The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘Jury’ Category

A JURY OF YOUR COMPADRES

A few of my more politically extreme acquaintances think that the best thing that could happen to improve America is if a severe earthquake caused the State of California to separate from the North American continent and sink into the Pacific.  As I said, they hold extreme views.  Among their more sanguine comments about California is referring to it as “the land of fruits and nuts.”  Although I might disagree with their analysis, at least for the moment, everyone is entitled to his opinion.

Recently the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that jurors in that state need not be able to speak English and yet be eligible to serve.  This concerns me for several reasons.  The first and most important is that as a kid, I played the game we called “telephone.”  Perhaps you know the game.

One person whispers something to the next person who then whispers it to the next until the message makes its way back to the originator.  The larger the number of people involved in the game, the more distorted the original message becomes.

Perhaps we can look forward to scenes in our Arizona courts that resemble this episode of “I Love Lucy” in which Lucy is arrested for passing counterfeit money:

While there is no reason to believe that translating a statement that a witness or the defendant might make incorrectly or without the nuance that was used in the original statement would be done intentionally, that possibility does exist.  And barring that, at the very least, as we see in the episode, this translating and re-translating slows down what is already a tiresome and laborious process to begin with.  At the very least, we should expect that allowing languages other than English will add to the cost of a judicial system which is already overburdened.

But as far as Arizona has gone, the Golden State is contemplating going yet further.  Governor Brown now has before him a bill which would allow non-citizens to serve on juries.  Since the state has now begun issuing drivers’ licenses to “undocumented individuals,” (non-Americans who are in this country illegally), this next step really shouldn’t surprise any of us.

But I wonder if a case could be made by a person involved in a lawsuit that he or she would not accept any jurors who were not citizens of the United States.  After all, we are supposed to be tried by a “jury of our peers,” and to many of us, part of our “peerdom” is that we are all citizens of this country.  I guess, were I in that position, I would argue, “Yes,” “Si,” “Ja,” “Oui.”

ZIMMER WHO?

For the entire duration of the trial of Public Opinion v. George Zimmerman it was impossible for me to look at Yahoo News without finding at least one update on what was happening in the Florida courtroom where Mr. Zimmerman was on trial for his freedom.  Generally, in Yahoo’s “Top Ten Trending Stories” there was some reference or other to the trial.

Today, George Zimmerman didn’t make it to that list.

Being adjudged not guilty certainly has its benefits – although I wonder if there are many who feel this was a miscarriage of justice and who intend to rectify that by personally executing their own form of justice on the now-acquitted Mr. Zimmerman.  Those who hold to that opinion are precisely the people who exhibit the same sort of primitive behavior of which Mr. Zimmerman was accused – and found not guilty.

Needless to say, first in the fray to continue the persecution of Mr. Zimmerman were some notables who are as far to the left as one can maneuver while still remaining on planet Earth.  Al Sharpton expressed his outrage and planned on demanding that Atty. Gen. Eric Holder (himself a man of tarnished scruples) pursue a Civil Rights suit against Mr. Zimmerman.  And, it wouldn’t be a good fashion show without a few white models thrown in the mix so Elliott Spitzer (an attorney who swore to uphold the law and broke it by consorting with prostitutes illegally), had his moment to opine over the “miscarriage of justice” that took place in Florida.

As God is my judge, I don’t know how either of these men, if they have a shred of morality left in their souls, can look at themselves in the mirror and say the things that they say.  If I had either of their track records to my credit I would be looking for the deepest cave in which to hide and pray that no one would ever find me.  The shame of having to face another human being would be more than I could handle.  But I guess we’re all different – or I suppose that’s what “diversity” is all about.

In a recent post I said that I would lay odds of ten to one that Zimmerman would be found guilty – not based on the evidence but on the basis of the kangaroo court of public opinion.  Obviously, I was wrong – but beyond that – (I’ve been wrong many times in my life) – I was shocked, stunned and amazed by the verdict.

Frankly, I was agnostic on the whole trial and never watched one second of it – in the same way I never watched any of the O. J. Simpson trial for the murder of his wife and Ronald Goldman.  I don’t find courtroom melodrama particularly interesting and I have better uses for my time.

But now that the trial is over and the verdict has been rendered, I wanted to sit back and analyze why my belief that George Zimmerman would be convicted was incorrect.  So today I did a little digging and a little thinking.

At some point in the past, I had read that Trayvon Martin who was presented as a candidate for “Choir Boy of the Year”  had a rap sheet.  I easily found that he had been suspended from his high school three times – and, in fact, was on suspension when the tragic incident occurred.  This third suspension apparently stemmed from his violating his school’s “zero tolerance” policy for substance abuse.  Apparently a marijuana pipe and drug residue were found in his possession.

Now much has been made of whether Zimmerman actively “stalked” Martin or whether Martin was the aggressor.  And more has been made of the fact that if both men acted more rationally perhaps this entire sad event might have been avoided.  That second statement is probably true.

But what if Trayvon Martin, in light of the fact that he apparently used marijuana at least occasionally, were under its influence the night he died?  That might account for his acting in a way that George Zimmerman found threatening.  Of course, that is pure speculation – but the thought might have occurred to the jury members as they deliberated Mr. Zimmerman’s fate.

But here are the two reasons that I believe that Mr. Zimmerman – at least based on the evidence presented at the trial – is innocent:

First, the jury, despite all the publicity of this trial and all the pressure they must have felt, rendered their verdict quickly.  I would have expected that a quick verdict would result in Mr. Zimmerman’s incarceration.  That suggests to me definitively that the jurors believed that the prosecution had failed to make their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Second, the reaction to the verdict was predictable with calls for vigilante justice from certain elements in American society.  I cannot believe that these six women, were unaware that would be the reaction if they found the defendant not guilty.  And that their own safety might well be threatened by those same individuals.  Rendering a verdict of guilty would have been the easy and safe thing for them to do.  Instead they chose to do the difficult and courageous thing.

None of us will ever know what happened the fateful night that Trayvon Martin died.  But what we do know is that a fair trial of the accused was conducted and the jury found him not guilty.  If we believe in the rule of law, each of us needs to accept that and move on.

Otherwise, we follow the same hateful path that organizations such as the KKK walk.

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