Thursday, March 09, 2006

OP ED: Dan Webb, a Desperate Man

Former Governor George Ryan’s freebie lawyer, Dan Webb, is one smart attorney. He is smart enough to be desperate. The use of character witnesses, such as the doorman and out of state individuals who hardly know Ryan, is desperation. Sending the ex guv’s wife on a round of television appearances to promote the “angel of death row” defense in the public press is an extremely desperate ploy. Using the accused to “accidentally” leak to the press with sealed information about a problem juror … that is desperation.

The proverbial bloody sweat was on Webb’s brow when he used his closing argument to … encourage … beg … plead … grovel … for any juror, or two, to not change their minds in deliberation. His eyes roamed for any juror who would hold out against all evidence and closed-door arguments … who would hang the jury instead of his client.

This is not a man who expects an acquittal. This is a man who now sees no decision as his best hope. A new trial or an appeal is foremost in Webb’s mind. It is dangerous to predict the outcome of jury deliberations, but as the betting man he is, I am sure Webb would not wager his last farthing on an acquittal.

His plea for a holdout is more desperate than honest. Webb well knows that without jurors changing their minds, through deliberation, a fresh look at the evidence or fatigue, at least half the trials in the nation would end in hung juries. The entire idea of jury deliberation is to take divergent viewpoints and reach consensus – a consensus that requires any number of jurors to change their minds.

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