mental health of crew at sea:



(in no order)

https://www.martek-marine.com/blog/m...rm-is-brewing/

https://safety4sea.com/amsa-enhance-mental-health-sea/

https://safety4sea.com/crew-mental-health/



If employers on land are understanding of Mental Health requirements of employees, and
if Professional sea captains are understanding of Mental Health requirements of crew,
why do you expect a Jury to think you dont need to be?


Mark
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post #74 of 790 Old 12-13-2018
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Re: Suicide at Sea and captain charged

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
Bodies do not immediately, permanently sink.
Not true, according to what I found. Apparently bodies that sink below 100 ft* will not resurface: www.pawsoflife.org/Library/Trailing%20Water/body_float_info.pdf

Plus, I already posted an example of a body that sank and didn't come up for months. We also had a guy water skiing get killed near where I live in about 15 feet of water and it took days to find the body.


* = 30 metres in undeveloped countries

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Last edited by willyd; 12-13-2018 at 08:45 AM. Reason: removed double negative
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post #75 of 790 Old 12-13-2018
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Re: Suicide at Sea and captain charged

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkofSeaLife View Post
...

Now - Can I turn to how employers need to treat employees with mental health problems? Google it. And don't tell me that because you're on a flippin sailboat you can suddenly act like Captain Bligh.

For those that believe that you as a skipper can abrogate responsibility because you are at sea let me dump a few links about Captains responsibilities to mental health of crew at sea:



(in no order)

https://www.martek-marine.com/blog/m...rm-is-brewing/

https://safety4sea.com/amsa-enhance-mental-health-sea/

https://safety4sea.com/crew-mental-health/



If employers on land are understanding of Mental Health requirements of employees, and
if Professional sea captains are understanding of Mental Health requirements of crew,
why do you expect a Jury to think you dont need to be?


Mark
Exactly, especially since this was more of an employee/employer type situation with the people on board crewing to deliver a boat. The other crew members may provide more clarity when they get before a jury and we may find that some of their initial at times conflicting statements get corrected.

In a Secure Skiff Data Facility we would always have three people required for them to be in and stay in the Secure Work Area because with three people involved eventually one of them is much more likely going to spill the beans when something is being distorted or covered up. With the amount of crew involved and the time that's passed if something is being covered up here that too will more likely start to come out when under oath.
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post #76 of 790 Old 12-13-2018
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Re: Suicide at Sea and captain charged

I reread the story and it’s kind of apparent the the remaining people on board were in fear. But it sounds this unknown law has nothing to do with any of that. All it is about the actions after the guy jumped overboard.

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post #77 of 790 Old 12-13-2018
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Re: Suicide at Sea and captain charged

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A good prosecutor uses a grand jury as a tool to evaluate the chances of winning a case at trial. It's essentially a focus group, which are now used frequently in civil cases. As with a focus group, a good prosecutor will present the problematic evidence to a grand jury to see how it is received, because that problematic evidence will later be presented by the defendant at the trial. An important measure of a prosecutor's job performance is conviction rate at trial (no one cares about indictment rate at the grand jury), so there are not many prosecutors who would want to skew the evidence in the prosecution's favor with a grand jury, only to go on and lose at trial when a good defense attorney presents all the problems with the case. Actually, I'd say the opposite is more likely. A prosecutor who doesn't like the chances of winning at trial can tank the case in front of the grand jury, and have an easy out when the boss and victims want to know why the case is being dropped.
As a former prosecutor, I have to disagree with this assessment of the purpose of a Grand Jury, and how prosecutors use them. Having spent many days presenting cases to a GJ, I can tell you with certainty, we never gave the "problematic" evidence a thought before presenting a case. And nor should we have.

The purpose of the Grand Jury is to serve as a buffer between the almighty power of the prosecutor's office and the rights of the People. The thinking has always been that the enormous police power of the state to charge an individual with a major crime (a felony; i.e., a crime with potential jail time of more than 1 year) shouldn't be absolute. So the idea of the Grand Jury is to serve as that check.

As several other posters have noted, the burden of proof on the prosecution in the GJ is much lower than at trial. Is there reasonable evidence to believe that a crime has been committed, and that the defendant is implicated in that crime to a sufficient degree to officially charge that individual and proceed to trial? A pretty low bar. I do recall one prosecutor in my office who made some kind of argument in court (after an indictment) that because of the strength of the indictment, the defendant was facing serious trouble. The judge's response, which was endlessly repeated in our office: "Counselor, you could indict a ham sandwich...".

So when presenting cases to the GJ, we presented only as much of the evidence as we needed to to ensure the indictment. We almost never presented actual witnesses or introduced physical evidence. It wasn't necessary, and was seen as counterproductive. What some of you might not know is that when you present a witness at the GJ, you must turn over the transcript of that testimony to the defense before trial. If the witness at trial says something even remotely different than what they said in the GJ, the defense lawyer will use that against them to damage their credibility. And since hearsay evidence is admissable in the GJ, there is usually no need to present more than one witness, usually the Police Officer that conducted the witness interviews. "I interviewed Vince Victim, and he told me that the defendant pulled gun on him and robbed him". Done.

My office didn't need to or want to use the GJ to do dry runs of trials; first off, is no time to do that right. Defendants that are in jail on bail have a right to quickly be indicted or freed. that means the police and the prosecutors have to be quick about GJ action on felonies, and that means no time to put together a practice trial. But more importantly, there is no need to do so. My former office (as do most other DA's offices that I am familiar with) already screen cases immediately after an arrest. Any case with serious evidentiary problems is pulled from the queue of regularly processed cases, and is either given more attention, or sh*tcanned immediately.

Most jurisdictions have a different kind of GJ as well: the investigative GJ. These bodies act independently (remember the phrase "runaway GJ?) and have subpoena power to their own investigations and issue reports and recommendations. But it does not appear that the GJ in question for this unfortunate Captain was one of those.

So, for those of you who think that the fact he was indicted means that the case against this guy is strong or weak, I have to disagree. We don't know anything from the GJ's actions.

And no one I know of ever tanked a case in GJ because we were concerned about our conviction rates. None of us knew enough about the case at the time of GJ presentation to ever worry about. And even if we did think the case stunk (and a lot of them did), the GJ process is more like a factory than anything else. We had no time or energy to worry about what would happen to a case later on; it wasn't going to trial for at least a year, and who knew what would happen by then.

In my five years as a prosecutor, I probably presented a couple hundred matters to a GJ; I remember only one time when I wanted an indictment and didn't get it. I also remember a few times when I wanted them to return a "No True Bill" (no indictment); those were more successful.
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post #78 of 790 Old 12-13-2018
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Re: Suicide at Sea and captain charged

I've seen studies that show very clearly most GJs just go along with the prosecutor, in effect 99.9% a rubber stamp.

There really does need to be greater accountability to counterbalance the huge power imbalance between the DA+police nexus and the public they (are supposed to) serve.

But it unfortunately comes down to educated and informed citizens taking responsibility for actively exercising their oversight powers, and boy is that a Sisyphean goal these days, even just voting every once in a while seems too much bother for most.
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post #79 of 790 Old 12-13-2018
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Re: Suicide at Sea and captain charged

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As a former prosecutor, I have to disagree with this assessment of the purpose of a Grand Jury, and how prosecutors use them. Having spent many days presenting cases to a GJ, I can tell you with certainty, we never gave the "problematic" evidence a thought before presenting a case. And nor should we have.

The purpose of the Grand Jury is to serve as a buffer between the almighty power of the prosecutor's office and the rights of the People. The thinking has always been that the enormous police power of the state to charge an individual with a major crime (a felony; i.e., a crime with potential jail time of more than 1 year) shouldn't be absolute. So the idea of the Grand Jury is to serve as that check.

As several other posters have noted, the burden of proof on the prosecution in the GJ is much lower than at trial. Is there reasonable evidence to believe that a crime has been committed, and that the defendant is implicated in that crime to a sufficient degree to officially charge that individual and proceed to trial? A pretty low bar. I do recall one prosecutor in my office who made some kind of argument in court (after an indictment) that because of the strength of the indictment, the defendant was facing serious trouble. The judge's response, which was endlessly repeated in our office: "Counselor, you could indict a ham sandwich...".

So when presenting cases to the GJ, we presented only as much of the evidence as we needed to to ensure the indictment. We almost never presented actual witnesses or introduced physical evidence. It wasn't necessary, and was seen as counterproductive. What some of you might not know is that when you present a witness at the GJ, you must turn over the transcript of that testimony to the defense before trial. If the witness at trial says something even remotely different than what they said in the GJ, the defense lawyer will use that against them to damage their credibility. And since hearsay evidence is admissable in the GJ, there is usually no need to present more than one witness, usually the Police Officer that conducted the witness interviews. "I interviewed Vince Victim, and he told me that the defendant pulled gun on him and robbed him". Done.

My office didn't need to or want to use the GJ to do dry runs of trials; first off, is no time to do that right. Defendants that are in jail on bail have a right to quickly be indicted or freed. that means the police and the prosecutors have to be quick about GJ action on felonies, and that means no time to put together a practice trial. But more importantly, there is no need to do so. My former office (as do most other DA's offices that I am familiar with) already screen cases immediately after an arrest. Any case with serious evidentiary problems is pulled from the queue of regularly processed cases, and is either given more attention, or sh*tcanned immediately.

Most jurisdictions have a different kind of GJ as well: the investigative GJ. These bodies act independently (remember the phrase "runaway GJ?) and have subpoena power to their own investigations and issue reports and recommendations. But it does not appear that the GJ in question for this unfortunate Captain was one of those.

So, for those of you who think that the fact he was indicted means that the case against this guy is strong or weak, I have to disagree. We don't know anything from the GJ's actions.

And no one I know of ever tanked a case in GJ because we were concerned about our conviction rates. None of us knew enough about the case at the time of GJ presentation to ever worry about. And even if we did think the case stunk (and a lot of them did), the GJ process is more like a factory than anything else. We had no time or energy to worry about what would happen to a case later on; it wasn't going to trial for at least a year, and who knew what would happen by then.

In my five years as a prosecutor, I probably presented a couple hundred matters to a GJ; I remember only one time when I wanted an indictment and didn't get it. I also remember a few times when I wanted them to return a "No True Bill" (no indictment); those were more successful.
This is a helpful and interesting insight into the function of a grand jury. Were you a state or federal prosecutor?

I've been a civil trial attorney for 10+ years and have used focus groups and have attended several CLEs on planning and conducting focus groups. The comparison to federal grand jury proceedings has been made many times, and it makes total sense to me. Although I know that AUSAs in my jurisdiction have relatively small caseloads compared to their state counterparts, and have the time to think about and plan their prosecution strategy more carefully. Personally, I can't imagine not exploiting such a valuable tool to receive feedback on problematic issues in my cases. That's the whole point of doing focus groups, and we spend quite a bit of time and money to do them.
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post #80 of 790 Old 12-13-2018
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Re: Suicide at Sea and captain charged

First: bodies sink, initially, it’s called drowning. They come back after a few days when the gasses change the buoyancy; it’s called a “floater.”

Second: no matter the outcome of this “process” the capt has been completely screwed. He makes his livid living chartering, his boat is impounded, he’s in house arrest, he faces years of expensive legal fees and social attacks.

Punishment has been rendered, just the duration and severity remains to be determined.
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