Thursday, October 27, 2011

Stacy Schular and Insanity

I recently stumbled upon this story and just read here that good old Ms. Schular's pleas of insanity were rejected by her Ohio jury who convicted her of many, if not all, of the allegations made against her. I have to admit that I was a late comer to this one so I can't intelligently weigh in with an opinion about the case itself - and the legitimacy of her defense. But, as an experienced criminal defense attorney, I can say that sometimes you either have to go with the best defense you have or the only defense your client is willing to present regardless of the chances of success. This is not an enviable place to be as the defense attorney (not to mention the client/defendant), but if your client doesn't want to plead, you gotta try their case to the best of your ability....roll the dice with the jury, and see what comes up. Apparently for Ms. Schular, it was seven-out, craps, a loser.

Reading about this case, and part of the reason for this post, was that it reminded me of a book I read recently that I thoroughly enjoyed (recommendation and explanation to come immediately below). I thought of it due to one piece of testimony I heard about in the Schular case. Specifically, it was reported that one witness testified at trial that long ago, Ms. Schular had admitted most of the allegations to her saying that if she (Ms. Schular) got caught, she had her defense already all planned out. What was that defense you eagerly ask? Yup, insanity. Well, you can't say that sex crazed, alcohol-providing, gym teacher, Ms. Schular isn't true to her word.

And, where were all these teachers when I was in school?? My gym teacher was always some old dude in Bike shorts screaming at us to change our clothes and "get out there" - no booze, no sex, thankfully. Now, there was one creepy science teacher who was clearly gay and possibly a pedophile. He would take a liking to some students each year, not me, again, thankfully. But, he was known to provide some booze and maybe even some pot if you were lucky....I never heard about anything sexual, but he sure was creepy. But, I digress.

ANYWAY, if this witness was telling the truth, it is interesting to me because it tells me one thing about Ms. Schular - she may or may not be insane, but she surely is a psychopath. And, that brings me to the book I read. I originally heard about this book while watching The Daily Show. The author of the book was a guest on the show, see here.

So, when I saw that, I decided since I was a criminal defense attorney, I should probably educate myself some more and read this book. My only point is that regardless of how you feel about Ms. Schular, her defense, or her conviction, you should read this book whether you are a criminal defense attorney or not. It was fascinating, and here's a little sneak peek from the author himself, Mr. Jon Ronson.

In totally unrelated and yet still interesting news, a local Portland attorney has made a fantastic film that I have not yet seen but want to because in addition to my work in criminal defense, I also handle personal injury cases. It is called Hot Coffee and it's a documentary about that famous McDonald's coffee case and the bigger picture of the ongoing debate about tort reform. Rather than bore everyone with a lengthy discussion about the pros and cons of this issue, here's my take:

Everyone can get on their soap box and talk about tort reform all they want. The bottom line is this: if they, or a loved one of theirs, was seriously injured or harmed by someone else (negligently or otherwise), you better believe that person would be none too happy about their damages being capped or their case being barred from court or a jury of their peers because of tort reform. That, to me, is the whole issue and kills any arguments in favor of so-called tort reform. Its analagous to the pro-lifers who, when faced with an unwanted pregnancy of their own, or of a loved one, would privately advocate for an abortion.

Anyway, this Portland attorney, Susan Saladoff, was recently on The Colbert Report, and, in my opinion, did an excellent job. See that here, and see the movie!

Finally, in somewhat related news, another Portland attorney got a record setting verdict against the State of Oregon for abuse suffered by a young boy while in the foster child system. Again, I cannot claim I know much about the facts and the tort reformers may say this is terrible for our financially floundering state, but, while all that money won't change what happened to that little boy, it sure could help and I'm not about to say that after all he's been through (and will have to go through in the future), he doesn't deserve it.

1 comment:

  1. Someone testified that she said if she got caught, she would just say she was insane. Is it that easy to just use insanity as a defense? I seem to remember certain requirements needed to be met. I guess noone bought her story except her lawyer...