Black man found not guilty, gets sent to prison anyway.

Wascurito

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We're all familiar with the strange twists and turns that the American justice system can take when an African-American male is in the dock. This one, however, is a new departure.

Ramad Chatman of Rome, Georgia does have a criminal record. He was convicted of burglary in 2012 and sentenced to 5 years probation. Court documents show he did everything asked of him during his probation, including checking in with police, paying restitution and finishing his community service. He was also holding down a job.

In 2014, it came to his attention that he was a suspect (under a very flimsy pretext) in a case of armed robbery. He went to the police to find out what the situation was - and was arrested. However, the main witness in that case was very unreliable, she contradicted herself multiple times and her testimony was the only evidence being offered by the prosecution.

The jury found Rathman not guilty. However, the judge chose to ignore this verdict and decided that in all probability Rathman did commit the armed robbery. He revoked his original probation and as a result, Rathman will probably be in prison until 2022.

A Man Is Serving 10 Years In Prison Because Of The Crime He Was Acquitted Of | HuffPost
 


RasherHash

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Why the racist title?
 

runwiththewind

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That judge should be in the dock; he should be impeached.
Judges can direct a jury on what verdict to return and they can override a jury's verdict.
 

RasherHash

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talkingshop

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We're all familiar with the strange twists and turns that the American justice system can take when an African-American male is in the dock. This one, however, is a new departure.

Ramad Chatman of Rome, Georgia does have a criminal record. He was convicted of burglary in 2012 and sentenced to 5 years probation. Court documents show he did everything asked of him during his probation, including checking in with police, paying restitution and finishing his community service. He was also holding down a job.

In 2014, it came to his attention that he was a suspect (under a very flimsy pretext) in a case of armed robbery. He went to the police to find out what the situation was - and was arrested. However, the main witness in that case was very unreliable, she contradicted herself multiple times and her testimony was the only evidence being offered by the prosecution.

The jury found Rathman not guilty. However, the judge chose to ignore this verdict and decided that in all probability Rathman did commit the armed robbery. He revoked his original probation and as a result, Rathman will probably be in prison until 2022.

A Man Is Serving 10 Years In Prison Because Of The Crime He Was Acquitted Of | HuffPost
One thing though, he tried to enter a plea on the armed robbery charge, whereby as I understand it, he would plead guilty to aggravated assault - would an innocent person do that? Also I'm not sure he was a suspect on a "very flimsy pretext" - the clerk of the store saw his picture on facebook and says she recognised him.

Man Found Not Guilty By Jury To Serve 10 Years In Jail

I agree it seems bizarre that the judge can ignore the jury verdict but this can be done in US system I think - as far as I recall in the case of the English nanny (Louise Woodward?) charged with killing the baby, the jury found her guilty but the judge effectively reversed this.

I'm not sure that I'd go putting this down to "racism" on the part of the judge though.
 

mr_anderson

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[video=youtube;84phU8of02U]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84phU8of02U[/video]
 

Mushroom

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One thing though, he tried to enter a plea on the armed robbery charge, whereby as I understand it, he would plead guilty to aggravated assault - would an innocent person do that?
According to the report, his lawyer "tried to enter an Alford plea ― which is a guilty plea where the defendant also maintains his innocence ― before the trial began, but it was dismissed and his case went before a jury."


Also I'm not sure he was a suspect on a "very flimsy pretext" - the clerk of the store saw his picture on facebook and says she recognised him.
But, on the other hand,

"Transcripts from court proceedings showed that the witness's description of the suspect changed each time she testified."

We're not told what the makeup of the jury was; if we had been, we might be able to determine whether this may have influenced the judge's decision to ignore its verdict!
 

Jim Car

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Sound like an issue with the judge rather then the system. Election could be coming up or he is just a loose cannon. Either way if the facts are as your reported in that the jury did acquit him then on appeal he will be released. I imagine the organisation in charge of overseeing the bench will be looking into this one.
 

talkingshop

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According to the report, his lawyer "tried to enter an Alford plea ― which is a guilty plea where the defendant also maintains his innocence ― before the trial began, but it was dismissed and his case went before a jury."




But, on the other hand,

"Transcripts from court proceedings showed that the witness's description of the suspect changed each time she testified."

We're not told what the makeup of the jury was; if we had been, we might be able to determine whether this may have influenced the judge's decision to ignore its verdict!
Actually on reading the HuffPo article again, if it's right, the decision to suspend his probation was taken before the trial (and probably, I'm guessing, by a different judge altogether than the one who presided over the trial), so it wasn't a case of the judge who suspended the probation ignoring the jury verdict, as much as deciding, even in the absence of any trial/verdict, that there was sufficient evidence that this guy had being involved in the armed robbery. It does seem odd, but maybe these decisions to revoke probation are taken all the time in the absence of a trial for a subsequent offence. But in a case like this it would have made sense for the probation judge to postpone a decision till after the trial I think, and take the verdict into account.
 

Wascurito

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We're supposed to be colour blind, no?
I believe that his ethnicity is the issue here and it wouldn't be possible to have an informed discussion of the overall story without mentioning it.
 

Wascurito

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Judges can direct a jury on what verdict to return and they can override a jury's verdict.
The judge didn't override the actual verdict. He's still considered not guilty. He's in prison because he is presumed to have committed a crime while on probation - even though he's been found not guilty of the crime. The order in 2014 revoking his probation is still in effect and the judge chose not to reinstate the probation.
 
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an innocent abroad

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We're all familiar with the strange twists and turns that the American justice system can take when an African-American male is in the dock. This one, however, is a new departure.

Ramad Chatman of Rome, Georgia does have a criminal record. He was convicted of burglary in 2012 and sentenced to 5 years probation. Court documents show he did everything asked of him during his probation, including checking in with police, paying restitution and finishing his community service. He was also holding down a job.

In 2014, it came to his attention that he was a suspect (under a very flimsy pretext) in a case of armed robbery. He went to the police to find out what the situation was - and was arrested. However, the main witness in that case was very unreliable, she contradicted herself multiple times and her testimony was the only evidence being offered by the prosecution.

The jury found Rathman not guilty. However, the judge chose to ignore this verdict and decided that in all probability Rathman did commit the armed robbery. He revoked his original probation and as a result, Rathman will probably be in prison until 2022.

A Man Is Serving 10 Years In Prison Because Of The Crime He Was Acquitted Of | HuffPost

Does the judge have shares in the private prison?
 

Wascurito

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One thing though, he tried to enter a plea on the armed robbery charge, whereby as I understand it, he would plead guilty to aggravated assault - would an innocent person do that? Also I'm not sure he was a suspect on a "very flimsy pretext" - the clerk of the store saw his picture on facebook and says she recognised him.

Man Found Not Guilty By Jury To Serve 10 Years In Jail

I agree it seems bizarre that the judge can ignore the jury verdict but this can be done in US system I think - as far as I recall in the case of the English nanny (Louise Woodward?) charged with killing the baby, the jury found her guilty but the judge effectively reversed this.

I'm not sure that I'd go putting this down to "racism" on the part of the judge though.
The clerk got so many details wrong during the trial that her evidence was basically considered to be of no value. The crucial thing here is that the defendant was found not guilty.

The Alford Plea which is what you're referring to is "a guilty plea in criminal court, whereby a defendant in a criminal case does not admit to the criminal act and asserts innocence".

Which sounds completely f__ked up.

But given how f__ked up the US justice system is, I would fully understand why an African-American male could choose to (or be pressurized into choosing to) enter such a plea given how poor his chances would be in an open court.
 

talkingshop

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I believe that his ethnicity is the issue here and it wouldn't be possible to have an informed discussion of the overall story without mentioning it.
But in fairness, that's an opinion you've arrived at in the absence of evidence. You don't (I'm guessing) know how the probation system works in US, what circumstances probation is normally revoked in, for example. You don't know anything about the judge in question - e.g. he could be a "hanging judge" type who is harsh on all comers.

You just see - apparently harsh decision affecting black man made by white man (I assume the judge is white?) and jump to the conclusion that it must be racism.
 

PeacefulViking

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The issue seems to be differing standards of proof. To be convicted of a crime the government needs to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt (with immaterial exceptions). To revoke probation when you are already convicted of a crime they need only prove by a preponderance of evidence. (Ie, more likely than not.) There are also different decision-makers.
 


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