Fifth Amendment in Chicago: Double Jeopardy and Lesser Offenses

kristina-flour-185592-copy-300x192In a case of double jeopardy, a Chicago cop pleaded the Fifth at trial involving friend’s shooting at his home.

 

A police officer recently refused to answer questions regarding a baffling shooting that took place near his house almost seven years ago. The officer, following advice from his counsel, pleaded the fifth in a federal court regarding his integrity and wrongful shooting attempts. Patrick Kelly, a veteran patrolman, declined to give answers to a number of questions on the mysterious shooting and his puzzling record before Judge Harry Lienenweber. The United States District Magistrate dismissed the police officer as a witness during the hearing of the domestic case. Anthony Monaco, the attorney defending Kelly, did not give any reasons as to why his client did not testify.

 

On the 12th of January, 2010, Kelly and his childhood friend, Michael La Porta, were at Kelly’s home on the South Side. Michael was shot in the back of his head by Kelly’s service gun. They had been drinking heavily that night. According to Chicago police, the shooting was classified as an endeavored suicide. This decision was reached based on Kelly’s account since he was the only one at his place during the incident.

 

LaPorta’s family lawyers argued that Kelly shot LaPorta due to anger. They stated that Kelly was unjustifiably enjoying the benefits of an aspect in the department called the “code of silence.” This code is an informal understanding that federal officers guard one another regardless of the situation. The family says that there is ignorance of wrongdoing and is seeking compensation for damages exceeding 90 million dollars. Michael LaPorta gave his account to the jury in which he recalled that the two friends went out drinking on the fateful night.

 

He said that Kelly’s violence became evident as he struck his dog. That was the moment that he decided to leave. As he turned to leave, LaPorta said he heard a clicking sound but never really saw Kelly with a gun. Although he insists that it was Kelly who shot him, the complainant admits to never knowing for sure that Kelly was holding a gun. He also denied claims that he tried to kill himself on that night and described himself as a person who is and has always been happy.

 

For the jury to award the damages, advocates representing LaPorta have to convince them that Kelly killed his childhood friend. This may have been quite a task before. But, Kelly’s refusal to testify might have made it easier considering that this is an officer of the law. The city is now faced with the task of convincing the 10 members of Kelly’s innocence, although he will not say it himself.

 

LaPorta’s lawyers challenged the suicide narrative with evidence of Kelly’s fingerprints. They were found on the murder weapon. People who shared a drink with the victim on that night said that LaPorta seemed to be in a good mood. As expected, they are depending on the jury to make a pessimistic deduction out of Kelly’s denial to confess. This would mean that he refused to respond under oath as the truth would incriminate him. However, this approach cannot prevail in this case. It will fail to do so since criminal law does not allow the use of a convicted person’s silence to incriminate them unlike in civil cases.

 

How it Affects You

 

While it may not be the most popular decision among many, every citizen is protected by the Fifth Amendment. This stands against compelling one to testify against him or herself. Any legal counsel would let you know that you are free to plead the fifth if your testimony may be used to prosecute you. This plea cannot be used to protect other people and can only be used in a civil case if the testimony will reveal admission to criminal guilt. Contact David Freidberg Attorney at Law at telephone number 312-567-7100 if you need legal assistance.

(image courtesy of Kristina Fluor)