Well, at the risk of fanning the fire, I’ll jump in on this one too:
From my perspective, both posters (All three posters?) have alluded to some valid points:
Decker was very careful to not ask leading questions during his interviews (at least he was with me.) From a POLICE perspective, then, based on their understanding of the necessity to be very procedural with ALL contact with victims, I’d guess that he thinks that Balfour is a risk, in that she has, over the years had private conversations with some of the victims. There is the potential for the defense to claim that she has planted false memories or divulged information that would influence the witness testimony. This could indeed be dangerous to the prosecution.
On the other hand, the defense would be risking quite a bit actually calling Balfour as a hostile witness. Without interviewing her first, the defense would be risking getting sued by his client for malpractice if Balfour damaged the case. Any questioning that the defense did would potentially leave openings for Balfour to introduce information that that defense has previously successfully argued to have suppressed. Take this COMPLETELY THEORETICAL example:
Theoretical Defense: “Did you ever have a conversation with a victim about what happened in the office?”
Theoretical Balfour: “No, but I did hear a parent talking about one occasion when a victim mentioned seeing nude photos of boys in a “locker room situation” from the child porn book “Coming of Age, which is probably the same one that the police found in ayres’ file cabinet, locked away from his family, in storage right where he left it, right next to all of his patients files! How creepy is that?”
Oops! I’m no lawyer, but I don’t think they could call a mistrial on that, after all, she would have been the defense’s witness…
Defense: “I call for a mistrial!”Maybe I've been drinking too much kool-aide, but I think, as a witness, Balfour is at best a double-edged sword, and Weinberg’s side is dull rusty iron, while the prosecutor’s side is honed steel. Best for both sides to avoid if possible. Don't want to risk tetanus, don't want your head lopped off.
Judge: She’s YOUR WITNESS, you nitwit! Why didn’t you ask her nicely not to mention the book that you had suppressed?
So my summary feeling about all of this:
I like Decker. I think he’s honest and hard working, and from his perspective, Balfour is problematic due to the unknown content of her discussion with the victims.
I don’t think it was EVER actually intended for Balfour to be called as a witness by EITHER side, and I think this became clear to the judge.
I like Balfour, she’s pushed and pushed when no one else would. I think it creates some natural animosity.
For what it’s worth, I’ve had some discussions with Balfour, and prior to writing about some (minor) specifics here on this blog, and in comments on other blogs (after other victim’s testimony was published) the ONLY person who I’ve EVER discussed specifics with was Decker. AND, until seeing the press and bloggers writings about the testimony from the victims, I have never HEARD any information from or about others with regard to what went on in there, other than what was reported early on in the mainstream press (which was largely incorrect in specifics.)
The bottom line at this point is that we now get to focus on the defense’s presentation:
We will get to hear “experts” on memory loss talk about boring and non-relevant minutiae, and we will get to hear character witnesses talk about ayres being a big pillar, and we will possibly get to hear “expert” shrinks perjure themselves talking about how perfectly OK it is for a shrink to enjoy fondling a long string of little boys.
We can all be shocked together if it ever comes to fruition that Weinberg puts Balfour or ayres up on the stand, which will occur if Weinberg wants it to, regardless of anything that has happened in the past, or anything that the prosecutor could have tried to stop it.
Some final thoughts:
If I were on that witness stand testifying, my hope would be that NO ONE BE IN THE COURTROOM, Not Decker, not Balfour, not my parents, not the press, not all of these crazy gadfly bloggers. Not the beast, or his crappy little family.
SO I think I owe a GREAT debt of gratitude to those who had the courage to sit there. And for those that didn’t want to testify: I understand with all of my soul, and I hope that we all can heal quickly, don't let this be an extra burden of guilt. We all have had enough.