Saturday, December 8, 2012

Weberman jurors reported to be split on guilt

NY Daily News    A dozen jurors deliberating the fate of a prominent Hasidic counselor Friday have a long road ahead of them, judging by the reactions of three excused alternates.

The jurors, sprung from Nechemya Weberman’s two-week trial on Friday, gave wildly divergent opinions on whether he’s guilty of sexually abusing a Brooklyn teen for three years.

“It’s a tough one,” said one former juror who declined to give his name. “I think they’re split down the middle. I was split down the middle as well.”

But the man said he would have convicted Weberman, 54, on at least some of the 60 counts that he’s facing.

A woman, who was also excused from the panel, disagreed.

“I didn’t hear enough evidence to nail the person,” she said. “No video, no DNA.”[...]

“I think he’s guilty, but it’s a matter of what he’s guilty of,” said a third juror, a 41-year-old man from Canarsie.  He praised the testimony of the teenager, saying she had to obey authority, but still “decided to speak out.”


  1. Here is my prediction. He will be found guilty of some minor thing or not guilty and the hypocritical Satmerer will use it as vindication that he did nothing.

    You see, the Goyishe court is only Treyf if they would have found him guilty, but if they find someone innocent then it's Kodesh Kodoshim.

    Let me be the first to state this prediction.

  2. Criminal trials in the US have a 95% conviction rate. Even innocent folks are convicted. Often years later after spending hard time in prison or death row they are determined innocent.

    Don't trust a guilty verdict indicates real guilt.

    1. According to your reasoning a conviction doesn't indicate guilt because there is a small minority of convictions which are mistaken. Of course that that is true also of beis din.

      On the other hand if a person is declared innocent then according to your logic he shouldn't be viewed as innocent because there are a small minority of cases where the guilty person is declared innocent.

      In addition there are many people who have never been charged who have in fact done criminal acts - thus according to you we must assume that everyone who has not been convicted of a crime is possibly a criminal and that those who have been convicted are really innocent.

      Do you really believe what you said!

    2. Dan, are you sure that is 95% and not 93%? Do you have any evidence for your claim? Please give us a link to follow.

    3. The fact that trials have a high conviction rate means nothing. Prosecutors have the ability to decide whom they will prosecute and for what. If the evidence is iffy, they either plea bargain or just decide not to prosecute at all. This pre-screening by the prosecution means that, generally, only the strong cases go to trial.

      (In this way, prosecutors are different from other lawyers and certainly from other professionals. If a doctor was graded on his success rate, and had free rein to determine which patients to take or not, then he too would have a high "success" rate.)

  3. Don't kid yourself, RDE. The false conviction rate in secular court is statistically significant. (In Beis Din FAR FAR LESS so. B"D has so very many more precautions giving criminal defendents the strong benefit of the doubt that is absent is secular court. B"D in general requires two eyewitnesses who gave prior warning in criminal cases.)

    For every case of a false conviction in secular court that is later determined that the defendent was innocent (after unfortunately spending many years in prison in many cases) there is another 9 cases of a false conviction where the defendent is never exonerated and the innocent rots in jail. Just as the very flawed system has so very many false convictions, in most cases the falsely convicted is never exonerated.

    And yes this very destructive secular justice system does acquit the truly guilty and lets the guilty go scot free. Witness the cases of OJ Simpson, Lemrick Nelson and very many others. The system is broken and destructive both ways.

    Never ever trust a secular court verdict on its own accord. A convict can easily be completely innocent and an acquitted can be as guilty as sin.

    1. Nameless but not anonymousDecember 9, 2012 at 6:36 PM

      You report a lot of statistics, yet not a single reference to support any. It is easy to believe that secular courts can err, and so can batei din. We are humans, not angels. I have no personal faith in either system.

      Having stated this, it may be worthwhile to make an observation. In the secular court system, much of what we observe is trial by jury. The jury is composed of non-judges, lay people without a background in law, nor individuals determined to be moral, ethical people bound to an oath of truth. It is intended to be a jury of peers. Perhaps we cannot label then as criminals with similarity to a defendant, but they are also not accepted as experts and people of integrity. Again we observe juries making outrageous rulings, as is common in the ridiculous awards in civil suits, and clearly guilty (like lemrick nelson) walking free. (The latter occurred because Jews and other whites typically used all sorts of ruses to be dismissed from jury duty.)

      In contrast, a beis din is comprised of 3 dayanim, trained experts, who render the judgment. Burdens of proof are very different, and corruption is seen quite often, unfortunately. I have not been able to place my trust in rabbonim or batei din.

      So I am left to waiting for HKB"H to handle all affairs Himself. And, without a doubt, there are lawyers, judges, and even rabbonim who will get the wrath of G-d.

    2. Nameless, ifyou agree the secular court system is bad justice, you agree their verdicts do not indicate actual guilt. Like you said, the 12 jurors can be a group of 12 homeless, drunk chronically unemployed druggies who do not know or care for the difference between guilt and innocence.

      Btw, there is no possible way to provide statistics of convicts who are actually innocent but were never exonerated.

    3. Sam the beis din system is not necessarily a source of pride. I once had a dispute with a frum used car salesman who totally misrepresented what he was selling and what he will going to fix. I was advised by one of major talmidei chachom in the community - who was also a dayan - not to go to beis din because "you never can predict what the dayanim are going to decide."

    4. In order to assess the quality of both justice systems, it would be necessary to know the number of false positive (guilt) verdicts and the number of false negative (not guilty) verdicts.

      Both is difficult to know, since we would have to know what really happened, which often is not the case...

      Batey din seem not to accept certain types of evidence that are well established today (like dna tests), they seem to rely exclusively on witnesses and on the credibility of witnesses, where some categories of persons (women, minors, non-jews, non-religious jews, etc) are excluded from the witness-status a priori. I cannot imagine how this could lead to more accurate results than the us justice system, with all its flaws.

      It might be that the beith din has less false positive, but they sure have too many false negative verdicts (if they have a verdict at all, since they are not competent in criminal law).

  4. 1. I am in possession of no reliable facts about the Weberman case. I make no claims about it.

    2. In general, I am personally familiar with several cases of unlicensed, untrained, and unsupervised "therapy" in Orthodox communities. In these cases the "therapists" have sometimes been beneficial or benign. However, in the majority of the cases known to me they have caused tangible harm, including suicide, with the added harm that blame is typically diverted from the "therapist" and his enabling authorities onto the victims and their families. (The cases with which I am familiar are from the "Modern" region of the Orthodoxy spectrum.)

    3. Several commenters wanted stats. There is much research on wrongful convictions, exonerations, etc. Samuel R. Gross's (UMich) Exonerations in the United States, 1989–2012 has been cited in legal opinions. His other papers are also informative. SSRN makes available many papers on the subject. Rooting-out election-driven judges, TV-news-driven prosecutors and experts-for-hire is not really easier than rooting-out child molesters. Juries are too often swayed by their taboos.

    4. DT: "According to your reasoning a conviction doesn't indicate guilt because there is a small minority of convictions which are mistaken."

    The biggest problem is that, at least in the U.S., most convictions today are plea-bargained, in which cases evidence is never even examined in open court. (E.g., the Friedman case you've blogged about.) Commonly the defendant's marginal risk in going to trial is decades of extra jail time. And when these plea-bargained convictions are plugged-into the social-science research as though they're well-established, you wind up with a statistics atrocity.

    4. Sticking my neck out ... the case of Gordon MacRae, a New Hampshire priest, (trial transcripts here) is an example of an almost-certainly wrongful sexual abuse conviction, which imposed a 67-year sentence.

    1. Seen from the outside, the plea bargain system and the huge difference between sentences with plea-bargain vs. sentences with trial seem to be a big problem indeed.

      To me as an european it is unconceivable that the sentence with trial should amount to a multiple of the sentence with plea-bargain... Looks like the abolishing of fair trials to me...


  5. At the end of the day it is likely Mr. Weberman will be convicted irregardless of whether he ia truly innocent or guilty. And, thus, his conviction, should there be one, bears no proof of actual guilt.

    1. I have no idea what you are trying to say!

    2. "Irregardless" is not a word.
      Yerucham is saying that the outcome of the Weberman trial is purely random and does not depend on the facts.


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