The ends can’t justify the means
by Mark Luedtke
This may come as a surprise to most Americans, but judges and prosecutors, like all politicians, are not Jesus Christ. They’re not angels. They’re not saints. In the most fundamental way, they’re normal people like everybody else. Like you and me, they work to advance their personal economic interests. They want a nicer house, nicer cars and a vacation house on the beach. They want to send their kids to the best private schools. They use the justice system to advance their careers. They work to get re-elected or promoted to higher office.
But American voters don’t elect prosecutors and judges who are “soft on crime.” Voters want convictions. Therefore the police, prosecutors, the prosecutor’s stable of so-called experts, the judge and every other criminal justice system official focuses on convicting as many people as possible regardless of guilt because that’s how they improve their standard of living.
Don’t take my word for it. Watch several trials, especially the preliminary hearings. See the charade for yourself. Take your kids during the summer. At least look up the Innocence Project.
The corrupt nature of courts used to be common knowledge before government seized monopoly control over schools. That’s why in the past, when people were better educated, they created the jury system. The only thing standing between the awesome destructive power of the state and a poor sap targeted by criminal justice agents is a jury.
Judges and prosecutors hate that 12 serfs stand between them and a new vacation house, so they systematically marginalize juries. Police, prosecutors and propagandists try and convict the accused in the media to bias prospective jurors before they’re conscripted. Prospective jurors are conscripted from the list of registered voters because registered voters are invested in the political system. They identify with the prosecutor, judge and police so they’re likely to trust them. Jurors are not allowed to know anybody involved in the case to make sure they won’t identify with the accused or his attorney. The judge browbeats reluctant jurors with rhetoric about duty and valuable service, then forces them to work essentially without pay, subservient. The judge and prosecutor don’t work for free. Jurors are barred from seeking information about the case from any source outside the courtroom to insure that all information they receive is spoon-fed to them by government agents. They are barred from questioning witnesses or examining the scene independently.
Prosecutors demand jurors check their brains at the door and rubber stamp their claims. They kick professionals off the jury out of fear they might think for themselves.
Jurors’ self-interest also biases them toward conviction because if they acquit a real criminal, that criminal may harm them in the future. If they convict an innocent person, their lives will be unchanged.
The numbers only hint at the incalculable damage done. Over seven million people are trapped in the U.S. penal system. One in 100 Americans is imprisoned. That’s far more people and a far higher incarceration rate than any other country. The U.S. isn’t the land of the free. It’s the land of the imprisoned.
But every now and then a case like the Casey Anthony case reminds us that the natural decency of the American people can still resist corrupt government power.
The Casey Anthony case illustrated the standard qualities of our conviction system. Police, prosecutors, Nancy Grace and others got a rope and whipped a lynch mob into a frenzy, insuring that every prospective juror was biased toward conviction. Jurors were conscripted, locked up, denied access to media and forced to serve for essentially no pay for weeks.
Prisoners in Guantanamo have more privileges.
The judge allowed the prosecutor to present weeks worth of character assassination as if it was evidence. As if dancing is evidence of murder. The judge allowed the prosecutor to emotionally manipulate the jury with a fictional video of duct tape over Caylee Anthony’s mouth. He allowed the prosecutor to present bizarre, untested evidence about air quality from the trunk of her car. The judge perfectly played the role of pretending to be an unbiased gatekeeper while in reality being a facilitator for the prosecutor. Prosecutors also illegally withheld information from the defense, a common tactic.
But despite the systemic and social bias, the 12 jurors did what they were supposed to do: they judged the prosecutor’s case and found it insufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt even though at least some jurors thought Anthony was guilty.
The state is the most destructive institution ever created, so it’s always a good day when the people check its corrupt application of power, even if it means a murderer goes free. But the lynch mob has turned on the jurors for doing their job. The final straw in our degeneration into a banana republic will occur when the government takes jurors and their families into protective custody ostensibly to protect them from the lynch mobs they incite but in reality to coerce them into convicting. If government’s mob harms a juror, that will open the door for just that.
Mark Luedtke is an electrical engineer with a degree from the University of Cincinnati and currently works for a Dayton attorney. He can be reached at MarkLuedtke@DaytonCityPaper.com