The indictment of former Treasurer Tim Cahill resulted in a mistrial. His codefendant was acquitted yesterday. It seemed obvious that the jury would not have acquitted one without some if not the majority of the members having doubts about the guilt of Cahill.
Speculation now turns to the Attorney General Martha Coakley who brought the charges against Cahill. The first question will be whether she will keep the case alive or will she dismiss it. After a mistrial you can always try the case again. I had a tough arson case that mistried once and I tried it again and it mistried again. I gave up. Both times the jury was hung up six to six.
The first thing Coakley will want to do is to see how the jury looked at her case. I don’t think it was that impressed. It seems to me having acquitted the co- defendant in the conspiracy case the jury was leaning toward acquitting Cahill so I’m guessing there were one or two holdouts.
They were probably motivated more by personal feelings toward Cahill than the evidence. The two sides to being a public figure rather than one of the common people is that some people have already developed certain feelings toward you. Some really like you, others may despise you. There is no way to be absolutely sure what a person feels deep down inside.
If Coakley finds most of the jurors were for acquittal then she’d best throw in the towel. The case involves a minor felony (5 years in prison) that became a crime in 2009. Think of this, if Cahill had done this prior to 2009 no case would have happened. If you’ve been reading my articles on the criminal justice system you’ll know that a modern system would have made Cahill’s act a mal action and it would have been quickly resolved.
I don’t think, or at least I hope, that Coakley was not going to recommend Cahill be sent to prison if he was convicted. What good would that have accomplished? If Cahill was acquitted maybe a fine was in order but nothing more than that. He didn’t put any state money into his pocket or use his office for a corrupt purpose. His action was at best marginally criminal.
For five weeks the court system was tied up trying the case. To judge from the jury’s questions to the judge, they were totally confused about the case. The jury asked, “Is the jury required to apply the three elements of the conspiracy charges to one or both individuals who are not defendants in this case? If we are required to apply the question of the three elements of the charges, does the reasonable doubt standard apply to those individuals who are not defendants in this case?” The judge told them to reread the instructions she gave on conspiracy showing she had no idea what the jury was asking.
After the judge told them to do that, the jurors asked: “After rereading the jury instructions numerous times in great detail there is still a need of clarification on the following. Does any alleged coconspirator have to have had knowledge that the intent and purpose of the agreement was to carry out an unlawful plan or to carry out a plan by unlawful means in order for them to be considered a coconspirator?” That should suggest to AG Coakley that the 2009 under which she is bringing the charges will probably never bring about a conviction to a jury interested in listening to the evidence and coming in with a thoughtful verdict.
Not that Martha Coakley is interested in my advice I;m going to give it to her. Let sleeping dogs lie. Let Tim Cahill and his family and friends get on with their lives. He has been in public office from 1987 through 2010 and served the people diligently and to the best of his ability without any suggestion of scandal or misappropriation of the public funds even though he was a treasurer for fourteen years You gave it your best shot based upon the evidence that you had. It wasn’t good enough. Time to move on.
Even if you try it again and gained a conviction. What would it prove? Coakley will announce her decision in less than then minutes.