A Democrat lawyer’s view of just where Bieber went wrong

posted at 8:31 am on January 25, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

Before we get started I’d like to assure some of our likely nauseous readers that this isn’t a story about Justin Bieber. It is, however, a story about a story about Bieber. As most of you were probably unable to avoid hearing, “the Biebs” was arrested again this week on a variety of charges including – but not limited to – drag racing, driving while intoxicated, driving without a license, being high on drugs and resisting arrest. That’s a pretty hefty night’s work in anybody’s book, and clearly he’s done something wrong.

Enter CNN, where their celebrity legal expert, attorney and radio host Eboni K. Williams, struggled to explain that the pop star had indeed done something wrong… he didn’t keep his mouth shut.

In a few terrible seconds, teen star Justin Bieber made his attorney Roy Black’s job a heck of a lot harder.

Bieber, who was arrested in Miami Beach on Thursday for drunken driving, resisting arrest and driving without a valid license, decided it would be a good idea to spill his guts to the Miami Beach Police Department.

According to Miami Beach Police Chief Raymond Martinez, during his arrest, Bieber “made some statements that he had consumed some alcohol, and that he had been smoking marijuana and consumed some prescription medication,” before getting behind the wheel of a yellow Lamborghini.

On the surface, this could look like Bieber was just being an honest guy, admitting to his wrongdoings. But look a little further, and you’ll see a young man who has done the worst possible thing a defendant in any case could do. He opened his mouth. And in doing that, he’s also doing the state’s job for them.

Justin Bieber should have just shut up.

Williams goes on to explain the fine tradition and constitutional foundation of the right to remain silent, and what a horrible mistake Bieber made by explaining to the law enforcement agents presents exactly what he had done. This, she proclaims, is a pretty awful thing.

Defending a client against an impaired driving charge is no easy task. The public interest in keeping impaired drivers off the road is understandably great. No one wants to see our society in harm’s way because of irresponsible drivers.

However, the integrity of our justice system requires that every defendant get an opportunity to have his guilt or innocence determined according to the evidence against him.

By making statements against his own interests, Bieber actually helps to undermine the whole process. His lawyer’s job is not to get him “off.” Black’s task is to hold the state accountable to its burden of providing evidence — beyond a reasonable doubt — that Bieber is in fact guilty of the crimes charged against him.

Perhaps it’s just me, but those last couple of paragraphs are frankly shocking. Apparently – at least to her way of thinking – a criminal is undermining the entire process of trial by jury if they confess their actions to the police. What new madness is this?

Call me old fashioned. Point out that I don’t have a law degree. But I was under the impression that the various – and highly generous – rights allotted to the accused in our country are there for the purpose of ensuring that the innocent are not unjustly convicted or railroaded by the legal system. We strive to guarantee that the accused has each and every opportunity to prove their innocence and not be unjustly jailed for crimes they have not committed.

But in Williams’ world, as much as she claims to be arguing the exact opposite, the legal system is in place to also give the admittedly guilty each and every opportunity to scam the system and beat the rap. Were Bieber being accused while loudly proclaiming that he broke no laws, she would be exactly right. At that point it’s up to the prosecution to prove him a liar and obtain a conviction by a jury of his peers. But Bieber has already admitted that he did the crime(s). Is it not fitting that we move on briskly toward his doing the time?

It would seem not. Even knowing – and saying in front of the police – that he had broken the law, apparently the guilty party is still supposed to use up the resources of the criminal justice system to fight the best lawyers that he can afford. And if his lawyers manage to obfuscate the case well enough, he gets to walk free with a smile on his face and a really annoying song in his heart. To me, this is simply a twisted perversion of justice, not an undermining of the system which is supposed to protect the truly innocent and wrongly accused.

As a side note, if you read the CNN article, Ms. Williams is listed as a criminal defense attorney and legal analyst based in Los Angeles. She has worked as a public defender, private trial lawyer and also provides commentary on legal and political issues from a pop culture perspective. That doesn’t give you much of a hint as to where her ideological leanings might run. But in this Fox News debate with our own Katie Pavlich, she is also introduced as a “Democratic strategist” so take from that what you will.


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Over

Bmore on January 26, 2014 at 12:03 PM

(1) “If you have a high BAC, you’re not going to get out of it, and hiring a lawyer will just cost you thousands of dollars and you’ll probably get the same sentence as if you had just plead guilty on your first offense.”

Unfortunately, that sentence in many jurisdictions now involves incarceration for some period. If you’re cool with that than you’ve never been in there. Also, it is not “haughty” to insist on your rights under the Constitution.

(2) From your response to my comment above: “I did not say that anyone has an obligation to help in their prosecution. I said that the admissibility of Biebs’ admission does not mean the system is broken. But sure. Go ahead and flog that straw man.”

From your article: “Apparently – at least to her way of thinking – a criminal is undermining the entire process of trial by jury if they confess their actions to the police. What new madness is this?”

“Tell me I don’t have a law degree.”

Q.E.D.

Hucklebuck on January 26, 2014 at 12:14 PM

Then how about we abolish criminal law altogether? At what point do we cross a line into chaos and anarchy?

gryphon202 on January 26, 2014 at 10:26 AM

Justin Bieber being stupid and admitting to the cops everything is going to send us to anarchy?

Wow, histrionics much?

ButterflyDragon on January 26, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Jazz,

Come on, man! It is not April 1st yet. Don’t you get it? She was preaching to the choir! She was preaching to that whole new generation of potential offenders out there — the “teenie-somethings” — who need to be very specifically instructed on the proper way to deal with anyone in authority.

If you are facing any form of arrest, or even think it is a possibility — whether via citation; actual custodial arrest (temporary orotherwise); or whatever . . . do not readily cooperate, and if you can, avoid speaking about anything pertinent. Act in a sincere manner. But do not ‘cop’ to anything!

Tell them your name and give them an ID, if you have it on you.

But don’t openly volunteer facts, such as that you were driving the car at a specific time (unless the officer physically witnessed you doing so at the time of the incident or incidents).

And, above all, do NOT ever tell them that you had ever seen, let alone that you owned that bag of weed or joint they found under the seat, however small.

The bottom line is this: Criminal and quasi-criminal cases are NOT about what happened.

They are about what someone can prove happened. Proof requires evidence. If there is little or no evidence, there may not even be a charge filed.

Now, you said the following, Jazz:

We strive to guarantee that the accused has each and every opportunity to prove their innocence and not be unjustly jailed for crimes they have not committed.

No we don’t. No one has to prove their innocence.

Now, sometimes people are unjustly accused, often based on misleading or even possibly based on planted evidence. But even then, no one has to prove their innocence. Even in the case of a time and/or place alibi, you are not proving your innocence. You are merely supplying proof which to some extent undermines or maybe just narrowly limits the potential conclusory scope of other relevant evidence.

Trochilus on January 26, 2014 at 2:41 PM

Justin Bieber being stupid and admitting to the cops everything is going to send us to anarchy?

Wow, histrionics much?

ButterflyDragon on January 26, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Then what point is Eboni trying to make by saying that Biebs just made Roy Black’s job a lot harder? Is Black’s job to acquit Biebs, or is it to ensure the integrity of the system on Biebs’ behalf?

Biebs did make it a lot harder for Black to secure an acquittal. On that I think most of us would agree. But that does not threaten the integrity of the system, as Biebs gave his confession completely voluntarily.

I don’t give a rat’s furry ass he if he sees a day of jail time beyond time served — as long as we can deport his sorry ass back to Canada. The kid is broken beyond repair as a result of too much too fast too soon, and there’s no reason at all we Americans have to make it our problem now.

gryphon202 on January 26, 2014 at 4:50 PM

gryphon202 on January 26, 2014 at 4:50 PM

I don’t disagree with you.

I disagree with Jazz’s assessment that the defendant must prove his/her innocence.

That is nonsense. The state must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant does not have to prove innocence.

We strive to guarantee that the accused has each and every opportunity to prove their innocence and not be unjustly jailed for crimes they have not committed.

ButterflyDragon on January 26, 2014 at 5:30 PM

Another demokkkrat lawyer speaks out. The demokkkrat party is the party of lies. They either speak lies or remain silent on the truth, it’s their form of political sharia. Mr. Bieber was just too young to understand the power of deception. Canada will welcome you with open arms JB.

Mojave Mark on January 26, 2014 at 6:30 PM

Good gosh. You played right into Eboni’s strategy.

Have you seen her web page? It’s a shrine to herself. She’s the next Gloria Allred.

Washington Fancy on January 27, 2014 at 8:11 AM

I disagree with Jazz’s assessment that the defendant must prove his/her innocence.

That is nonsense. The state must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant does not have to prove innocence.

ButterflyDragon on January 26, 2014 at 5:30 PM

I think he was just a little too cavalier with his wording, is all. “Prove innocence” is a very poor choice of words, but it would be correct to say that the defendant has “every opportunity”, within the context of our justice system, to present exculpatory evidence.

And his larger point – that defense in court is intended as a safeguard against wrongful prosecution and not as a series of loopholes to avoid the consequences of your actions – doesn’t seem at all out of bounds.

The Schaef on January 27, 2014 at 5:21 PM

What she’s saying is that Biebs flapping his gums made Roy Black’s job harder. Is it Roy Black’s job to see Biebs acquitted no matter the facts of the case?

gryphon202 on January 25, 2014 at 11:30 AM

Absolutely. That’s what he gets paid for.

And if he can’t get him off…get the best deal on a sentence.

Solaratov on January 27, 2014 at 5:51 PM

Absolutely. That’s what he gets paid for.

And if he can’t get him off…get the best deal on a sentence.

Solaratov on January 27, 2014 at 5:51 PM

This is why we can’t have nice things, America. The system is broken, and that mos def includes the courts.

gryphon202 on January 28, 2014 at 9:57 AM

The surest proof that it’s NOT Roy Black’s job to exonerate Biebs no matter the facts of the case: He gets paid by the hour on retainer.

gryphon202 on January 28, 2014 at 10:16 AM

This is why we can’t have nice things, America. The system is broken, and that mos def includes the courts.

gryphon202 on January 28, 2014 at 9:57 AM

Defense attorneys getting the best deal they can for the person they represent, within the legal and ethical boundaries (on tv they violate these things all the time, but in the real world it is rare, since defense attorneys like everyone else are primarily looking out for their own interests, and going to jail for a scumbag isn’t usually one of them) is not why America is struggling. It is a fundamental part of protecting our freedom.

The same thing goes for attorney-client privilege.

These are not new innovations like the exclusionary rules judges love so much.

You need to research this, Gryph.

fadetogray on January 28, 2014 at 10:21 AM

Defense attorneys getting the best deal they can for the person they represent, within the legal and ethical boundaries (on tv they violate these things all the time, but in the real world it is rare, since defense attorneys like everyone else are primarily looking out for their own interests, and going to jail for a scumbag isn’t usually one of them) is not why America is struggling. It is a fundamental part of protecting our freedom.

The same thing goes for attorney-client privilege.

These are not new innovations like the exclusionary rules judges love so much.

You need to research this, Gryph.

fadetogray on January 28, 2014 at 10:21 AM

I agree that lawyers should do the best job they can for their clients when technicalities involve sloppy police work, coerced confessions, or other reasonable doubt cast on the integrity of the system.

So I’ll say it again: In the Justin Bieber case there is no reasonable doubt being cast on the integrity of the criminal justice system on the basis of his not-coerced confession. Though it most certainly makes it near-impossible for Biebs to be exonerated, Roy Black’s job as a defense attorney is to ensure the integirty of the system in regards to his client. I have no problem with him copping a plea on Biebs behalf. I’d be thrilled beyond words if that plea involved Biebs’ deportation. What I have a problem with is OJ Simpsonesque circuses and defense lawyers that cop pleas when they know their client is innocent as the wind-driven snow is pure. It’s all about the money and you’re kidding yourself if you think otherwise.

gryphon202 on January 28, 2014 at 10:37 AM

Acting haughty and refusing to cooperate with police can also backfire.

If you have a high BAC, you’re not going to get out of it, and hiring a lawyer will just cost you thousands of dollars and you’ll probably get the same sentence as if you had just plead guilty on your first offense.

bluegill on January 26, 2014 at 5:14 AM

There’s a difference between pleading guilty and voluntarily giving a confession that may lead to additional charges.

yelnats on January 28, 2014 at 8:51 PM

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