Mistrial Declared in Etan Patz Child Murder Case - Legal Commentary by Boston Attorney Hank Brennan

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

The Etan Patz murder trial recently ended after 18 days of deliberation in a stunning mistrial that seemed an impossibility as the defendant confessed and provided sick, demented, details of the child's last moments of life.

Inside the jury room, where seemingly normal people jockey for power and control, facts often get lost in the play for dominance

Boston legal scholar Attorney Hank Brennan, former Prosecutor for Suffolk and Essex counties, has dealt with his share of juries from voir dire to verdict.As a former prosecutor, Brennan agreed to provide a legal viewpoint from inside the jury room as to some causes of mistrial.

Q. Obviously, the simplest question, how is this possible? Do you think it is the way in which evidence is perceived? The length of time in between crime and trial, how about admissible confessions?

A. There are many causes for a mistrial. Some reasons for a mistrial are based on a fundamental problem with the jury or deliberation process that infects the jury.

For example, if a juror knew a witness in the case and either failed to disclose their knowledge or recognized a witness after the case already began this potential bias could cause a mistrial.

Another reason for a mistrial could be that an outside source infected the jury during deliberation. This type of mistrial would include jurors learning of inadmissible evidence or tampering by a third party.  

The most common cause of a mistrial is the situation that occurred in the Patz case. Although the word mistrial standing alone has a dubious connotation, a mistrial can be based on the simple fact that all jurors could not agree on guilt or innocence. This is not an uncommon phenomenon.

This type of mistrial does not invoke double jeopardy, thus, the prosecution if free to retry the case if they choose to do so.

Sometimes jurors have committed themselves to guilt or innocence before trial. Other times, personal conflicts between jurors can cause one or many jurors refuse to compromise and remain adverse to each other based on personal issues as opposed to the facts of the case. Sometimes reasonable people simply don't agree.  

Q. In this case a single holdout indicated they did not feel there was enough evidence to convict how did eleven people find enough and one not?

A. The lone hold-out juror provided an interview with the New York Post today.  His commentary and opinion was thoughtful, comprehensive, and seemingly sincere. It is not often that a juror will provide such a candid interview so this jurors thoughts actually helps both sides in the event of a retrial.

The defense will better identify what issues a juror may struggle with and the prosecution can isolate the concerning issues and attempt to improve their evidence on those issues.

The division of jurors has no relevance in a re-trial. It is a trap for an inexperienced lawyer to feel comforted by the jury division in their favor or discouraged by a jury division against them. The next jury is a clean slate and there no value to attaching emotion to the juror breakdown.

Q. What are the next options for the prosecutor?

A. Putting aside emotion, the prosecution will appreciate that they have a viable case if virtually every juror sought to commit. In assessing resources available for a re-trial, likelihood of success, relevance of plea bargaining, and whether putting the victim's family through another trial are all issues that have some relevance to the jury break down.

I expect given the circumstances the prosecution will not hesitate to retry the case. Given the extent of the defendant's alleged mental health illness and his age, I do not think a plea bargain to a lower level of murder is beyond reason.

Haute Tease

  • "Religious Paintings Of The Expanded Galaxy" Exhibits In The U.S. For The First Time At Gallery 30 South

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Gallery 30 South, Pasadena's popular gallery for emerging and internationally renowned artists, is hosting an extraordinary exhibition titled "Religious Paintings of the Expanded Galaxy."  The exclusive exhibition features a rare collection of 17th and 18th century paintings re-painted by Italian artist Riccardo Mayr.

     
  • The Broken Circle Breakdown Review – A Heartbreakingly Honest Emotional Love Journey

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    “The Broken Circle Breakdown,” from Menuet Productions and Topkapi Films and distributed by Tribeca Films, brings to the screen a heartbreakingly honest, deeply touching emotional love journey through life, loss and unquenchable sorrow.

     
  • A Cure For Wellness Review – A Trippy, Sci-Fi, Mind-Bending,Thrill Ride

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    A Cure For Wellness, from TSG Entertainment and 20th Century Fox, presents a mind-bending story of the power of folklore, mystery, health and the lengths people travel to stop the clock, to secure longevity, to escape, to find Zen.

     
  • Brooklyn Review - A Classic Romantic Love Story

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    BROOKLYN, from Fox Searchlight Pictures, brings to the screen a story of hope, courage and bravery, of embracing the chance of finding a new life, of sacrifice, and the hope of the future and the eyes to see when destiny arrives.

     
  • The Problem with Saying “Merica”

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    "Merica." No, that's not a misspelling. In recent years, we've all heard someone say the name of our nation in this ironic manner. I'd be lying if I told you I've never uttered it myself jokingly.  

  • Beltway Insider: Trump Hosts French PM; Merkel Visits; DMZ Line; Bill Cosby; Avengers Shock

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    President Donald Trump hosted French President Emanuel Macron, along with the French Delegation to the White House this week for a series of bi-lateral meetings and to honor the United States oldest ally with the first State Dinner.

     
  • Money News: World Markets Begin New Year Split; DOW Steady; European Down, Asian Divided

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Dow Jones Industrial rang in the New Year on a high note, during abbreviated trading, and closed 2014 just below the 18,000 point all time record after a bullish year that saw record highs hit Wall Street, lower gasoline prices and resurgence in both investor and economic confidence.

     
  • REAL STEEL, from DreamWorks SKG, Delivers Championship Entertainment

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    REAL STEEL, from DreamWorks SKG and Executive Producers Steven Spielberg and Bob Zemeckis, brings to the screen a futuristic, fast action, emotional story of hope and triumph of the human spirit.   

     
  • The Orphan Keeper Review – Astounding, Inspirational, Remarkable

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Orphan Keeper, from Shadow Mountain Publishing, tells an epic story of a boy kidnapped from India, sold to an orphanage and adopted to the United States over 8,000 miles away and the miracle that would follow.

     
  • Mistrial Declared in Etan Patz Child Murder Case - Legal Commentary by Boston Attorney Hank Brennan

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Etan Patz murder trial recently ended after 18 days of deliberation in a stunning mistrial that seemed an impossibility as the defendant confessed and provided sick, demented, details of the child's last moments of life.

     
  • Chef Jacques Torres: The Sweet Life of Classic Pastry Arts

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The French Culinary Institute recently launched Chef Jacques Torres, international chocolatier, newest Pastry Arts cookbook with a half-day sweet affair that included, for members of the press, a session on creating delicious Pâté â Choux cream puffs.

     
  • A Simple Favor Review - A Mind Bending Suburbian Psychological Thriller

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    A Simple Favor, from Lionsgate and Feigco Entertainment, presents the story of secrets, lies, the buried past, truth, denial, manipulation, a sexy husband, two beautiful women, one sophisticated, powerful, one tenacious, a celebrity vlogger.

     
  • Beltway Insider: Syria Erupts; August Peace Deadline; ISIS Kills Soldier; Refugee Camp Hit; Election 2016; Economy

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    As the August deadline nears for the transition of power ending the Assad regime, the Syrian Peace Treaty dictating the timeframe is barely intact with fighting erupting around rebel held Aleppo and near the civilian refugee camps located in Idlib.

     
  • Celebrity Interview: Louis Lefebvre Curator Galerie Lefebvre & Fils, Paris

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Louis Lefebvre, owner of the Galerie Lefebvre & Fils located in the heart of Paris' curators and collectors of art and design district, created out of his mastery and knowledge, "The Residency" in the rich historic region of Versailles.

     
  • God Help The Girl Review – A Beautiful Modern Euro Musical

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    "God Help The Girl," from Amplify and Barry Mendel Productions, presents a message of hope as the ravages of anorexia, and destruction of lies are told in musical form through the eyes of a contemporary Euro underground rave band.