Justice on Trial

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic

This essay examins some recent cases that illustrate that justice s not alway blind in America.

Justice on Trial

A store clerk called the police and told them a man just gave him a counterfeit $20 bill. The police arrived and tried to get the suspect out of his car and into their car. The suspect is a big man, a former football player. He resisted going into the police car for several minutes, then police officers struggled to get him to the ground and handcuffed. One on them then placed his knee of the suspect’s neck and kept it there for seven minutes and 46 seconds.

This is called a conscious neck restraint and is used when a suspect is actively resisting arrest. At the time it was a method authorized and used by the Minneapolis police department. Although the suspect complained that he could not breath many times, the police officer maintained the restraint on him. An ambulance was called, and the suspect was taken to a hospital where he died.

The police officer that used the neck restraint was put on trial. He was accused and convicted of three crimes. Second-degree murder, Third-degree murder, and Second degree manslaughter.

The officer’s defense lawyer claimed that the underlying heart disease, adrenaline and the fentanyl and methamphetamine the suspect had ingested prior to the arrest amounted to a fatal combination that killed him. He called the case "tragic," but said it was an example of "officers doing their job in a highly stressful situation.”

In Minnesota second degree murder is defined as “an intentional killing but the murder is not premediated.” The maximum penalty is 40years in prison.

Third degree murder is not based on the intent to kill. It is often charged as a depraved heart or mind crime. The maximum penalty is 25 years in prison.

 Second-degree manslaughter is killing based on negligence. Maximum penalty is up to 10 years in prison.

The jury’s verdict, guilty of second degree murder, means that they believed that the police officer charged “intentionally” killed the suspect. It means that while he was aware of many people watching and recording what he was doing, he decided to kill the suspect.  If that is the case the officer is the most stupid murder that ever lived.

Third degree murder is more likely what happened. There was no “intent to kill.”  It is more likely a “depraved heart or mind” crime.

Second degree manslaughter is also appropriate, the officer was definitely negligent in the performance of his duties.

Why did the jury believe that the officer intentionally killed the subject? Were they under enormous pressure to come to that verdict? Before the trial was finished President Joe Biden said he was "praying" that the verdict in the murder trial in the death of the suspect would be the "right verdict." Maxine Waters said she was "looking for a guilty verdict."In June of 2020 Vice president Harris had said “It will not be easy” to convict officers charged in the suspects death.

Those are the facts of the trial.  Public outrage was mollified, but was justice served?

 The judge refused a defense request to sequester the jury. Later in the trial he admonished politicians for making what he called irresponsible and disrespectful comments about the case as jurors were sent to deliberate the case. The comments were sparked by Rep. Maxine Waters’s remarks during a rally at Brooklyn Center, Minn., where she said that if the officer was found not guilty in the suspects death, protesters should stay on the streets, “get more active” and “get more confrontational.”

The news media had nonstop coverage of the trial, which consisted of much opinion and replays of the death scene, but not many facts. These are some excerpts from transcripts from various news sources.

CNN 04/20/2021

VAUSE: The jury will resume deliberations in the coming hours but in the meantime this is a Minneapolis and in fact, much of the country, now bracing for protests and the possibility that a not guilty verdict will bring anger and chaos.
With us now, CNN legal analyst, Areva Martin, in Los Angeles.
Thank you for being with, us it's been a long time.

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Good to see you John.

 VAUSE: We have the entire country, now bracing for this verdict.
NELSON: So again a reasonable officer, based on the totality of these circumstances, is going to take all of this information and all of these policies, all of these trainings and a reasonable officer, at that point, would conclude that the amount of force that was being used was insufficient.

NELSON: Was not enough use of force, to overpower Mr. Floyd's resistance to getting into the car.
SCHLEICHER:. This case is not called the State of Minnesota versus the police. It is not. Make no mistake. This is not a prosecution of the police. It is a prosecution of the defendant. There is nothing worse for good police than the bad police.
VAUSE: That may be true for that courtroom, but the big picture is, the police really are on trial here. We just heard from the defense, who had put this argument forward about a reasonable police officer. What would a reasonable police officer do?  Much of the defense's case is kind of a lame argument. In terms of trial strategy, defense can play out for holdouts on the jury. It one argued, it could be enough to make that work, for a hung jury.

CBS news

April 21,2020

The jury — made up of six White people, four Black people and two multiracial people. The jury was sequestered during deliberations, but was not sequestered during the earlier portion of the trial.

In his closing argument, defense attorney Eric Nelson said the state has not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt and has not been able to definitely show how Floyd died.

He said that while the state called a series of experts to testify positional asphyxia was the cause of Floyd's death, it "flies in the face of reason and common sense" to suggest that Floyd's drug use and heart disease did not play a role, Nelson said. 

Nelson has argued a combination of Floyd's underlying heart disease, adrenaline and the fentanyl and methamphetamine he had ingested prior to the arrest amounted to a fatal combination.

Tucker Carlson

March 11,2021

We're going to assess, calmly and as honestly as we can, what happened to George Floyd on Memorial Day. George Floyd’s death was sad. Every death is sad, as we often point out. But the question is: Was it murder?

That question matters deeply, because Floyd’s death has been used to reshape how we live in this country. Because he died, we have something called "equity." Under the pretext of equity, our leaders have enshrined open racism in nearly all of our institutions, from corporate hiring quotas to woke kindergarten lesson plans. Americans have been told that George Floyd’s death was a racist murder, and they’re responsible for it.

Is it likely Derek Chauvin won't receive a fair trial? You may not care, but you should. That should matter to you, regardless of who you voted for. Every American deserves a fair trial, period. That’s the whole point of this country. Equal justice under the law. There is no other point.

The jurors are intimidated. That’s the point of mob justice. The thugs outside the courthouse don't want jurors to focus on the evidence. They know that evidence might not help their case. Most of that evidence hasn’t been seen by most of the American population. The effort to hide that evidence began immediately after George Floyd died. Everyone saw the footage of Derek Chauvin with his knee on George Floyd's neck. It was horrible. It is also confusing. When you watch it, you ask yourself "Why would a police officer act like that? Of course, it must be illegal. No one in the media thought to tell us that, in fact, using a knee to restrain an uncooperative suspect is the official policy of the Minneapolis Police Department. In fact, it’s taught at their academy. But you didn't know that last summer, because our media was busy building a murder case against Derek Chauvin and using it to transform the country, which they successfully have.

Tucker Carlson

April 20,2021

Tuesday afternoon the jurors spoke for many in this country; everyone understood perfectly well the consequences of an acquittal in this case. After nearly a year of burning, looting and murder by BLM, that was never in doubt. Last night, 2,000 miles from Minneapolis, police in Los Angeles preemptively blocked roads. Why? They knew what would happen if Derek Chauvin got off. In the end, he didn’t get off. If given the maximum sentence under the law, he will spend the rest of his life in prison. Is that a fair punishment? Is the officer guilty of the specific crimes for which he was just convicted?

We can debate all that, and we will. But here’s what we can’t debate: no mob has the right to destroy our cities. Not under any circumstances, not for any reason. No politician or media figure has the right to intimidate a jury, and no political party has the right to impose a different standard of justice on its own supporters.

Those things are unacceptable in America, but all of them are happening now. If they continue to happen, decent, productive people will leave. The country as we knew it will be over. So we must stop this current insanity. It’s an attack on civilization.

At stake is far more than the future of Derek Chauvin or the memory of George Floyd. At stake is America. So before we consider the details of Tuesday’s verdict, a bigger question, one we should all think about: Can we trust the way this decision was made?

The promise of our justice system is that it’s impartial, that it’s as fair as human beings can make it.

That political or ethnic considerations will play absolutely no role in jury deliberations. That justice will be blind.

Can we say all of that in this case? And if we can’t, why can’t we?

END OF TRANSCRIPTS.

This case was about racism, but in the past years we have seen a two tier justice system based upon political association. One form of justice for Republican officials and a different form for Democratic officials.

Attorney General Eric Holder (D) was held in Contempt of Congress after refusing to release all documents which the House of Representatives had demanded concerning the Fast and Furious gun walking operation. He did not resign, and no charges were brought. The criminal offense of contempt of Congress sets the penalty at not less than one month nor more than twelve months in jail and a fine of not more than $100,000.

David G. Bowser (R), was accused of misusing government funds by using them to pay for a political consultant to work. Bowser was found guilty of obstruction, concealment and making false statements and sentenced to four months in prison and two years' supervision.

Jeffrey A. Garcia (D) was accused of voter fraud for unlawfully submitting online absentee-ballot requests for thousands of unsuspecting voters. He pled guilty and was sentenced to 90 days in jail and 18 months of probation.

Lisa-Wilson Foley (R) was accused of campaign irregularities and fraud. She was found guilty and sentenced to five months in prison with five months home confinement.  

Roger Stone (R) was indicted. A jury convicted him on seven felony counts. He was sentenced to 40 months in prison.

 Hillary Clinton used a private email server for official public communications rather than using official State Department email accounts maintained on secure federal servers. Clinton's server was found to hold over 100 emails containing classified information, including 65 emails deemed "Secret" and 22 deemed "Top Secret”. Some emails had been sent to her daughter. FBI director James Comey announced that the FBI investigation had concluded that Clinton had been "extremely careless" but recommended that no charges be filed.

The Obama administration brought more charges under the Espionage Act against officials for allegedly mishandling classified information than all other administrations combined since it was signed into law 99 years ago. No charges were filed against Hillary Clinton.

 CIA agent Jeffrey Sterling was convicted for sharing national security documents with a New York Times reporter. He received a sentence of 42 months in federal prison.

American justice is not blind, it can distinguish between a Democrat and a Republican and can be influenced by politicians and the news media.


Submitted: April 27, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Tuxie. All rights reserved.

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