Competency in the “Slender Man” Stabbing Case

Recently the 12-year-old Wisconsin girl, accused of organizing the “slender man” stabbing was found fit to stand trial. She is accused on carrying out a stabbing of a friend based on directions from a fictional urban myth character, “Slender Man.”

The idea of a 12-year-old girl standing trial as an adult seems unorthodox at best. This case highlights many competency issues and how complicated competency can be when dealing with minors. Attorney Benjamin Van Severen highlights some of the major questions surrounds the “slender man” stabbing case:

“There are a number of competing issues here.  First, you have to wonder if the girl is mentally stable without even considering the criminal proceedings.  She talks of unicorns and imaginary creatures so that is one major concern.  The second issue is the fact that she’s 12 years old.  Can she really assist her attorneys in her defense or even understand the gravity of the crime she is charged with?  Third, even if she’s fit to stand trial, is there going to be some form of insanity defense?  Ultimately, just because this doctor declared her fit to stand trial, I don’t think this will be the last time competency becomes an issue in this case.”


Here Is Some Information Regarding a Recent Case Relevant to Decryption of Electronic Devices

There has been a significant debate and a few court cases regarding the matter of whether the police can attempt to figure out the password on your phone or any other device.  Attorney John A. Birdsall of Birdsall Law Offices will be featured in a legal guide video where he will comment on different types of search including the search of electronic devices.

In the meantime, check out this article on the search of electronic devices:

Many people ask: Will I be convicted of the crime I am charged with?

Theodore Perlick Molinari commments on the fact that he is often asked what kind of results a client can expect in a case. This is a difficult question to answer. However, here are some things to consider:

When will learn not to talk to the police?

Tiger Woods is just the latest example why it is NEVER a good idea to talk to the police.  Check this story from CBS News.  Apparently, Mrs. Woods tells some conflicting stories (Hmm, maybe I didn’t break out the window with a golf club after all) that could result in obstructing charges against her and domestic violence charges against both – possibly.  The story attaches a wonderful video by by James Duane, a professor at the Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach and former criminal defense attorney who argues very persuasively that you will NEVER help yourself by talking to the police.   The video is found here.

The Problem With Denny…

The prosecution and conviction of Steven Avery will take another turn as his appeal tries to undo the ruling of the trial court that he could not argue that other specific individuals committed the crime.  The appeal (at least the public portion – the rest is sealed) centers around this refusal of the trial court to allow Avery to argue that 5 other individuals who either lived on the same property or were friends of those that did, had motive, oppotunity and specific evidence linking them to the murder.  The postcoviction motion argues that he was denied fundamental constitutional rights including: the right to present a defense, to confront his accusers and to be able to subpoena witnesses in his defense.    He is absolutely right and the judge was absolutely wrong.  Love him or hate him, Avery has the exact same rights as any one of us – perhaps more given his 18 years of wrongful incarceration.    The judge’s ruling boiled down to this:  he felt that this defense would amount to a “collateral issue.”  Amazingly, he thought that this interpretation of the law would result in Avery accusing “hundreds” of people and devolve into a series of mini-trials despite the fact that the defense limited it to 5 specific people with a specific recitation of facts supporting what they were doing.  The bottom line is that Avery’s guilt or innocence is for the jury to decide but the court, like the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department, were focused on one person alone: Avery.    You can see some limited media analysis here.

Computer Kiddie Porn Acquitals

I have just finished a very complicated (on one level) and simple (on another level) case involving kiddie porn that was found on a computer. The complicated part was challenging the fact that digital imaging technology is of such a sophisticated nature that even experts can’t tell the difference between morphed images and real ones. In other words, the images that are discovered on a computer could have been adult females and simply manipulated to make them look like children.

The simple part was that the charged images were all logged in under my client’s girlfriend’s name! The state argued that my client was the one that actually accessed the pictures because there was a search for “preteen” under his login.

To make a long story short – after a series of computer experts testifying that the images were not morphed and that the children were real, the jury acquitted on all 10 counts.

Needless to say, a very relieved client! What really bothers me, however, is that district attorneys around the state continue to charge these patently weak case. Is it a reaction to public hysteria over sex crimes in general (witness the “rape” cases of 18 year old boys having sex with their 15 year old girlfriends)? Political expediency? Both? Who knows….what is clear is that hundreds, maybe thousands, of people (mainly men) are being charged with very serious felonies when they should not be.

In this case it was a bitter ex-girlfriend who made it very clear that she would do and say most anything to put my client in prison. I was able to prove that she had lied in court on numerous occasions, and actually hatched a plan to get rid of my client months before she turned the computer over to the police.

If anyone doubts the importance of an experienced defense attorney in our system of justice – go ask my client!

John A. Birdsall, Attorney at Law
Birdsall Law Offices, S.C.
135 W. Wells St., Suite 214
Milwaukee, WI 53203
414-831-5468 – Fax
414-831-5465 – Telephone
800-257-4799 – Toll Free