Sunday Open Thread

Roger Clemens gets a do-over trial.

Radley Balko examines The Unchecked Charging Power of the Prosecutor with reference to, among others, the George Zimmerman case.

If Angela Corey is a Minister of Justice, why is she prosecuting this 12 year old as an adult for murder?

Cristian Fernandez was charged as an adult at age 12 for murder 1, which carries a life sentence. He is the youngest person ever charged as an adult for murder in Jacksonville. If convicted, he will be the youngest person convicted of adult murder in America. [More...]

He threw his two year old brother against a bookcase.. His mother, who was 12 when he was born, ignored the injured boy for hours before taking him to the hospital. Had she gotten him there earlier, the doctors say he may have lived. She recently pleaded guilty to first degree aggravated manslaughter to a child by neglect the case and is facing a sentence of between 12 and 30 years. Yet Cristian is still facing a murder 1 charge.

When Cristian was 2 and his mother 14, they were both sent to foster homes. His stepfather abused him, and then killed himself to avoid being charged with abusing Fernandez, in front of Cristian's siblings and with Cristian right nearby. Cristian's life has been one of neglect and abuse. Life in prison is not the answer.

Not content with a murder charge, Angela Corey then filed sexual battery charges against him. He will face that trial first.She says she has compassion for him but not forgiveness.

Petitions are circulating for Corey's removal to her treatment of Cristian. As more people learn of the case, the outrage grows. Change.Org has a petition to remove her and one to save Cristian Fernandez.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome

< Zimmerman Judge Discloses Potential Conflict | Can the State Prove Zimmerman's Ill-Will, Hatred, Spite and Evil Intent:? >
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    It's Cristian (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Towanda on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 10:54:13 AM EST
    and not all links are working.

    But thanks for enough working links to learn a bit more about this poor boy's horrible upbringing.

    thanks, fixed now (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 01:11:38 PM EST
    Now that I can read the linked info (none / 0) (#31)
    by Towanda on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 11:23:38 PM EST
    I have to say that he was raised by wolves.

    Except that she-wolves have better maternal instincts.  And he-wolves stick around (they're monogamous, except in rare cases).  And incest in the pack is not done, unlike what was done by the cousin (at the least, from the behaviors described) to this boy.

    Yet he has straight A's and no suspensions for missing school, while essentially raising his younger siblings . . . so he is smart, he is responsible, he would seem to be eminently  salvageable.  

    I will hold hope for the best decision for him.


    I have no idea (none / 0) (#32)
    by Towanda on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 11:25:09 PM EST
    how the word "best" above became linked to some free offer.  (Oh, oh, I may have a virus?)

    DO NOT CLICK, please.


    $1 Billion Settlement of Tribal Trust (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by ding7777 on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 11:51:16 AM EST
    geez, what a horror show. (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by cpinva on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 12:06:30 PM EST
    clearly, this is overreach on corey's part. there was a time in this country's history when children were hung. in europe, they were hung and burned at the stake. supposedly, we're a more evolved society, and we treat children as children, not small adults. i fear we are in the process of devolving.

    NYT review of "Guilt," a book of short (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by oculus on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 03:46:28 PM EST
    stories by a German criminal defense lawyer.  Review is interesting.  link

    Sounds interesting, and one that (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by shoephone on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 05:10:58 PM EST
    I'll have to read a review of elsewhere, since I'm on the non-subscription-only-10-free-articles-per-month plan w/ the NYT.

    Incidentally, I never you gave my quick review of "The History of Love" which has been devoured by everyone I know except an 88-year-old family friend who escaped the Nazis in the late 1930's (She started it but couldn't go much further -- I think it may have hit too close to home).

    Suffice it to say, the character of Leo Gursky (formerly a young writer, but an old man when we encounter him) is one of the greatest characters I've ever found in fiction. From the very first lines, Krauss inhabits him totally, with the most convincing voice. There is a lot of humor and also sadness. But it's a somewhat confusing read, with another main character's story being introduced about halfway through and so much complexity in each of these two characters' lives that you're sometimes not sure who is who, and whether the second story is real, or maybe part of the book Gursky writes as a young man. (The second main character has the same name as young Leo's first love.) I found myself continually going back to read certain passages and pages over again, some because they are writtern in such beautiful language, others because I needed to remind myself of where some charcaters entered the story and how they relate to Leo and present-day Alma.

    It's hard to tell you too much without giving things away, but the writing is so strong and the story so compelling that I think the jigsaw puzzle nature of it is really worth the time.

    I'm reading "Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter" now and it's very good.


    Thank you. A friend graciously awarded (none / 0) (#21)
    by oculus on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 05:17:56 PM EST
    me, courtesy of her NYT subscription, 12 free weeks of access on line.  Oh joy.  

    I am reading Pico Iyer's "The Man Inside My Head."  Part autobiography, but lots of reflections of Iyer's father and Graham Greene.  


    I've got the Iyer on my "to read" list (none / 0) (#22)
    by shoephone on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 05:44:43 PM EST
    after reading and hearing a lot about it. Thanks! And I love Graham Greene... how come nobody reads "Travels With My Aunt" anymore? One of the funniest, quirkiest books ever.

    I got a (none / 0) (#24)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 06:59:54 PM EST
    print subscription for a client in prison, and when he got out, I reduced it Sundays only and transferred it to my house. It includes the online access, but at $31.00 a month, I'm not quite sure it's worth it.

    Supposedly, when I include links to NYT articles here on TL, they are avaialable to everyone. If that's not the case, I'll probably stop linking to them since people won't want to follow the links if it counts against their free monthly totals, so please let me know.


    Oculus, it's a curious (none / 0) (#25)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 07:10:35 PM EST
    book review. The author says both:

    The uneasiness running through these stories seems rooted in von Schirach's discomfort with the role of the criminal defense lawyer. The work is necessary and probably ethical, he suggests, again and again. But it may not be moral.

    If the book author, as a defense lawyer, thinks his work is not "moral", I have no interest in reading it. But then, she writes:

    Far more successful is von Schirach's casually sympathetic attitude toward his perpetrators. They are damaged, overwhelmed, stupid or undone by sexual desire, and they make catastrophic mistakes. They are guilty, yes, but it is not always obvious that punishing them serves a purpose.

    Which seems much more of an appropriate view for a defense lawyer and maybe worth reading.


    My first reaction: has the reviewer ever (none / 0) (#34)
    by oculus on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 12:59:18 AM EST
    practiced criminal law?  Secondly, how good is the translation?

    Huge weather change here. (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by observed on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 04:16:10 PM EST
    3 weeks ago we  had occasional temperatures near 0 F. In the last few days, daytime highs have been in the mid-upper 70's. Nighttime lows are still close to freezing. On the other hand, it's sunny and HOT during the day, if you're out.
    Basically there is no Spring here. The weather we have now is what we'll have until September.

    Thanks for this Jeralyn (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by CST on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 10:54:41 AM EST
    reading about these types of cases makes me kind of ill, but they need to be brought to our attention.

    This is one of those -everyone is a victim- cases.  The "mom" who had a child at 12 and couldn't take care of him, the now 12 year old "adult" murderer, and of course the dead 2 year old.  Tragic.  And a terrible abuse of the role of prosecuter.

    Christian Fernandez (4.50 / 2) (#2)
    by Dadler on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 10:41:23 AM EST
    Thanks for that, J.  This kid coulda been me.  Literally.  At ten or eleven, I was driven almost insane by an abusive stepparent, plotted to kill him for a month.  I poisoned his medication, kept a butcher knife under my mattress, my little league bat in the coat closet in the entryway to the house...but I never got the "courage" to carry through with my plan, thankfully I suppose -- though I still carry a lot of guilt about the abuse he heaped on my little brother, who was too small to remember any of it.  Irrational to carry that guilt, to blame oneself for their childhood action or inaction in the face of such circumstances, but such is the tormented human mind.  Had I harmed this man, in my mind, I would've been completely justified (he really could've killed my brother easily any of those times he beat on him, or killed me for that matter), but no one else would've seen it that way, I probably would've been dealt with harshly and horribly improperly, and you most likely never would've seen me again.  And were adult prison an option, forget it, it's a death sentence.

    My heart is sick, just ill.  And sadly, what it would take to heal and rehabilitate this child probably doesn't even exist at this point in our psychologically skewed and ignorant society.  

    Thanks again and peace.  

    oculus (none / 0) (#1)
    by CoralGables on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 09:31:44 AM EST
    some think the most disliked person in Miami after Fidel is Ozzie Guillen. That has changed, and this morning it may be Heath Bell who currently holds the record for most loudly booed Miami Marlin.

    Perhaps Heath could be banished to (none / 0) (#12)
    by oculus on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 03:26:35 PM EST
    the clubhouse too!  He was fun to watch but not entirely reliable.  Maybe now he will badmouth Miami.  

    A few side notes (none / 0) (#8)
    by CoralGables on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 01:41:38 PM EST
    The defendant's legal team turned down a plea deal leading to the filing of the sexual battery charge. It was agreed by both parties the second charge would be left off if there was a plea deal. There is also a history in that Cristian had previously broken the two year old's leg.

    So we have a sexual battery on a five year old, breaking the leg of the two year old in a previous incident, and killing the two year old.

    I have absolutely no idea how to proceed with a 12 year old with this kind of history but it would seem a plea deal should have been worked out. I can also see why an automatic release at age 21 would be frowned upon.

    From your summary of the background (none / 0) (#13)
    by oculus on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 03:38:11 PM EST
    of the accused, what solution?  Not the type of individual, adult or juvenile, who usually turns it around w/counseling.  Given the plea bargain the mother accepted, seems likely the murder 1 case will be pleaded out also, to lesser charges.  

    The solution (none / 0) (#17)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 04:18:12 PM EST

    Whatever the solution is, it needs to be in place long before events reach this turn.

    Just what was the mechanism that a 12 year old was enabled to "raise" a baby?  Good grief, a blind bowling ball could see clearly that adoption would have given that kid far better life chances than to be left in the care of a person that could barely take care of herself.



    Both the accused and his mother (none / 0) (#18)
    by oculus on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 04:32:19 PM EST
    were placed in foster care when he was 1, according to information here.  

    That temporary arrangement (none / 0) (#23)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 06:28:12 PM EST

    did not work out too well.  A permanent adoption would have offered the kid a much better shot at life.  Apparently the court has other priorities that the glaringly obvious best interest of this young man.

    You don't (5.00 / 2) (#27)
    by Ga6thDem on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 07:39:58 PM EST
    know much about adoption do you? yes, he would have been better off adopted but yet people like you do not want just "anybody" to adopt kids and people like you alos do not want to just adopt "any kid". I hear this all the time from conservatives but when asked why they don't do it, they are full of excuses.

    If they could adopt (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by jondee on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 11:27:47 PM EST
    fetuses and somehow keep them suspended in that state they would..

    It's the already-born ones in bad situations that they don't seem to like.  


    Ga, I think I know more conservatives than you (none / 0) (#28)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 08:41:01 PM EST
    And I have never, never, never heard any of them say what you claim.

    Not once.


    Didn't happen.


    Many conservatives want to stop gays from adopting (5.00 / 2) (#29)
    by Addison on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 08:51:50 PM EST
    I don't know many conservatives, and (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by observed on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 09:55:55 PM EST
    I don't live in the rock-ribbed racist South like you---and I have heard it.

    Oh really? (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 05:43:04 AM EST
    Have conservatives all of a sudden done a 180 on gay couples being able to adopt children?

    they know he's the only (none / 0) (#40)
    by jondee on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 03:17:04 PM EST
    social liberal in the country, so they never talk about it around him.

    Is Santorum auditioning by exploitation for (none / 0) (#9)
    by KeysDan on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 01:50:32 PM EST
    Romney's running mate?   Speaking at the NRA convention in St. Louis last Friday, Santorum touted his love of guns credentials  (cf. Vice President Cheney shoots his friend, Mr. Whittington, in the face during hunting accident).

    He proclaimed that "When it comes to gun rights and advocates, I have to say that I don't hold a candle to my wife,  I have to say that I am a hunter and I am a gun owner, but she owns way more guns than I do and she gets a chance to shoot them more often than I do."

    In his speech's coup de grace, Santorum said: "Karen and I are life members and we wanted to announce today that--now Bella is a life member of NRA, too.  Bella, is their 3-year old daughter suffering from Trisomy 18, a serious disease with, generally, a bleak prognosis.   Santorum did not say how many, if any, guns Bella has.  

    This is a troubling case... (none / 0) (#10)
    by Addison on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 02:21:16 PM EST
    Angela Corey has erred significantly on the Fernandez case. I don't see the support for 1st degree murder. I don't even see the intent to kill required for 2nd degree murder. So the charge of Fernandez as an adult for 1st degree murder is bizarre.

    I think you've missed the most damaging element of this particular case. Corey has not only charged Fernandez with 1st degree murder as an adult, but also states:

    No one's ever talked about a trial. No one's ever talked about life in prison. The rumors are rampant about that.


    In the juvenile system, we can only incarcerate or have [Cristian] contained for not even two years, and that is not an option to protect the community. However, we understand at his young age he deserves a chance at rehabilitation. The plea deal we have offered would combine those two things.

    [The SPLC disputes her statement that 2 years is the limit for incarceration in this case].

    Is she really complaining about "rumors" of a trial or life in prison when someone is charged with 1st degree murder? It seems like she overcharged specifically in order to force a deal because she didn't like Florida's juvenile justice system.

    I hope she didn't overcharge Zimmerman in the hopes to avoid trial through a plea. I fear she may have.

    I think you are right (none / 0) (#19)
    by nyjets on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 05:01:28 PM EST
    For serious crimes I have no problem charging young people as adults.
    HOwever in this case murder does seem to be a stretch. And that is being generous.

    So, now we know why (none / 0) (#11)
    by scribe on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 03:25:20 PM EST
    out of all the prosecutors in Florida, this particular one was chosen by TPTB to prosecute the Zimmerman/Martin case:  there seem to be no lower bounds of decency, nor of overcharging, this prosecutor will not transgress.

    The craptacular quality (i.e., lack thereof) of the affidavit submitted in the Zimmerman case - which does not establish probable cause in any world outside that of a lawyerized, legalized-lynchmob - is likely to be only the first step in the courtroom atrocity we're about to see transpire.  Since we haven't had a chance to really look into this prosecutor's history, I'll hold back for now, but I'm willing to bet we'd find a long trail of discovery and Brady abuse, if not outright violations., and all the other thuggish abuses we've seen out of other maddog prosecutors in the past.  Won't surprise me a bit.

    As to both the case of the 12-year old (none / 0) (#14)
    by oculus on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 03:42:00 PM EST
    accused and Mr. Zimmerman, FL law appears to provide for a defense motion to challenge sufficiency of the evidence to proceed to trial and, upon the filing of such a motion, a court determination of this issue.  So, in my view, prosecutorial charging discretion is not "unbridled."  

    What motion would that be? (none / 0) (#35)
    by expy on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 02:08:08 AM EST
    I'm not a Florida lawyer, but I couldn't find anything in the Florida statutes or rules of criminal procedure other than a motion to dismiss which equates to a summary judgment motion - it requires an assertion that there are no undisputed material facts.  

    oculus, I think the (none / 0) (#36)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 02:28:37 AM EST
    motion to dismiss on stand your ground immunity is that the court lacks authority to prosecute you because you are immune, not insufficiency of evidence. You can't move to dismiss charges criminal charges for insufficiency of evidence prior to trial. That has to be decided by the jury.

    Doesn't look like Mr. Zimmerman is (none / 0) (#39)
    by oculus on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 11:50:54 AM EST
    entitled to a preliminary hrg. re probable cause as he was arrested on affidavit and arrest warrant.



    missing story (none / 0) (#26)
    by diogenes on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 07:19:27 PM EST
    "Fernandez was in court Friday, one day after the Duval County grand jury indicted Fernandez on a charge of sexual battery on his 5-year-old stepbrother."

    If he is only convicted of the above charge and of throwing his two year old stepbrother at a bookcase with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, then being placed in the juvenile system for several years or until age 21 and then released with a sealed record is not a promising prospect as far as the rest of society goes.  Sometimes people get angry and throw someone around--if the victim dies, you get a manslaughter charge.  If the victim doesn't die, a mild charge.  Maybe Cristian meant to kill him; I don't know if it was planned.  However, sexual battery on a five year old is a very bad sign if in fact he is convicted of that.

    OMG!!! why Fernandez?? (none / 0) (#41)
    by adelinalee on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 04:04:18 PM EST
    Fernandez, you'r too you to know how is hard of life..

    Via : Strep Throat Symptoms