The rules of evidence deny juries data on victims, other charges
In The Sun's interesting article "Jurors deliberating over trial experience" (Nov. 11), Erin Texeira reported on her post-verdict interviews of jurors in the robbery trial of former police officer Dorian Martin.
The jurors said that they wished they'd had had more evidence. One complained that the Assistant State's Attorney "offered little evidence of the [victim's] character or standing in the community."
After the trial, the jurors learned from news articles that the defendant had once pleaded guilty to the crime, and that he is accused of similar crimes against two other victims. One juror is quoted saying, "I'm disappointed that the evidence was withheld . . ."
I write to clarify that the juror's quarrel ought not be with the prosecutor or the judge, but with the rules of evidence that restrict admissable information.
A victim's standing in the community is irrelevant and generally inadmissable. We try to give the same protection to everyone, regardless of his or her standing in the community.
Only if the defense attacked the victim's truthfulness could the prosecutor then put produce evidence of the victim's character, concerning that limited point.
Evidence of the accused's other acts on other occasions is also generally inadmissible in British and American courts.
Had the prosecutor offered the evidence the jurors wanted to hear, the judge might well have had to declare a mistrial.
Lynn McLain, Baltimore
The writer is a professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law.
Another policeman injured in city's helicopter patrol
The Sun's article concerning the memorial for Officer Barry Wood was an especially touching story for me, since I was in the helicopter crash on July 17, 1997 ("Police ready to fly copters," Nov. 5).
The article said there were no injuries in that crash. I must tell you, however, not taking the glory from Officer Wood who gave his life for the citizens of Baltimore, that I was seriously injured in the 1997 crash.
I sustained multiple fractures and breaks to my pelvis, ankle, knee, nose, nine ribs and back, a crushed disc, contusions to my right lung, chemical burns and a close head injury.
I spent seven days in the University of Maryland Hospital before I was transported to a hospital in York, Pa. There I had to learn how to walk again and received speech therapy.
As a result of my injuries, I was medically retired from the Baltimore City Police Department. For the past two years a day has not gone by without aches or pains and my family had to make difficult adjustments and changes.
It is very hard to adjust to the different life I must face. Things I took for granted are now an everyday challenge.
I loved being a police office and working with the citizens of Baltimore. That was all shattered in an instant on July 17, 1997 near the Alameda.
John Smith, York, Pa.
Where's the concern for murdered grocer?
I cannot understand why The Sun devoted only a small back-page item to the death of En Suk Oh ("Middle River man arrested, charged in robbery, killing," Nov. 29), while the death of Eli McCoy (an alleged thief) was front-page news ("Unarmed teen is killed by police," Nov. 26).
Ms. Suk Oh deserved much more than a back-page report of her death. The Sun asked no questions about her, or how her family felt about her death.
Yet Eli McCoy (an alleged thief) got many testimonials.
I believe The Sun is a major contributor to Baltimore's racial tensions and crime rate, by glorifying criminals and denigrating law abiding citizens like En Suk Oh.
I believe The Sun has lost touch with what law-abiding citizens expect from their government and their newspaper
A. J. Francis, Westminster
The African-American leadership which rightfully wants questions answered about the killing of a young robbery suspect, Eli McCoy, and the Larry Hubbard shooting should ask as many questions and give as much attention and publicity to the recent killing, robbery and pistol whipping of a grocery-store owner.
It's all one problem: to think it's not is to have your head in the sand.
James L. Pierce, Baltimore
Rules that could save the lives of suspects
Our clogged court system has led many criminals to believe that crime does pay. Posting the following set of rules on every street corner might help citizens better manage their expectations:
1. If you take something that belongs to someone else, that is a crime and you may find police in pursuit of you.
2. If you find police in pursuit of you, you should surrender immediately. Running from the police could result in unintended consequences.
3. Be aware that many fleeing suspects carry weapons to injure police or innocent bystanders. Although you may not have a weapon, police must act on the assumption that you do.
In short, somebody could get hurt -- and it might be you.
Ginny Sinsz, Hamilton
Keswick Nursing Home deserves doctor's bequest
I was deeply saddened to read about the Keswick Nursing Home's losing its $28 million gift ("Keswick to appeal loss of $28 million gift," Nov. 18).
I believe the judge who ruled against Keswick did what he thought was legally right. However, the University of Maryland should do the right thing, and split the money with the nursing home -- at least giving Keswick back what it paid to build and renovate the multi-care center.
The university should be taking advantage of an opportunity to show some compassion and generosity; instead it is showing its greed and selfishness. Our lack of respect for our elder citizens is evident in the university's selfishness.
I don't know why Dr. Coggins wrote his will the way he did. Nevertheless, I pray that the next judge will do the right thing -- and give the money to Keswick.
Vera Claude, Ft. Meade