Kendall Coffey on Juvenile Crimes

kendall coffey juveniles tried as adults

During the regular Spinning the Law segment on Newsmax’s Steve Malzberg show last week, Kendall Coffey commented on several grisly murder cases as well as a recent court case against the Affordable Care Act.

A 14 year old high school student charged with murdering his math teacher.  He will be tried as an adult.

“The perspective of the law has shifted quite a bit over the last 30 years.  It’s not just about the so-called alleged offender, but the victims.  This 24 year old teacher was apparently was absolutely loved, appreciated and respected, and there’s no difference in a brutal murder whether it was a child or an adult.  That’s part of the perspective but the other thing is just recognition that young offenders commit terrible crimes and seem capable of making the choices.  Over the years, it used to be that the average killer was in their twenties.  Now a lot of alleged killers are in their teens.  So the system, to really deal with that kind of threat needs to recognize that someone who is able to carry out a brutal premeditated plan like this has the sufficient capabilities to be accountable as an adult.”

Is it the law in Massachusetts to be prosecuted as an adult for certain crimes?

“Ultimately it’s a matter that’s reviewed by prosecutors.  They could have charged and prosecuted somebody through the juvenile system.  The Supreme Court as said that anybody under 18 is not subject to the death penalty.”

kendall coffey juveniles tried as adults
Should young people be tried as adults?

Michael Skakel, a nephew of Robert Kennedy, will be granted a new trial after a decade in prison for murdering Martha Moxley.

“I’m not surprised that ineffective assisted counsel comes up, because when someone’s a defendant, especially in such a crime as serious as murder, they initially try to put the police on trial. The next phase in the appeal, they try to put the judge and jury on trial.  They say that they were the ones that got it all wrong.  Now if none of that works, many times the defendant turns and tries to put his own attorney on trial.  We recall O.J. doing very much the same thing within the last few months over Las Vegas, saying it was all the bad advice he got form his attorney after he lost the trial and lost his last appeal.

“What’s striking about this is the judge wrote an over one hundred-twenty page opinion detailing and rejecting some issues, and coming down solidly on some concerns more than others.  So this was an extraordinary case in every respect.  A murder conviction 25 years after the crime was committed and yet this judge put a lot of thought into it.  Honestly, there some very very serious issues in this opinion that made me think there really are some concerns about whether there was affective assistance of counsel in this trial.  Amazing as it seems, how does somebody who’s wealthy not have the best lawyer? His lawyers certainly have a great reputation but when you go through this judge’s order, you have some real, real concerns about what happened during the trial.”

“It’s going to be very tough.  It was a difficult case to prosecute back when they got the conviction in 2002.  It’s just become all the more difficult now.  Time is almost always on the defendants’ side and … whether it’s a personal injury case or something as serious as prosecution for murder, it’s always more difficult to prove your case after years and years have passed.”

Obamacare challenge to subsidies will be traveling through the appeals court.

“I would describe it as much more of a victory than not for the plaintiff.  There’s a glitch in the law, a huge glitch, because it provided for these subsidies, many of which are essential for Obamacare to go forward.  The subsidies are according to state.  Thirty six states decide not to establish decide not to establish exchanges, what does the federal government do about that?  They then provide the tax credits for those who participate essentially through the federally created exchange.  The law doesn’t specifically authorize that so you have a gap.  The administration has said, ‘we have the right to fill gaps when congress wouldn’t speak to it’, but a lot of judges don’t agree with that.  They say ‘we read the statute that congress enacted, that we judges have to apply.  So I think this is a real concern, procedurally where I think it might go very quickly is to the appeals court.  When an injunction is denied, the party who did not get the injunction has a right to an immediate appeal.  And the appeals court is where we may get an answer first.”

A football coach in Texas has been accused of bullying for winning too much.

“Bullying can be a serious thing. We’ve seen a number of teen suicides that seem to result from real bullying.  To trivialize a very lopsided score and characterize it as bullying when we know what serious thing bullying can be is taking the law to completely the wrong place.”