Monday, April 8, 2013

Alyce La Violette

                                     Madame LaViolette

Today after classes I went to my psuedoaunt's house. My pseudoaunt is an assistant district attorney. We were watching some of the Jodi Arias coverage. Alyce LaViolette was on the stand for cross examination.  She was asked a lot of "yes or no" questions to which she refused to give a simple "yes or no" answer. She was wily to attempt to insert explanations and clarifications into her answers. My pseudoaunt, who admits  she has a tiny fraction of the experience of the prosecutor in the case, Juan Martinez,  feels that he's making a mistake in verbally sparring with Ms. LaViolette.

My pseudoaunt says that, after asking a "yes or no" question, if the witness refuses to answer yes or no, the prosecutor should cut the witness  off in her testimony and request that the judge compel her to answer yes or no. She should not be permitted to insert her own agenda into the answer of any given "yes or no" question.  In some cases in which a prosecutor asks a judge to compel a witness to answer "yes" or "no,"  opposing counsel might object and prevail, but, for the most part, it is the job of the defense attorney to get his or her side of the story out in direct examination. A prosecutor need not stand by idly while a witness spins a yarn on his time.

Juan Martinez is not exactly sitting, or more literally, standing by idly while Ms. LaViolette spins her yarns, but he's debating with her more than it is good for him or for his case for him to do. He doesn't want to come across as overly combative or aggressive, particularly in cross-examining a female witness. His case would benefit more were he to cut Ms. Violette off with a request to the judge to compel the witness to answer the question "yes" or "no" as asked. I understand his frustration, but he very much needs to be seen by the jury as at least somewhat likeable and relatable.  If he raises his voice too much and is seen either as too hostile, too combative, or too condescending to the witness, his liability factor will not be enhanced.

As far as Ms. LaViolette is concerned, my pseudoaunt, who has also been a public defender, says that, were she defending Ms. Arias,  once  she learned that Ms. LaViolette had given  a presentation  detailing why Snow White was a battered woman, (insert strains of "The Twilight Zone" theme song here)  this in and of  itself would have immediately rendered her a worthless witness for the defense or for any side for which she testified, and she never would have called her.  The "Snow White Was a Battered Woman"  exposition  is the stuff of the fringe element if not of the full-scale bat-shit crazy. It reminds me of a composition an intelligence-challenged classmate of mine in ninth grade wrote comparing Hamlet to Little Boy Blue. The comparison isn't totally parallel, but I suspect the reader understands my point.  If comparing a serious literary character to a Mother Goose figure is silly, authoring a serious treatise or giving a scholarly presentation  suggesting a fairy tale character is the victim of domestic abuse or of any other social injustice is even sillier.

If a movie were to be madeof this case, and if the movie were of sufficient eminence (as in not made for the Lifetime channel) so as not to be cast entirely with Grade B actors, I would cast Kathy Bates as Alyce La Violette. I'm not sure who I would cast in any of the other roles, although, off the top of my head,  I think Rachel McAdams would be convincing as Jodi Arias.

Supposedly the prosecution has caught Jodi Arias in a lie regarding a particular camera shot and whether it was taken by her or inadvertently by the camera itself when the camera was dropped.  Vinnie Politano believes that he has a smoking gun in that a blood stain from the camera was found on the rim of the inside of the washing machine.   I'm still not sure why the blood stain mght not have been there whether Arias had deliberately, inadvertently. or in a state of fugue,  dropped the camera into the machine, but Vinnie Politano is much smarter than I, and he seems to think he has a smoking gun. If it appears as such to others, I hope Juan Martinez or someone on his staff is paying attention.  Still, the idea that Jodi Arias lied about anything would hardly seem to be a smoking or even smoke-free gun to anyone.

If Travis whatever-his-name-was (no disrespect to the dead intended; I just can't remember his last name) attacked Jodi Arias because she dropped his camera while he was making his glamour poses which she was suppposed to photograph,  Jodi Arias was amazingly prepared to defend herself from such an attack. Perhaps she's psychic, although it would seem that her psychic powers might have led her away from the scene in the first place.   I personally don't find much of what Jodi Arias says to make sense, and, as Judge Judy is fond of saying, if it doesn't make sense, it probably isn't true.

My pseudoaunt thinks Juan Martinez should have another attorney sitting second chair -- possibly a female -- who might take over some of the cross-examination. She says sometimes jurors feel that a female witness is being less battered in a tough cross-examination when it's a female attorney conducting the cross examination. This isn't universally true, and it's just one opinion of a single attorney who watches coverage of this case on occasion.

The bottom line here from my point of view is that a whole lot of people, myself included, are paying a great deal of attention to a trial that should matter only to immediate family members and close friends of the deceased and the defendant.  It's a slow news month (or two months, or three months)  and we're (I'm as guilty as the next person) morbidly trying to entertain ouselves with something that has very little entertainment value or relevance to our own lives.   

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