Grogan's Fallacies

October 3, 2004

I was rather surprised at how much I liked Detective Craig Grogan as a witness during the Direct and Cross examinations. He was not at all defensive, as was Brocchini, and he genuinely seemed to have confidence in the integrity of his investigation. I noticed myself thinking, he's not such a bad cop. He answered all of Geragos' questions very politely and honestly, it seemed, even when he must have known the spectators and jurors would question his good judgment.

All that fell apart, however, on the Re-direct. It was back to smoke and mirrors, trying to cover up and make look good what obviously was very bad. I think DDA Fladager would have done the Prosecution's case more good if she had just said no more questions after Geragos' first round.

Fladager brought the courtroom to laughter when she had Grogan cast doubt on the integrity of a picture the Prosecution had provided the Defense through discovery. And, no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't veil the fallacies that led to this fiasco of a trial. Here are just a couple:

Because all of the eye witnesses couldn't have seen Laci, none of them did.

Obviously, all of the eye witnesses that claimed to have seen Laci on the morning of the 24th couldn't have seen her because they had her in entirely different locations at the same time. But, that doesn't mean that none of them were legitimate sightings. With a missing person, every sighting should be investigated.

Because the sightings weren't in the right time frame, they couldn't be Laci.

This inability to think out of the box may have cost Laci and Conner their lives. Did the MPD learn nothing from the Elizabeth Smart case? Every so often, the totally unexpected happens. How could they know for sure this wasn't such a time? How could they be so sure that Karen Servas finding McKenzie at 10:18 didn't have another explanation besides the one they gave it -- Laci was already dead.

Clearly the MPD made up their minds very quickly what happened -- Scott murdered Laci -- and then excluded anything that didn't support that conclusion.

Failed theories were replaced by still more failed theories.

No one faults the MPD for initially looking long and hard at Scott, but how many theories must fail for lack of evidence before you give it up and conclude, hey, just maybe we're looking at the wrong person?

Behavior observed in Scott was suspicious, but the same behavior observed in others was not.

Grogan had no choice but to note for the jury how many of the behaviors he thought suspicious in Scott were not suspicious in others. Going fishing on Christmas Eve: suspicious for Scott, not suspicious for Ron Grantski. Speaking of Laci in the past tense: suspicious for Scott, not suspicious for Brent Rocha. Correcting the past tense to present tense in the same sentence: suspicious for Scott, not suspicious for Sharon Rocha.

Grogan justified the suspicion towards Scott, saying there were many factors that came into play. But the fact of the matter is, they already thought Scott was guilty, and thus anything he did was suspicious to them. They had no evidence, all they had was behavior. To place such confidence in subjective interpretations of behavior is, to me, the height of arrogance.

Behavior can definitely be a confirming factor in a criminal investigation, but it should never be the sole substance of the case against an accused.