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  #1  
Old 08-15-2012, 08:29 PM
Simple Linctus Simple Linctus is offline
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Was Budd Dwyer factually guilty, innocent, or what?

What's the actual reality behind the charges and law that made him kill himself? I have a sense from overseas, unfairly aquired or not, that high profile American trials are jokes.

Therefore I can see him either being not guilty of everything (or only guilty of some super duper minor stuff that required sod all punishment) or indeed him being some massive state criminal who eventually would have faced life or even death.

I've read the Wikipedia article. Please answer with stuff you know not stuff you've googled. I will apprecaite it!`
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  #2  
Old 08-15-2012, 08:48 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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That was 25 years ago. I barely remember it from the time. He was convicted of a real crime. The wiki article doesn't provide a lot of information about the evidence. The only thing of note is that the government relied on testimony of other defendants, and one of them claimed he gave false testimony in 2010.

But this was not a high profile crime. I doubt most Americans knew anything about it until the news of the suicide.
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  #3  
Old 08-15-2012, 08:54 PM
colonial colonial is offline
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Never heard of Bud Dwyer.

What high profile American trial of the last 50 years has been a joke in which
the defendant was not guilty of everything or only of some super duper minor stuff?
(Conviction must have been upheld on appeal)

Last edited by colonial; 08-15-2012 at 08:54 PM..
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  #4  
Old 08-15-2012, 09:00 PM
Loach Loach is offline
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Outside of those who followed Pennsylvania state level politics, it was not a high profile case. Certainly not on a national level. His suicide made him famous.
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  #5  
Old 08-15-2012, 09:17 PM
Darth Panda Darth Panda is offline
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I've never heard of the guy.

Most high profile cases are heard by judges and tried by lawyers who are talented and professional, and who do their best to perform their jobs well.
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  #6  
Old 08-15-2012, 09:21 PM
handsomeharry handsomeharry is offline
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Isn't there some rule in America about adult men who are named 'Bud(d)'?
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  #7  
Old 08-16-2012, 10:16 AM
anson2995 anson2995 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simple Linctus View Post
Was Budd Dwyer factually guilty, innocent, or what?

I've read the Wikipedia article. Please answer with stuff you know not stuff you've googled. I will apprecaite it!`
Given that constraint, I'm not sure how anyone can answer. The facts are all out there, and as with many cases, different people can examine the same information and reach a different conclusion.

There's some good info in another thread on the topic a few years ago. The consensus opinion seems to be that Dwyer was guilty. One of his co-defendants testified against him, and Bob Asher, the state party chairman convicted in the case, later acknowledged the bribery scheme.
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  #8  
Old 08-16-2012, 11:33 AM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anson2995 View Post
...There's some good info in another thread on the topic a few years ago....
Your URL is simply the title of this thread. Are either of these what you meant to post?

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=452745
http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=236188

Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 08-16-2012 at 11:34 AM..
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  #9  
Old 08-16-2012, 01:13 PM
madmonk28 madmonk28 is offline
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It was not a high profile trial. It was a run of the mill trial that was only of interest within the state. It became news when he killed himself. I remember watching the news report when it happened. They showed the video right up until he shot himself, but kept the audio running. Had he not shot himself, no one who was not realated to Dwyer would still remember the trial.
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  #10  
Old 08-16-2012, 01:41 PM
baka420 baka420 is offline
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I remember seeing that video on the internet when I was younger, it shocked the hell outta me.
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  #11  
Old 08-16-2012, 02:03 PM
bup bup is online now
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I'm not sure what the OP hopes to uncover. He was convicted, which is a pretty good definition of 'factually guilty.'

I don't know of any exonerating evidence, and nobody else is offering any.
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  #12  
Old 08-16-2012, 02:07 PM
yabob yabob is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madmonk28 View Post
It was not a high profile trial. It was a run of the mill trial that was only of interest within the state. It became news when he killed himself. I remember watching the news report when it happened. They showed the video right up until he shot himself, but kept the audio running. Had he not shot himself, no one who was not realated to Dwyer would still remember the trial.
Well, it was somewhat high profile. It was pretty much just a garden variety kickback scheme - yet another case of a politician getting caught with his hand in the cookie jar. The sort of thing you will always have a certain amount of. It was bigger news because it was the State Treasurer of one of the larger states. That puts it just a bit below the more recent stories concerning Rod Blagojevich, who was a governor caught influence peddling.

The distinction to be made is that it would have sunk out of sight in a year or two if hadn't shot himself in front of the press.

I don't think you can make much of a case for him not being guilty.

BTW, I'd heard of the guy many years before the news story. Earlier in his career, he was a state legislator. He represented the part of PA I grew up in.
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  #13  
Old 08-16-2012, 02:13 PM
anson2995 anson2995 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elendil's Heir View Post
Your URL is simply the title of this thread. Are either of these what you meant to post?

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=452745
http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=236188
Yes, the first one. Thank you.
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  #14  
Old 08-16-2012, 02:19 PM
Guinastasia Guinastasia is offline
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Filter's song "Hey Man Nice Shot" is about his suicide.
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  #15  
Old 08-16-2012, 02:30 PM
FoieGrasIsEvil FoieGrasIsEvil is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by baka420 View Post
I remember seeing that video on the internet when I was younger, it shocked the hell outta me.
The video of his suicide is what really propelled the interest. Its out there in unedited form. Its vicariously really shocking, scary and disgusting. Personally I find his calm demeanor describing what he is about to do, and the calls of "Bud, no!" from those assembled to be just as chilling as his actual death. Man the blood comes pouring out of his nose.

I had to almost laugh, though, at the guy screaming "call an ambulance" immediately afterwards as if there was any hope of saving the guy.
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  #16  
Old 08-16-2012, 02:31 PM
friedo friedo is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yabob View Post
Well, it was somewhat high profile. It was pretty much just a garden variety kickback scheme - yet another case of a politician getting caught with his hand in the cookie jar. The sort of thing you will always have a certain amount of. It was bigger news because it was the State Treasurer of one of the larger states. That puts it just a bit below the more recent stories concerning Rod Blagojevich, who was a governor caught influence peddling.
Blago was waaaay more high profile than Budd Dwyer, due to the whole "let's sell Obama's Senate seat" thing. That was a national media frenzy. Dwyer was a high-profile case in PA and the surrounding states, but of little importance on the national level, until he pulled his little stunt.

Similarly, nobody outside of the Illinois area had heard much of Blagojevich before the Obama scandal, even though his name was already mud due to his association with Tony Rezko and other controversies.
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  #17  
Old 08-16-2012, 03:10 PM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
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I watch and read lots of news and the guy never showed on my radar until he killed himself on TV, and he's not been back on it since -- until this thread. In fact, I thought from the context of the first few posts that he had shot himself just in the last few days.

Nothing about the trial was national news. Even his death was more about "some guy who shot himself", not that BUDD DWYER shot himself. The first time I read the name in this post I thought he was a football coach.

Last edited by Boyo Jim; 08-16-2012 at 03:10 PM..
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  #18  
Old 08-16-2012, 08:39 PM
Hail Ants Hail Ants is offline
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Not to make light of an overall tragic event, but I read that by killing himself he kind of got the last laugh. If he had been convicted he'd have lost his govt pension and maybe gone to jail. But because their state's govt's life insurance had no 'doesn't-pay-on-suicide' clause his wife & family received a large payout. Some believe he knew this and it was part of his motivation.
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  #19  
Old 08-17-2012, 03:04 AM
md2000 md2000 is online now
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Originally Posted by Hail Ants View Post
Not to make light of an overall tragic event, but I read that by killing himself he kind of got the last laugh. If he had been convicted he'd have lost his govt pension and maybe gone to jail. But because their state's govt's life insurance had no 'doesn't-pay-on-suicide' clause his wife & family received a large payout. Some believe he knew this and it was part of his motivation.
Presumably too his wife also got a widow pension - or was that rescinded due to conviction, since he died between conviction and sentencing?
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Old 08-17-2012, 10:02 AM
Fir na tine Fir na tine is offline
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Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
Presumably too his wife also got a widow pension - or was that rescinded due to conviction, since he died between conviction and sentencing?
FWIW, in most state and Federal courts, in you die before you are sentenced the conviction is null and void. And if you are not convicted (because you're dead) then you are not guilty.
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  #21  
Old 08-17-2012, 11:05 AM
Minnie Luna Minnie Luna is offline
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I lived in Harrisburg when the Dwyer affair occurred. I was only 10 yrs old, but I do remember the day he shot himself.

I was at a friends house after school and when their father came home, he turned on the TV and told us all to get lost. When someone asked, he said that something happened that day that wasn't appropriate for us to watch. At the time us kids didn't really care, we ran down to the basement. It was only later we heard the adults talking about it and realized that a state politician had shot himself during a press conference. I never asked any questions about it, but I think the general consensus around it was that it was assumed he was guilty.

I didn't think about it at all until the internet age and someone here or on Fark referencing the shooting. I looked it up on wikipedia and read the details of the case for the first time. I can't and won't watch the video.
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  #22  
Old 08-17-2012, 11:08 AM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Originally Posted by Fir na tine View Post
FWIW, in most state and Federal courts, in you die before you are sentenced the conviction is null and void. And if you are not convicted (because you're dead) then you are not guilty.
A more recent notorious example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Lay#Death
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  #23  
Old 08-17-2012, 04:27 PM
Airman Doors, USAF Airman Doors, USAF is offline
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Originally Posted by yabob View Post
I don't think you can make much of a case for him not being guilty.
Actually, you can make a hell of a case that he was innocent, because based on the evidence, he was. The guy who was almost single-handedly responsible for his conviction admitted that he framed Dwyer up. That pretty much closes the book on his guilt.
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  #24  
Old 08-18-2012, 01:34 AM
handsomeharry handsomeharry is offline
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Originally Posted by Airman Doors, USAF View Post
Actually, you can make a hell of a case that he was innocent, because based on the evidence, he was. The guy who was almost single-handedly responsible for his conviction admitted that he framed Dwyer up. That pretty much closes the book on his guilt.
I don't know that I swallow the 'confession'. I'm believing less, and less of these post conviction coming clean and finally telling the truth stories. They always seem too contrived/convenient/etc... for my taste.

Last edited by handsomeharry; 08-18-2012 at 01:35 AM..
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  #25  
Old 10-03-2012, 08:18 AM
iamah iamah is offline
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Here's some points made in favor of Budd:
Quote:
Q: Why would the Smiths lie?
A: The Smiths cut a plea bargain that would minimize their penalty. To get off lighter they had to deliver a bigger fish... Budd Dwyer.

Q: What about Torquato?
A: Torquato testified that he conspired with Smith to bribe Dwyer but he was unable to link Budd to the crime because he never discussed the bribes with Budd.

Q: What about physical evidence?
A: There was never any physical evidence to to link Budd to the crime.

Q: What about the judge how could he let this happen?
A: Poor old Malcolm Muir made it clear from the start that he thought Dwyer was guilty and that he was only interested in a conviction that would not splash mud on important men such as Governor Richard Thornburg. Malcolm Muir was an elderly man and a Republican appointee. One of the Philadelphia papers ran an extensive article dealing with Muir's fitness as a judge. The comparisons between Muir and the Captain in "The Caine Mutiny" speak for themselves, Captain Queeg had his steel balls and Judge Muir had his stopwatch.

Q: But didn't Budd deliver the contract to CTA?
A: Budd delivered the contract but that was not illegal. It is not unusual for State Politicians to do big favors for powerful men. Budd was facing reelection and it is reasonable that he would have done a big favor for the Chairman of the Dauphine County Republican Party. Delivering the contract is not illegal unless you can prove that Budd was party to the bribe.

Q: But didn't a jury of his peers find Dwyer guilty.
A: A jury found Dwyer guilty, but not a jury of his peers. The Federal Prosecutor West removed anyone with any knowledge of the political process from the Jury pool. A jury but carefully screened not to allow it to be a jury of his peers.

Q: Why was Smith after the big payoff?
A: I cannot look into Bill Smith's heart but there has been much speculation that Bill and his cronies planned to use the loot for a congressional race for the seat that George Gekas took.
Source
http://www.persiancarpetguide.com/sw..._the_Trial.htm

Documentary
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R92TClVxsb0

Last edited by iamah; 10-03-2012 at 08:23 AM..
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  #26  
Old 10-03-2012, 09:28 AM
Sailboat Sailboat is offline
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No opinion on Dwyer's guilt or innocence, but this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by iamah View Post
Here's some points made in favor of Budd:
Q: But didn't a jury of his peers find Dwyer guilty.
A: A jury found Dwyer guilty, but not a jury of his peers. The Federal Prosecutor West removed anyone with any knowledge of the political process from the Jury pool. A jury but carefully screened not to allow it to be a jury of his peers.
...reeks of special pleading to me. I don't think "a jury of one's peers" is supposed to mean "people knowledgeable about the nuances of one's profession."
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  #27  
Old 10-03-2012, 10:02 AM
Noel Prosequi Noel Prosequi is offline
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Iamah, you are obviously committed to the idea of Dwyer's innocence, but if that's the best you've got, it's pretty unpersuasive.

The fact that it is possible to claim that a person had a motive to lie is hardly conclusive evidence that they did lie. In practically every trial, the defence claims the witnesses have a motive to lie. Doesn't mean they are. Doesn't mean they aren't, either. But people are convicted all the time on the evidence of insiders who roll over for a plea bargain. You have to take that fact into account when assessing their evidence, but it's hardly definitive.

Your argument about Torquato assumes he was telling the truth. If so, then the Smiths' account of Ryan's involvement is not a late invention made up to attract the prosecutors. Moreover, it is a pretty weak plan for the Smiths to peddle a scheme to take money that apparently needs Dwyer to be involved when he is not. It's not impossible, but it makes the risks very high, and therefore that version of events unlikely.

As to physical evidence, you typically don't see much beyond formal exhibits in cases like this unless there is an undercover operation, which I gather there wasn't.

Your claims about the judge sound pretty conspiratorial. An acquittal would surely splash less mud on the governor (who i assume was a Republican, or else why would the judge be trying to protect him at the expense of the fellow Republican Dwyer?) I am unpersuaded by opinion pieces by some journalist.



I am not sure what you mean by "delivering" the contract. if you mean signing off on it, then I agree that fact alone means nothing by itself in the absence of evidence that he manipulated the process to get it. But your concession that this was a favour for powerful men does not sound like a process based on merit to me.

if you mean personally physically delivering the contract to the other party, when he was state Treasurer in charge of billions, then that is pretty incriminating, and your explanation sounds like special pleading. Importantly, how could the Smiths, who were apparently peddling a scheme that needed Dwyer's involvement but did not have it (on the innocence hypothesis) have been so fortunate as to have Dwyer appear to behave as though he was involved? The fact that it is not illegal per se to deliver the contract is not to the point at all.

And your argument that the jury was not one made up of his peers because it had no political insiders is absurd.

It doesn't advance your argument to say why Smith was after a payoff. There is little doubt that he was, and greed is a sufficient explanation. The question is not whether Smith was greedy, it is whether Dwyer was greedy too.

Juries always get a much more granular look at the evidence than just sweeping assertions and generalities, and would have heard practically all the arguments you make professionally advanced. They rejected them. And late recantings by witnesses aren't accepted on face value-they require close examination.

All in all, he might be innocent. So might Manson. Or any other convict. But once a jury has convicted, you've got to do better than this to demonstrate factual innocence, for mine.
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  #28  
Old 10-03-2012, 10:13 AM
anson2995 anson2995 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iamah View Post
Here's some points made in favor of Budd:
The problem with this sort of thing is that those sorts of arguments are all opinions, interpretations of the facts and not facts themselves. You could just as easily frame things in a way that suggests guilt. "Q: Why would an innocent man commit suicide? A: Clearly, it was evidence of his guilty mind. Q: Why would Smith plead guilty if no crime occurred" etc. I'm not making those arguments, I'm just saying that spin doesn't help get to the answer.

What you have in this case, as in many cases, is a handful of evidence, some of it contradictory and a bunch of witnesses who all have changed their stories over time. Truth is a matter of interpretation, not science.

Last edited by anson2995; 10-03-2012 at 10:14 AM..
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  #29  
Old 10-03-2012, 11:33 AM
Labrador Deceiver Labrador Deceiver is offline
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Originally Posted by Noel Prosequi View Post

The fact that it is possible to claim that a person had a motive to lie is hardly conclusive evidence that they did lie.
What about when that person admits to lying? Is that more or less conclusive?
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  #30  
Old 10-03-2012, 12:17 PM
Senegoid Senegoid is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noel Prosequi View Post
The fact that it is possible to claim that a person had a motive to lie is hardly conclusive evidence that they did lie. In practically every trial, the defence claims the witnesses have a motive to lie. Doesn't mean they are. Doesn't mean they aren't, either. But people are convicted all the time on the evidence of insiders who roll over for a plea bargain. You have to take that fact into account when assessing their evidence, but it's hardly definitive.
When a witness makes a plea bargain (or similar deal) to testify, is the jury allowed to know that fact? If I were on any jury in general, I think I wouldn't take any such testimony very seriously. I would want to base my verdict entirely, as much as possibly, on any other evidence.

Last edited by Senegoid; 10-03-2012 at 12:18 PM..
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  #31  
Old 10-03-2012, 12:32 PM
Happy Lendervedder Happy Lendervedder is offline
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Originally Posted by Guinastasia View Post
Filter's song "Hey Man Nice Shot" is about his suicide.
So he's got that goin' for him.
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  #32  
Old 10-03-2012, 07:58 PM
Noel Prosequi Noel Prosequi is offline
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Originally Posted by Senegoid View Post
When a witness makes a plea bargain (or similar deal) to testify, is the jury allowed to know that fact? If I were on any jury in general, I think I wouldn't take any such testimony very seriously. I would want to base my verdict entirely, as much as possibly, on any other evidence.
Be very rare that they weren't told. Police and prosecutors are well aware that there is a credibility cloud over such people, and are conscious of the risk of giving the prize to the wrong guy. They rarely do plea bargains in exchange for testimony unless there are good reasons to believe. And you tend to find in such cases that the evidence sort of all merges together into the one narrative. The other evidence that you speak of justifies you believing the rollover witness, not ignoring him.
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  #33  
Old 10-04-2012, 08:42 PM
iamah iamah is offline
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I thought it was clear those are not my points, I quoted them from someone who claims that was at the trial. I saw the same points being made on the documentary in favor of Dwyer.

Obviously I cannot tell if he was innocent or not, but it is my personal opinion there was little respect for Presumption of innocence(the burden of proof lies with who declares, not who denies).

Last edited by iamah; 10-04-2012 at 08:44 PM..
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  #34  
Old 10-04-2012, 09:18 PM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
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Yes, and the state apparently met this burden of proof and convicted him.
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  #35  
Old 10-04-2012, 09:45 PM
iamah iamah is offline
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@Boyo Jim
But the justice system is capable of mistakes. That's the sole reason why presumption of innocence is important. There are even cases of innocents executed by the justice.

But I'm sorry to waste your time, I'm leaving for good.

To end on a better note, I think this guy's blog post does a better job making this whole discussion into something productive:

http://strategicparadigms.blogspot.c...udd-dwyer.html
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