Assorted Links

  • the power of Marmite
  • problems in the Chinese economy
  • Edward Jay Epstein reviews A Wilderness of Error by Errol Morris. Janet Malcolm, among many others, assumed McDonald was guilty but new evidence suggests he was innocent.
  • Fermented food addiction. Several months ago I had a hard time not eating roasted peanuts. I kept buying them. Eventually the compulsion to eat them disappeared. Maybe they were supplying a nutrient I was deficient in.

Thanks to Anne Weiss.

7 Replies to “Assorted Links”

  1. On what evidence could a jury think that Macdonald’s guilt was beyond reasonable doubt? In Britain there are, from time to time, cases where the prosecution’s case is so weak that the judge throws it out without any need for a jury decision. Do any of the US states allow that?

  2. Fantastic scenes of cities in China uninhabited years after construction, with a goatherd tending his goats past immaculate, empty government buildings. I especially like the “Dinosaur” city of Erenhot.

    I saw an awful lot of high-rise apartments in Shenzhen that were all filled, with laundry hanging out, TV antennas and dishes, etc. But that was 4 years ago.

  3. dearieme: First, the vast majority of cases — be they civil or criminal — never reach trial. The great majority of civil cases are settled and criminal trials are plea bargained.

    In civil cases, a defendant can move for summary judgment, which essentially challenges the sufficiency of the plaintiff’s case. This is a pre-trial motion that, if granted by the judge, ends the case.

    In criminal cases, there is no such mechanism. Thus, trial is the only way to test the sufficiency of the prosecution’s case/evidence. Practically, if the prosecution has a very weak case, it won’t go through the time or expense of trial. But, if the case is high-profile like the McDonald murders (or the prosecutor is overzealous), the pressure will be great to take it to a jury. There’s not much the judge can do stop it.

  4. Bryan, in British criminal trials the judge has the power to listen to the prosecution case and, if he thinks it lame enough, stop the trial, discharge the jury and deliver a verdict of not guilty himself, without hearing the defence case. I don’t suppose it’s done often, but you see it in the papers from time to time. I imagine that it leads to peppy debate in the Prosecutor’s office. I imagine that it’s intended to.

  5. I’m not a lawyer, so I’m not sure on the details, but in America, at least at the Federal criminal level, a judge can simply enter an acquittal without sending the trial to jury, or disregard a jury’s guilty verdict and enter an acquittal (called “judgement notwithstanding verdict”). The judge cannot throw out a not-guilty verdict and enter a guilty verdict however, as that would violate the sixth amendment right to a trial by jury.

    How often this comes up, whether it’s the same at state level, or how it works in civil cases, I don’t know. At the Federal criminal level, it’s in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure section 29.

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