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Hans Reiser and the "Geek Defense" Strategy 738

Posted by kdawson
from the thinks-too-much dept.
lseltzer alerts us to a story in the Washington Post on the defense strategy in the Hans Reiser murder trial. "In the courtroom where Hans Reiser is on trial for murder, [the evidence] might appear to indicate guilty knowledge. But his attorneys cast it as evidence of an innocence peculiar to Hans, a computer programmer so immersed in the folds of his own intellect that he had no idea how complicit he was making himself appear. 'Being too intelligent can be a sort of curse,' defense counsel William Du Bois said. 'All this weird conduct can be explained by him, but he's the only one who can do it. People who are commonly known as computer geeks are so into the field.'"
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Hans Reiser and the "Geek Defense" Strategy

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  • peers? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vDave420 (649776) on Saturday February 23, 2008 @06:39PM (#22530282)

    The effort will be watched and appreciated down the breadth of Silicon Valley, perhaps the only place a computer genius might find a jury of peers. There, Hans Reiser's actions appear fairly reasonable, at least to people who spend much more time with computer code than with other humans.

    Come on - the only place a half-crazed defense strategy can work is when pitched to computer geeks?
    What what what?

    -dave-

  • Desperate Twinkies (Score:3, Interesting)

    by milsoRgen (1016505) on Saturday February 23, 2008 @06:41PM (#22530300) Homepage
    The old Twinkie Defense [wikipedia.org] upgraded for the year 2000.
  • by milsoRgen (1016505) on Saturday February 23, 2008 @06:46PM (#22530326) Homepage
    Also why is he constantly referred to as a genius?

    i.e. "an exceptional natural capacity of intellect, especially as shown in creative and original work in science, art, music, etc."

    Granted I couldn't design and implement my own file system, but I hardly think that deserves the label 'genius'.
  • by R2.0 (532027) on Saturday February 23, 2008 @06:47PM (#22530336)
    Believe it or not, I have been in a situation where I had a removed front passenger seat and a soaked footwell. I was having a problem with water getting into the car and couldn't find it. It was coming from under the dashboard, so I removed the seat so I could get my head in there to look closely. But then I ran out of time, so I just left it like that till next weekend.

    Sure enough, during the week I got pulled over for speeding. The cop certainly looked at me funny, but I didn't have a warrant out for my arrest, so all was OK.

    I'd email this story to Reiser's lawyers, but for 2 things:
    1) I had a VW, and the leak was idiosyncratic to that model. He drove a Civic.
    2) I think he's guilty.
  • My Suspicion (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jjohnson (62583) on Saturday February 23, 2008 @06:50PM (#22530354) Homepage
    Assuming he killed Nina (a pretty safe assumption, on the face of it), I suspect he's making an error of reasoning that hyper intelligent people and small children are prone to: Because there's no direct evidence, he can't logically conclude his own guilt from his actions, therefore no one else can.

    It's like a child hiding cookies behind his back and assuming that, since Mom can't see what's in his hands, she can't know that he's got cookies.

    There's a quote about how circumstantial evidence *is* evidence to smart people, because smart people of capable of making inferences and deductions.
  • risky defense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by timmarhy (659436) on Saturday February 23, 2008 @06:51PM (#22530362)
    it's very risky this type of defense. it might be seen that he's so smart, that maybe he KNEW he could use this kind of defense and planned on hiding out in the open so to speak.

    personally i find it strange they aren't looking closer at the cross dressing lover who has admitted to killing people in the past.

    also there is no body yet, so i don't understand how exactly they are mounting a murder case against him? for all they know this is all staged by his bitter russian bride in an attempt to get back at him, stranger things have happened.

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Saturday February 23, 2008 @06:55PM (#22530400) Homepage

    Sean Sturgeon confessed to killing eight people [wired.com]. If I were the homicide detective, you damn well better believe I'd be urging the prosecutor to dismiss the charges without prejudice so that the scope of the investigation could be brought to bear on HIM, now. The guy is into "death yoga," serious BDSM and confessed to killing eight people. The guy is a total loon based on what has come out, and he'd probably score very dangerously high on a sociopath scale. Hans might be the killer, but if I were a cop, I'd have spat my coffee out all over the report in shock when I read that Nina had gotten herself involved with a guy who sounds like a real nutjob who probably killed her.

    Unless they found Nina's blood all over Reiser's car, they don't have much to go on. Even then, it's not unrealistic to think that Sturgeon might have tried to frame Reiser.

    The details of this case are very sordid. I wouldn't put it past the prosecutors to be ignoring sturgeon's high probability of guilt out of pride because they "have their man." This is one of the reasons why I unabashedly support making it impossible to give a life sentence or execution without a minimum of two credible witnesses, and serious penalties (that can include execution in murder cases) for those who commit perjury.

  • Re:My Suspicion (Score:2, Interesting)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Saturday February 23, 2008 @06:57PM (#22530416)
    Guilty? quite possibly.
    Guilty beyond a reasonable doubt? Maybe not.
    Nina *may* have gone to Russia. Didn't her family supposedly have some "connections"?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 23, 2008 @07:11PM (#22530512)
    I think the best piece of evidence is Hans arrived to pick up his children from school when Nina was supposed to, the monday after she disappeared. Nobody but the killer would know she wasn't going to arrive to pick them up.
  • Re:risky defense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tverbeek (457094) on Saturday February 23, 2008 @07:21PM (#22530594) Homepage
    You don't need a body for a murder trial and conviction. Think about it: that would mean that successfully getting rid of the body would be a Get Out Of Jail Free card. All they need is 1) enough evidence of a crime to persuade a grand jury that it's worth trying, and 2) enough evidence that he did it to persuade the regular jury that he's guilty. It doesn't have to be a logically sound proof, just a convincing one.
  • by R2.0 (532027) on Saturday February 23, 2008 @07:30PM (#22530676)
    Mostly it is the seat.

    Like I said, I had a perfectly good reason to have the seat removed, and I could explain why, when, and how the seat was removed. I could even recreate the leak. But my understanding is that Reiser hasn't offered a plausible explanation for the seat removal. Someone offered that street racers often remove their seats for weight savings, and they also favor Civics. But there's no evidence he was a street racer, and why wasn't the back seat removed?

    There's a sizable amount of circumstantial evidence that he did it, with little plausible explanations in his defense. And no, "the other guy did it" doesn't convince me.
  • by Adambomb (118938) on Saturday February 23, 2008 @07:31PM (#22530696) Journal
    No, they found items containing her blood (sleeping bag), and there was blood samples in Reisers garage.

    Strangely enough though, this is one case where i would expect it to warrant further investigation as A) Nina Reiser was a physician and B) as the GP stated, Sean Sturgeon is one frightening fucking individual. That gives the knowledge necessary for such things to be possible, combined with a nature that has done such things before.

    I'm not saying for sure one way or the other, but don't you think the friggan BOOKS ON CRIME they found along with it all as rather like someone padding the bill? (Plus what kind of programmer wouldn't think to properly destroy those objects so no one finds them wasting in memory heh). Not certainty by any means, but worthy of investigation.

  • Re:peers? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Saturday February 23, 2008 @07:33PM (#22530718) Homepage
    If they were so smart, they would have thought of an excuse to get out of jury duty.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 23, 2008 @07:34PM (#22530730)
    Unless:

    1) She didn't come home the night before
    2) She wasn't feeling well (and I don't mean because she was dead)
    3) She asked him to pick up the kids

    I see what you're saying, it's just too easy to come up with alternate possibilities that provide a reasonable doubt, just on that one item, I can't speak for the others.

    Granted, I have not been following the trial, so I'm just making shit up.

  • by jjohnson (62583) on Saturday February 23, 2008 @07:35PM (#22530738) Homepage

    The guy is a total loon based on what has come out

    I suspect that's why they dismissed him as a suspect--after investigating him, they decided he was a total whackjob. The fact that he hasn't been charged with the eight murders to which he confessed (AFAIK) suggests that they don't find him credible.

  • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Saturday February 23, 2008 @07:37PM (#22530746)
    The issue seems to come from the apparent weakness of the prosecution's case. The most damning part of the case seems to be that Reiser acted strangely; did odd things, said odd things, behaved in unexpected ways. That kind of thing works well to tie together strong evidence to show motives and behaviors that link the evidence to the suspect. But lacking that, the case becomes little more than "he sure SEEMS guilty." And that is, as the article mentioned one judge noting, a very thin case indeed.

    So this is what the defense has to rally against. They have a client who is his own worse enemy. They have to remove the focus on irrational, unexpected behavior and shift it back to the strength of the real evidence presented by the prosecution's case. In short, they have to defeat a strategy that may give circumstantial evidence more weight than it would otherwise be given by people who don't share the same sensibilities as the defendant.

    I've known plenty of technical folks (engineers, coders, sysadmins, screwdriver slingers, etc.) who are just odd birds. I've got a whole host of weird stories based on experiences working with and around these folks. Many of these stories could (and sometimes are) taken out of context to imply a lot more about the individual than they really should. I'm not at all surprised that such an issue might rear its ugly head in the aggressive atmosphere of a court of law.
  • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Saturday February 23, 2008 @07:40PM (#22530778) Homepage
    The story was written by journalists, as all news stories are - and we know for a fact that they aren't the sharpest knives in the drawer. They believe all sorts of weird things, especially about smart people...they move in a very restricted social stratum, and they are typically very out-of-touch. There must be something wrong with computer programmers, because if they were really that smart, they would have become journalism professors.
  • by Adambomb (118938) on Saturday February 23, 2008 @07:42PM (#22530788) Journal
    Despite the fact that Sean Sturgeon is a known killer, Nina Reiser was a physician, and the fact that apparently they found "Books on Crime" along with the sleeping bag and blood samples on the pillar in his garage? With no body, no witnesses, and no direct evidence?

    Who the hell commits a crime with pair of books on crime in their vehicle, and then leave it all there for someone to find. Programmers know too much about allocation and management of objects to not destroy them when its detrimental they no longer exist.

    I'm not saying I think he is innocent NOR that i think hes guilty. I simply think it all warrants much further investigation.
  • From the hood.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by FlyingGuy (989135) <`flyingguy' `at' `gmail.com'> on Saturday February 23, 2008 @07:45PM (#22530816)

    Well, I tell ya. I live in Han's hood, and let me tell ya a thing or three..

    • Silicon Valley is on the other side of the bay.
    • The jury of his peers came from Alameda County, not San Mateo or Santa Clara County, which comprise 95% of what is considered Silicon Valley and most of them probably came from the city of Oakland, a Blue Collar city for the most part.
    • The guy who owns the local hardware store went to High School with Hans ( Skyline High School ) and is also a Deputy Sheriff. He personally thinks that Han's did the deed and well, for the most part so do most folks that live in Montclair.

    I personally am not convinced since I know a few Russian women, and for the most part they are pretty normal, well until you piss them off, then all bets are off because they are some pretty vindictive women. Prior to his wife going missing and him getting arrested I had seen Han's around the village a few times, picking up his mail, the grocery store, the usual stuff and he never really impressed me one way or the other, so I don't know him as a person.

    One thing I will say is that from the live blog coverage of the trial, he is certainly not doing himself any favors with his courtroom antics. I might stop by the trial this coming Wednesday. If I do I will srop you all a line back to let you know my thoughts.

    In the meantime, I am not sure I would start any long term projects that rely on his file system brilliance...

  • by liquidpele (663430) on Saturday February 23, 2008 @07:46PM (#22530836) Journal
    Yea... except I would view that as a huge waste of time since I don't see it as important.

    I put my time and energy into things I find important, which does not include file systems. However, any CS department should have a fielsystem course like mine did, and I've read practical file system design [letterp.com] by the guy who wrote the Be Filesystem (great book btw). It's hard, but nothing particularly special if you put the time and energy into it. In short, I see it as like someone building their own electric car. If you've got the time and energy, it's cool shit. But it won't put food on the table.
  • Can't. Shut. Up! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Apotsy (84148) on Saturday February 23, 2008 @08:35PM (#22531194)
    The Wired blog about the trial mentions him constantly arguing with his lawyer & the judge. His lawyer is constantly asking for things to be repeated because Reiser is pestering him, even when he's busy questioning a witness!

    The judge has asked him if he wants to fire his lawyer, but he says "no". If he wants to try the case himself, he should. If he wants to talk to his lawyer about things, he should ... at the appropriate time. But his constant interruptions have apparently antagonized everyone in the courtroom. Now apparently, his lawyer is going to try to explain that away with "well ... it's because he's just that much smarter than everyone else!"

    It's obviously nonsense, because if you go back and look at any of the times he was badgering people on the LKML, they are experiencing exactly the same sort of annoyance with him. He just won't shut up, and won't stop pestering everyone with his ridiculous, delusional ideas that he can't let go of (like when he said ReiserFS would become the new VFS layer, with VFS implemented "on top of" it). Is anyone really prepared to claim he's not only smarter than everyone in the courtroom and day-to-day life, but that he's smarter than everyone on LKML too? Maybe he's just annoying and can't stop talking. Maybe he's just got something like Tourettes. It certainly doesn't sound like it has all that much to do with his intelligence.

  • Re:risky defense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jbengt (874751) on Saturday February 23, 2008 @08:42PM (#22531234)
    More to-the-point details from TFA:

    The cross-dressing bondage and discipline enthusiast had been "maid of honor" at their wedding.

    Sturgeon, who in addition to his role as Hans's friend and Nina's lover, told investigators that he killed eight people.
  • by Dogun (7502) on Saturday February 23, 2008 @08:50PM (#22531286) Homepage
    Whether or not he's guilty (I for one don't take his behavior into account), my understanding thus far:
      A) The prosecution has failed to show Nina Reiser is dead.
      B) The prosecution has failed to produce any physical evidence linking Hans Reiser to Nina's death. Tiny flecks of blood found in places where Nina may have reasonably been in the past under normal circumstances in the past haven't even been found to be Nina's.
      C) The prosecution has failed to produce circumstantial evidence tying Hans Reiser to Nina's death, just that he acts funny when he's convinced he is being followed by police and everyone thinks he killed his wife. Despite several attempts to guide Hans Reiser's children into a declaration that they witnessed an argument, nothing has been said that is consistant to that effect.
      D) 8-time confessed serial killer Sturgeon was romantically involved with Nina.

    I hope Hans didn't do it. If he did, though, I hope that the jury fails to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Hans Reiser murdered Nina Reiser, unless I've missed some vital piece of evidence somewhere, or they find their smoking gun. The evidence as I've seen it is too thin for someone to convict in good conscience.
  • Re:From the hood.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bikerider7 (1085357) on Saturday February 23, 2008 @08:57PM (#22531328)
    I also live in the neighborhood (2 blocks from the last known location where Nina was seen). Indeed, this is not Silicon Valley, it is (basically) the North Oakland area -- which in the past 2 years has experienced a huge increase in homicides and other violent crime. Even California's Senate President Pro Tem (i.e. 2nd most powerful leader in the State) isn't safe as he got carjacked in broad daylight on a busy street. Without any direct evidence linking Hans to the crime, I am no more inclined to believe that it was him, and not some gang of thugs out cruising Montclair.
  • Re:peers? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Harmonious Botch (921977) * on Saturday February 23, 2008 @09:01PM (#22531370) Homepage Journal

    The jury is middle aged, middle class, small-C conservative. It draws people who make decisions in society - wield real power - simply because they are able - and willing - to put in whatever time and effort is needed to get the job done.
    Sorry, but I've gotta call you dead wrong on this. It draws mostly from people who are NOT decision makers. The people who end up on juries are the mostly the compliant ones who leave decision making up to others.
    This is how ALL the parties involved want it. The real decision makers want to get back to their decision-making jobs, not be one of twelve, so they find a way out. The prosecution and the defense attorneys do not want someone who makes decisions; they want someone who can be led and instructed. So does the judge.
    The whole system is designed to filter in people who can be controlled and led.
  • by noidentity (188756) on Saturday February 23, 2008 @09:26PM (#22531526)

    I'd email this story to Reiser's lawyers, but for 2 things:
    1) I had a VW, and the leak was idiosyncratic to that model. He drove a Civic.
    2) I think he's guilty.

    Just curious, if you had evidence related to a case but thought that the defendant was guilty, would you avoid reporting it? It seems you should let the court make the determination, since it sees all the evidence, including some those outside the courtroom never know about.

  • Reasonable Doubt (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 23, 2008 @09:33PM (#22531578)
    In a murder trial in which the body was never found, the defense attorney made the following argument:

    "Jurors, please turn your gaze to the courtroom door, because in exactly one minute the supposed victim is going to walk in through it, very much alive."

    The Jurors watched, but in one minute nothing happened. The lawyer then explained, "For a full minute you believed it possible that the person was still alive. Doesn't that possibility imply reasonable doubt as to the guilt of my client?"

    The jurors didn't deliberate long before rendering a verdict of guilty. When asked how they could render such a verdict in the face of their own reasonable doubt, they explained,

    "yes, when you said that the victim would walk in, we all looked at the door. But your client didn't."

     
  • by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@NOSpAM.barbara-hudson.com> on Saturday February 23, 2008 @11:11PM (#22532164) Journal

    You're wrong about the "nobody knows" part. Hans Reiser knows, one way or the other.

    Unfortunately, we don't have mind-readers yet, so all we can do is look at the evidence and make a decision.

    The government is making the case that Reiser killed his wife. The defense is making the case that Reiser didn't. The jury's job is to deide what the facts are, based on that evidence. In other words, is there a reasonable doubt that Reiser killed his wife? Not "a certainty".

    I hadn't really been following the case, but the more I look at it today, the more it looks to me like a reasonable person would conclude that Reiser is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. He had means, motive, and opportunity. The explanations offered for his actions are patronizing, to say the least. Taken as a whole, his story gets less credible as time goes on, and the "geek defense" or "tortured genius" act is lame.

    His story also fails Occam's razor, big-time. The simplest explanation that fits all the facts is that he did kill her. His explanation doesn't fit all the facts, and it rings false. More and more, it sounds like someone with too big an ego, who is in the process of losing everything, and finally throws caution and civility to the winds.

  • by Plutonite (999141) on Saturday February 23, 2008 @11:12PM (#22532178)
    I hope you were joking with reference to "IQ" being in any way important. Please read on Richard Feymann and what he got for a score.
  • Re:Can't. Shut. Up! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by phorm (591458) on Saturday February 23, 2008 @11:44PM (#22532358) Journal
    This would lend credence to why he would have bought all the "incriminating literature" though. Simply put, the guy couldn't sit down and let somebody else deal with things, he's obsessive compulsive and had to start digging into it himself.
  • by chris_sawtell (10326) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @12:49AM (#22532722) Journal
    A disclaimer: I am not a US citizen and live thousands of miles away, but thanks to Wired, SFGate.com and Jay Gaskill, I have kept myself as well informed about this sad state of affairs as it is possible to do with out actually being in the Court.

    The whole trouble with this case is that the evidence we have seen so far allows one to mentally conjour up so many equally valid scenarios. To wit - all equal possibilities, ranked in seriousness:-

    1. A nasty, skilled, pre-meditated killing.
      Evidence for the prosecution:
      • Hans knew that Beverly Palmer was going to be away for the whole week-end.
      • Hans arranged for Nina to come to the empty house in the middle of a long holiday, when few of the neighbours would be around.
      Missing Evidence:-
      • No 'Smoking Gun', or actual witness.
    2. A crime of passion. Nina's previous behavour had so sensitized Hans that he struck out in an uncontrolled, mindless rage and killed her in a few seconds using a Judo chop of some kind.
      For:
      • Han's behavour immediately after Nina's disappearance.
      Against:
      • Rory said his mother gave him a hug and left the house.
    3. Nina left the house, and proceeded to a 'Professional Appointment' with Sturgeon. She died, possibly accidentally, during the 'treatment'. Hans may or may not have been involved with the disposal of the body.
      For:
      • It's happened before in other Jurisdictions.
      • Sturgeon has confessed to having been involved with many deaths.
      Against:
      • None.
    4. Nina, a pleasant looking chick, and alone in her car, got hijacked, dragged off to some unknown place, gang raped, killed, and dumped in the sea to be eaten by sharks.
      For:
      • Judging by what I read about the Oakland neighbourhood, this is no more a fanciful scenario than any of the others.
    This whole parody of a trial seems to me to be something straight out of 'Alice Through the Looking Glass'. The defendant and his parents are all as mad as the Hatter. The forensic DNA technician is incompetent. The prosecution has spent 3 whole months spouting a cloud of largely irrelevant waffle. While they have demonstrated that Hans could have done the deed, and that he had a degree of motive, there has been not one jot of independent expert evidence that, at the time of the alleged crime, he was sufficiently sane to form the intent to murder, that he was fit to plead, or that he actually did the deed. This is the sort of crime, and resultant investigation, which cries out for a "Not Proven" verdict,
  • by istartedi (132515) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @12:58AM (#22532758) Journal

    I've experienced this myself, although it was particularly bad in elementary school. Many geeks have Asperger's syndrome, and others, although not diagnosed Aspergers's, have traits that put them on the "autistic spectrum".

    I have some of those traits, and the one that tends to cause the most problems in this context is "innapropriate affect". This is where you have an unexpected reaction or facial expression that doesn't match up with what "normal" people expect. In my case, I would smile and feel a bit giddy when I was getting dragged to the principal's office. It didn't mean I was happy, it just meant that my mind dealt with the whole deal by minimizing it to the point of meaninglessness, and that was very amusing. The "normals" interpreted this as a "guilty grin", and I got punished for it on more than one occasion when I was perfectly innocent. As I got older, I learned somewhat how to provide the correct "output" for various situations.

    Assuming HR is innocent, it wouldn't surprise me if he were going through this. Of course, it doesn't mean he's not guilty either.

  • Detective fiction (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CustomDesigned (250089) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @01:24AM (#22532878) Homepage Journal
    If a someone is seen entering a house, the victim is heard screaming "oh my God, he's killing me!!!!" and that someone then is seen fleeing the house with a bloody knife, then there is only circumstantial evidence that he committed the crime.

    And if you read this in a good detective story, you would immediately know that the man fleeing the house with a bloody knife is almost certainly *not* the killer. Near the end of the book, you will be gratified to learn that indeed, it was not the poor bloke fleeing the house, (who was fleeing for his own life after unsuccessfully battling the killer), but neither was it the sinister filthy rich jerk you've suspected all along. In fact, you would have never suspected who it turns out to be.

    For a good example, try The Clue of the Twisted Candle [gutenberg.org].

    While these stories are fiction, and idealize the principle, circumstantial evidence in real life can be like a magicians sleight of hand, making you believe you saw what wasn't there. The classic ballad Go Down you Murderer [numachi.com] speaks to the sometimes tragic results.

  • by ucblockhead (63650) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @01:37AM (#22532952) Homepage Journal
    If you are in the jury pool for a trial involving the "crime" of breaking encryption, you will almost certainly be asked, under oath, if you believe such a thing should be considered a crime. If you say "no", there is no way in hell you will end up serving on the jury. If you lie to get on the jury, you will have committed perjury. If you refuse to vote for conviction based on your belief, your perjury will be obvious and it will almost certainly cause a mistrial. The person will almost certainly face another trial and you will be facing charges. That helps nobody.

    If I were in such a situation, I would merely announce my reasons why I think such a "crime" is complete bullshit when asked, knowing that those who will eventually serve on the jury are all within earshot, and then happily go home when I am booted, knowing that I've broken no laws and done the best that I could.
  • by killjoe (766577) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @01:50AM (#22533006)
    You remember how the 9/11 hijackers left a video tape of flying lessons in their car? Yea just like that.

    You remember how their passports survived the fire that brought down two buildings by melting the steel support structures?

    Yup. Just like that.
  • Sure it makes sense. Most people have an over-inflated idea of how intelligent they are - the majority claim they're more intelligent than the average person - which simply can't be true.

    Then again, the majority of Americans believe that God created human beings [ncseweb.org]: 45% believe god did it within the last 10,000 years, and a further 38% believe that god guided it over the last million years (intelligent design). Only 13% believed in Darwin's theory of evolution.

    Contrast that with what people believe just north of the border [angus-reid.com] - only 22% agree that god created humans within the last 10,000 years. 59% believe in evolution.

    In this set of findings [foxnews.com] Iceland, Denmark, Sweden and France, 80 percent or more of adults accepted evolution; in Japan, 78 percent of adults did. Turkey, on the other hand, had results akin to the US. Kind of telling, I would say ...

  • Re:peers? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @03:16AM (#22533358)

    Sorry, but I've gotta call you dead wrong on this. It draws mostly from people who are NOT decision makers. The people who end up on juries are the mostly the compliant ones who leave decision making up to others.

    I think you are the one that is "dead wrong" and basing your opinion on a stereotype. (You may want to cut down on the number of court room dramas you watch on TV)

    Yes, it is true the prosecution will strike the jurors who may be sympathetic to the defense, and the defense attorney will strike the jurors who may have strong opinions but neither party can strike the whole jury pool. The theory being that the jurors left over will be fair and impartial. I don't know about your state, but where I'm at it is very difficult to be excused from a jury. The judge presiding over the jury pool here is a hard ass and nothing short of being extremely ill or a death of an immediate family member will get you excused. I served 3 times (and seem to been picked after I voted in the last election -- coincidence? ) in the past 20 years. On the first day, the juror pool would be 3/4 full, however the local sheriffs department is nice enough to remind those that were absent and on the second day the room is packed to the gills.

    I served in a pool with physicists, small business owners, nurses, office managers, engineers, and young professionals. You would think that the jury room would have just as many stay-at-home mothers or unemployed people, but that doesn't seem to be the case. It could be statistics or the fact that most "nonthinking deadbeats" in my community don't bother to register to vote.

    An example of how much of a hard ass our judge was:

    My county is located on the state line and a good percentage of our population work out of state near the military bases. In my jury pool we had three out-of-state workers and being out-of-state they were not covered by a state law that provided wage guarantees while serving jury duty. They tried to be excused due to the hardships associated with having an out-of-state employer but failed and spent their week being a juror for $10 a day.

    This is how ALL the parties involved want it. The real decision makers want to get back to their decision-making jobs, not be one of twelve, so they find a way out. The prosecution and the defense attorneys do not want someone who makes decisions; they want someone who can be led and instructed. So does the judge. The whole system is designed to filter in people who can be controlled and led.

    This is just plain silly. Of course the defense would like to have jurors that would be stupid enough to give an acquittal no matter the amount of blatantly obvious evidence and a trial of a former football player proves that occasionally the defense gets their wish. However, it is in the best interest of the prosecution to have a fair trail that can survive appeal. As far as the judge is concerned, he is supposed to be an impartial referee. Of course there are horrible judges (football player), but I believe they are the exception and not the rule...

  • by aussie_a (778472) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @06:45AM (#22533984) Journal

    Sure enough, during the week I got pulled over for speeding. The cop certainly looked at me funny, but I didn't have a warrant out for my arrest, so all was OK.
    Right, except was your wife also murdered?

    See, having your car flood and removing the passenger seat is pretty uncommon (more common for some apparently, but still fairly uncommon). Having your wife murdered is also fairly uncommon. Again, it happens (more common for some), but on average its uncommon. Now both of these events happening at the same time in the order of the car flooding and then the wife being murdered?

    I'm no mathematician, but surely this doesn't happen often enough to be considered "reasonable doubt" all on its own.
  • by kdemetter (965669) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @09:25AM (#22534732)
    Think 'hd encryption key' . Most people that had the key , and put the key in their signatures , where never going to use it to create a program that can decrypt hd-dvd's . They just did it because , when something is outlawed , it becomes valuable (and cool).

    So having certain information , in no way implies that you will use it.
    It's even more likely to be the other way around : if you are planning a murder , you would be cautious not to let that information lay around , while someone without that intention , will probably be quite careless about it.

    That's just my view on it

  • by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@NOSpAM.barbara-hudson.com> on Sunday February 24, 2008 @11:57AM (#22535746) Journal

    emoving seats to save weight is a pretty common practice among people who want to make tiny cars go fast. Does it have a back seat? Or a spare tire and toolkit? Had anyone seen it with all seats intact before the murder?

    1. Yes, the back seat is still there.
    2. As for whether it has a toolkit, the bolts, and the socket set used to remove them, were also still there.
    3. As to your last question, Reiser claims that he removed the seat because he was sleeping in the car, so yes, the seats were there until after the marriage breakup.
    He claims to have thrown the seat in a dumpster. Why didn't he just stash the seat at his mothers' so he could get it back later if/when he needed it, or sell it, or, easiest of all, just put it at the curb-side garbage pickup so that either the city or someone driving by would take it?

    His story doesn't make much sense. For someone who claims to be so intelligent, its just not logical ...

  • by arth1 (260657) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @02:18PM (#22537084) Homepage Journal

    I think you overestimate the average juror, there's a reason we have 12 of them per trial...

    There is, but not what you think. A group of 4 can not become a mob, while a group of 12 is big enough, while still being small enough that the jurors can relate on a personal level. If keeping the number of jurors smaller, there would be far fewer convictions, and if making them much bigger, the personal factor would be taken out. It takes a /lot/ of gut to stand up and say what you really think if you believe that seven or more people you've come to know over the last few weeks are going to be against your opinion. It effectively serves to quench opposing views.
  • Re:risky defense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SRA8 (859587) on Sunday February 24, 2008 @02:37PM (#22537300)
    You should know that prosecuting an individual in this country of often little about guilt and more about convictability. Meaning, the yield DAs are measured on is how many people they can convict, not whether these people are guilty or innocent. While I hope and think many DAs feel that guilt=convictability, we have seen from other fields how incentives skew decisions. Note how CEOs think short term to get their options to vest deep in the money, damn the long term implications. So to answer your post -- yes, there is little evidence, but the guy is a nerd and can probably be convicted, and it will make some people in the government look very good, so damn his innocence. Unfortunate, but it seems to happen all the time. On the flip side, if you are rich, good looking, and a socialite, you can get away with drugs, guns, etc. Just check out a typical college campus -- if prep schools were busted the way inner cities are busted, half the school would be in jail on possession charges.

The use of anthropomorphic terminology when dealing with computing systems is a symptom of professional immaturity. -- Edsger Dijkstra

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