Thursday, March 15, 2012
What About Andrea Sneiderman?
After watching almost all of the Hemy Neuman trial, I would be surprised if Andrea Sneiderman is not charged with some crime (murder or one of its less severe variants, i.e. negligent homicide) given the substantial amount of circumstantial evidence and the strength of the DA's closing arguments regarding her complicity. Of course, the DA can accuse Andrea of a crime if he thinks she committed it, but still exercise prosecutorial discretion not to bring charges if he doesn't think he has enough evidence to get a conviction.
I suspect Andrea has not been charged because the prosecution wanted to be able to put her on the stand and let her hang herself, which it looks like she did. Andrea had two choices, testify or plead the 5th. If she plead the 5th she would likely have been arrested, and her silence would have been used against her in a civil trial for wrongful death.
This is something that many people don't know about the 5th Amendment right to remain silent. In a criminal case, the Jury is not allowed to draw any negative inferences regarding your guilt if you choose not to testify. The state has the burden to prove you guilty. You do not have to get on the stand and explain why you are innocent. You are presumed innocent. However, in a civil lawsuit, such as one for wrongful death, when you assert the 5th Amendment right to remain silent, there is a presumption that what you did not say would have tended to incriminate you. So, if Andrea had plead the 5th in response to any questions in the Hemy Neuman murder trial, her answers would be used against her in a civil case brought for the wrongful death of her husband.
Why did the prosecution call Andrea Sneiderman a co-conspirator to murder if she has not been arrested and charged with the crime? That's a question the Jury was most certainly asking after seeing the testimony. The jury had to be wondering, "why isn't Andrea Sneiderman on trial? It looks like she was involved. She told people Rusty was shot a long time before the time she testified she learned he had been shot. She knew the sketch looked like Hemy, but instead of going to the police, she tried to arrange a meeting with Hemy Neuman. She said she didn't have an affair with Hemy Neuman, but there are so many emails and testimony that they had an affair. Plus, she received $2 million in life insurance., etc?"
To address these concerns and avoid the Jury thinking they had the wrong guy on trial, the prosecution had to tell the jury, "don't worry about Andrea. She is in trouble. We'll deal with her. However, your job, and this trial, is about a Hemy Neuman, a co-conspirator to that murder. Put him in jail for life, and let us worry about Andrea Sneiderman. She'll get what's coming to her."
Last evening, the AJC reported that Andrea retained two new attorneys: Doug Chalmers and Jennifer Little. Here are their Attorney Profiles. It is an interesting choice, indeed. Chalmers is a specialist in "businesses, nonprofit organizations, political committees, elected officials, candidates, political parties, lobbyists and government bodies on federal and state election law, campaign finance, lobbying and ethics." Jennifer Little "practices in the areas of federal and state political law with a specialty in litigation. Prior to joining the Political Law Group, Jennifer served as a Senior Assistant District Attorney in DeKalb County." Perhaps it is Jennifer Little's experience trying murder cases in DeKalb County that attracted Andrea Sneiderman, and the big partner at the law firm is along for the ride? Regardless, retaining new counsel indicates that Andrea also thinks she has significant legal problems.
I welcome your comments and questions. Watching this trial has reminded me how inaccurate the media is on the law and the facts. It is a pleasure to give you accurate explanations of how our justice system works.
Anyway, I'm going to return to my regular job as a civil litigation attorney representing clients in all kinds of business and real estate disputes.