Serial: S03 Episode 03: Misdemeanor, Meet Mr. Lawsuit
September 28, 2018 7:58 AM - Subscribe

The smell of raw marijuana + acting nervous + hands in pockets = ? article about the case in the episode (contains spoilers regarding the arresting officer, that presumably will be covered in the next episode.)
posted by dnash (4 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
"The criminal court is probably the last place he should look for help." YUP.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:37 AM on September 28, 2018

I completely lost count of how many times this made me say either "WTF?" or "Oh Come ON." That arrest was bullshit. Black guy knocking on a neighbor's door isn't probable cause for anything. I'm also gonna go with there's no way they smelled weed, they just suspected if they patted him down they'd find either drugs or a weapon, and they'd make up the rest later.

And that Paul Loomis guy. Holy shit. If we thought that judge was an asshole last week...
posted by dnash at 11:21 AM on September 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

I liked this episode a lot because I feel like it does the best job of showing how unfair the system is, and more specifically exactly in what kinds of ways it is unfair.

There's a sense in the first episode that Keonig couldn't fully understand why the young woman pled, or at least why the defense attorney would describe the system as "working." But without showing how much of a sham trial can be, it's hard for a lay listener to understand why the attorney would say that about the result of disorderly conduct with a fine, and why that was in all likelihood 100% the best choice for the client, even with the exorbitantly high fees. The sham of the suppression hearing described in this episode, in contrast, actually does illustrate how we talk about having all these constitutional rights, but in practice it is very easy for them to be eroded by officers who are literally trained to lie, prosecutors who are skilled at coaching their witnesses, caselaw that turns on 5 seconds of the right verbage, and judges that lack an understanding of the context behind plea deals and thus basically assume that defendants are 95% of the time guilty (or whatever the plea conviction rate is in Ohio).

The sympathetic story that most every person accused with a crime has is not necessarily the one that the jury will hear for a lot of complicated structural reasons - many of which fall at the feet of shitty Supreme Court precedent - despite a defense attorney's efforts.

All of that being said, the defense attorney quoted near the beginning of the episode as saying that everyone is constantly complaining about broken orbital bones definitely needs to leave the practice of defending the accused. There's cynicism born of a realistic experience with the system, and then there's the death of empathy.
posted by likeatoaster at 11:26 AM on September 29, 2018 [3 favorites]

The most telling moment, to me, was when Keonig asked the lawyer about whether, when he was working with the police, ever had discussions about using things like "reached for his waistband" and "smelled weed" to show probable cause, and the guy twisted himself into a pretzel in order to tell something like the truth, but to not say it directly. It just shows to me how prevalent this total sham of testimony is, and also, how dangerous it is for someone to say anything against the system.
posted by xingcat at 5:47 AM on October 1, 2018

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