First of all, “technicality” is a bullshit term coined by prosecutors who screwed up. It is designed to make people think that justice has been cheated and that if only we didn’t have all of this draconian due process making their lives difficult we would not have any crime at all.
It’s not a legal term and to some extent it means whatever the hell you want it to mean, but in the conventional sense of the word (with the facts as we know them) Ryan Braun did not escape a 50 game suspension on a technicality. Here’s why.
Let’s say that you’re driving around with a bag of cocaine in your trunk. You’re also wearing a Minnesota Vikings knit cap. A cop, who also happens to be a Packer fan pulls you over despite the fact that you were going the speed limit, all your lights work, etc.
The cop decides to give you a really hard time and searches your car. He does so with no probable cause and no warrant, but he finds your cocaine. Oh, and his dash cam records the whole thing while your iPod gets all the audio.
At trial, it is clear from the tape that you are guilty, however it is equally clear that the cop in question violated your 4th amendment rights and the judge excludes your giant bag of cocaine, the video, etc. With no evidence you go free.
This, I contend, is a technicality. We have excellent evidence that you are guilty, however, because the state abused its authority in trying to put you away, we exclude perfectly good evidence (and we know it’s good as we have video, a fine chain of custody, etc.), because the state was morally and legally wrong in their tactics.
You are driving along at night when all of a sudden an ocelot cuts in front of your car. It’s pretty large and you swerve out of the way. A cop sees your erratic driving and pulls you over at which point he administers a field sobriety test. You pass, however he still wants more testing as he thinks you are hopped up on goof balls. The cop takes you to the station. At the station you pee in a cup in front of a nurse and the sample is sent off (with a few other samples of people who were also picked up that night) to a lab for analysis via courier.
The courier gets to the building he thinks is the lab however, being a courier, he’s stoned out of his gourd and mistakes a bank next door for the lab. The bank is closed so he takes the samples home with him for the weekend figuring he will deliver them on Monday. When he gets home he sets his backpack down on the floor where it sits for two days wedged comfortably between the radiator and the courier’s smoldering bong, except for a brief period on Saturday night when, during a raging kegger, a few of the courier’s friends set out some of the samples as part of their beer pong* pyramid. While never confirmed, there is speculation that said samples may have needed “replacing” when one of the party-goers “got hot” and managed to hit dead center on several consecutive shots, resulting in the standard beer pong penalty.
On Monday he delivers the samples, however his little side trip is discovered and the judge throws out your case because, as he states in his opinion:
“Couriers, while on their trusty bicycles, outdoors or in their original location or terminus, are perfectly fine methods of conveyance, however evidence which, even for brief moments, is exposed to a courier’s residence must be looked upon with great skepticism. If I was relying on a courier to safeguard a knife or a gun and he took it home for the weekend, I would not be surprised on Monday to find the weapon replaced with a NES light zapper or a set of Nerf Fencing, and here we are talking about large, tangible objects. With something as delicate as hermetically sealed organic samples it would be miraculous if, on Monday, the courier actually managed to emerge with some form of liquid at all. This court will not subject the defendant to such uncertainties where his very liberty is at stake.”
And there’s your key difference. Technicalities check totalitarianism. They punish the state for acting too much like a military dictatorship. For breaking the rules the protect people from overzealous officers.
In Braun’s case, the “technicality” actually calls into question the evidence itself. We do not know if he actually took any steroid (or anything else) because his sample is, frankly, garbage.
As the facts currently stand, the only things we have solid evidence for are the lack of proper procedures at MLB’s testing facilities.
*Some people call this “Beirut”. They are wrong.