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Live Blogs From the Hans Reiser Trial

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the can't-help-but-pay-attention dept.

The Courts 300

whoever57 writes "The Hans Reiser trial has been underway for some time now, the prosecution is moving towards the end of its case. For those interested, not only in the outcome of the trial, but a detailed description of the trial, including some insights into police methods, two reporters are live-blogging. One report is by Henry K. Lee for the San Francisco Chronicle and the other is by David Kravets and published by Wired"

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Spoiler Alert! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22378774)

Hans Reiser killed his wife, and 2008 is not the year of Linux on the desktop.

Linux defence (5, Funny)

DrXym (126579) | more than 6 years ago | (#22378784)

If the tree doesn't balance then you must acquit!

Re:Linux defence (5, Interesting)

cloricus (691063) | more than 6 years ago | (#22378862)

This case sickens me. Even if he did do it they appear to have no evidence at all, and it really does scare me that they can potentially take away your freedoms with conjecture.

After seeing several law cases through, some famous and some not, for personal interest, my faith in the legal system 'getting the right guy' is almost null. I often wonder how they get any one at all...

Re:Linux defence (5, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#22378942)

It has always been this way.

the worst part, have you ever sat on a jury? I have been in 2 and some people's "justifications" are insane. One trial 2 women were willing to send the guy down the river 30 secodns after we got in the room, they based it on what the DA said that the judge told them to strike from the record. It was pure fantasy on the DA's part and we were instructed to not consider it.

Their reason, " Oh the judge did not mean that when he said it. Plus he looks guilty."

we spent the next 8 hours going over things and trying to get these ditsy two to actually think. And this is the norm in Jury duty. Lots of really dense dits sit on those jurys. Many only listen to every other word or ignore everything from one lawyer because they dont like him.

Frightening.

Re:Linux defence (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22379046)

This is why if I am ever accused of a serious crime, I would seriously consider a bench trial [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Linux defence (2, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379120)

I think you would be afraid to have a diner with ten judges, in private.

Re:Linux defence (2, Interesting)

thelexx (237096) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379424)

"Du Bois made a reference to the expected testimony of Nina Reiser's mother, Irina Sharanova. Hora said something to the judge, and Du Bois didn't hear it because his client was speaking to him. Du Bois asked for what Hora said to be repeated, and the judge, smiling, said he wouldn't allow that to be done, as is usually the case, because the jury isn't here now. "Too bad," the judge said with a smile."

You're right, I'd end up sticking one of them in the eye with a fork and get locked up myself.

Re:Linux defence (1)

AndGodSed (968378) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379132)

Your scenario sound like a potential "Law and Order" mistrial plot... or a funny "Monk" episode...

Re:Linux defence (2, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379720)

Or how about a movie that was made several times called "Twelve angry men". I think it first appeared in the 50's but was remade not too long ago.

It is popular because it is true to some extent. In normal cases, the jury foreman should have told the judge that those women wouldn't drop what they were told to ignore because of the strike from the record. This should result in the judge clarifying his orders or invalidating the trial or replacing the juror with an alternative. Unfortunately, not all juries have alternatives sitting. In my area, there is two normally and more as the case get more important or controversial. I'm not sure on the details of how that works.

Re:Linux defence (3, Informative)

coolGuyZak (844482) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379140)

When I sat on a jury, I wasn't impressed by the mentality of my fellow jurors. Most of them wanted the trial over and done with, so they could get back to their lives/jobs/whatever. It doesn't help that the case was monumentally stupid. The defendant was a well-intentioned idiot, and the plaintiff was a poor middle-aged woman with a greasy, ambulance chaser of an attorney. On occasion, I wish that I wasn't as critical as I am. As we discussed the case, I flipped between issues, making me appear more whimsical than thoughtful. Next time, I think I'll make a run at leading the group, so I can set an appropriate atmosphere for deliberation.

Re:Linux defence (1)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379584)

The last jury I sat on backlashed against the ambulance chaser. I had mixed feelings at the end, after all there was SOME damages, but we did award SOME damages, just what was due... unfortunately, when the lawyer sucks out his chunk, that left the plaintiff with some money, but not enough, and a lot of wasted time...

On the other hand, he could have settled a lot earlier and not wasted everybody else's time and ended up with more in his pocket. As usual, the only one who actually made out was the law talking guy.

Plus it was just a small civil case... one of those cases where it obviously took two to tango, and no one was completely innocent, just technically not at fault...

Jurisprudence (4, Insightful)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379362)

the worst part, have you ever sat on a jury? I have been in 2 and some people's "justifications" are insane. One trial 2 women were willing to send the guy down the river 30 secodns after we got in the room, they based it on what the DA said that the judge told them to strike from the record. It was pure fantasy on the DA's part and we were instructed to not consider it.

People are people. They are this way today, were this way 10 years ago, they were this way 200 years ago. That's why we have a jury system so rigged such that a *single* person can hang the jury and let the defendant go.

we spent the next 8 hours going over things and trying to get these ditsy two to actually think. And this is the norm in Jury duty.

See?! It works! This is why the jury system is so beautiful! (And why it sucks so bad for those of us that think a little bit) Most people suck. But the odds of everybody sucking when you get 12 random people together drops rather dramatically.

Welcome to jurisprudence! BTW: my heart-felt thanks for serving on jury duty!

Re:Jurisprudence (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379430)

See?! It works! This is why the jury system is so beautiful! (And why it sucks so bad for those of us that think a little bit) Most people suck. But the odds of everybody sucking when you get 12 random people together drops rather dramatically.

13, actually, since a judge can (and often will) reverse a guilty verdict if he or she thinks the prosecutor hasn't made their case.

Professional Juries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22379476)

This is why many want professional juries. Of course lawyers don't want this because it means they'd have to actually know the law and work rather than strut and conjecture BS wholly unsupported by the facts. This combined with independent judicial reviews would be excellent first steps to fix our completely broken legal system.

Re:Linux defence (1)

Erikderzweite (1146485) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379528)

I have little trust in jury justice - it is a justice of incompetent people. You have to have studied laws in order to be able to judge. Besides, twelve amateurs are more likely to act based on emotions, not on facts. OTOH, jury is less capable of corruption and state influence, but I am all but sure this outweighs the deficiencies of such system.

Re:Linux defence (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#22380332)

I have little trust in democracy - it is government by incompetent people. You have to have studied government in order to be able to govern. Besides, the proles are more likely to act based on emotions, not on facts.
Fixed that for you.

Easy Fix (0)

maz2331 (1104901) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379594)

Here's an easy fix for apathetic schmucks on juries who convict without evidence...

Make them take an oath that if they come to the wrong decision, THEY do the time instead, and give up their entire estate to the defendant.

That will put an end to convictions without evidence in about 10 milliseconds.

Re:Easy Fix (0, Flamebait)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379802)

I fully agree. The only way to morally deal with the possibility of judicial errors is to make the jury legally responsible for the error. You send an innocent to the death row? You're convicted of murder (at least manslaughter).

Re:Easy Fix (2, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379862)

No, not necessarily. Because there wouldn't be the wrong decision. There also wouldn't be an encumbrance to acquittal. So if I was afraid of falsely convicting someone and serving the time they were sentenced, then the easiest way out of it is to acquit and not have anything hanging over me at all.

The only way you could determine the wrong decision was made is to replay the entire trial to people who haven't talked about it or the outcome in any way since the conclusion. the easiest way to get around that might be to seat two or three juries and take the popular opinion. but anything done after the fact has the benefit of information not present in the original trial being presented as well as information being presented differently. If the first jury didn't buy that the reasons his fingerprints where on the gun and powder residue on his hands was because he took it to the shooting range the very same day it was used to kill someone, they could bring in others at the shooting range that saw him shooting it. If he claims it was stolen on the way home and there was a police report about it, then he has a plausible excuse for something that would normally be a conviction of guilt.

but it wouldn't have to stop at that. Anything could keep the fact the same and be presented differently if only in the words being used to change how convincing something is. The prosecutor could say something different and lose creditability and so on. It wouldn't be the same trial and the decisions wouldn't be the same.

Maybe forcing the jury to do interviews with the state and defense counsel and allowing stuff discovered in this way to be grounds for a retrial could be the answer. Otherwise, it depends on the other members to be reasonable enough and assertive enough to make the right things happen.

Re:Easy Fix (2, Insightful)

Erwos (553607) | more than 6 years ago | (#22380144)

Correction: it'll end all convictions, period.

There's absolutely no reason for me to put someone away if I can be personally punished for making a mistake, but not be personally rewarded for making the right decision.

Re:Easy Fix (1)

maz2331 (1104901) | more than 6 years ago | (#22380152)

Of course the suggestion is a little over-simplitic, but you have to start somewhere. The key is that the investigators, prosecutors, and courts have near-zero personal liability even when they act maliciously.

Actually, what's needed is to find out who in the system was responsible for what the jury heard or didn't hear. Quite often it will probably be the prosecutor who does the time (can you say "Nifong" boys & girls) for hiding exculpatory evidence or putting forth a bogus case. Other times it could be a cop or witness with an ax to grind who abuses the system.

Frog-marching an occasional jury, judge, cop, and/or prosecutor would work wonders.

But...

Unless the jury can be shown to have received deceiving testimony, they should be held to account. Use the same standard as in any other negligence case for this.

And the whole concept of a guilty plea needs to be abolished completely. Too many guilty people take "the deal" and get off light, whereas an innocent who pleads their case can be ramrodded into a major sentence. Make all cases go before the jury (properly sworn to personal liability) and a whole lot of bad cases are simply... gone.

Oh... and if acquitted, the courts should pick up the defendant's legal bill and reimburse for lost wages and other damages incurred.

Re:Easy Fix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22380348)

Actually, I'd like to see you fix applied to the DA. If they withhold evidence or commit other forms of misconduct that results in a sentence, they should go to jail. If the defendant is falsely put on death row, they should be charged with attempted murder. If they acted in good faith, I have no problem, but if they tried to game the system to get a conviction, they are criminals and should be treated as such.

"Jury of your peers" (2, Interesting)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379676)

Agreed; I'd hate to end up in court over ANYTHING. Guilty, innocent, or entirely unaware of what I was being accused of, I'd probably still push the wrong buttons on the jury, just be being a geek.

One thing I find interesting though, is the legal systems assertion that you're entitled to a "jury of your peers". What exactly do they mean by that, I wonder? Can you say you consider your peers to be other geeks? People of the same non-judgemental religion? Literally, peers on your P2P network? Other pimps? ;)

Re:"Jury of your peers" (1)

TheSkyIsPurple (901118) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379844)

> Agreed; I'd hate to end up in court over ANYTHING

What he said!

I was in a civil case, I was accused of something extremely vague. It took nearly $20,000 of attorneys fees just to nail her down to something I could actually start defending against. In the end, it was just a sham, to try to get money from me (since I was her ex-husbands friend), and since she had nothing and I was running out, settlement was the only option.

Sort of an official version of:
"Give me $10k"
      "No"
"OK, I'll compromise for $5k"
      "WTF?"

Re:"Jury of your peers" (1)

Luke Dawson (956412) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379992)

That's why you have Voir Dire, so you can reject potential jurors that might have a conflict of interest or other prejudice that hinders them from rendering an impartial verdict.

Re:"Jury of your peers" (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 6 years ago | (#22380190)

Yes, but how far does that go? Can I reject people just because I suspect they won't think like a geek? It's one of the few ways I can see of getting a fair trial, but I can easily imagine the law arguing that, if I could select based on thinking style/opinions, I could keep selecting until I found people who already thought me innocent before the trial started.

Re:Linux defence (1)

mR.bRiGhTsId3 (1196765) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379738)

I think this is an unfortunate side effect of group dynamics and the way lawyers do jury selection. I too have sat on a jury, and was less than impressed by my "peers". I feel like this stems from the fact that dense people can be more easily led around by the nose, so are more likely to not be struck during jury selection.

Lawyers should have to show familiarity with logic (2, Interesting)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 6 years ago | (#22380088)

"We spent the next 8 hours going over things and trying to get these ditsy two to actually think."

Most people are not consistently able to be logical. Even judges often give me the impression that they are lucky not to be programmers. They are sometimes so unable to be logical that they would not be able to debug their programs.

States often hold cases in local city neighborhoods so that it can be comfortable for people to observe. For example, I watched a state supreme court case in an auditorium at a local junior college in which a man was being tried for doing something that was illegal when he did it, became legal later so that he was allowed to go without punishment, and later was made illegal again. The prosecutor was like an attack dog; he gave the impression he wanted to convict anyone for anything.

The state supreme court judges seemed sleepy; they seemed willing to put in an amount of energy that was comfortable for them, not the amount of energy necessary to make the right thing happen.

To serve in government, there should be comprehensive tests of ability to be logical. Maybe no one should be allowed to be a lawyer except if he or she wrote a complicated program and debugged it.

We live in a culture that is absolutely dependent on careful logic. However, people who are logical aren't respected. Our culture is also absolutely dependent on understanding of technology, but people who understand technology are called disrespectful terms: "geeks" and "nerds".

The amount of money available to corrupt the local governments and the federal government in the United States is huge. Millions are available to elect those who are intellectually lazy or easily influenced to be corrupt, judges included. In my state, some judges are elected; the money to create recognition of their names apparently comes from those who want corruption.

Read your state laws. They were written by people who were elected for their popularity, not for their ability to be logical, leaving numerous opportunities for corruption. Laws often (usually?) have numerous logical shortcomings, such as edge cases which often happen but are not considered by the law. A programmer who didn't handle exceptions would be fired; people like George W. Bush, who has apparently never shown any willingness or ability to be carefully analytical, are re-elected.

Another part of the problem is that lawyers make far more money if the law is confusing and illogical.

Logic is in the eye of the beholder (1)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 6 years ago | (#22380400)

Maybe no one should be allowed to be a lawyer except if he or she wrote a complicated program and debugged it.

Lawyers are trained in logic, but they use words rather than mathematical constructs. Judges are not trained to rely purely on logic, and they bring in their experiences and personal preferences. It is impossible, and likely not desirable, to have a legal system that is run by humans attempting to engage in robot logic exercises. The worst excesses of the law are as likely to be from logic divorced from reality as from excess emotion.

The ability to debug a program is not always an indicator of capability in pure logic. You likely know some programmers who are marginal at best, and some who have finely honed logic skills. Then there are mathematicians who embrace logic in a more pure form than most programmers you'll ever meet. Logic of that sort is, like all human abilities, relative.

Laws are indeed made by elected representatives who were chosen for a wide variety of reasons by a conflicted mass of people who can barely agree on anything. But can you seriously imagine what a group of mathematicians and programmers would do if elected? Have you ever worked in a university? Have you seen the ego wars and backbiting and general b.s. that happens? The ability to perform mental calculations in the cold, abstract world of computers and math doesn't necessarily translate at all to the fuzzy-edged world of human beings. It would be nice if the world of human interaction could be reduced to formulas, but that just isn't the way things are. And that's why, sad as it is, we have a complicated legal structure and bozos in public office.

Another part of the problem is that lawyers make far more money if the law is confusing and illogical.

Here's a first year law school problem for you. Try to write a rape statute. Write down what you think the definition of rape should be and the punishments for it. Then show it to three female friends and three male friends and ask them to poke holes in the statute.

Re:Linux defence (1)

JohnnyGTO (102952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22380138)

I think it's time to really reconsider what we call a jury of our peers. Frnkly if your to stupid to not get out of jury duty or you seek it your are not my peer. Maybe we should consider creating a large pool of pre-qualified jurists that are paid a living wage when they sit in jury.

Re:Linux defence (1)

Wheely (2500) | more than 6 years ago | (#22380290)

Thus highlighting the power of the jury system. Ultimately there are enough people who actually take it seriously to persuade those who don't to think a bit more.

Amazing that some people take it so lightly but it is encouraging that, in the end, it usually gets balanced out.

Re:Linux defence (1)

neonmonk (467567) | more than 6 years ago | (#22378964)

Juries automatically assume people are guilty. As long as they can show probable cause and the defense attorney isn't up to scratch... it's very easy to proescute.

Re:Linux defence (4, Interesting)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379036)

Wrong.

I sat on jury duty of a druggie bum that might have attacked the guy who let him live in his house. Why? For the money in his wallet.

The only evidence: The girl that lived there saw him running out of the house. From next door, where she was at a party. She admitted on the stand that she had done drugs the day before court.

Everything screamed 'guilty' except the lack of -any- evidence. It tooks us only a few minutes to reach a not-guilty verdict. We decided to stop and review everything to see if we could find -any- reason to find him guilty. We could not. It was unanimous.

So no, even though we assumed he did it, we were completely unable to find him guilty. Heck, if they'd put the girl on the stand, we'd have been as likely to think she did it, as she was the only witness and had just as much motive.

It's not 'very easy' to prosecute without evidence.

The worst part of the case was finding out they had kept him in jail for almost a year with zero evidence. And then the prosecutor said that 'New York' wanted him. Judge asked if they had papers, and they didn't, so they finally let him go.

Him, we were probably better off with behind bars... But that could have been -any- of us. They can and do hold people for years at a time with no evidence. Very scary.

Re:Linux defence (1)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379188)

Sure, it may not be easy to convict without ANY evidence, but as you yourself point out, it's not hard to come up with enough evidence to convict when the jury, in your words, is reviewing "everything to see if we could find -any- reason to find him guilty."

The jury is supposed to convict only if they are sure of guilt *beyond a reasonable doubt*. However, most people tend to think that if someone was indicted for a crime, they must be guilty, so we should just look for any reasonable evidence to hang them with rather than trying to find cause for reasonable doubt. The very idea that "Everything screamed 'guilty' except the lack of -any- evidence" suggests that you and the rest of the jury were itching to find this guy guilty for whatever reason (he looked like a scumbag? You assume people must be guilty or they wouldn't be on trial?). In your particular case, the guy was lucky that the prosecution had nothing going for them, but there have been plenty of other cases where people are convicted on very thin circumstantial evidence just because the jury was trying to "find -any- reason to find him guilty."

Re:Linux defence (4, Informative)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379278)

I feel I have misrepresented the situation. We were worried that it took so little time to decide not-guilty. So we reviewed everything to make sure there was no argument. We were trying to find any reason to have a real discussion on whether he was guilty or not. Try though we might, we found nothing.

They would have had to -prove- his guilt to me before I'd have voted that way. And I feel most of the others there felt the same, too, though I can't prove that. The reason we were so quick to come up with not-guity was that each of us felt the prosecutor had proven nothing.

I will admit that the prosecutor was absolutely astounded that we came back with not-guilty, though. I supposed there's a chance that all of us were abnormal.

Re:Linux defence (2, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379386)

I see, it seems like you may have had one of the rare good juries (although I hope they aren't as rare as they seem sometimes). My one and only experience on a jury was a civil trial where the plaintiff was awarded damages almost entirely because a.) she cried on the stand (seemed to be obviously crocodile tears to me, but apparently others felt otherwise) and b.) it was getting late and nobody wanted to come back the next day. In my opinion, her case had absolutely no merit, but there was more discussion about what the court would bring in for dinner than there was about the actual merits of the case. The whole experience was pretty disparaging. In hindsight, I should have been more forceful about my own thoughts on the matter, but I was very young and did not possess a nearly strong enough personality to be heard over the "leaders" in the room.

Re:Linux defence (2, Interesting)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379574)

I hope it wasn't rare, because that has been my single positive experience with the justice system. (None of them directly involved me, really.)

The judge in this case was also very nice. Afterwards, he came and talked to us, and even let us ask questions we had.

It was a very positive experience and I actually look forward to jury duty again if I'm called. (I was dreading it before that time.)

Re:Linux defence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22379502)

I served jury duty once when I was in college. The experience shattered all my prejudices about the jury system. The jury selection process actually produced a panel of apparently intelligent, educated, thoughtful citizens, not "twelve gentle bozos too stupid to get out of jury duty." In hindsight it was probably an open-and-shut case. The defendant was caught red-handed in possession of meth when the cops came to investigate a domestic disturbance. He brought a syringe full of the stuff to answer the door! It was one of those minor things where he should have taken a plea bargain, but his lawyer couldn't persuade him. Despite all that, we deliberated for over 3 hours. We carefully considered every piece of evidence, searching for any reasonable doubt at all. In the end we found none and voted unanimously for conviction. I honestly have faith in juries now.

here are your choices: (5, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379162)

1. have no justice system at all
2. have a human system of justice

which means you have all manner of abuses and failures and stupidity at every step of the system

those are your choices. 1 or 2. there is no

3. have a perfect infallible system of justice

sorry, never will be

to have this sort of disdain for the entire justice system because it has human flaws doesn't make you wise, it makes you naive

of course things can be improved, and that is where our disappointment in the system should be channeled. but this is not the vibe i get from some people. some people i get this vibe that they hate the idea of police and courts, rather than they'd like to improve them. which is an attitude which is bizarre and ignorant

Re:here are your choices: (1)

esocid (946821) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379718)

to have this sort of disdain for the entire justice system because it has human flaws doesn't make you wise, it makes you naive
while that may be true, having a distrust or skepticism I think is wise, rather then the naievity that some people trust it as 100% infallible. Some of these comments have made me think of 12 Angry Men [imdb.com] , which in short is about a murder trial where a majority of the jurors decide that the defendant is guilty, and the minority (who think he is innocent) keep going over the facts that they believe point to his innocence. I won't give away the rest of the plot for those who may want to watch it, but my point is sometimes jurors just see what one side, defendant or prosecutor, is telling them to be true without being skeptical and examining the facts themselves. Some people just want to take the quick route and go home rather than being empathetic and imagining what it would feel like to be the defendant wishing that the jurors would give his/her case the time required to come to a sound conclusion (no matter what that is).

well yeah, you've underlined the other extreme (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379896)

i was complaining about the morons who have 0% faith in the system

you are complaining about the morons who have 100% faith in the system

both extremes, of course, are moronic

the true attitude we should all have is found somewhere in the middle

the justice system, like most human endeavours, is severely compromised and insufficient and error-prone and manipulated

and yet, life without it is even worse

Other options (1)

cumin (1141433) | more than 6 years ago | (#22380174)

You're technically right, but you hint at a tremendous breath of possibility for improvement without making those suggestions.

Allow me to offer some of those options:

  1. Do away with the lawyers
  2. Elect jurors and pay them accordingly. (Strict limits against multiple consecutive terms, conflicts of interest, etc)
  3. Create a weighted system for crimes with lack of evidence, lack of witnesses and nonviolent crimes being heard more quickly than strong cases
  4. Give judges the option to hear cases without juries taking personal responsibility for decisions proven to be wrong. If a judge condemns a murderer to death, and it is proven the condemned was innocent, the judge is executed. If the judge finds the murderer innocent, and it is proven later that the defendant was guilty, then the judge is disbarred and banned from office. Most crimes would still be heard by jury, but it would allow judges to hear cases with obvious outcomes quickly.

Every one of these suggestions would dramatically change the system of justice in the US, and each would come with its own set of new problems. If I were less prone to keeping comments short, I could write pages worth of evaluation of each of the suggestions above and they're an off the cuff group to begin with. There is absolutely no reason we cannot change our justice system for the better, and there are plenty of people who could offer better solutions than some random /. poster. The real question is whether we believe they would be better. The system may suck, but it sucks less than many others. If we're not satisfied with it though, lets not dismiss the possibility that there could be a better one but I'm with you on your end point, let us dismiss those who criticize without suggesting improvement.

Do you need a Jury? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22380356)

As a swede, and proabably speaking for most of us, we laugh at your "justice system" where Don Joe's and the usual hillbillies are supposed to form a "jury". In our country (and I think most of Europe) we don't have juries. We have a justice system with professionals analysing the case and a judge doing the judgement (hence the name 'judge' I suppose).

You should really implement this. Too many hillbillies (and yes, we have them in Europe too), would directly say "guilty" or "not guilty" after 10 seconds, and then stick to it no matter what (more or less).

It is a scary system you have.
Now, ours isn't perfect. Far from. But we have never had this extremely decision-powerful arbitrary group of people having anything to do with the case. Just look at how mobs and other gangsta dirt bags are (and have been) threatening citizens from the jury. Surely it can happen to professional law-people, but they can have the training and backup to stay objective.

Re:Linux defence (2, Interesting)

prelelat (201821) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379378)

What really bugs me about a case like this were there is no evidence is what if he is not convicted, there is no evidence. If they do find a body and evidence that points the finger straight at him hes already been let off, can they even have a new trial? I agree it seems pretty stupid to have a trial with no evidence for more reasons than I can think of.

Re:Linux defence (5, Informative)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379516)

Not all the evidence is circumstantial, there is the forensic stuff too.

http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2008/01/jurors-shown-st.html [wired.com]

OAKLAND, California -- Jurors in the Hans Reiser murder trial for the first time in the three-month trial were shown actual forensic evidence -- a sleeping bag cover that was stained with blood from the missing wife whom the Linux programmer is accused of killing.
...

[Reiser's car] was littered with trash, clothes, a sleeping bag and its cover, some maps, two books about murder and an Oakland Tribune newspaper with a screaming headline describing the authorities searching his Oakland hills residence. Still, it appeared as though the vehicle might have undergone some serious scrubbing. The floorboards were sopping wet, Cavness testified.
...

Absent was the passenger seat. Inside the vehicle was a bunch of trash, a socket set and receipt showing the tools were purchased two weeks after the woman went missing. The bolts to the car seat were also found inside, and the socket on the ratchet matched the 12 millimeter diameter of the seat's bolts.
Now Reiser says he removed the seat and put it in a dumpster because he was sleeping in the car. But an alternative explanation was that he used the car to move a body, scrubbed the blood off the bodywork and dumped the seat because he couldn't get the blood off it.

Nina Reiser has disappeared. Hans claims she is hiding in Russia, but she was heavily in debt, mostly due to unpaid child support. And she just got offered a $50K per year job.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/07/BAOFUTA27.DTL [sfgate.com]

Two days before she disappeared, Nina Reiser accepted a $50,000-a-year job with the San Francisco Department of Public Health to help Russian immigrants, the woman who hired her testified Wednesday. ...
Also Wednesday, Richard Wilson of the TransUnion credit bureau testified that Hans Reiser was $90,000 in debt as of late last month. The figure includes $29,000 in unpaid child support, he said. Nina Reiser was about $30,000 in debt, Wilson said.

Other witnesses have testified that Hans Reiser complained that his wife was a financial burden to him.
The last two calls Nina made on her cellphone were to Hans before she disappeared, just after she dropped off her children at his house.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/08/BASIUUNE1.DTL&feed=rss.news [sfgate.com]

His behaviour on 20/20 was highly suspicious. Circumstantial admittedly.

http://www.eyesforlies.blogspot.com/2007/11/hans-and-nina-reiser.html [blogspot.com]

But realistically Hans's suspicious behaviour, creepiness and arrogance will probably end up dooming him whether he's guilty or not. I think trials are really a question of which narrative the jury believes. If they believe his story that she abandoned her kids (she had sole custody), boyfriend and a highly paid job to live incognito in Russia he'll get off, but I seriously doubt that. Then again he's a smart guy. Maybe he or his lawyer can work out some Johnny Cochrane type mindtrick to get him off. Then again, maybe not -

http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/hans_reiser_trial/index.html#44890938 [wired.com]

Re:Linux defence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22379884)

Not all the evidence is circumstantial, there is the forensic stuff too.

Blood on a sleeping bag cover? Calls to her own husband? This is "forensic stuff" I'd expect to find for people who haven't been murdered too. You are aware that women tend to bleed on a regular basis? And that it's not unusual for a wife to phone her husband?

Re:Linux defence (4, Insightful)

metamatic (202216) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379970)

...a sleeping bag cover that was stained with blood from the missing wife whom the Linux programmer is accused of killing.

I'd want to know what they meant by "stained with blood"; that could be anything from a few drops to a large patch indicating a serious wound. My bet is the former, or they'd have been more lurid with the description. In which case it's circumstantial; my wife got a paper cut in bed the other day and got blood on the pillow (true story), but that doesn't mean I murdered her.

The floorboards were sopping wet, Cavness testified.

Circumstantial. Ever spilled a quart of milk in the car and had to try to get it out of the carpet?

But an alternative explanation was that he used the car to move a body, scrubbed the blood off the bodywork and dumped the seat because he couldn't get the blood off it.

Still circumstantial. Yes, it could have been Hans cleaning blood off the carpet; it could also have been Hans cleaning oil off the carpet.

The last two calls Nina made on her cellphone were to Hans before she disappeared, just after she dropped off her children at his house.

Also circumstantial, unless they can get ECHELON to tell us the content of the calls.

I agree that it looks suspicious as all hell; but the other side of things looks as suspicious as all hell too, when you read about Nina and her boyfriend.

Re:Linux defence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22380362)

She could also have had a very heavy period and bled inside the bag.

My car leaks. A lot. The trunk is always soaking wet.

Maybe he really was sleeping in his car and sold the seat.

(Anon because I've modded this thread.)

Re:Linux defence (1)

Luke Dawson (956412) | more than 6 years ago | (#22380062)

Now Reiser says he removed the seat and put it in a dumpster because he was sleeping in the car. But an alternative explanation was that he used the car to move a body, scrubbed the blood off the bodywork and dumped the seat because he couldn't get the blood off it.
He should have tried Oxy-clean. I heard if you call in the next fifteen minutes, you get a second bottle absolutely free!

Re:Linux defence (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 6 years ago | (#22380084)

If they believe his story that she abandoned her kids (she had sole custody),
The kids are currently in Russia. Their grandmother took them there and has failed to bring them back.

Re:Linux defence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22379918)

Almost null? Like, half a null?

Re:Linux defence (1)

R3d Jack (1107235) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379972)

My brother was convicted in Oakland by a publicity-seeking DA with no hard evidence. The case was highly publicized, and Edward Kennedy became involved. Sadly, the prominence of the DA and weak defense attorneys led to a mis-trial, and then a conviction. DA's are elected, and they seize on these high-publicity cases to build their rep. This sounds like another such case.

Re:Linux defence (2, Funny)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 6 years ago | (#22378902)

More appropriate (he was a FS developer after all):
"If the disk doesn't fsck, then you must acquit!"

Re:Linux defence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22379526)

You know what the main design behind ReiserFS was, right? You didn't just not understand the post you replied to? You're not just a boring ignoramus, yes?

Re:Linux defence (2, Informative)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379712)

I think you missed the fact that his fs used balanced trees ;)

So I married a Kernel Programmer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22378852)

Re:So I married a Kernel Programmer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22378980)

"It wasn't me. You can check my journal...."
--Hans Reiser

Jury Selection - Sept 2007 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22378872)

Prosecution: Have you heard of the charges against Hans Reiser?
Dave Chappelle: Oh yea, Reiser did that shit.

don't know mr. reiser (1)

JeanBaptiste (537955) | more than 6 years ago | (#22378878)

but this doesn't sound good

When you give me a hard stare and (inaudible) that you are very good at combat, your request that I drop domestic-violence charges against you, it very much sounds like another threat
snip
You don't need to prove to me that you are a strong man. I never questioned that.


telling your wife you're good at combat? lol. I can almost imagine this as the comic book guy saying it.... and the marines are good at combat, hans reiser probably not so much.

Re:don't know mr. reiser (1)

dasbush (1143709) | more than 6 years ago | (#22378936)

The judge read that as inadmissible because it would cause the jury to become biased on a non-factual (emotional) level. Apparently he was right.

Re:don't know mr. reiser (2, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379026)

Yeah, that's nothing the jury is going to see, though.

Here's what's bad in my mind:

Morasch testified that [Nina Reiser] had recently paid her utility bills and even paid $150 to register her car with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The testimony was gleaned by Hora in a bid to convince jurors that Hora believes Nina Reiser would not voluntarily disappear without her money while keeping her bills up to date.

Earlier testimony showed nearly $2,000 in cash was found in her Oakland apartment, and her inside her van the authorities found a $2,100 check made out to her landlord that she never delivered.
Now, guys, tell me: If you're planning on disappearing to Russia, do you make out a check for your landlord and stuff it in your van, never to be delievered? Because that's basically Hans' defense at this point -- that she volunatarily left for Russia. Now, it's still possible that she involuntarily left for Russia, but the defense, thus far, hasn't presented any evidence at all that this happened, either.

Re:don't know mr. reiser (1)

bhima (46039) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379104)

If I was planning to frame my ex?

Not only yes. But HELL YES.

Re:don't know mr. reiser (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379774)

If I was planning to frame my ex?

Not only yes. But HELL YES.

Perhaps. Would you give your ex your children just before you framed him? Somehow, I think not.

Re:don't know mr. reiser (1)

downix (84795) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379136)

quite right, nor any evidence she hadn't. Don't forget, their children now stay with her mother due to the case, which means if she were as he has indicated, that is a manipulator, would she not have done such small things to give that impression?

Then again, he could be a cold blooded killer. Either scenario is equally likely in my mind based on the evidence presented thus far.

Re:don't know mr. reiser (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379196)

Because that's basically Hans' defense at this point
I am not very creative, but if I was planning to kill my wife (not that any /.er has one), I would almost definitely come up with something more plausible than "she went to Russia". How lame is that?

Re:don't know mr. reiser (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22379512)

"Now, guys, tell me: If you're planning on disappearing to Russia, do you make out a check for your landlord and stuff it in your van, never to be delievered?"

That depends on exactly how much planning she put into it doesn't it?

If we are to believe that people can snap and go into a homicidal rage, why can't we also believe that people can do stupid things when they are emotional. Including running away to another country.

You can't present one while ignoring the other.

"Now, it's still possible that she involuntarily left for Russia, but the defense, thus far, hasn't presented any evidence at all that this happened, either."

And precisely why should they? Obviously the quickest defence would be to produce his wife alive and well. It disturbs me greatly when people start saying that the defence hasn't proven his innocence. That is not how the justice system is supposed to work in the US. It is up to the prosecutor to prove that he killed his wife, not for the defence to prove she ran away. The defence's only job is to highlight weaknesses in the prosecutor's case. This may include providing an alternative theory as to what happened, as they have done in this case. (She left the country)

Re:don't know mr. reiser (2, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379828)

And precisely why should they? Obviously the quickest defence would be to produce his wife alive and well. It disturbs me greatly when people start saying that the defence hasn't proven his innocence. That is not how the justice system is supposed to work in the US. It is up to the prosecutor to prove that he killed his wife, not for the defence to prove she ran away. The defence's only job is to highlight weaknesses in the prosecutor's case. This may include providing an alternative theory as to what happened, as they have done in this case. (She left the country)
The purpose of the defense is to create "reasonable doubt" in the minds of the jurors. Saying 'she went to Russia' may or may not create reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors in and of itself. What we know is:

  • No one has seen her since September 3, 2006.
  • The prosecution has assumed that Hans Reiser murdered her based on his erratic behavior immediately following her disappearance and the fact that...
  • ...when they arrested him, he had $9,000 on him and his passport.
  • The prosecution has yet to find the body, despite having performed extensive searches in the area.
  • When Nina Reiser disappeared, she left $4500 in the bank untouched, she had paid a bunch of bills and was about the pay her rent, and she had $2000 in cash in her apartment, which was also untouched.
  • Hans Reiser has been most uncooperative with the authorities.
  • Has presented some forensic evidence (in her minivan) that suggests that she was murdered or at least seriously injured at the time of her disappearance
  • The defense has provided some statements from prosecution witnesses that may create reasonable doubt, but hasn't produced a shred of evidence (so far) that backs up Reiser's defense. To be fair, the prosecution is only just about to rest its case, though.


And we can deduce that:

  • Either she left involuntarily (was kidnapped), she left in an awful hurry, she was murdered by someone other than Hans Reiser, or she was murdered by Hans Reiser
  • The prosecution has presented lots of (so far) mostly circumstantial evidence that suggests that Hans Reiser may have murdered Nina Reiser and was prepared to leave the country in order to avoid getting caught
  • The defense still hasn't shown when or how Nina Reiser left the country with $0 and without a vehicle or a cell phone.
  • The onus is on the defense to back up its claims at this point.


But what I do know? My entire legal expertise hangs solely on what I read in layman's periodicals and books, what I read on the Internet, and, of course, watching shows like "Law & Order". :-D

Re:don't know mr. reiser (1)

Vendetta (85883) | more than 6 years ago | (#22380078)

But they aren't exactly giving any reasonable doubt when they say that she went to Russia without backing it up at all. If you have an alternate theory, shouldn't you back it up, at least a little bit?

Significance (5, Funny)

millwall (622730) | more than 6 years ago | (#22378886)

What on earth is the significance of this? [wired.com] :

The officer also testified the defendant flatulated in his face when the authorities were snapping nude photos of him Sept. 28, 2006. The officer said Reiser told him: "'You're about to experience chaos' and, for lack of a better term, he farted in my face."

Jurors snickered and the defendant grinned.

"Did you make a report of that?" DuBois asked the officer.

"No. But it stays vividly in my head."

Re:Significance (1)

dasbush (1143709) | more than 6 years ago | (#22378990)

Next time I'm about to fart on somebody's face, I'm going to say, "You're about to experience chaos."

Re:Significance (1)

aquatone282 (905179) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379106)

Apparently the officer wanted to be humiliated again, this time in a public court.

Re:Significance (1)

Vegeta99 (219501) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379640)

Your sig is sooo fitting.

Re:Significance (2, Interesting)

jmac1492 (1036880) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379126)

Why were they taking nude pictures of Hans Reiser in the first place?

Re:Significance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22379420)

Why were they taking nude pictures of Hans Reiser in the first place?
Leave it to the San Francisco Bay area :P

Re:Significance (4, Insightful)

teslar (706653) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379478)

Why were they taking nude pictures of Hans Reiser from a distance small enough that it became possible for him to fart in the face of the officer?

Unless dear Hans has a very violent flatulence problem, there can't have been more than a few inches between face and venting hole and that's quite freaky, none the least because of the implied relative positions of the two. It also raises several disturbing questions at least a few of which contain the word 'goatse'.

Disturbing.

Re:Significance (1)

megabeck42 (45659) | more than 6 years ago | (#22380076)

They were taking nude pictures to document any possible signs of a struggle. Try subduing a woman whom is convinced you're going to kill or rape her - you're likely going to end up with scratches, bruises, or marks.

Re:Significance (1)

moonbender (547943) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379522)

Do document possible marks of a struggle, apparently. One of the official reasons for the police to humiliate people, I guess.

Re:Significance (1)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379672)

Strip search. Yes, they check there. That's how people smuggle things into prison. Why they were taking pictures? I don't know. They probably weren't, it was probably just all part of one session when he was being booked.

Re:Significance (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379190)

You're about to experience the awe and mystery, that reaches from the deepest inner mind, to, the outer limits.

The Reiser Side Of... (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 6 years ago | (#22378888)

The Wired link is interesting if only for the sketches, which resemble the work of the "usual gang of idiots" from MAD Magazine. All that's missing is Sergio's doodles in the margins.

For those who don't know who (2, Informative)

esocid (946821) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379038)

Hans Reiser is a programmer who developed the ReiserFS file system as well as Reiser4. He's on trial for the murder of his wife who disappeared in 2006.

Re:For those who don't know who (1)

JeanBaptiste (537955) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379064)

Also, the internet is not so much like a truck but more like a series of tubes.

totally off-topic... (1)

neumayr (819083) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379312)

...but what the hell is indymedia.com supposed to be? Looks like some scumbag grabbed that domain for the advertisement value of http://www.indymedia.org/ [indymedia.org] .
Which is kind of hilarious.

Re:totally off-topic... (1)

esocid (946821) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379436)

Thanks for making me aware of that. indymedia.org was what I meant to type. guess I got in that '.com' habit when I made my sig. /fixed it

Re:For those who don't know who (2, Funny)

TheLostSamurai (1051736) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379344)

Thank you, I didn't know and was somewhat confused. I still however, do not care.

Re:For those who don't know who (1)

esocid (946821) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379874)

I'm not quite sure why my parent post is getting modded as flamebait. I gave a description of what he's programmed and why he's on trial without adding any personal bias like I think he's innocent and the prosecution doesn't have anything in the way of evidence.

I ponder the case (1)

downix (84795) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379092)

It is a case without a body, nor evidence that the wife is dead and had not, as she threatened to do so I understand, returned home to her native Russia. The DA had better have some better evidence than a fart in the face, which is all I'd picked up thus far.

Re:I ponder the case (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22379440)

The court of public opinion paints a picture of a guy with mental problems and a history of domestic abuse. We'll see if this pans out in an actual courtroom.

Also for christ's sake, "Cops Find $9,000 and Passport on Hans Reiser" the guy was planning to skip town.

Re:I ponder the case (1)

downix (84795) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379886)

The man is worth how much, and is a foreign born, and you expect him to not keep his passport on him?

heck, I kept mine on me for years.

Linux & Murder (5, Interesting)

jlherren (1025754) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379348)

What disturbs me a bit is that one of the blogs doesn't mention the word 'linux' even once, while the other mentions it in almost every entry: "Hans Reiser -- the popular Linux programmer who is accused of killing [...]", "The trial of the Linux programmer, who is accused of killing his estranged wife", "Hans Reiser, the Linux developer accused of murdering his wife", "the 31-year-old estranged wife of the Linux programmer who authorities say murdered her"...

Of course, his work on the linux kernel might be what he's most known for and if you don't know him, then mentioning that is the right thing to do. But mentioning it so often creates an odd and disturbing link between 'murder' and 'linux'. Especially since as far as I know, his work on linux plays absolutely no role in the murder case.

Re:Linux & Murder (1)

roggg (1184871) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379490)

Especially since as far as I know, his work on linux plays absolutely no role in the murder case.
As far as you> know. MUHAHAHA!

Re:Linux & Murder (1)

neumayr (819083) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379552)

Didn't you get the memo?
Linnics users are commies, Linnics users become Linnics developers. Commies are killers.
-> Linnics developers are murderers.
q.e.d.

Re:Linux & Murder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22380038)

But mentioning it so often creates an odd and disturbing link between 'murder' and 'linux'.
Only if you're a fucking idiot.... or you're one of those idiots that sleeps with tinfoil wrapped around their heads....

There is indirect link (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22380282)

Here is a link in one sentence:
Hans was regularly going to Russia to hire Russian hackers to work on reiserfs (now included into Linux tree), and this is the location where he ordered Nina (from Russian Bride catalogue), who became his wife...

see?

Re:Linux & Murder (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 6 years ago | (#22380314)

You've just given me a FANTASTIC idea! Joe Shady Microsoft PR Rep

Re:Linux & Murder (1)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 6 years ago | (#22380322)

He is a Kernel file system hacker, not a Cyrus Imap [cmu.edu] hacker -- they have the wrong man :-)

It has changed . . . (2, Interesting)

arizwebfoot (1228544) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379812)

My late Dad, a retired Cop used to say, "We would rather let 9 guilty ones go free to protect the 1 innocent."

Now it seems that the cops think "We'll convict 9 innocent ones to get the 1 guilty."

He's so guilty! (2, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#22380072)


Nina Reiser discussed mediation between the two in the e-mail, which she apparently wrote on June 19, 2005. The judge said the jury will hear a redacted portion of the e-mail. Goodman then read sentences from Nina Reiser's e-mail that the jury will not be allowed to hear because the prejudical effect outweighs the probative value: "I will not continue mediation if you keep threatening me. When you give me a hard stare and (inaudible) that you are very good at combat, your request that I drop domestic-violence charges against you, it very much sounds like another threat. I warn you that if you are going to communicate with me in this manner, I will have to end mediation and report it to the police. However, threats are not part of the mediation process."

But of course, that's not admitted.
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