Oscar Pistorius Sentencing Day 2

Oscar Pistorius' lawyers presented more witnesses today, including his manager.

The prosecutor, Gerry Nel, was his usually bombastic self. He has a real attitude, and it has not been lost on the judge in this trial.

Mr Nel described Mr Maringa's suggestions as "shockingly inappropriate", adding that they would amount to "no sentence". He questioned whether Mr Maringa understood the gravity of Pistorius's crime.

Even if she decides to give Oscar some jail time, I highly doubt she will give as anywhere close to what the prosecutor is asking for. . [More...]

He needs to go back to school. Unrelenting sarcasm and mockery is not a successful cross-examination technique. He comes off as a bully. His questions are designed to express his thoughts and then present them to the witness. Witness examination is not the time to express your thoughts, you do that in closing. I've seen the judge take him to task for his overly confrontational style before in this trial.

I'm hoping for an alternative sentence. My best guess is he will get it, with a lot of community work, or he'll get a token (shock)sentence -- 1 or 2 years so he never forgets the experience and it will serve as a hefty deterrent to committing negligent/reckless acts in the future.

The most effective trial lawyers modulate their tone and go from soft and easy, polite, curious, to sharp, not in any particular order. It keeps the witness wondering what is coming next, leaving less time to focus on memorized answers to expected questions

One of my first trials many decades ago was for a biker in a nationally prominent club who I had gotten off a drug charge. He and his wife got divorced. She then got a DUI and he moved for sole custody. The courthouse was a tiny one in the mountains, built in the 1800's.The room was so small the four of us had to sit at the same table. (usually each side gets their own table.) I got about halfway through my cross-examination of the wife when the judge stopped and asked the lawyers to come into chambers.

In chambers, the Judge said to me, "It's hard enough to take a woman's kids away without you acting like she committed Murder I." Point taken, great advice.The advice has stayed with me all these years. (Now I reserve that attitude for cops and agents, and even then, avoid using the same tone from start to finish.) Nel needs to have a friend point that out to him. He's a advocate, he should present and argue his case without sarcasm, without mocking or belittling the witness' answers, and without denigrating her views. Perhaps if he spent a little more time preparing his cross the night before court, he could get that down and be much more effective. Up until now, he has come across as a pompous meanie. I mute him a lot.

The Judge has expressed her displeasure with his behavior during the trial. I'll bet he pays some kind of "tax" for it in terms of the length of Oscar's sentence. He's not going to get the sentence he wants. Oscar's lawyer, Barry Roux, on the other hand, is a terrific lawyer -- both in temperment and in substance. He may not get everything he wants, but he has good arguments and he is courteous in demeanor. My predictions: The sentence will be closer to what Roux wants than what Nel wants.

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What Sentence Will Ocar Get?
0 years --alternative non-prison time, with community service 13%
Weekends, with work relsease 0%
Under one years 0%
1-2 years 17%
2-5 years 34%
She should hammer him with the max 34%

Votes: 23
Results | Other Polls
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    I Sure Hope... (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 08:43:26 AM EST
    ...the judge is above punishing/taxing the prosecutor by reducing a guilty man's punishment.  That would be infinitely worse and a sad day for any criminal justice system that would reward a criminal because of some jacka$$ prosecutor.

    What hasn't been mentioned, is this normal for prosecutors in S Africa.  Comparing it to the US system isn't really fair, yeah so we don't do it like that here, but is that prosecutor out-of-line in the country he practices in ?

    Considering (none / 0) (#2)
    by jbindc on Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 08:54:52 AM EST
    He's one of the top prosecutors in the entire country and has more than 30 years experience, my guess is Nel knows what he's doing.

    I agree (none / 0) (#3)
    by Reconstructionist on Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 09:14:47 AM EST
      You have to be cognizant of cultural differences when assessing foreign proceedings.

     The bombast, verbosity and pretentiousness jars us and seems almost comical at times but very many things about the proceedings seem odd to one raised in our system.



    If the court's sentence does (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by oculus on Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 11:08:02 AM EST
    not include custody in. a governmental institution, in my opinion this would be because of the socal worker's recommendation, not the court's disapproval of the prosecutor's style.

    Not sure what's wrong with his style (none / 0) (#11)
    by CoralGables on Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 11:21:38 AM EST
    Many would agree that house arrest would be shockingly inappropriate. It would be inappropriate had he not said so.

    I gather he said it in what was, to (none / 0) (#12)
    by oculus on Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 11:30:57 AM EST
    "some," an offensive manner. It would be pretty surprising if the prosecutor rolled over and either asked for or passively accepted ankle bracelet plus 16 hrs. volunteer work at a museum.

    16 hours (none / 0) (#13)
    by jbindc on Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 11:35:35 AM EST
    would be a pretty offensive sentence (along with house detention).  2 days of community service for taking someone's life?  

    I almost thought that was a typo when Jeralyn posted it.


    I followed this trial, along with (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 12:26:12 PM EST
    the rest of the TL gang, and I believe that Pistorius knew exactly who was behind his bathroom door and exactly where specifically she was in the bathroom for him to aim at.

    Similar to OJ, I think he's going to get little to no jail time for his murder.

    Similar to OJ, I think he remains, literally, a mortal danger to others close to him; those who are involved deeply with him are in very real danger of his willingness to commit horrendous crimes of passion on them.

    If Nel is voicing his disgust at Pistorius and the results of the legal process, I think he is speaking for many.

    Just wait (none / 0) (#20)
    by jbindc on Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 12:37:08 PM EST
    If he gets no prison time, there will be some women who will be eager to date him - just like with OJ.

    I beg to differ (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by ruffian on Wed Oct 15, 2014 at 04:52:12 AM EST
    Women will want to date him even if he does get jail time.

    Sadly, (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by Zorba on Wed Oct 15, 2014 at 01:23:56 PM EST
    I think you're right, ruffian.

    Of course. They'll feel sympathy for him - (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by Mr Natural on Wed Oct 15, 2014 at 01:30:08 PM EST
    - because he's a widower.

    According to reports, (none / 0) (#35)
    by MO Blue on Wed Oct 15, 2014 at 05:38:47 AM EST
    he already has a new girlfriend. Nel questioned Ms. Hartzenberg on this at the hearing.

    Pretoria - Prosecutor Gerrie Nel failed to get an answer from Oscar Pistorius's psychologist on whether a new girlfriend would have affected the paralympian's emotional state after the death of Reeva Steenkamp.
    Nel was questioning Hartzenberg about a media report that Pistorius had found a new girlfriend not long after Steenkamp's death. link

    Hard to picture him as a (5.00 / 3) (#26)
    by MO Blue on Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 01:02:38 PM EST
    completely broken man, if true.

    Is the poll asking for a prediction (none / 0) (#4)
    by Reconstructionist on Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 09:23:28 AM EST
     or a personal opinion as to what would be just?

     I would not be at all surprised if this judge imposed no prison, but have to believe this is among the most egregious examples of conduct resulting in convictions only for the 2 charges of which he was found guilty. That lends support for a sentence at or near the maximum

      The only mitigating circumstance that I find even slightly compelling is his physical disability. The extent to which his reliance on prosthetic legs should serve to reduce his sentence is something I would need to know much more about how others with similar physical disabilities are treated.

    That is a good question (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by MO Blue on Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 09:35:54 AM EST
    In the poll I voted for the sentence that I thought he should get. If I answered based on what sentence the judge will actually impose, my answer would vary a great deal.

    I think he will be not do any jail time at all. If for some reason he is unable to compete competively in the sports arena, he will IMO be able to persue a career in acting.


    As was pointed out in another thread (none / 0) (#5)
    by jbindc on Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 09:34:07 AM EST
    His lack of legs did not prevent him from shooting her 4 times.  He may not be able to function in regular prison environment, but I'm sure the state could find some arrangement for him - something between staying in his own posh estate and "gen pop".

    His prostheses could be used as weapons (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by oculus on Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 09:38:45 AM EST
    and he would be very vulnerable to assault. Perhaps the correctional system would prefer not to have him in its custody.

    Which is why (none / 0) (#8)
    by jbindc on Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 09:52:30 AM EST
    they could find an alternative arrangement for him. But I don't think hanging out in your own large home should be where he ends up (if he does) either.  That's akin to grounding a kid for a bad report card.

    I Agree... (none / 0) (#10)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 11:21:32 AM EST
    ...but his large home was sold, he is broke, at least according to him.

    That being said, the possibility of going to prison with prosthetics should have been something he thought of long ago, like when he bought the gun, got the ammo, and definitely before shooting blindly into a door.

    There are a lot of people not committing crimes because they cannot do the time, the handicap should not be exempt from the ramifications of their actions.  


    As you may suspect (none / 0) (#14)
    by jbindc on Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 11:36:56 AM EST

    That being said, the possibility of going to prison with prosthetics should have been something he thought of long ago, like when he bought the gun, got the ammo, and definitely before shooting blindly into a door.

     There are a lot of people not committing crimes because they cannot do the time, the handicap should not be exempt from the ramifications of their actions.  

    I completely agree, but I'm surprised at you Scott - that post might get you tagged with a supposedly pejorative "law-n-order" label around here!


    JB... (5.00 / 3) (#24)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 12:58:08 PM EST
    ...according to the poll results, that isn't accurate.  Right now, only 1 in 4 think he should not go to prison.

    As SUO mentioned, I am not convinced this was an error.

    Regardless, I do not like this assumption that shooting someone accidentally means you don't do real time.  It's not an accident that they bought the gun and used it.

    The idea that there is no responsibility in owning and using a gun really bothers me.  I'm not taking about hunters safety or whatever, I am talking about people who put on their big boy pants, fire it with the intention of hitting someone, then beg for a light sentence when they make a grave error in judgement.

    Ditto for people who accidentally hit a neighbor because they decided they need an assault rifle, rather than a handgun or a shotgun.  All of it, things they could control long before the 'accident'.

    No one should ever be able to shoot blindly into a door, kill an unintended person, and not do real time.


    The points that you are making (5.00 / 3) (#30)
    by NYShooter on Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 05:24:22 PM EST
    are very similar to the one I've made here also.

    I'm quite familiar with guns. Having been in situations, both real, and, potential, I try to put myself in the subject's frame of mind when trying to understand stories like Oscar Pistorius'.

    When you're holding a loaded gun in your hands you are very aware that you're also holding death in your hands. A few years ago, when I was almost positive a burglar had entered, and, hiding in my house, I, reflexively, went through a check list in my mind as to the possible outcomes. The fear of my being mistaken regarding the burglar, and shooting an innocent person instead, far exceeded the fear of there being an intruder in the first place.

    Pistorius's recklessness, in shooting first, and, thinking about Reeva (or, any other innocent) later just goes beyond my ability to understand. If we're supposed to use the "reasonable person" standard in trying to understand situations like this then the idea of letting Pistorius off with a token sentence would, IMO, be a gross miscarriage of justice.


    Note (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Oct 15, 2014 at 09:58:13 AM EST
    According to the poll, only 15% believe he should get less than a year in prison.  That surprises me.

    I think he should do 5 years and out early if he keeps his nose clean.  He should never be allowed to own a firearm and he should if is releases early, lots of community service work that puts him in with the very people he is so scared of, his own community.


    I'm not surprised (none / 0) (#37)
    by Reconstructionist on Wed Oct 15, 2014 at 10:30:32 AM EST
     The poll 's utility even within the very small sample may be limited because it is still not clear if people are expressing an opinion or giving a prediction (although I suspect most respondents are giving an opinion because of the "should" in the last option), but even among the staunchest defenders of liberty there is not a widespread attitude that wrongfully killing people is  a relatively inconsequential matter or that a high profile and wealthy person should be treated leniently because  the adverse publicity attendant to his crime is a sound reason to take years off the sentence that a "normal person" would receive.

      "It cost me a lot of money and now lots of people don't like me and that should offset a substantial portion of the otherwise appropriate sentence because most people would not face as much financial loss or have as many people thinking they are bad people,"  likely resonates positively among a small proportion of any population.


    Does anyone who commits a crime stop (none / 0) (#15)
    by oculus on Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 11:42:06 AM EST
    before doing so to consider possible sentences if apprehended and convicted?  Doubt it.

    No Idea What Other... (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 12:41:55 PM EST
    ...people think, but since Pistorius doesn't believe he committed a crime...

    I have home protection weapon in my house, loaded.  I put a lot of thought into it, the first shell is rubber, and the rest are specially designed so that they don't go through walls and mistakenly hit a neighbor.

    I have walked through my place with the lights off, I know the layout in relation to protecting myself and giving me the best angles and access to the door, lights, ect.  That might be a bit much, but I won't be the idiot on TV who killed his woman, nor will I be the queen of cell block D in Huntsville.


    Maybe they should (none / 0) (#16)
    by jbindc on Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 11:42:54 AM EST
    that's kinda the point.

    "Felony dumb." (none / 0) (#17)
    by oculus on Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 11:43:39 AM EST
    True (none / 0) (#18)
    by jbindc on Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 11:55:27 AM EST
    Criminals generally aren't geniuses.

    If they are (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by Zorba on Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 06:21:20 PM EST
    real criminal geniuses, they never get caught in the first place.

    House arrest at Uncle's home in Pretoria (none / 0) (#41)
    by MO Blue on Wed Oct 15, 2014 at 02:08:28 PM EST
    Luxurious...the three-storey house in Pretoria where Oscar Pistorius is now living and could be the house where he would stay if he receives a home detention sentence.
    The luxurious three-storey property with swimming pool in Pretoria -- which belongs to the Blade Runner's uncle Arnold -- could become the convicted killer's permanent home if Judge Thokozile Masipa is so inclined. link

    There are somewhere around (none / 0) (#27)
    by MO Blue on Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 01:33:31 PM EST
    166,000 people in prison in SA.  I find it hard to believe that number does not include any disabled people.

    If, in fact, other people with disabilities are incarcerated in SA, I see no reason for Pistorius to avoid prison solely due to his disability. His treatment IMO should be the same as any other person within their system.

    This might be an opportunity, since this is such a high profile case, for them to create something better for every one  with a disability.


    In a perfect world this wealthy (none / 0) (#28)
    by oculus on Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 01:50:33 PM EST
    celebrity would be treated by the criminal justice system in a manner similar to the treatment received by Everyman. But, unfortunately, that is not what happens in the U.S.  Or, most likely, in S.A. Also, even in Europe, the accommodations for persons with physical disabilities (who are not in custody) are not comparable to here.

    One can acknowledge that this is not a (5.00 / 3) (#29)
    by MO Blue on Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 02:30:27 PM EST
    perfect world.


    Qui tacet consentire videtur, ubi loqui debuit ac potuit (He who is silent, when he ought to have spoken and was able to, is taken to agree)
        --Latin proverb

    I strongly disagree with the practice of "justice" being completely different based on a persons wealth, class or race.


    That's the way it is. (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by Mr Natural on Wed Oct 15, 2014 at 01:03:55 PM EST
    Ordinary people can barely afford a lawyer who's paid by the hour.  Rich people can afford lawyers who are, apparently, paid by the word.

    Links must be in html format or they (none / 0) (#33)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Oct 15, 2014 at 03:43:22 AM EST
    skew the site and I have to delete the comment. Use the link button at the top of the comment box. Thanks. (A comment and replies were deleted.)