Motion for Acquittal?

Dear Viewers,

Wednesday night, after we did the final segment in the Peterson case, you would expect that Bernie and Ted would say good night and leave the set. But, last night we asked them to stay until the end of the show on the set. Of course the camera never widened so that you could see them and it appeared I was on the set alone.

Why did we ask them to stay?

Because our New York-based line producer was worried about our guests in our last two segments of the show. Several of them were "phoners" and for some reason he feared "no-shows" which means that I would be sitting staring into the camera alone with no one to interview. Incidentally, we did have one no show (the wife of one of the surviving passengers of the Missouri air crash), but it was not noticed since we had an officer from the scene. Bernie Grimm, a die-hard Yankees fan who got updates during our commercial breaks, agreed to stay in spite of the ongoing game. (I suppose with the end result of the game, he would have been willing to stay all night and avoid confronting the last few innings anyway.)

Now, for a quick explanation of the law.

Last night Gloria Allred made much of the fact that the judge ruled on a motion that there was enough evidence to convict Peterson and thus denied the defense motion to dismiss the case. We all jumped on Gloria because we thought she was being quite loose with her statements to you — to put it lightly. Here is why we jumped on her. The motion is technically called "motion for a judgment of acquittal." In California they call it by its evidence code number and I always forget that number.
The defense MUST make that motion at the close of the prosecutor's case or it will lose its chance to raise many issues on appeal if in the end there is a guilty verdict. It is a routine motion. Only terrible defense lawyers forget to make it.

But here is something more important (and why we all jumped Gloria for being disingenuous): by law, in deciding that motion, the judge must consider everything the prosecution has presented as true (the words of the statute "in the light most favorable to the prosecution.") So of course the prosecution will win the motion and of course the judge will rule there is sufficient evidence for the prosecution to convict.

It is only in the rarest of race cases that a judge will grant a defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal and thus we all thought Gloria either did not understand the motion (she does civil cases, and not criminal), or that she was being "overly passionate" in her arguments about the case.

One other note to answer emails I have received — the judge made this ruling when the jury was NOT in the courtroom. No judge makes this ruling in front of the jury, as it would not be appropriate. Consider this motion (and its denial) simply a technical compliance with rules and not of any great legal significance.

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