Drew's Law
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    Posting Addict GloriaInTX's Avatar
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    The trial for Drew Peterson is wrapping up. They have been able to use hearsay evidence due to a law specifically passed for this case. Do you agree with the hearsay evidence being allowed?

    Over the past three and a half weeks, prosecutors have laid out their case against Drew Peterson, in an extraordinary pre-trial hearing that's raised serious debate about the state's new hearsay law.

    Testimony from more than five dozen witnesses during the hearing has painted Drew Peterson as a husband bent on control and willing to use violence or threats of violence to get his way. But much of the statements are hearsay, or second hand. The are only being presented because the state passed a new law, dubbed "Drew's Law," to let hearsay evidence in. Legal experts, not connected to the case, say the problem with hearsay evidence is it does not allow the defendant to confront and challenge his accuser.

    "It's a dangerous law, it's one that I think the intent is to hold people responsible for their bad acts, but on the other hand, I think, if abused, can result in failures of the system," said Attorney Terry Ekl.

    Peterson is is charged with killing his third wife, Kathleen Savio in 2004. He's suspected, but not charged, with killing his fourth-- and still missing wife-- Stacy Peterson, in 2007. The prosecution's case is based largely circumstantial and hearsay evidence. It comes from relatives, friends and clergy. They testified that the two women told them about Peterson's threats, or actions, that prosecutions contend show Peterson was responsible for their death or disappearance.

    "At least some of these statements are made by party to a divorce and frequently parties to divorce go around and say awful things about the other side that are not true," Ekl says.

    But Attorney Dean Polales says "Drew's Law" is based on a United States Supreme Court ruling.

    "That decision, which came down in 2008, said if a defendant procures the absence or unavailability of a witness for the purpose of preventing their testimony, then the defendant forfeits his right to confront the witness and therefore the protection of the hearsay rule," Polales said.

    Judge Stephen White, who is presiding over the case, has to evaluate the reliability of 15 hearsay statements and then decide which of them will be allowed in at trial.

    Read more: Expert: 'Drew's Law' a 'Dangerous Law' - Chicago News and Weather | FOX Chicago News
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    Community Host Alissa_Sal's Avatar
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    This part confused me:

    "That decision, which came down in 2008, said if a defendant procures the absence or unavailability of a witness for the purpose of preventing their testimony, then the defendant forfeits his right to confront the witness and therefore the protection of the hearsay rule," Polales said.
    Are they saying that if the defendent "made the witness disappear" then they don't deserve hearsay protection? On the surface, that sounds sensible, but it seems like first you would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendent made the witness disappear, and isn't that the whole point of this trial? So it's kind of like presuming them guilty so you can use the testimony against them to prove that they're guilty....
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    Posting Addict Spacers's Avatar
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    I'm fine with hearsay being allowed in certain circumstances, and especially when the person is dead & can't testify in person. If the cops had done their job properly when Wife #3 was found dead, Drew Peterson wouldn't have been able to kill Wife #4 because he'd be in prison. It took Wife #4 going missing for enough people to start looking at what had happened to Wife #3. Interestingly, there's some arguments being made that "Drew's Law" is now dead and/or that this law is going to get Drew Peterson off the hook.

    "State's Attorney James Glasgow won his appeal in the Drew Peterson case, but has his triumph effectively killed the law he helped push through the state legislature?"
    Did Peterson Appeal Kill 'Drew's Law?' - Plainfield, IL Patch

    'Drew's Law' may let Drew skate
    Change of Subject: `Drew's Law' may let Drew skate
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    Posting Addict Spacers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alissa_Sal View Post
    Are they saying that if the defendent "made the witness disappear" then they don't deserve hearsay protection? On the surface, that sounds sensible, but it seems like first you would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendent made the witness disappear, and isn't that the whole point of this trial? So it's kind of like presuming them guilty so you can use the testimony against them to prove that they're guilty....
    It makes sense to me; the two decisions are intertwined, and not necessarily dependent on one another. If the jury believes the hearsay testimony is truthful, then it can find that the defendant is guilty both of making the defendant disappear *and* of the murder charge. If the jury doesn't believe the hearsay evidence, then it can still weigh the other evidence to decide whether the defendant is guilty on the murder charge.
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