State v. Tyler Frost: Please read the facts and answer the questions. What ethical system(s)like (Aristotle/virtual ethics, Kant/ formalism, John S. Mill/Utilitarianism) support your decisions? Please explain your positions!
You are one of seven lawyers in a small law firm in texas. Your firm focuses on criminal defense and occasionally handles some high profile civil suits (mainly to pay the bills!). Most recently, you were appointed by the judge to act as the defense counsel in the state’s capital murder case against Tyler Frost. Although you have represented murder defendants in the past, this is your first capital case. Tyler has been a janitor at one of the residential halls at Arizona State University for the last ten years. In the past few months since returning from Christmas break, three students have disappeared from the residence hall where Tyler works: two 19-year old females (Romey and Michelle) and one 20-year old male (Justin). Most recently, the male co-ed was found dead in the common bathroom shared by residents on the hall’s first floor. His throat had been cut. Next to his body and lying in a pool of blood was a copy of the CD single “Respect” by Aretha Franklin. Not without coincidence, this same CD single was found in both of the missing female student’s dorm rooms, also in pools of the missing girls’ blood. The bodies of Romey and Michelle have yet to be found, although it is expected that there is a connection between the three killings. Tyler’s fingerprints were found on the desk chairs in each of the girl’s rooms. Also, his prints were found on the sink next to where Justin was murdered. Tyler was seen in his work coveralls near the girl’s rooms and in the bathroom shortly before the students disappeared/were murdered. Police questioned Tyler about the killing and disappearances. Smug throughout, he remained silent until the end of the questioning. That’s when he told the police, “If anyone deserved to die, it was these three college brats; all they did was disrespect good people and make fun of the little guys.” Tyler is charged with all three murders.
1. Tyler grew up in a poor underprivileged household. His mother worked three jobs and had four children, all by different men. She received no child support and was never married to any of them. If Tyler and his siblings were lucky, they would see there mom in the morning before they went to school, as she came home from her third shift custodian position at one of the local motels. Tyler’s mother has been the only support throughout his life and she is taking an active role in participating in her son’s case. She calls you regularly about the status of the case and inquiring what, if anything, she can do to be helpful. She called eight times in the last four days and you have yet to return her call. Is this acceptable? Why or why not?
2. In your first interview with Tyler, he is wearing a white short sleeved t-shirt. You notice a swastika tattoo on one arm and a KKK symbol on the other. Your spouse is Jewish and her grandmother was a holocaust survivor. Tyler tells you he’s glad you’re not one of those “damn kike attorneys” that make money hand over foot. What do you do?
3. In your second meeting, Tyler tells you he needs to purge his conscience. “I did it, okay? I killed all those snotty kids and they deserved it. They didn’t appreciate me or the work I did. They needed to be taught some respect and discipline. Besides, I think the women were part black anyway and we just can’t have this race-mixing going on. That white boy needed to stay away from those half breeds.” Tyler also tells you that he told his mother all of this as well. What are you going to do?
4. In your third meeting, Tyler tells you that he saw the parents of the two females on TV. He describes how the families were begging for any information for the whereabouts of their children. Tyler then tells you where the bodies of the girls are buried. He hid them in a cave out in the Usery Park Recreation Area, approximately 1.5 miles from the trailhead. He asks you not to tell anyone. What now?
5. When you get back to your office, Tyler’s mom is there waiting for you. She pulls a paper bag out of her purse and empties its contents on your desk. Inside is a bloody knife. She said she found it under Tyler’s bed in his room. She also tells you that she found a pair of bloody coveralls in the laundry basket, but that she didn’t want to bring them into the office since they are so badly stained. What do you do?
6. In your fourth meeting you learn that there may be a problem with the statements Tyler made to the police. The police were very civil during the interrogation and even bought Tyler dinner from the police chief’s favorite Mexican take out place down the road from the station. However, it looks like the police forgot to read him his Miranda rights. What now?
7. On your way home from the office, you receive a call from one of the other attorneys, William Kensington, who seems particularly excited for a Thursday evening. Will tells you that the families of the two slain co-ed girls have just left your firm. They have retained Will as their lawyer in a suit against Arizona State University for the deaths of their daughters. Will tells you this will be a goldmine for the firm. What should you do?
8. A publisher from the Oxford Press calls you. He wants to write a book about Tyler’s life. He figures since you are representing him in the criminal case, you could just as easily handle representing him with regard to literary and media rights. What do you do?
9. You are also handling another case with this prosecutor. Your other case is a home invasion case where your client broke into the house of an 80 year old blind woman, threatened her with a gun by putting it in her mouth, and then stole all her cash (which was found in his possession, still folded in the unique style employed by the victim). The prosecutor offered to cap the prison sentence at three years (your guy faces ten if convicted, which he surely will be). But you decided to go to trial. You suggest to the prosecutor that you’ll get your burglar to take the plea, if she offers you a plea to life imprisonment in Tyler’s case. Is this good business?
10. Trial time. The prosecution has just rested and now it is your turn to present evidence. Tyler is insistent on testifying. In fact, he says all he wants to do is get on the stand, look the jury in the eyes, and say, “I could never do something like this; I love those college kids.” What do you do?
11. On a break from trial: The prosecutor approaches you and asks if your client is still willing to plead. What do you do?
12. No plea from Tyler. The prosecutor is now in the middle of closing arguments. At one point, she says “Put yourself in the victim’s shoes; how would you feel if this man did this to your daughters?” She ends with the comment, “It is clear that the defendant is unable to explain away his guilt. If you don’t convict this guy, you could be next.” Any problems?
13. It looks as if the case against Tyler isn’t as strong as you thought it would be. There is a real chance for a hung jury. Will you argue his life’s circumstances in your closing to evoke some sympathy?
14. You see that the jury isn’t buying your closing argument. You feel that your only option now is to discredit the prosecutor. Although a formidable and skilled opponent, you observe that she is rather young and presumably just a few years out of law school. Moreover, her red high heels and low-slung blouses have not gone unnoticed by the jury. What would you do?