Today in Legal Proceedings: Braunstein and Lidle and Miss America, Oh, My!

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Photo: iStockphoto.com

In the criminal-justice system, as you know, the people are represented by two separate but equally important groups: the police, who investigate the crimes, and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. Then there are the shyster defense lawyers, who try to convince juries that deranged and confessed torturers should get off; NTSB air-safety boards, who can't quite figure out who was flying the plane that crashed into the buildings; and Miss America, who entraps sexual predators. Yesterday was a busy day for all of them, and these are their stories. Da-dum.

First, the Peter Braunstein Halloween-kidnap case got underway in earnest, with the victim recounting her ordeal at the hands of the crazed freelancer. The defense's opening statement offered a gem of a defense: Braunstein's "brain" is "broken." Unlike your average insanity plea, which swaps jail for the psych ward, this unusual tack is aimed at getting the self-admitted attacker off scot-free. Status: It's your witness, prosecution.

And six months after a Yankee's airborne death briefly terrified the city that's had it with the plane-into-building scenarios, the Cory Lidle crash investigation comes to a close with a final hearing and a collective shrug. There's little to no new information regarding the cause of the accident or how to avoid a repeat. Investigators don't even have an idea which of the two men was behind the controls, which coincidentally moots the Lidle widow's insurance claim. Status: That commercial break after the cops are done but before the trial — civil suits, in this case — starts.

Meantime, getting Miss America to star in a televised sex sting as an underage perv lure may sound like a great law-enforcement idea and ratings gold. Unless, that is, the beauty queen flakes on the whole "witness" thing when the time comes to actually prosecute the arrested. The Long Island D.A. says Miss America 2007 Lauren Nelson told him she won't be back to testify — jeopardizing not one but eleven sexual-predator cases she helped build. Status: Let's take a recess.

Fire Fiend's Victim Bares Her 13-Hour Nightmare of Sexual Terror [NYP]
Miss America Won't Testify in Sex Predator Sting [Newsday]
Final Hearing Tuesday for NY Yankees Pitcher's Crash [AP via amNY]