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Blogger might free convicted rapist

The wonderful thing about blogs is that you can say whatever you want. But as with any other freedom, you have to be willing to accept the responsibilities and consequences of your actions.

In New Hampshire, one guy who has a blog. On that blog, he discussed an upcoming trial of an accused rapist. He described the defendant as "local riff raff." Later, he groused at being called for jury duty, saying it would suck up a lot of his time as defendants tried to prove their innocence.

Then he got put on the jury of the "local riff raff," and helped to convict him.

Now the riff raff's attorney wants a new trial, saying that the blogger had pre-judged the case and had a fundamental misunderstanding of the justice system -- the defendant doesn't have to prove his innocence, the prosecution has to prove guilt.

The story says that Vachon's blog came up during the trial, and the judge ruled it didn't disqualify him. But the attorney still wants a new trial.

As someone who is both a blogger and anti-rapist, I am pretty comfortable that the jury wasn't swayed by this guy's postings and what he may have brought into the jury room. But I have to say the lawyer has a pretty good case.

If he's guilty (and I suspect he is, so that ought to exempt ME from his jury), he'll most likely get convicted again. I want this schmuck locked up, and locked up for a long time -- but done right.


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Comments (9)

This is a cause for a retri... (Below threshold)

This is a cause for a retrial and not to let the guy go automatically free.

The blogger should have been asked if he had any preconceptions about his guilt or innocense.

Sounds like both the blogger in his roll as a prospective jurist and the judge failed in their duties.

You did not name said blogg... (Below threshold)

You did not name said blogger, Scott Vachon, which the Union-Leader describes as a member of the Laconia School Board.
Jurors are supposed to disclose any prejudices they might have, at least in my state. Seems to me the prosecutor might consider criminal action against this Scott Vachon

Yeah, same thought here. T... (Below threshold)

Yeah, same thought here. The real crime is how did this guy get on the jury to begin with? If he put a lid on his "riff raff" rhetoric then he must have been trying to make it. If not, it's on the judge and lawyers.

And I've got to say, just with what you shared, I don't like the guy's attitude. He doesn't belong on a jury, and after reading what don wrote, on a school board either. I may agree with his views, for I too am anti-rapist (does that need to be said?), but at the same time I think one needs to show a little class in the way one goes about certain things.

As a lawyer, I blame the la... (Below threshold)
Starboard Attitude:

As a lawyer, I blame the lawyers.

They should have uncovered this bias during jury selection, and this would have been an easy example of that. Any savvy lawyer these days would ask about blogging activities, and blog readership. Truthful responses would have exposed his bias to any reasonably adept lawyer, and he would have been booted.

The judge sounds pretty lame, too, based on his post-conviction examination of the blogger. However, unless the blogger lied during the jury selection process, a mistrial or motion for new trial is not necessarily justified merely because a biased juror escaped detection. You need actual jury misconduct, which is not established by pre-selection blogging. That misconduct can only occur once the jury is impanelled--and I haven't read anything to support that.

outragious..this disregard ... (Below threshold)
Drew E.:

outragious..this disregard to human dignity is kinda like when CPO Welsofer was found guilty in a military court at Ft. Carson of torturing an Iraqi POW to death...and was not sentenced to jail...go figure...

I say take the safe road. ... (Below threshold)

I say take the safe road. Give the defendant a new trial. In cases like this it's better to be damned sure.
If the reports on his comments are accurate, this Scott Vachon should have stated that he could not be a fair juror since he viewed them all as guilty until proven innocent.

Just a common lawyer trick ... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Just a common lawyer trick when they don't have a case.

Another lawyer chiming in h... (Below threshold)

Another lawyer chiming in here: I, too, blame the defendant's lawyer. Discovering this kind of prejudice is the point of jury selection. It defies all reason to believe the blogger could've labeled the guy as "riff raff" for public purposes then disclaimed having privately formed an opinion about him.

I think the lawyers or whom... (Below threshold)

I think the lawyers or whomever approved the jurors dropped the ball.They should be held responsible, not the blogger, although he was in the wrong for not volunteering how he felt about the man. As a couple people said, just another way of getting a new trial and trying to get off scott free!






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