Saturday, July 31, 2010

Trials from the Old Bailey, 1674-1913

British historians recently presented to the public a compilation of the full transcripts of trials conducted at The Old Bailey over the course of 239 years.

This enormous task provides a wealth of historical details for court buffs and trial aficionados to peruse and savor.

Notable Trials will from time to time present the transcripts of selected trials -- the famous, the infamous and the occasionally petty -- upon which many of our best legal traditions are ultimately based.

From the introduction:

These Proceedings contain accounts of trials which took place at the Old Bailey. The first published collection of trials at the Old Bailey dates from 1674, and from 1678 accounts of the trials at each sessions (meeting of the Court) were regularly published. Inexpensive, and targeted initially at a popular audience, the Proceedings were produced shortly after the conclusion of each sessions and were initially a commercial success. But with the growth of newspapers and increasing publication costs the audience narrowed by the nineteenth century to a combination of lawyers and public officials. With few exceptions, this periodical was regularly published each time the sessions met (eight times a year until 1834, and then ten to twelve times a year) for 239 years, when publication came to a sudden halt in April 1913.

Origins, history, Crippen and Le Neve ... Read more »

Friday, July 30, 2010

Not near enough to death: Judge rejects move to record ailing witness's testimony

by Tom Nadeau

A Yuba County judge has rejected a prosecution request to record the testimony of a key witness against Dustin W. Sparks, who may find out Sept. 14 whether he goes to trial on a double murder charge.

The witness, Michael Hance, was in ill health, Deputy District Attorney Michael A. Byrne told Superior Court Judge Kathleen O’Connor and he was hoping to get Hance’s testimony recorded that day, just in case he died before trial started.

Two mini-cams had been pre-positioned to capture Hance’s testimony, if O’Connor ruled favorably.

But two defense attorneys opposed the motion, saying, essentially, that Hance didn’t look all that sick to them, that he had been physically able to attend court that day, the trial was but a few weeks away and, besides, Hance was expected to be the first witness in the trial and would probably only testify for one day.

Hance entered with the aid of a cane. Under Byrne’s questioning, he described his physical condition – a condition not to be envied.

Organs failed, failing or removed ... Read more »

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dates set for 2nd Cole murder trial

by Tom Nadeau

Suspected killer Todd Allen Cole Jr. will be re-tried starting Sept. 21 for the death of Scott Malmstrom, a Yuba County judge ordered Wednesday.

The jury selection will be preceded by pre-trial hearings currently scheduled for Aug. 9 and for Sept. 7 and 9, Superior Court Judge Kathleen O’Connor ordered.

A mistrial was declared in the first proceedings in People v. Cole, YCSC case #CRF-09-469, after the jury announced it was deadlocked and unable to reach a unanimous verdict.

News reports indicated the jury has hung, 10-2, with the majority favoring a guilty verdict.

Cole is charged with stabbing Scott Malmstrom to death July 2009 in Malmstrom’s apartment in the 1400 block of North Beale Road in East Linda.

Further details ... Read more »

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Yuba judge slated to set Cole re-trial date

by Tom Nadeau

A Yuba County judge is expected to set a date Wednesday to re-try accused killer Todd Allen Cole Jr.

After deliberating two days, jurors in the first trial last week told Superior Court Judge Kathleen O’Connor they could not reach a verdict and a mistrial was declared.

The jury’s forewoman told O’Connor the panel was deadlocked in a 10-2 split, according to published reports.

Cole is suspected of stabbing one Scott Malmstrom to death in July 2009. The murder took place in Malmstrom’s apartment located in the 1400 block of North Beale Road in East Linda.

Malmstrom was stabbed some 17 times. Investigators reported finding Cole’s finger- and foot-prints in the victim’s blood.

Jury verdict options included: finding Cole innocent; or guilty of voluntary manslaughter; or guilty of murder in the second degree.

Deputy District Attorney John Vacek led the prosecution team. Soon after the mistrial was declared, he told an Appeal-Democrat reporter he would seek a second trial.

Cole was represented by Deputy Public Defender Brian Davis. People v. Todd Allen Cole Jr., case #CRF-09-469.

The Cole “mistrial” news story by A-D's Rob Young elicited 165 comments from the public, a remarkably high number.

Opinions varied widely ... Read more »

Sunday, July 25, 2010

NorCal counties lead state in prisoners

by Tom Nadeau

The Sacramento Bee recently reported that the likely impact of a federal judge’s ruling that California officials reduce the state prison population would be significant, especially on five north state counties which have the highest rate of incarcerated citizens.

In an update of a survey the Bee’s Phillip Reese did one year ago, he reported in March that:
A panel of federal judges [has] ordered state officials to lower California's prison population by around 40,500. While no mass prisoner releases are imminent, the order could eventually impact some counties a lot more than others. The Sacramento region, for instance, sends a high proportion of its residents to prison; if the judges' order was applied equally, 3,000 would-be prisoners would either be on the region's streets, under house arrest or sitting in already-crowded jails. (Those offenders, however, would likely be guilty of lower-level felonies.))
The top five counties with the most residents in prison were, in descending order, Kings, Yuba, Shasta, Tehama and Lake.

[Note: inmates generally return to their home county upon release, although some filigrees on this trend do exist.]

The breakdown ... Read more »