Should a victim represented by counsel be permitted to participate in a criminal trial

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Good morning:

PYorck posted a comment last night on the Dr. Shiping Bao thread regarding a legal procedure in Germany that permits victims or families of homicide victims to play a role in a trial.

Here is his comment and my response.

What do you all think?

PYorck’s Comment:

Here in Germany it is possible for victims of certain violent crimes or their families in case of homicides to play an active role in a trial as the ‘subsidiary prosecution’.

If they want to be actively involved, they are represented by a lawyer. During the trial this ‘subsidiary prosecution’ has most of the rights of the regular prosecution. They can introduce evidence, provide witnesses including experts, question both of those, make statements… They also get full access to discovery and are allowed to be present throughout the trial even if they are witnesses. The major things they can’t do is charging anyone and appealing sentences.

Obviously something like this could have made a huge difference in this case.

I am curious what you think of this?

My response:

My knee-jerk reaction is negative because I’m thinking that too many cooks can spoil the stew. With two lawyers pushing the prosecution in different directions, the prosecution might appear to lose focus, which a clever defense lawyer might exploit as an example of reasonable doubt.

On the other hand, the mere presence of the victim’s lawyer might function to keep the prosecution honest. I like that aspect.

I’m going to make a new post out of the idea. Let’s see what others think.

Good comment.

Going to try something new: a poll.

41 Responses to Should a victim represented by counsel be permitted to participate in a criminal trial

  1. Judy75201 says:

    @MDH. I’ve really enjoyed reading you today.

  2. Deborah Moore says:

    Thanks for this article, Fred. I just don’t know enough to have an opinion, so I voted Don’t Know. Interesting results on your poll.
    I’ll try to pop back in and read comments and see what others’ opinions are.
    (And, please know that you and Rachel are a real blessing.)

  3. MDH says:

    The fact, in the USA, is that the government and the justice system are set up to protect the property rights of the wealthy. That gives the wealthy, and their bootlickers like Lumberjack George, an advantage when the state dispenses justice. Because money can buy a better defense for the wealthy, or who they deem worthy to defend, the wealthy have a large advantage with respect to not having to obey the law, thus avoiding justice.

    As colin points out, this proposal would allow wealthy purported victims to further persecute the poor.

    So I don’t see this proposal as solution to the problem I set forth in my first paragraph.

    Maybe the system is too far gone.

    Is it time for Bastille Day to come to the USA?

    Hell, there are hundreds of thousands of people in prison that are only there due to a sick system that does not dispense justice.

    This whole meme about the USA being a nation of laws, and thus, a just country is more propaganda. Powerful men pass laws to deny justice to the weak. Powerful men manipulate the system to punish those they deem less than human.

    I don’t want no peace

    I want equal rights and justice

    – Peter Tosh

    • colin black says:

      Its ironic that the Country that stormed the Bastile sent America Madame Liberty as a gift .

      A country that imprisons inmates at an industrial level because there penal system is an Industry.

      One of the few growth industrys besides munitions an war that’s flourishing in todays economy.

      • MDH says:

        And our media mocks French courage.

        Somehow, many American are like Zimmerman in that they equate courage with beating down others with overwhelming force.

        Courage is standing up for what is right and not being afraid to die for it.

        Everybody wants to go to heaven

        But none of them, none of them, want to die

        – Peter Tosh

        • Sophia33 says:

          So true. Like Michael Moore said in “Sicko” because of the Bastille the French government fears the people instead of what we have where we fear the government. When I hear people say that we should have limited government in things like health care, education and business, I try to remind them that we should be the government. So essentially we are fearing ourselves. What happened to “We the People”. If we would get off our butts and truly act as “We the People” and take control of the government, it would not be a separate entity from ourselves.

          • Isn’t it upside down?
            The ones fearing government work actively at bigger army and more militarized police.

          • MDH says:

            All that Tea Party rhetoric is directed to limiting the governments ability for the “propertied” to trample on the rights of those dispossessed of property.

            These fools really think that wealth created by an individual is directly proportional to ones income or net worth. Because they control propaganda, a proper read of Adam Smith’s views on the value added by labor a called “communist” and the sheep are run away.

            They fail to see that any society beyond hunter gatherer is a pyramid wherein the wealth of those at the top is supported by a large foundation of toiling masses. Destroy the base and the top topples to brute survival.

            You are exactly right.

            A government of the people, by the people and for the people is what defends the masses from tyranny by the elite. One man equals one vote.

            The Tea Party types want to reinstate a more Feudal system wherein those with property lord themselves over the peons.

          • Yep.

            On a discouraging note, Mayor Vincent Gray of Washington, DC today vetoed a bill that would have required WalMart to pay a living wage of at least $12.50 per hour to employees. WalMart threatened not to build 3 of 6 stores that it’s planning to build, if the mayor had signed the bill into law.

            For more on the story, go here.

            I really despise WalMart.

          • MDH says:

            That first paragraph was poorly written.

            I meant limiting the governments ability to protect the masses from being trampled on by the “propertied”

          • MDH says:

            Lastly, they like to float that mommy government line, although the police and laws enforced by government are there to protect their property.

            They would not know real survival of the fittest if it bit them in the butt.

            They ought to take these lines from Deliverance to heart:

            If we want your money, we’d take your money

            Now get your ass up that hill

            Do they really think they have some sort of advantage over the poor that they despise, if government broke down?

          • Two sides to a story says:


          • Soulcatcher says:


            I despise Walmart also. If they have to pay a living wage to their employees, they won’t open anymore stores. They might go broke.

        • Sophia33 says:

          I understood what you were trying to say.

  4. Sophia33 says:

    My knee jerk response to this is…I don’t think that the situation in Germany would work in the U.S. because of the racial disparities we already have in the U.S. judicial system. I feel that this would allow for more discrimination of people of color in the judicial system. With white supremacy being the dominant mindset among too many in this country, their perception of reality is often accepted as truth. It is something that we run into as black people in this country. Then add the emotions of an alleged/accused wrong. I don’t think it will work.

    • I believe the possibility of a big judgment down the road in a civil case would have lawyers eager to participate.

      However, many defendants in criminal cases are judgment proof, as might turn out to be the case with GZ.

      Do you think the result of the trial would have been different if Benjamin Crump had participated in the prosecution?

      • Sophia33 says:

        I do think that the trial would have been different had Crump participated. He couldn’t say it out loud, but he knew the prosecution wasn’t doing its job.

        • LadyStClaire says:

          @Sophia33, indeed he and the rest of those representing Trayvon’s family knew, that the prosecution wasn’t doing right by Trayvon but, I guess as attorneys in that SIN SICK STATE, they all agreed that the system worked when they know damn well it didn’t.

          A child is dead, as the result of being murdered and his murderer walks free among the rest of society. Had he shot and killed his wife or her father the other day, he would have been arrested real quick and, another jury of his peers would be finding him guilty. SMH. Black people will NEVER be accepted in this country. Never mind that, blacks have died fighting in the very same wars as whites and other races. But, they are thought of as less than human.

      • Two sides to a story says:

        Crump’s name was and is even now so incendiary to the defense – or at least to defense supporters – wow, having him even more involved could have caused quite a stink. However, I do see how this system could work quite well with all the proper rules in place. The proper presentation of evidence would have happened in this case no matter what the prosecution did, and likely OM would not have been able to try the case in the media, or would have been severely hampered in his efforts to do so.

        I think a system like that adds additional safeguards not only for victims, but is likely much better in the long run for people facing charges because in theory, at least, the truth is more likely to be arrived at. At it’s worst, such a system would have the potential to victimize and railroad the innocent even more, but it could definitely play as a counterbalance to poor police work and poor prosecutorial work as well.

  5. colin black says:

    The problem that arrises with this system is the same that happens in a regular State sponsored prosecution.

    Victims Familys participating in prosecution will have a huge advantage re there wealth social standing and intelligence .

    Is the victim of a poor background with less educated Parents an no accsess to moneys to hire lawers ect.

    Set to suffer yet again as there family if they even have any are disadvantedged.

    Sounds like an eliteist system of justice/just us / I M O.

    The legal system is supposed to be a level playing field for both the accused an the acussers.

    • I believe the court would appoint counsel for people who could not afford to retain counsel.

      Similar to guardian ad litem appointments from a list of pre-approved lawyers who volunteer to accept appointments at lower rates of compensation with the added carrot of potentially profiting from a civil judgment against the defendant after the criminal trial.

      Note: GAL appointments typically are not restricted to lawyers. These appointments would have to be restricted to lawyers who specialize in trial practice.

      • PYorck says:

        In case of a conviction you can recover the costs for the lawyer from the defendant, but of course often that isn’t worth much.

        If you can’t afford a lawyer, the state will pay one at a limited rate. This assistance is definitely attainable if you have a low income. Unfortunately it may not be immediately obvious whether you qualify and of course even for people with average incomes above all thresholds paying a lawyer can be a daunting prospect, especially if the benefit is unclear.

  6. colin black says:

    And off topic 3

    Sophia33 says:

    September 11, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Look at how the conservatives are acting over Obama putting his foot on the desk in the Oval Office. As if no other president has done this before.

    We all know The Kennedys an prez Clinton put a lot more body appehdedges than feet on top of the oval desk.

    Its called perks of the job.

    • Lord help us. Don’t the conservs have anything better to do? That White House has been Peyton Place for years. So he put his foot on the desk. So. Fucking. What.

      • annnnd, “Mitch McConnell, you can eat my balls.”

      • Two sides to a story says:

        The wingnuts have made it their job to obstruct and destruct for the entire length of Obama’s administration. He’s Blackenstein, ya know. : / Never mind that Obama is pretty center right himself, from the viewpoint of this person on the pretty far left.

        • Oh, no doubt. He is very far to the right, I don’t know what they are complaining about. Believe it or not, we got the Clean Air Act from Richard Nixon, whereas Obama seems to care less about the environment. Among other things. I share your viewpoint.

          • Sophia33 says:

            Nixon was more liberal than the last two Democratic Presidents. And they talk about Reagan as if he is a God, but I don’t think Reagan could get his party’s nomination from this bunch.

          • Sad but true. Funny, giving away my age here, but many boomers would likely agree that it was all downhill after Reagan got elected. (53.)

          • LadyStClaire says:

            Their only complaint is this, his skin tone is not the right shade according to them, to be in the White House as anything but a butler. it’s a shame that we still live among those who still have this mentality. But one things for sure though, between this and Trayvon Martin’s murder, the rest of the world is seeing the real United States Of America. Believe me, they are not seeing a pretty picture at all!

          • It’s over the top. I don’t know this country anymore.

      • LadyStClaire says:

        CS, I agree with you as well as applaud your comment. these people are going to be one damn nervous wreck, by the end of his presidency. THEY ALL NEED TO GET A LIFE! BTW, why did you choose the name, Frog Gravy for these articles?

        • Thank you for your kind comment and for asking about the title. I will put up the post called “Frog Gravy,” but it was something I overheard in a class I attended in prison, where some fellow inmates were discussing the subject of eating road kill. Yes. The line that really stuck in my mind was this:

          “I don’t really go for all that sucking out the brains stuff, but I do eat the tails.”

          The conversation sort of went downhill from there, when ‘frog gravy’ was mentioned, as a side dish for frog legs. In an iron skillet, of course.

          You can’t make this stuff up.

  7. colin black says:

    And two

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