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All Things Legal - The Law for Non-Lawyers

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All Things Legal - The Law for Non-Lawyers

27 Jul 2010 06:53

We had a thread like this back on the good old days on DPF.

Basically a place to post questions and answers on legal issues in a civil manner, with (hopefully) competent US attorneys answering the questions. It's not a place to debate the issues, but a place to learn more about the nuts and bolts. Statutes, applicable laws, evidentiary issues, etc.

For example, there is an ongoing misunderstanding (and one not limited to this forum by any means) with regard to circumstantial evidence. Many people believe eyewitness testimony is circumstantial and a blood bag is direct evidence, when in fact the opposite is true.

Some ground rules, per the management:

No bickering, off topic discussions, trolling, baiting, or even attempts at being humorous. Keep it pragmatic, concise and to the point. Otherwise the thread will soon lose its significance

When it digresses in long back and forths, because someone wants to be right or can't let the debate go, I'll have to do a whole lot of cleaning up.
[SIZE="2"]"Whoever still can't put one and one together about what happened in cycling is beyond my help."
Jan Ullrich[/SIZE]
User avatar MacRoadie
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27 Jul 2010 07:00

MacRoadie wrote:We had a thread like this back on the good old days on DPF.

Basically a place to post questions and answers on legal issues in a civil manner, with (hopefully) competent US attorneys answering the questions. It's not a place to debate the issues, but a place to learn more about the nuts and bolts. Statutes, applicable laws, evidentiary issues, etc.

For example, there is an ongoing misunderstanding (and one not limited to this forum by any means) with regard to circumstantial evidence. Many people believe eyewitness testimony is circumstantial and a blood bag is direct evidence, when in fact the opposite is true.

Maybe this can even be made a sticky if everyone can behave. It would make a great resource.

Oh you mentioned blood bag so civility and learnin' are out the door.
Oldman
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27 Jul 2010 07:08

MacRoadie wrote:We had a thread like this back on the good old days on DPF.

Basically a place to post questions and answers on legal issues in a civil manner, with (hopefully) competent US attorneys answering the questions. It's not a place to debate the issues, but a place to learn more about the nuts and bolts. Statutes, applicable laws, evidentiary issues, etc.

For example, there is an ongoing misunderstanding (and one not limited to this forum by any means) with regard to circumstantial evidence. Many people believe eyewitness testimony is circumstantial and a blood bag is direct evidence, when in fact the opposite is true.

Maybe this can even be made a sticky if everyone can behave. It would make a great resource.


I had started a thread trying to bring together ideas on "presumption of innocence" and whistleblower rights. Can this be integrated as well into the proposed sticky? We don't need 300 threads on law issues, which I take is going to be an attractive topic for many.
User avatar Cozy Beehive
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27 Jul 2010 07:52

MacRoadie wrote:We had a thread like this back on the good old days on DPF.



For example, there is an ongoing misunderstanding (and one not limited to this forum by any means) with regard to circumstantial evidence. Many people believe eyewitness testimony is circumstantial and a blood bag is direct evidence, when in fact the opposite is true.



I thought the boundary between circumstantial and direct evidence has been made very clear. Evidence is "circumstantial" if it is against Armstrong, with the exception of cases where it is "tainted", "discredited", "hearsay", "made up", or "lacking in credibility".


On the other hand, any evidence against Lemond would be "direct", unless it is "damning", "clear" or "obvious", or possibly "overweight" or "drunken".
User avatar Tim_sleepless
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27 Jul 2010 16:10

Seems like something I would be interested in following and participating in. For starters - direct and circumstantial evidence have the same weight in the courtroom. You are correct on the distinction between the two, however, generally circumstantial evidence often is also physical evidence which generally does not have a bias, whereas, direct evidence often is eyewitness testimony which may depending on the subject matter.
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27 Jul 2010 16:18

Could the experts lay their cards of the table before posts? I've just read so many posts by lounge-room Lawyers that I've become accustomed to skipping posts on Law. Would love to hear from those who know what they are talking about.
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27 Jul 2010 18:26

sars1981 wrote:Could the experts lay their cards of the table before posts? I've just read so many posts by lounge-room Lawyers that I've become accustomed to skipping posts on Law. Would love to hear from those who know what they are talking about.


Sounds reasonable - personally, I have it listed in my bio (18 years as a trial attorney).
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27 Jul 2010 18:48

MacRoadie wrote:Many people believe eyewitness testimony is circumstantial and a blood bag is direct evidence, when in fact the opposite can be true.


I took the liberty of editing your quote. The truth of the statement lies in what it is you're trying to prove.

For example, if you're trying to prove that Lance did a blood transfusion, Floyd's statement that he saw it happen is direct. But if Floyd could only say that he saw someone take a full blood bag into the back of the bus and later he saw the bag empty, then his eyewitness testimony would be circumstantial. And if you're trying to prove a conspiracy involving someone not on the bus at the time, then Floyd's direct observation of a transfusion would be circumstantial for that purpose.

In a case with a judge and jury, the judge decides whether evidence is admissible: the fact that evidence may be circumstantial is not grounds for ruling it inadmissible. Both direct and circumstantial evidence is presented to the jury to decide what weight to give it.

Edit: ah, yes, I am an attorney (with an emphasis on appellate practice)
Parbar
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27 Jul 2010 19:00

Parbar wrote:

In a case with a judge and jury, the judge decides whether evidence is admissible: the fact that evidence may be circumstantial is not grounds for ruling it inadmissible. Both direct and circumstantial evidence is presented to the jury to decide what weight to give it.

Does the distinction between circumstantial and direct evidence actually have any real legal significance? Obviously in some cases circumstantial evidence can be nearly conclusive (say a video of Armstrong accepting some blood bags from a courier), while direct evidence can be quite weak (like Landis sworn testimony, due to his credibility issues).
Cerberus
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27 Jul 2010 19:06

Great thread -not being from the US I am unfamiliar with some of the ways that this case has started, so apologies if these questions seem basic.

The prosecutors are based in Los Angeles - why?
Are there any laws particular to California that will be applicable to the case or as a 'Federal' investigation, does it not matter where the venue ultimatley is and the laws of that State?


The original SCA case was settled as SCA were 'insurers' and as the results of LA's Tour wins were still recognised by the Tour (UCI/ASO) - as this investigation may not 'prove' the doping issue (but show the payments/means) am I correct to assume that SCA has no way to make a claim against LA/Tailwind unless the Tour wins are removed from the record?
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27 Jul 2010 19:11

I'll sticky it for now, as long as it remains within the boundaries of a Q&A thread that contains relevant information on all things legal.

@Mac, can you re-edit your original post and include certain guidelines:

ie

No bickering, off topic discussions, trolling, baiting, or even attempts at being humorous. Keep it pragmatic, concise and to the point. Otherwise the thread will soon lose its significance

When it digresses in long back and forths, because someone wants to be right or can't let the debate go, I'll have to do a whole lot of cleaning up.
User avatar Bala Verde
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27 Jul 2010 20:25

Dr. Maserati wrote:The prosecutors are based in Los Angeles - why?

Are there any laws particular to California that will be applicable to the case or as a 'Federal' investigation, does it not matter where the venue ultimatley is and the laws of that State?


Not sure why specifically they went to LA - but I would suspect there is a jurisdictional tie to Southern California.

As for California state law - not likely to impact the case since it is a federal investigation and it will be the Federal rules of court that apply.

NOTE: Federal interpretation of Constitutional Law trumps State Interpretation of Constitutional Law. The Federal investigators sometimes will pass a case back to a State Prosecutor (not often) and then State procedural law would apply (along with State Criminal laws and regulations).
User avatar CentralCaliBike
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27 Jul 2010 20:34

Bala Verde wrote:
@Mac, can you re-edit your original post and include certain guidelines:

ie

No bickering, off topic discussions, trolling, baiting, or even attempts at being humorous. Keep it pragmatic, concise and to the point. Otherwise the thread will soon lose its significance

When it digresses in long back and forths, because someone wants to be right or can't let the debate go, I'll have to do a whole lot of cleaning up.


Ok, Done...
[SIZE="2"]"Whoever still can't put one and one together about what happened in cycling is beyond my help."
Jan Ullrich[/SIZE]
User avatar MacRoadie
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27 Jul 2010 20:41

Okay, cool thread. Seeing that I will be a 1L in a few weeks, this thread will give me a reason to check in on occasion. I believe Publicus is an attorney also, so get him involved.
Thoughtforfood
 

27 Jul 2010 20:44

Okay, first question from reading this: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/cycling/wires/07/27/2080.ap.cyc.armstrong.doping.0117/index.html

Could Armstrong be charged with perjury if he lied in his deposition in the SCA case?
Thoughtforfood
 

27 Jul 2010 20:57

Thoughtforfood wrote:Okay, first question from reading this: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/cycling/wires/07/27/2080.ap.cyc.armstrong.doping.0117/index.html

Could Armstrong be charged with perjury if he lied in his deposition in the SCA case?


IMO, and I did sleep at a Holiday Inn last night, it may be more likely that they would try to put Armstrong under oath again, and ask him about that testimony as well as all of the new allegations. It's the lying that will get thrown in jail, or perhaps he'll finally tell the truth.
grayrogers
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27 Jul 2010 21:04

grayrogers wrote:IMO, and I did sleep at a Holiday Inn last night, it may be more likely that they would try to put Armstrong under oath again, and ask him about that testimony as well as all of the new allegations. It's the lying that will get thrown in jail, or perhaps he'll finally tell the truth.


Thanks. Thinking it through a little more, it would seem that the only court that could charge Armstrong for perjury in the SCA case would be the court where the case was heard, which was not a Federal court, but a Texas state court. So I guess I will answer my own question. That is a guess, but it sounds like it could be right.

More likely is your scenario. Thanks for posting. I will try to remember to sleep in a Holiday Inn Express during the two weeks of finals this December.
Thoughtforfood
 

27 Jul 2010 21:04

Thoughtforfood wrote:Okay, first question from reading this: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/cycling/wires/07/27/2080.ap.cyc.armstrong.doping.0117/index.html

Could Armstrong be charged with perjury if he lied in his deposition in the SCA case?


Perjury can be charged if it can be proved. There is likely to be a statute of limitations - under state law in California that is three years from the date of the actual perjury - the case would have to be filed prior to the three year limit. I do not know what the federal statute of limitations is for perjury.

As for the location of a criminal perjury case, the charge would be appropriately filed in the jurisdiction where the sworn testimony occurred.

As a side note, here is a copy of the deposition testimony - it looks like it took place in Texas in 2005: http://www.scribd.com/doc/31833754/Lance-Armstrong-Testimony

It is also possible that the Federal Prosecutors are looking at a fraud case. Not sure how California would be connected to a claim of fraud by SCA though. If they are looking at fraud there would likely be a tolling of the statute of limitations until the time that the fraud became apparent. The problem with arguing that is that SCA brought those claims in their 2004 law suit it seems so there is the statute problem again.

NOTE: A quick check of Google indicates that the general federal statute of limitations for felony cases is 6 years.
User avatar CentralCaliBike
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27 Jul 2010 21:05

grayrogers wrote:IMO, and I did sleep at a Holiday Inn last night, it may be more likely that they would try to put Armstrong under oath again, and ask him about that testimony as well as all of the new allegations. It's the lying that will get thrown in jail, or perhaps he'll finally tell the truth.


The Fifth Amendment means that someone is not forced to testify if it potentially could result in their prosecution for a criminal act.
User avatar CentralCaliBike
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27 Jul 2010 21:08

CentralCaliBike wrote:Perjury can be charged if it can be proved. There is likely to be a statute of limitations - under state law in California that is three years from the date of the actual perjury - the case would have to be filed prior to the three year limit. I do not know what the federal statute of limitations is for perjury.

As for the location of a criminal perjury case, the charge would be appropriately filed in the jurisdiction where the sworn testimony occurred.

As a side note, here is a copy of the deposition testimony - it looks like it took place in Texas in 2005: http://www.scribd.com/doc/31833754/Lance-Armstrong-Testimony

It is also possible that the Federal Prosecutors are looking at a fraud case. Not sure how California would be connected to a claim of fraud by SCA though. If they are looking at fraud there would likely be a tolling of the statute of limitations until the time that the fraud became apparent. The problem with arguing that is that SCA brought those claims in their 2004 law suit it seems so there is the statute problem again.

NOTE: A quick check of Google indicates that the general federal statute of limitations for felony cases is 6 years.


If the fraud that became apparent was not in regards to the issues in question during the SCA case, I assume that the tolling would commence from the time of then differing fraud becoming apparent?
Thoughtforfood
 

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