Grisham Case

Question #1 states “Grisham identified four (4) United States supreme court (USSC) cases linked to the Fifth (5th) Amendment. Identify each case presented in the book and provide a one to two sentence statement about that case. ” The first case discusses Hopt v. Utah in which the court stated “The supreme court ruled that a confession is not admissible if it is obtained by operating on the hopes or fears of the accused, and in doing so deprives him of the freedom of will or self-control necessary to make a voluntary statement. (Grisham, 105) This simply means that if a suspect is being bribed or threatened by authorities, saying that he or she must confess or this will happen, then in result, if the suspect makes a confession, it cannot be accepted because it was not in his or her free will.

The second case discussed is Bram v. United States. This case determined that “A statement must be free and voluntary, not extracted by any sorts of threats or violence or promises, however slight. A confession obtained from an accused who has been threatened cannot be admissible. (Grisham, 106) This case is similar to Hopt v. Utah where a suspect who has been threatened or bribed cannot make an acceptable statement because it was swayed by authorities.

A statement/confession has to be one-hundred percent voluntary as well as being the suspects own thoughts and opinions. The third case is Blackburn v. Alabama. In this case the court said “Coercion can be mental as well as physical” (Grisham, 106). This case is simply stating that not only can authorities physically coerce a suspect into confession by hitting or torturing, but they can mentally coerce a suspect as well.

Factors in determining whether the suspect was mentally coerced is determined if there were long, strenuous hours of interrogation, what time of day the interrogation took place, and the mental state of the suspect. The last case is Miranda v. Arizona. This case became one of the most famous cases that improved the Justice system. This case created, what officials use today, Miranda Rights which is a list of safeguards that protect the rights of the accused. Police use Miranda Rights when making arrests, or during interrogations.

The statement declares that he or she has the right to remain silent, anything that he or she says can and will be used against them in the court of law, the accused has the right to an attorney, and if one cannot be afforded then one will be granted to them by the court. Question #2 asks “Ward and Fontenot had received substantial press coverage prior to the Denice Haraway murder trial. Their lawyers argued for separate trials and a change of venue. What is a change of venue? How does a change of Venue benefit the accused? ” A change of venue consists of moving the trial to a different location.

This is usually the decision for trials that have a lot of TV publicity and is well known in the area. The court cannot have jurors who have hostility or prejudice against the defendant because that would lead to an unfair trial. When the trial is relocated and new jurors are brought in, the defendant is more likely to have a fair trial because he or she still has a fair chance in persuading the jury in his or her favor. Question #3 says “Barney Ward was appointed to represent Ron Williams, Grisham Pointed out issues surrounding Ward that might have influenced Ward’s ability to be competent counsel for Williams.

Describe Ward’s issues and how they might have affected Williams’ right to competent counsel. ” Barney Ward was considered one the best lawyers around, but there were many facts that proved otherwise. Ward was blind, he occasionally missed things in trial, paperwork was not one of his strengths, he was frustrated and scared of Ron from the moment he was appointed. Barney was also described as a great cross-examiner but not effective arguing over fingerprints, photographs, and hair analysis tests because he was blind.

During Ron’s trial, Barney made many mistakes such as neglecting to point out Ron’s mental competency to the court, neglecting to provide sufficient evidence against Glen Gore, and failure to submit videotapes of Simmons confessing to the murder. Question #4 says “Forensic evidence was found at the scene and upon the victim of the Carter murder. It included blood, semen, and hair…In this case there are both answered and unanswered questions involving that evidence.

Discuss the evidence recovered from the scene and victim as described in the book and its importance in the investigation and subsequent conviction. The first few pieces of evidence that were found were the notes left by the killer on the wall, table, and on the back of Debbie’s body. The notes were written in various types of liquids. Each read “Jim Smith next will die”, “Don’t look fore us or ealse”, and “Duke Gram. ” This evidence was important as police used the handwriting analysis on several suspects to try to find the killer that way. But because the killer had written in fingernail polish and catsup, it was hard to determine the difference and was deemed unreliable.

The next pieces of evidence that were found consisted of a bloody towel that was stuffed in Debbie’s mouth as well as hair on the body, the floor, the bed, and on stuffed animals in her bedroom. An analysis was done on the hair found and compared to various samples taken from suspects. Experts concluded that Ron and Dennis’ samples were “microscopically consistent. ” However, back then hair analysis tests were wildly unreliable because the tests only compared ethnic groups and not individual characteristics.

Detectives also recovered “bed sheets, pillowcases, blankets, the electrical cord that was used to strangle Debbie, a pair of torn panties, stuffed animals, a package of Marlboro cigarettes, an empty 7-Up can, a plastic shampoo bottle, cigarette butts, a drinking glass from the kitchen, and the telephone. ” (Grisham, 10) Detectives also tested for fingerprints by dusting the door, window panes and wooden surfaces in the bedroom, the kitchen table, broken glass, and Debbie’s car. The last piece of evidence found at the scene was a bloodstain on the lower part of the wall.

Detectives had a small part of the wall taken out in order to preserve the bloody print for testing. Upon the removal of the body and examination, there were obvious signs of struggle, rape, and strangulation. There were several bruises on Debbie’s arms, neck, chest, and genitals, as well as cuts in her mouth and a metal bottle screw cap found in her rectum. The cause of death was determined as asphyxiation. Finger and palm prints were also collected before the body was buried. Question #5 asks “First describe in your own words the execution process at McAlester, Oklahoma prison as provided by Grisham.

Was the process as described by Grisham what you expected? ” There is a set date for an execution and on that day visitors and family are able to visit the inmate but are not allowed any physical contact. Instead they must talk between a glass wall barrier and say their goodbyes. The inmate is allowed to have one last meal of whatever they wish with a fifteen dollar limit. When it’s close to the time of the execution, the inmate is instructed to put on a blue uniform, is strapped to a gurney, and rolled down the halls to the execution room while the other inmates in their cells yell and bang on the steel bars.

There are two rooms set up to view the execution; one for the family of the victim, and the other for the family of the killer. When the gurney is finally rolled in there are two tubes, one for each arm, that are inserted into the inmate, then the blinds on the windows are lifted and the inmate is able to see his or her own family, but not the family of the victim. In the room is a phone on the wall, in case a last minute change is made, and a podium at which a warden stands and records the event in a notebook. A heart monitor is set up and the inmate is then asked if he or she has any last words.

Behind the gurney is a small room where the tubes are connected and unidentified, paid executioners are waiting to get the job done. Once the final words are said, the injections begin, first starting with a saline solution to open the veins, and the first drug that knocks out the inmate. The inmate is again flushed with saline solution, followed by the second injection that stops the breathing, followed by another flush of saline solution, and lastly, potassium chloride which stops the heart. The doctor arrives, checks the inmate, and announces the time of death.

The blinds are then rolled down, the gurney is rolled out to an ambulance, and the family makes a decision to retrieve it or not. I personally expected executions to happen along those lines. I feel as though it would be wrong if they brutally murdered inmates in front of their families. That is not a way that the killers family, innocent or not, would want to see them die. The way McAlester does executions, are done peacefully, the prisoners are completely calm and have accepted their fate. I believe that is how families should be able to remember their loved ones.

Question #6 says “Describe Williams’ mental health after two years on death row. Was his mental health the result of waiting to die or were there other factors involved? Explain. ” Ron’s mental health after two years on death row rapidly deteriorated. He would scream and throw fits for hours on end. He would also spit and throw his waste at guards. They moved Ron back and forth from mental institutions and adjusted his medications frequently. In my opinion, Ron’s mental illness was already bad before they sentenced him to death row and I believe being sentenced may have added to it.

It did not help that he was often being switched from different medications, and the guards and other inmates would torment him about the case. Being locked up in confinement with his thoughts took part of the cause, which is why I believe he would scream for hours, he just wanted to be heard. Ron knew he was innocent, especially after finding out about Ricky Joe Simmons confessing to the crime. Overall I think anyone who is wrongfully accused of a crime, let alone is sent to death row, would most likely go insane as well. In Ron’s case it just added fuel to the fire.