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There are now 39 comments... what are your thoughts?
  1. Is that panel in prosecution’s thoughts, a previous panel which I don’t remember or one intended for us to look at now? Also, what’s the difference between discretion and judgement? Finally, why the hell does the prosecution build their case against a person who they can easily see might not be guilty? Do they get bonuses?

    • When lawyers talk about judgment vs discretion, the main difference is this: with judgment, there is a decision to be made on which is right and which is wrong, while discretion basically has two or more choices where none of them are necessarily wrong. So he’s smacking her down by saying that she should have known that she *had* to disclose under Brady — she didn’t have a choice in the matter.

      • And as a basic example:

        Judgment: Do I disclose the fact that this witness faltered in their first identification to the defense? (One answer is correct, legally, over the other.)

        Discretion: Knowing that this witness faltered, do I still put them on the stand, or do I try the case without this witness? (Neither answer is inherently correct — if the witness’s story is shaky in other ways, then you might well choose to exclude them, while if they have key details that bolster their story, despite the shaky start, or the witness is still your main piece of evidence, then it may still make sense to rely on that witness.)

        • Another example:

          Judgment: I can prove that Mrs. Smith shoplifted that cheese.
          Discretion: Although I can prove it, I’m choosing not to prosecute her.

          Judgment is an assessment — “is it or isn’t it?” or “should I or shouldn’t I?”

          Discretion is the power to make a choice — “do I or don’t I,” “will I or won’t I?”

          You can have judgment without discretion — “this is wrong, but my hands are tied and I can’t do anything about it.”

          You can have discretion without judgment — “I’m choosing to prosecute her because she’ll take it to trial, and I need another trial to get that promotion.”

          And you can have a failure of both — “I’m choosing not to exercise my discretion because I’m in over my head and all I can think to do is to dig in my heels.”

          The words do get confused with each other sometimes in casual speech. “Discretion” isn’t as commonly used, so “judgment” often does double duty for both. Especially in phrases like “exercising good judgment,” which typically means “making decisions wisely.” But there really is a meaningful distinction between them.

    • Well, we don’t know all the evidence Pi has here, but, she does have at least two eyewitness identifications- one of which wasn’t a party to the crime, but a complete bystander. That’s more than enough for a prosecutor to think, A) This person did it, and B) that the State will prevail at trial. Why wouldn’t Pi bring charges? Besides, she may well have other evidence as well.

    • Short answer: Yes.
      Longer answer: The prosecutor is paid to prosecute, not to decide if the defendant is guilty. He doesn’t want to lose cases in court, and so will try to avoid really weak cases, but he gets credit for being a good prosecutor when he wins the weak ones.

  2. Jeff B says

    No harm, no foul? The defendant’s been locked up for several months! Could something like this have affected whether he was held (or with what bail), or other factors I’m not seeing?

    • Nope. He’s still being charged with murder. Murder suspects are considered extremely likely to flee the jurisdiction. There’s enough evidence for an arrest, so there’s no way he’s getting bail, even if one of the eyewitnesses waffled a bit.

      When the judge is saying “No harm, no foul”, she’s referring to the case. The prosecution’s failure to disclose it doesn’t hurt the defense’s case, since there’s still plenty of time left for the defense to figure out how to use that info. If it was sprung on the at trial, then there’s “harm”.

  3. UsaSatsui says

    Okay, as fun as this shocking twist is, isn’t this a problem? We have a prosecutor and a defense lawyer that are related to each other. Couldn’t this be a conflict of interest? I’m not sure if I’d want the father of the person trying to put me in jail for life on my defense team.

      • Thank for letting me break this one out again:

        As for whether it would be a conflict of interest or not, it’s a murky area. Being related to an opposing party is an obvious conflict, but merely being related to an opposing lawyer isn’t so obvious.

        It’s more clearly a conflict if the two are married or living together — there’s a presumption that there are no secrets between spouses, which kinda undermines their roles as lawyers. But when one is the parent of the other, both presumably live apart and have their own lives, and presumably aren’t sharing confidences with each other about their other cases? Not so obviously a conflict. Some states like Florida say it is. Other states have no such rule. The best practice, regardless, is to fully inform one’s client that you are closely related to opposing counsel, and only proceed if the client gives informed consent.

        In real life, the onus of dealing with this would be on D.C. — if he’d been court-appointed, he probably would have taken the safe road and declined the appointment; if he was retained, he’d have fully informed the client, and only continued if the client insisted on going ahead with him (and would have gotten all that in writing).

        Given that D.C. and Pi seem to have a lot of cases against each other, I’d imagine that this is written into his retainer agreement. Something like “the Client knows and understands that Counsel is related by blood to a prosecutor in the District Attorney’s office, that said relation may be assigned to prosecute the Client’s case, and that there is therefore the potential for a conflict of interest to arise; with this understanding, the Client knowingly and voluntarily consents to representation by Counsel, and waives any and all actual and potential conflicts of interest.” Or words to that effect.

  4. Ann Onymous says

    Ooh! Jane Austin quote!!

    And I’m guessing that Pi is just being snarky, not that D.C. is literally her father?

  5. Patrick says

    “I’d like to wrap this up before lunch.” That’s the real issue here. If it’s right before lunch, we should expect the judge to be more prone to decide against any defense motions, if we believe the study discussed here:

    • Sorry, that study has so many problems that it isn’t even worth considering, especially in this context 1) It only dealt with parole cases. 2) It only covers 8 judges- hardly a useful sample. 3) It doesn’t even cover a year of decisions, 4) It’s in Israel, not the US, and 5) Shai Danzinger, the main investigator, specializes in consumer decision making- so much so that he actually teaches in a business school.

      Besides one study hardly means anything. It needs to be repeated, in a variety of contexts, and by other investigators, before we can consider it to have any merit, really. And, the so-called “Social Sciences” tend to have very real problems with repeatability.

      • This post is also an excellent example of how much a single sidebar comment (such as “so-called”) can undermine an otherwise very well argued position.

        (With no offense intended, HJ.)

  6. Gabriel Russell says

    *Looks at flashback panel*
    Huh, Pi used to be a brunette. What is her hair naturally?

    • I’m on a monitor with super sucky color right now, but it looks like she was always kinda auburn? I cut-and-pasted her progression of looks to see how it changed up. I’ll post it here now and look at it later on a decent screen.

      • It gets redder in later panels, but it’s always had a bit of red from the start.

        Chalk it up to lighting.

      • Looks pretty consistent starting at the third pic you post. Second is definitely brunette, the first. . . could go either way. It’s reddish, but it’s pretty heavily textured, and there’s no indication about which part is shadows and which is highlights in the picture. Either color could resolve as canon after that.

        I think the biggest point is that in the comic above, current PI shows as auburn, but flashback pi, from her “discretion” thought bubble, is a lighter brown that any of the progression shots you show above, not at all reddish.

  7. Ned says

    So, is her name actually π? Or is that just a nickname? In real life do prosecutors and defense attorneys call each other π and ΔC?

    • Like most of the long-term characters, she didn’t originally have a name. π is just lawyer shorthand (in written notes) for “prosecutor” and “plaintiff.” Δ is “defendant,” and ΔC is “defense counsel.”

      But then readers started calling her Pi, and the name stuck.

      Still don’t know what the narrator guy’s name is, though…

      • Now’s your chance to roll with it – ΔC’s initials could actually be D.C…
        I’m partial to last name Cabello. Spanish joke!

      • Interesting tidbit on the symbols. I didn’t realize that was a custom back in “Meet the Players”, and thought she was introduced as “Pi, the Prosecutor”.

        (The next page has someone commenting that she reminds him of the song “Evil Woman” by ELO, so that contest started early. And hm, her eyes were green back then, as you can see in the hair color collage above.)

        The notation custom does get explained on p=1447, so I have no excuse for forgetting. Looks like commentator Robert Montrose gets the honors for earliest use of “Pi” as proper name, on p=1755.

        • “Robert Montrose” was actually my handle before we switched to this snazzy Twitter SSO system.

          I think I just assumed that, in addition to being legal shorthand, that was *already* supposed to be her moniker, since she’d never been introduced as anything else.

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