Monday, October 7, 2013

Bryan Barnes & Javier Bolden Prelim Day 6, Closing Arguments" USC Chinese Grad Student Murders, Ying Wu and Ming Qu

Monday, October 7th, 2013
This morning, defense attorneys for Javier Bolden called two witnesses, Officer Yolanda Mansillas and Officer Luis Valle. They testified about interviews they conducted with witnesses in the particular shootings they investigated. These two witnesses were initially called by the prosecution. The defense did not call any new witnesses.

Officer Mansillas testified about what witness ABC said to her in two separate interviews regarding the shooting of Timothy Hall on December 3rd, 2011.  Officer Valle testified about what witness Anthony Reese (sp?), said to him regarding the shooting of two victims, Zanae Flowers and Deionce Davance on February 12th, 2012.

After their testimony was complete, Judge Marcus spent the next 40 minutes rereading specific witness testimony.  At 11:00 AM, closing arguments were presented.  At 1:45 PM, Judge Marcus ruled that there was enough evidence presented for the defendants be held to answer for all five counts between them.

Bryan Barnes is charged in counts one, two and three.  Javier Bolden is charged in all five counts. (A synopsis of the counts is listed on the Barnes & Bolden Quick Links Page. Sprocket.)

Interestingly, Judge Marcus ruled that he found witness ABC's testimony more credible than Officer Mansillas. He commented on what he felt were inadequacies in her interviews of the witness.

Counsel for defendant Barnes requested a delay in the arraignment until November 7th, 2013 which Judge Marcus granted.

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting my detail notes covering each day of the preliminary hearing, the closing arguments and Judge Marcus' rulings regarding the five counts.

After the preliminary hearing was over, I spent some time explaining to several Asian journalists the criminal justice system in the US.  It was an interesting experience for me, going over in detail the various steps in the judicial process (arrest, arraignment, preliminary hearing, prelim closing arguments, judges findings and rulings at prelim, formal arraignment, upcoming pretrial hearings, and trial), why the process takes so long and what comes next for the defendants.  I don't think that anyone else had the time or interest to explain everything to these journalists, who demonstrated to me they really wanted to understand what was going on.

The justice system in China, and Chinese law, has gone through many transformations over the years. (I highly recommend browsing through these two Wikipedia entries. Sprocket.)

According to the Wikipedia Chinese law entry under the section "Legal Rights," I found this statement:
Classical Chinese does not have a semantic equivalent to the concept of "rights". The idea of rights was introduced to China from the West. Its translation as quánlì (权利) was coined by William Alexander Parsons Martin in 1864, in his translation of Henry Wheaton's Elements of International Law.
Additionally, these statements under the section "Rule of Law" were interesting reading:
Despite the newly elevated role of courts in Chinese society, there still remains some consensus about defects in China’s legal system in regards to progressing towards the rule of law. Scholars point to the following defects as slowing movement toward rule of law. These include:
  • Third, the judiciary is not independent from political pressure. On the other hand, direct intervention in particular cases by the CCP has lessened in recent years, as has the direct influence of the CCP on the legislative process.[21]
  • Fourth, there is a high level of corruption among public officials. Personal favors, bribery, and taking of public monies are all too common at all levels of government.[22]
  • Finally, the legal profession is inadequate for lack of qualified attorneys and judges.[23] This failure is being remedied by legislation aimed at instituting higher educational standards for judges, opening more courts and law schools throughout China.[24]
In the 2000s, the Weiquan movement began in the PRC, seeking to advance citizens' rights partly by petitioning for enforcement of existing laws, and partly through activism. Lawyers in the movement have seen some court victories, but in other cases they and their families have been ostracized and tortured for their activities.
You can read Jill Cowan's report in the LA Times on the results of the preliminary hearing.

To be continued.....