Jerome Baum jerome at
Wed Mar 23 04:50:01 CET 2011

"Robert J. Hansen" <rjh at> writes:

> Imagine this: I'm being accused of premeditated murder.  Apparently, I
> ran over a man with a car with the specific intent of killing him.  When
> the police arrest me, they discover in my apartment I have a sniper
> rifle, a hangman's noose, a straight razor, some food that has ground
> glass mixed into it, and a how-to manual for committing murders with all
> of those tools.  (Note that generally speaking none of these are illegal
> in the United States.)  The state wants to enter all of those things
> into evidence to support the claim that I committed my crime with
> extreme premeditation, that I had the specific and deliberate intent to
> kill.

> Under your theory, that should be barred.  Me, I think that's kind of
> weird.  Seems to me like this is the sort of thing the jury should be
> allowed to hear and decide for themselves.  Likewise, in this case the
> prosecution was alleging something.  The judge believed -- and the
> appellate court agreed -- that the presence of PGP was relevant to those
> allegations.

Actually, I didn't say those tools  being in your home should be barred.
I  agree with  what you  write  below --  there are  reasons to  include
evidence and  in this case  it would be  to describe your  character (be
that   technical  sophistication   or  intent   to  murder).    I  would
differentiate between what's actually  relevant (and would help the jury
make a better decision), and what's not. A guy with a handbook on murder
likely has a higher chance  of murdering. A guy with encryption software
hopefully doesn't have a higher chance of molesting a child.

Plus, I  am arguing that a  court in the  U.S.  (thanks for the  note on
wording  btw) made  a bad  decision. How  does the  fact that  the judge
believed his  decision was  right support your  argument that  the court
(i.e.  judge)  made the  correct decision? As  for the appeals  court, I
have  heard (obviously  no  first-hand experience)  that  they are  very
conservative when  it comes to turning  over a court's  decision, and in
this matter I  would be as well -- when the  evidence wasn't relevant to
the conviction and likely didn't influence the jury.

> If you don't know what specific fact this evidence was presented to
> demonstrate, then you can't say the evidence shouldn't have been
> admitted.  We know it was connected to a criminal trial, but we don't
> know specifically what the evidence was introduced to prove.  It
> could've been something as simple as, "the defendant is technically
> sophisticated, as evidenced by...".

So, how does technical sophistication have to do with whether or not the
guy molested the  child? One connection I can see is  "he could have hid
that  information from us,  so we  don't have  it" --  but then,  how is
that  kind of  no-evidence speculation  relevant? Of  course, this  is a
straw man. To justify it, while  I didn't read any first-hand source, if
you  follow the  discussion there  are  some references  to the  appeals
court's decision which mention  that the prosecution was suggesting what
I said ("he could have ...").

PGP: A0E4 B2D4 94E6 20EE 85BA E45B 63E4 2BD8 C58C 753A
PGP: 2C23 EBFF DF1A 840D 2351 F5F5 F25B A03F 2152 36DA
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