Predicting witness credibility based on facial features

August 2, 2014

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Good afternoon:

Have you ever wondered about the validity of first impressions when meeting someone for the first time?

Researchers at York University in the UK conducted a study of the response to certain variable characteristics in human faces. They found that despite the variability of human faces and expressions, they created a model that predicted the first impressions of faces seen for the first time using a combination of facial attributes that explained 58% of the variance in impressions.

The authors describe the significance of their study as follows,

Understanding how first impressions are formed to faces is a topic of major theoretical and practical interest that has been given added importance through the widespread use of images of faces in social media. We create a quantitative model that can predict first impressions of previously unseen ambient images of faces (photographs reflecting the variability encountered in everyday life) from a linear combination of facial attributes, explaining 58% of the variance in raters’ impressions despite the considerable variability of the photographs. Reversing this process, we then demonstrate that face-like images can be generated that yield predictable social trait impressions in naive raters because they capture key aspects of the systematic variation in the relevant physical features of real faces.

The results of this study are important because they permit us to accurately predict most of the time how people will react to meeting a person for the first time based on the shape of the person’s face.

We form our opinion of a stranger’s trustworthiness or dominance without conscious thought almost instantly. The shape of a jaw or set of the eyes can lead to long-lasting opinions about someone. The scientists listed 65 facial attributes.

Although this information may be most useful to advertisers, trial lawyers can use it to predict how juries will react to what they say and whether they are likely to believe their clients.

Read the abstract of the study, which has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The implications of this study may be disquieting to those of us who want to believe that we do not make snap decisions about a stranger’s character based on the shape of the face.

Just for fun:

Based on looking at Theodore Wafer’s face, do you believe he is a trustworthy person?

Have you formed any opinions about him, based on his facial expressions?

If so, what are they?

What about Oscar Pistorius?

George Zimmerman?

Michael Dunn?

This is our 1163rd post.

If you appreciate what we do, please make a donation to enable us to keep the lights on.

Thanks,

Fred


George Zimmerman has a new scam UPDATED BELOW

June 23, 2014

Monday, June 23, 2014

Good morning:

George Zimmerman has a new scam. He has written a 10-page book and he is self-publishing it on Amazon.

The title is Tips on Being an Effective Neighborhood Watch.

As most of you know, Amazon features excerpts from the books they sell. To read the excerpt, click on the book cover and the book opens . . .

To a disclaimer from Zimmerman that says, in part,

Not everyone will agree with the statements herein, which may or may not be factual, but in some ways may prove to be helpful.

More useless bullshit from George Zimmerman.

UPDDATE

This book probably is a parody, but I am not going to spend any money to find out.

The book is classified as humor/parody and the publisher is Redrum House, which is murder spelled backwards.

It was published on April 2nd, which is suspiciously close to April Fool’s Day.

If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can read it for free and let us know.

Parody or not, I am not going to link to anything with his name on it.

(h/t to Thrace, Malisha and Crane for tipping me off)


Game Within the Game: Zimmerman lawsuit against NBC was a bright shiny object

June 14, 2014

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Good morning again:

George Zimmerman will be back in the news next week. NBC has filed a motion to dismiss his civil suit for money damages that he alleges were caused by their reporters misrepresenting what he said about Trayvon Martin to the police dispatcher during his recorded non-emergency 911 call. He specifically claims that their report transformed his race neutral call into a racist sounding call causing all of his subsequent miseries.

Game within the Game

I suspect the lawsuit was a bright shiny object intended to divert public attention away from George Zimmerman and place it on NBC and their reporters. It also served a secondary purpose by placing his counter-narrative in the public domain. O’Mara beat that narrative like a drum and the media dutifully reported it as though it were true. I think the strategy was successful because it influenced jurors’s opinions of the evidence.

I believe the lawsuit has served its purpose and NBC will win the motion, given Zimmerman’s profiling behavior, which is evident in his non-emergency call, including his “fucking coons” and “these assholes they always get away” statements.

I recognize that the prosecution claimed Zimmerman said, “fucking punks,” but I have listened to his call and it sounds to me like “fucking coons.” I believe they can hear as well as I do. I question the wisdom and propriety of conceding that he used the word punks instead of coons. I also would not have conceded that race had nothing to do with the case because I believe it had everything to do with the case and the jury acquittal.

The legal test at this stage of the civil case is whether, assuming his evidence is true, together with all reasonable presumptions that flow from it, is it enough to support a verdict in his favor.

I don’t believe it is because by word and deed he created the situation.

The jury’s acquittal does not mean there wasn’t probable cause (i.e., objective facts and circumstances that would lead a reasonable person to conclude that it was more probable than not that he murdered Trayvon Martin).

More importantly, Judge Lester’s finding of probable cause was not based on NBC’s reports. It was evidence-based. That is, he based his decision on Zimmerman’s recorded call, his recorded conflicting stories to police, evidence from the crime scene including the location of Trayvon’s body, which was inconsistent with his statements to police, and some recorded 911 calls and the autopsy report.

Therefore, even if NBC’s reporters got it wrong, and I don’t believe they transformed a race-neutral statement into a racist one, their conduct did not cause him to be charged.

He did not incur legal fees of $1 M because of what NBC did. He incurred those fees because of what he said and did.

He also did not request a pretrial SYG hearing and is potentially liable to Trayvon’s parents for Trayvon’s wrongful death, if they decide to sue him. Recall, for example, the families of the two victims in the OJ Simpson case who successfully sued him for their wrongful deaths despite his acquittal.

As a matter of law, the jury acquittal in the Zimmerman case means that there was insufficient evidence to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

That does not mean there was not probable cause to believe he murdered Trayvon Martin and it does not preclude a finding by a preponderance of the evidence that he caused the wrongful death of Trayvon Martin.

How can that be?

Preponderance of the evidence is a significantly lower burden than proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Just as in OJ’s case, therefore, a person may be able to prove something by a preponderance, but not beyond a reasonable doubt.

The NBC misrepresentation, assuming it was a misrepresentation, did not cause any harm and we know that because nothing would have changed if it had never happened. Zimmerman would still have been charged, prosecuted and acquitted.

That is why the suit against NBC should be seen for what it was and dismissed. It was nothing more than a bright shiny object to divert attention and mesmerize.

I will take another look at this before Thursday’s hearing, which I anticipate will be livestreamed.

A few words about me: I rely on my 30-year experience as a felony criminal defense attorney and my three years experience as a law professor to analyze the game within the game explaining the applicable rules of law and procedure and the reasons why the lawyers and judges do what they do.

My goal is to assist readers to see through to the heart of a case despite the confusing turmoil of words and phrases that often conceal it.

To educate is to liberate.

If you enjoy and appreciate what I do, please make a donation.

Thank you,

Fred


Racists should be banned from jury service

June 13, 2014

Friday, June 13, 2014

Good afternoon:

Xena posted a comment to my post about Theodore Wafer advising that his hearing has been continued to next Friday, June 20th.

She also said,

Did you read the part where the defense wants to argue that Renisha mistook Wafer’s house for a drug dealer’s house? The defense’s argument is that someone who lived close to Renisha was arrested for marijuana after Renisha was killed.

This presents an interesting new wrinkle to putting a victim on trial for a homicide, so let’s break it down, take a look and estimate the probability that it will be successful.

Let’s begin by assuming for the sake of argument that,

(1) someone who lived near Wafer’s house sold marijuana,

(2) McBride had previously purchased marijuana from that person at that address, and

(3) she mistakenly believed she was knocking on that person’s front door when she knocked on Wafer’s front door.

I don’t believe that set of assumed facts, which Wafer did not know at the time of the shooting, helps his claim of self-defense because, regardless of her intent, he had to be in fear of suffering imminent death or grievous bodily harm and his belief had to be reasonable. That is, a reasonable person in the same situation also would have believed that he was in imminent danger of suffering death or grievous bodily injury.

The racist right wing hate machine skips over the word reasonable because its members devoutly believe that their opinions are reasonable.

They fail to understand that the word reasonable in a legal context means evidence-based, as opposed to opinion-based. Racial prejudice is by definition opinion-based, rather than evidence-based. Therefore, it is unreasonable and no verdict should ever be based on it.

Prospective jurors who are unaware of their racial prejudice, or who deny being prejudiced when they know damn well they are prejudiced, should never sit on a jury when a person of color is the defendant or a victim allegedly injured or killed by a white defendant.

Even if McBride had a gun and intended to kill Wafer, and there is no evidence that she did, nothing about the situation he was in would likely have caused a reasonable person to believe he was in imminent danger behind the two locked doors. Seems to me that opening the door demonstrates unequivocally that he did not fear death or grievous bodily injury.

That act is an evidence-based expression of his state of mind when he opened the door and it defeats his claim of self-defense.

The castle doctrine does not help Wafer because she did not attempt to break in or enter his house. She was unarmed and outside his house knocking on the door. He was inside his house in a safe location on the other side of two locked doors while armed with a loaded shotgun and he had a cell phone with which to call 911.

He cannot create a necessity to act in self-defense by opening the door.

We might have a different situation if he were living next to a drug house with all sorts of people coming and going at all hours of the day and night occasionally mistaking his house for the drug house, but even then he would have to have an objectively reasonable basis to believe his life was in danger, as opposed to being pissed off that someone was knocking on his door disturbing his sleep in the middle of the night.

As a matter of law, therefore, I believe the answer is easy. The evidence that the defense seeks to introduce is irrelevant and inadmissible.

Just as O’Mara and West did in the Zimmerman trial, the defense is attacking the victim’s character in an effort to say she deserved to die.

However, as much as right-wing racists want to believe that they have a right to kill any person who is young, black, drunk and/or stoned (e.g., George Zimmerman), especially if that person is listening to loud music and is disrespectful (e.g., Michael Dunn), the law recognizes no such right or privilege.

Finally, do not forget that Wafer did not initially claim self-defense. He told the police that his gun went off by accident.

Look for the defense to do everything it can to keep him off the stand at trial, so he does not have to explain to the jury which story was a lie and why he lied instead of telling the truth.

Trial lawyers love it when they get to ask, “Were you lying then or are you lying now?”

For all of these reasons, I believe the evidence the defense wants to introduce is irrelevant and inadmissible. I also believe a jury will convict him of murder, provided the prosecution identifies and eliminates all potential stealth jurors who would willingly substitute their racially prejudiced opinions about black teenagers for actual evidence.

We have seen jurors do that in two Florida trials.

The question is whether the prosecution will permit that to happen in Detroit.

Wafer’s trial is scheduled to start in five weeks, probably not long after Judge Thokozile announces her decision in the Oscar Pistorius case.

This is our 1082nd post. If you appreciate this analysis and our continuing effort to explain what is happening between the lines in our failing criminal justice system, please make a donation.

Thank you,

Fred


Frank Taaffe Expresses Change of Heart (Video)

May 10, 2014

posted by Crane-Station

-I owe a hat tip to someone for bringing it to our attention. Thank you, much appreciated. While I have not followed Zimmerman in a while, I do sometimes wonder if some have had a change of heart.

[correction, the hat tip goes to Xena. Thank you Xena!]

Former George Zimmerman defender now says he was guilty, racially profiled black men
By Tom Boggioni
Saturday, May 10, 2014 19:17 EDT


Gun show cancelled in Orlando because George Zimmerman is featured speaker

March 7, 2014

Friday, March 7, 2014

Good morning:

The New Orlando Gun Show is scheduled to take place this weekend at the Majestic Event Center in Orlando. Approximately 100 vendors are expected to exhibit their wares to a devoted public of potential buyers infected with irrational and racist white fear of teenagers with dark skin bearing Skittles while talking to their girlfriends or listening to loud rap music.

If you were planning to attend, you should check to see if the event is still on because the Majestic cancelled it late yesterday when it discovered that the Gun Show had invited George Zimmerman to be the featured speaker and the organizers were promoting the show with a photograph of Zimmerman posing with three armed white guys wearing black shirts.

Their faces were blacked out to protect their identities because, as we all know, everyone with dark skin is hunting Zimmerman hoping to squeeze off a clear shot.

Event organizers may be headed to court today to obtain an order preventing the Majestic from cancelling the show.

Click Orlando is reporting today,

A Twitter account that Zimmerman has used before tweeted, “another company bowing to threats of being labeled racist. Americans, give them your opinion.”

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This is our 923rd post and its time again to request donations. We work hard to keep you informed by filling in the blanks between the lines. After 30 years in the trenches, I am familiar with all of the rules and strategies prosecutors and defense counsel utilize. Experience counts and most of my predictions have been accurate.

Adjusting and fine tuning to dial in the white fear and racist corruption frequencies in the Florida courts took some doing, but I am on track now.

If you appreciate what we do, please make a donation.

Fred


Updates in Zimmerman and Dunn cases

March 6, 2014

Thursday, March 6, 2013

Good afternoon:

George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn are back in the news.

George Zimmerman has a hearing scheduled for tomorrow in his civil case against NBC.

To get that case back on track (it was stayed pending the entry of a final order terminating the criminal case), he is abandoning his effort to obtain an order requiring the State of Florida to pay his costs and fees in the murder case and he is asking Judge Nelson to dismiss pending claims filed on his behalf by his attorneys against Bernie de la Rionda and the State Attorney’s Office for sanctions and to reimburse them for costs incurred because of discovery violations.

Mark O’Mara and Don West have joined in his request.

State Attorney Angela Corey is opposing his request for an order dismissing those pending motions.

She wants to litigate those matters because she is confident that she will win on the merits and she wants that result so that there will be no doubt that her office did nothing wrong.

I can understand where she is coming from, but litigating those matters would be a waste of time. Nothing remains to litigate when a moving party withdraws its own motion.

Dismissal of the motions should clear the way to enter a final order in the murder case.

I do not believe the defamation lawsuit against NBC has any chance to succeed.

Meanwhile, Zimmerman’s motion to set aside the order of default in the divorce case that Shellie filed has been granted. That effectively rewinds the case to zero. I do not believe either of them have any assets to divide up, except guns, ammo and a worthless defamation suit against NBC.

I did not handle divorce cases when I practiced law, so I am just guessing when I say that the $1.5 million debt to O’Mara will be his obligation alone. Nevertheless, I believe he may be able to challenge the legitimacy of that debt by suing O’Mara for breach of contract. O’Mara agreed to represent him pro bono and I do not think he could unilaterally change that agreement without Zimmerman’s consent.

For all I know, O’Mara may have obtained Zimmerman’s written consent to change the fee agreement.

Now, let’s turn to the Michael Dunn case.

Michael Dunn’s attorney filed a motion seeking to continue the sentencing hearing until after the retrial of the murder charge. Cory Strolla pointed out that Dunn still has a right to remain silent pending the retrial and he does not want to give a statement about the offense to the probation officer assigned to write the presentence report.

That is a valid point, so I am expecting Strolla’s motion will be granted.

The sentencing is scheduled for the week of March 24th.

I do not believe a date has been set for the retrial. Corey has 90 days from the date when the mistrial was granted to commence the retrial. Look for the court to schedule the retrial sometime in early May.

That date will have to be continued for several months if Strolla withdraws because Dunn is out of money. New counsel will require several months to get ready.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

This is our 922nd post and its time again to request donations. We work hard to keep you informed by filling in the blanks between the lines. After 30 years in the trenches, I am familiar with all of the rules and strategies prosecutors and defense counsel utilize. Experience counts and most of my predictions have been accurate.

Adjusting and fine tuning to dial in the white fear and racist corruption frequencies in the Florida courts took some doing, but I am on track now.

Please make a donation, if you appreciate what we do.

Fred


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