A Kentucky prosecutor who tried to illustrate the phrase “beyond a reasonable doubt” erred when asking prospective jurors to consider if it was “reasonable” to believe the prosecutor could beat both Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy at golf.
There was a time when Woods was invincible on the golf course and “reasonable doubt” would be more than sufficient to describe an ordinary golfer’s chances of beating the 15-time major champion. But the Court of Appeals of Kentucky held last Friday that the golf analogy violated the legal prohibition against defining reasonable doubt. However, the error was found to have not impacted the judicial proceeding in such a way as to warrant a reversal in the drug-possession case.
In 2019, Maurice Gasaway was convicted of possession of heroin and marijuana in Hardin County. He was sentenced to three years and thirty days in prison. Gasaway appealed on several grounds, including the reasonable doubt definition.
Gasaway hadn’t raised the golf objection during his trial, meaning it wasn’t “preserved” for an appeal. Appellate courts often deem as waived objections that could have been raised during the trial. When appellate review of unpreserved objections is allowed in Kentucky, relief is to be granted only if a “manifest injustice resulted.”
During jury selection for Gasaway’s trial, one prosecutor noted that beyond a reasonable doubt “is the highest standard in the legal community” and then clarified, “I didn’t say beyond any doubt.” After stressing that both sides’ attorneys are barred from attempting to define this distinction between “any doubt” and “reasonable doubt”, the prosecutor then introduced a so-called “example.” The prosecutor, who mentioned playing golf from time-to-time and asked prospective jurors if they had heard of Woods and McIlroy, made the following remarks:
But, who in here believes if I was to go out and play golf with [Rory] and Tiger, that it’s possible, possible that I could beat them in nine holes? Does everyone agree it’s possible? Anything’s possible. Both their arms could fall off. Okay. It’s possible. Maybe extreme, but it’s possible. Anything could happen, okay.
Is it reasonable to believe that I would beat both of them? No. No, it’s not reasonable. Um, it’s not. If you play golf, you know it’s not reasonable.
Does everybody understand the difference between possible and reasonable though? Okay. Now, does everybody agree to hold this man responsible for his actions if I meet my burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt?
Writing for the Court of Appeals, Judge Jeff Taylor stressed that while prosecutors are allowed to define what reasonable doubt is not, they can run afoul of the law by adding hypotheticals. “The Commonwealth [of Kentucky]”, Judge Taylor reasoned, “provided a lengthy hypothetical that juxtaposed what is reasonable versus what is possible . . . [and thus] violated the prohibition against defining reasonable doubt.” At the same, the judge found the prosecutor’s “unpreserved error” did not “seriously affect the fairness” of the proceeding, which showed “overwhelming evidence” to support the conviction.
This isn’t the first time the improbability of a prosecutor beating Woods has surfaced during trial proceedings. In 2015, the Court of Appeals of Kansas considered in State v. Peters whether prospective jurors should have heard a prosecutor tell them the following:
I could go out today, and I could play Tiger Woods in golf. And, you know, it’s, you know you could have a doubt, you know, that Tiger Woods is going to beat me in 18 holes of golf today, but is that a reasonable doubt?
Is that reasonable doubt to think that, like, Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson or any of these guys, is that reasonable to think that they’re going to lose to me? You know, I’m, just some weekend hack out on the golf course. Is that reasonable to think they’re going to lose to me? No, that’s not a reasonable—that’s not reasonable to think that.
While the Kansas court stressed “the golf analogy’s use in the future is strongly discouraged,” it nonetheless concluded the “Tiger Woods golf analogy did not cause a fundamental failure in Peters’ trial.” This was because the prosecutor and judge had “repeatedly stated the correct reasonable doubt standard for the jury to use during deliberations for the remainder of the trial.”
Perhaps the best play for prosecutors is to leave their golf analogies “in the bag.”
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‘Not going to happen’: Golf fans shattered over Tiger Woods news
Golf fans have been left saddened after it emerged Tiger Woods is unlikely to make an appearance at the Ryder Cup this weekend.
Team USA will battle Team Europe in golf’s annual teams event at Whistling Straits.
However USA captain Steve Stricker revealed on Tuesday that Woods is unlikely to make an appearance after previously flagging that he might.
Woods sustained serious injuries after crashing his SUV on February 23 in the Los Angeles County city of Rancho Palos Verdes.
The 45-year-old is recovering from open fractures to his tibia and fibula, which needed a rod inserted to aid healing, and also foot and ankle injuries that needed screws and pins placed to aid in stabilisation.
“Probably not going to happen,” Stricker said of the possibility of Woods showing up to watch the Ryder Cup.
“He’s been, you know, obviously in my ear a lot and I call him pretty regularly. He’s part of our Ryder Cup team.
“He’s part of what we do. He’s been part of so many of these teams.”
Stricker said some of the American players had visited Woods ahead of the Ryder Cup, but it wasn’t the right time for the 15-time major champion to attend the event.
“I think it’s just not a good time for him to be here physically because of where he’s at in his rehabilitation and tough course to walk,” he said.
“Everybody is going to see it, from tee-to-green, it’s difficult. So probably won’t show up.
“But he’s getting better and his focus and mine is on making a comeback to play again.
“We don’t want to get in the way of that because we would all love to see him come back and play.”
Tiger Woods continuing rehabilitation after car accident
Earlier this month, Stricker said Woods is continuing his rehabilitation from the accident “to get better and try to play golf again”.
“He’s very passionate about (the Ryder Cup). He’s a great guy to talk to. He’s a great guy to lean on. We’ve had a number of talks,” Stricker said.
“He’s a part of this Ryder Cup family; he won’t be able to be a captain’s assistant this time around just because of his ongoing rehabilitation to try to get better and try to play golf again, and that is going well.
“He’s progressing, he’s doing well, things are moving in the right direction.”
The last words from Woods publicly about his recovery came in late May when he said he was focused on “walking on my own.”
He was hospitalised for almost a month after the crash.
Woods played three events in the 2020-21 PGA Tour season, most recently the 2020 Masters that was delayed until November, as he was recovering from back surgery.
The Ryder Cup begins September 24.
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Tiger Woods girlfriend: Moment Tiger whispers ‘I Love You’ to Erica Herman after HUGE win
TIGER WOODS celebrated his first victory in five years at the Tour Championship in Atlanta, Georgia, on Sunday with girlfriend Erica Herman – watch as the couple embrace and the golf star whispers “I love you” to his girlfriend.
Tiger Woods, 42, look jubilant with girlfriend Erica Herman as he celebrated his 80th PGA tour win.
In the moments after the win, the former number one went straight to his girlfriend who showered him in affection.
The 33-year-old was supporting her beau from the side of the green and rushed over to congratulate him on his victory.
Video footage shows the moments after the win when the golf star wrapped his arms around Ms Herman, who greeted him with a kiss.
The golf icon has been dating Erica Herman since at least November last year.
The 33-year-old brunette works in the restaurant industry.
According to US publication Heavy, she was the general manager at the golfer’s restaurant, The Woods Jupiter, for several months.
Ms Herman can often be seen supporting Woods around the world as he competes.
Mr Woods took a three-shot lead over Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose into the final day at East Lake and held on pick up the 80th PGA title of his career.
Only a dramatic birdie on the 18th from Rose prevented the American star from claiming the overall FedEx Cup title as well.
Of his Tour Championship victory, Woods said: “I just can’t believe I’ve pulled this off. It’s been tough.
“I’ve had it not so easy the last couple of years and worked my way back and couldn’t have done it without the help of everyone around me.”