Fool For A Client Beats the Rap…Almost!

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Franklin County, Ohio, a place best known for election hanky panky of late, has a new claim to fame. Reader Mark Noble notes that accused murderer Timothy Daniel has successfully defended himself in a Columbus court. A jury of his peers took just four hours to acquit Daniel, who fired his lawyer on Tuesday.

Aficionados of the widely maligned art of autolitigation (including Reason's Nick Gillespie in this long-ago Suck column) may be able to say whether this is a unique development in American law; Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Dale Crawford says it's the first time he's seen it done in a murder trial. And he doesn't seem too pleased about it:

Crawford said that he believed Daniel killed Morbitzer and that's why he sentenced him to the maximum five years under [a "firearm with disability" count on which Daniel was found guilty].

Counterfactual corner: Would he have been acquitted if he hadn't fired his lawyer (ie, was the case against him just so weak that he was destined to skate anyway)? And if so, would the judge have come down so hard on the weapons charge (ie, was he upset because he thinks Daniel's guilty or because Daniel made a monkey out of him)?

And what's a "firearm with disability" crime?

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  1. Wow! Three Ohio-related posts in one day!

    And what’s a “firearm with disability” crime?

    I think it has to do with possession of a firearm by someone who is not allowed to own one, such as someone with a previous felony conviction.

  2. Wow! Three Ohio-related posts in one day!

    Ohio: The New Florida.

  3. Nothing like a judge in high dander to ruin your goddamn day.

  4. You shouldn’t make fun of firearms with disabilities. More than being mean, it just isn’t safe …

  5. The judge’s comments about increasing the sentencing for crime A, because the judge felt the defendant was guilty of crime B, for which the defendant was found not guilty, sounds like a good reason to appeal the sentence.

    Sounds like the judge doesn’t like having a jury.

  6. They prefer to be called “differently abled” firearms.

  7. Ayatollah,

    Yes, it sounds like grounds for appeal — but of course, it may take a few years for the appeal to go through.

    And it also sounds like the judge is pretty stupid. Was it really necessary to explain his reasoning for the maximum sentence?

  8. It’s hard to see how the judge’s comments can form the basis for an appeal–if it’s within the letter of the law to sentence the man to five years for the crime for which he was convicted, then what legs would an appeal have to stand on?

    Ayatollah, Juries do sometimes do stupid things–that’s why judges have the ability to vacate convictions they feel are erroneous.

  9. “The judge’s comments about increasing the sentencing for crime A, because the judge felt the defendant was guilty of crime B, for which the defendant was found not guilty, sounds like a good reason to appeal the sentence.”

    IIRC, that’s exactly what happened to Marion Barry. The jury acquitted him of cocaine possession, (correctly, IMHO) believing Barry’s (“The bitch set me up”) entrapment defense, but the judge upped his sentence on the misdemeanor charge(s?) for which Barry *was* convicted, on the grounds that he really was guilty of coke possession too.

  10. I miss Suck.com.

    There a hole in my life shaped like a Terry Colon illustration.

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