Disclaimer: The following is my personal rant, not that of my firm, partner, family or anyone else.
As many of you know the person who hit and killed my sister in law while she was riding her bike is contesting the traffic tickets she received. last Thursday we along with about 100 people showed up to show support for my brother in law and his family. The trial was continued based upon the representation of the Def. attorney that one of the witnesses feared for his safety. There was no evidence produced, the attorney did not testify as to claims and the witness was not present to testify as to the supposed fear. Based upon these claims the judge granted a postponement. There were 3 other witnesses in the court room (2 police officers and another independent witness who stopped following the crash) who apparently felt no such fear.
The defense attorney is running for state’s attorney in Maryland and he posted his version of what occurred on his Facebook page (which I have set out in part below along with my comments in bold). I wonder if his platform includes if you are scared to testify I will let you slide and we will not prosecute anyone just forgive them.
“The Whitney DeCesaris trial involving the bicyclist fatality was indeed postponed yesterday; however, it was solely caused by the palpable anger in the room exhibited by certain persons in the cycling community, which intimidated a key witness in this case, causing him/her to fear for his/her safety.”
There was no anger in the courtroom, in fact it was probably one of the quietest I have seen in my almost 30 years of trying cases across the country. The intimidated “key witness” is identified by Mr. Simmons (the Defense attorney) in his post. There was no evidence that he was intimidated other than comments made to the Court by the defense attorney supposedly as an officer of the Court. I say supposedly because the term “palpable anger” describing the room must have been another room. If it were as he suggests the Judge would have taken steps to clear the Courtroom, she did not. The judge would have requested the bailiff to instruct the gallery to quiet down or be removed, she did not (probably because there was no anger and no one speaking). There was a comment made by Mr. Simmons that the witness heard people yelling his name. That is true. It was Mr. Simmons calling to see if he were present. So we have a representation by Mr. Simmons that a witness feared for his safety.
“However, when certain forces are at work to disrupt the process by threatening and intimidating witnesses, parties, and officers of the court, this system of justice becomes just like every other system of injustice in the world today.”
Apparently the palpable anger in the courtroom escalated to “forces at work to disrupt the process by threatening and intimidating” not only witnesses (actually only one if you believe Mr. Simmons to the entire system. I am surprised the SWAT and riot squads were not called out to quell this uprising in traffic court.
“This tragic event has brought two families together in the most horrible of circumstances. Mrs. DeCesaris, a nurse, stopped and immediately rendered care to Mrs. Cunningham, assisting Dr. Richard Garden with CPR. Dr. Garden took charge of her care while Mrs. DeCesaris administered mouth to mouth and attempted to manage Mrs. Cunningham’s bleeding until emergency services arrived. Dr. Garden and Mrs. DeCesaris were the only people who engaged, doing all they could to save Mrs. Cunningham’s life. Assuming for just a second, that this accident was not preventable, has anyone thanked Mrs. DeCesaris for trying to save Mrs. Cunningham’s life? Plenty have demonized her. Dr. Garden for his good deed has been intimidated by the some cycling advocates, because his testimony supports the premises that this accident was not preventable. Has anyone ever said thank you to Dr. Garden?”
Mrs. DeCesaris would never have needed to render care to Mrs. Cunningham had she not struck her bicycle from behind. How would you propose the thank you be worded Mr. Simmons? As to Dr. Garden (whom I never mentioned by name but you for whatever reason felt compelled to put his name out for all to see – a witness whom you claim was threatened ) I have actually spoken to him on two occasions and thanked him for all he tried to do and told him the family thanked him as well.
“Regardless of what history will ultimately reveal to us about this incident, one thing is sure: healing only begins with forgiveness. Without forgiveness, there can be no peace. Forgiveness is indeed for the forgiver and not the person receiving it.”
Forgiveness is generally the result of someone asking to be forgiven not where the person continues to blame everyone (anyone) else for their actions. With that said, I have forgiven her, but that does not mean she should not be held responsible for her actions in as anyone else.
I am sure it is just a coincidence that the delay will probably push the trial past your primary election for State’s Attorney, but look on the bright side, if you don’t make it in politics you can always become a fiction writer.