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Updated 02 March 2016

Yawn, yawn, snooze: Oscar’s Defense potters around

Health24's CyberShrink Prof Simpson asks "What is Oscar's defence up to? "And where's the beef"?

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It’s getting increasingly hard to figure out what on earth Oscar’s defense is up to.

They seem to be wandering around in a thick mist. On Tuesday 6 May 2014, yet again they wasted everybody’s time by adjourning very early, doing precisely what on Monday they promised never to do again. If this is a tactic, it’s a lousy one. Or does it reflect turmoil in the team?

These are highly experienced and successful lawyers, so it’s not incompetence or random. Sometimes we see this sort of thing where there’s a very strong-willed client insisting on calling the shots and ignoring good advice from their legal team.

They may be trying to dance around conflicting and unreasonable demands from a client, trying to minimize damage.

If the client demands that they call Expert witnesses to support a specific story or “version” of events he wishes to convey, it may not be possible to find any genuine experts prepare to twist the facts to support a view they don’t genuinely hold.

Read: CyberShrink on the utterly astonishing Mr Dixon

And if they have agreed, as in their expert opinion one particular version could be valid, if you change the story, they may be unable to deform their views to match, and if honourable, would insist on withdrawing from the case.

Of course there are a few sinuous and athletic “experts” whose “opinions” are flexible and for openly for sale, but wise, experienced and honest judges and magistrates soon get to know them and would treat their evidence with the contempt it deserves.

He who pays the piper calls the tune, and if he has no musical sense, it may become a really sour tune.

Read: Melodramatics, bias and the mystery of the 'dog in the night'

Where’s the Beef?

There was a famous American TV ad proclaiming how meaty some chain’s burgers were, showing indignant customers at other stores, waving an alternative burger and asking loudly: ”Where’s the beef?”

That’s the relevant question with Oscar’s defence. We were led to believe we’d hear from a dazzling line of stunning experts who would show us not only that Oscar’s version of events was credible, but irresistibly probable. This absolutely hasn’t happened.

Poor old Dixon by rambling around putting his foot in other people’s areas of expertise made it difficult for any actual experts to testify on these topics.

If they agree with what he said, they will look just as naïve and ill-informed; and if they contradict him and dismiss much of his evidence, they confuse everyone.

Dixon reminded me of what a wise old Prof. once said to be about a similarly disappointing colleague. He pointed out that some of us have had 18 years of experience, while others have had one year of experience 18 times over.

Camouflage witnesses.

The witnesses we did hear from showed Nel’s wisdom in deciding not to call them. On Monday there were the Standers, with Mr. Stander’s melodramatic aria of bias begging us to pity Oscar and ignore Reeva.

They added nothing useful. Their attempt to support Oscar’s case by insisting that he had oddly stated his claim to have mistaken Reeva for an intruder filed and must fail. Legally, such evidence is technically inadmissible and should have been identified as such emphatically at the time.

If his statement was untrue and strategic, no amount of repeating it makes it any less false ; and the truth doesn’t get any truer.

Read: How to spot a liar

The neighbours who testified on Tuesday were nice and believable people, but contributed nothing to the matter. They reminded us that, surprising as it may seem, people can sleep through gunshot and other noises, even in these luxury estates with huge houses on tiny plots, so they’re almost as close as in a squatter camp.

And they supported the act which absolutely nobody has challenged, that Oscar made a great deal of distressing noise after Reeva was shot. This is compatible with guilt, accident or innocence, so gets us no further forward.

Indeed, they were used as a sort of camouflage, to delay the proceedings until either a real and useful expert could be found, or marking time until the turmoil behind the scenes got resolved.

Whoever testifies next will suffer the burden of being a major anticlimax after all the flim-flam (well, mainly flam) and multiple disappointments.

Thus far Roux has been showing us the goldfish, while hiding the sharks. Supposing he really has any sharks.

*Opinions mentioned in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Health24.com

Read more:

What does Reeva's last meal say?
Why was Oscar vomiting in court?
What happens when somebody is shot?
How blood spatter analysis works
Stay updated on everything to do with the Oscar Pistorius trial at News24.com

Ask CyberShrink your pressing questions about the Oscar trial, or psychology matters




Professor MA Simpson is Health24's CyberShrink. A South African psychiatrist, he qualified in medicine and in psychiatry in Britain. He has been a senior academic, researcher, and Professor in several countries. Read more of his columns.

 

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