What do Major League Baseball’s arbitration process and a murder trial where the defendant, although having entered a not guilty plea, has admitted to carrying out the heinous acts he has been charged with as in the case of Luka Magnotta have in common? Well ….
With few exceptions, the management of a baseball team usually speaks highly of the team’s players. After all they did hire them, and it’s also good for morale and ticket sales. From time to time players, or more likely their agents, and management attempt to hammer out a new contract. When negotiations hit a wall, when no more dickering or give and take can be taken or given, with neither side prepared to budge, the two sides file for arbitration.
At the hearing the two sides present their cases to the arbiter who then decides on one or the other, winner take all. Now team management must do an about-face and instead of highlighting the player’s strengths as they usually do, they point out his weaknesses in an attempt to illustrate why he is not worth what he is asking for. Not surprisingly his often causes hard feelings between management and players and is a very divisive process.
Luka Rocco Magnotta has been charged with five serious crimes, the most egregious of which is murder. He has stated on record that he did these things, but did not realize they were wrong, on account of his mental illness. His lawyers are trying to convince the jury that he is sick, not a criminal.
Much like baseball management usually speaks highly of its players, defense lawyers spend a lot of time praising their clients as good, upstanding citizens who could never have done whatever they have been charged with. Character witnesses and statements are often presented in an attempt to paint a rosy picture of the accused.
In an interesting twist, the defense attorneys in the Magnotta case have had to do an about face of sorts and are currently presenting a litany of medical evidence in an effort to convince the jury that Magnotta should not be held criminally responsible for his acts as at the time he killed, and dismembered his victim Jun Lin he was suffering from a mental illness. This illness, or illnesses allegedly prevented him from understanding that the things he was doing were wrong. Instead of playing to their client’s strengths, they are forced to hang their case on his illness related anti-social behaviour.
An interesting juxtaposition.
If the case interests you, given the ban on cameras in courtrooms here, aside from next day analysis Twitter – #Magnotta – offers the best live coverage. The Gazette’s Sue Montgomery @MontgomerySue and CBC’s Salimah Shivji @salimah_shivji provide many great updates.