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Trump's wanting the Bidens at his trial is incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial!

By Curt Anderson
December 27, 2019 10:14 pm
Category: Law

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If you've watched reruns of Perry Mason, you've heard the prosecutor, Hamilton Burger, complain of Perry Mason's legal tactics as being "incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial!" (See video below)

President Trump and the Republicans apparently don't remember or perhaps didn't understand the nature of Burger's complaint. More likely, they are hoping and betting that you didn't understand what Burger meant.

incompetent evidence
n. testimony, documents or things which one side attempts to present as evidence during trial, which the court finds (usually after objection by the opposition) are not admissible because they are irrelevant or immaterial to the issues in the lawsuit. Thus, trial lawyers often object with: "incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial," figuring that covers the waterfront of most objections. --Source: Law dictionary

As applied to a piece of evidence in trial:
"Incompetent" means the evidence is inadmissible under the established rules of evidence. Hamilton Burger was not casting aspersions on Perry Mason.
"Irrelevant" means that the evidence doesn't have any tendency to prove or disprove a contested fact in the case.
"Immaterial" means that the evidence lacks probative weight and is unlikely to influence the trier of fact.

The House of Representatives impeached President Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Trump and Republicans are demanding that Joe Biden and his son Hunter testify as witnesses at Trump's impeachment trial. That is strictly a diversionary tactic not based on any legal precedent. In fact, legal precedent is against the Bidens being called as witnesses.

Joe Biden said he wouldn't testify "because it's all designed to deal with Trump doing what he's done his whole life -- trying to take the focus off him." Biden went on to tell reporters, "look, the grounds for them to call me would be overwhelmingly specious. But so I don't anticipate that happening anyway".

Fact checkers tell us that Rudy Giuliani's and Trump's accusations against the Bidens are false and entirely without merit. The guilt or innocence of either Biden is not the issue. It doesn't matter if either Biden is guilty of poor judgment, making an obscene amount of money or something more sinister and illicit.

In a trial the defendant isn't permitted to incriminate and prosecute other people in an effort to somehow exonerate himself. If a criminal robs a gas station and then is arrested and put on trial, it's not a legitimate defense for him to summon and accuse executives of the oil company that owns the gas station of polluting the planet, of price gouging or making exorbitant salaries---even it's true.

Likewise, Trump cannot launch a defense that is incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial.


Cited and related links:

  1. dictionary.law.com
  2. factcheck.org
  3. cnn.com



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Comments on "Trump's wanting the Bidens at his trial is incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial!":

  1. by oncewaspb on December 28, 2019 8:42 am
    "In a trial the defendant isn't permitted to incriminate and prosecute other people in an effort to somehow exonerate himself. If a criminal robs a gas station and then is arrested and put on trial, it's not a legitimate defense for him to summon and accuse executives of the oil company that owns the gas station of polluting the planet, of price gouging or making exorbitant salaries---even it's true."

    Really?

    My sense is that defendants are given rather wide latitude in framing a defense. Juries, of course, don't have to buy in.


  2. by Curt Anderson on December 28, 2019 11:05 am
    pb,
    I presented the legal case of why it is incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial to bring up somebody else's supposed wrongdoing as a defense in the courtroom.

    I'll try making the case in religious terms:
    A penitent in a confessional or a penitent confessing directly to their god will not gain forgiveness if they list the sins of somebody else.


  3. by oncewaspb on December 28, 2019 12:26 pm
    I'm asking. I don't know the answer to this.

    Say that the Senate subpoenas Joltin Joe and Joe decides that the subpoenas are, what?, illegitimate?, beneath his dignity?

    What next? Does the Senate take its case to the courts?

    Certainly, Joe can't have the right to deem a Senate subpoena something he can ignore.


  4. by Curt Anderson on December 28, 2019 12:42 pm
    In the good old days, people obeyed subpoenas. Especially congressional subpoenas. Our current president, as his litigious wont, uses every legal maneuver in the book to avoid having his staff, associates, family members and himself from testifying. Trump has set the standard on how to ignore and delay responding to subpoenas.

    If Biden pulls a Trump, the Senate would have to take the case to court. If a person can afford the legal fees, they can postpone their day in court, or in this case, testifying before the Senate.



  5. by oncewaspb on December 28, 2019 12:59 pm
    I think that, perhaps, you're giving Trump more credit than he deserves.

    He didn't really invent legal maneuvering.

    I do think the Supreme Court will have a fairly large hand in this before everything shakes out.


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