American justice is still a work in progress. Once we finish flushing white corruption from it (if Donald Trump represents anything, it’s white corruption) the rule of law will finally have a chance to flourish. I believe it will because a diverse America will keep an eagle eye on it. One of the clever bits of design to our system is trying people before a “jury of their peers”. Citizens – armed only with the law – judge other citizens. Is the jury system perfect? Nothing is. But juries made up of diverse Americans have a pretty good track record of interpreting the law and then rendering justice fairly.
While some in the punditry fear the uncertainty and challenge of getting twelve people to convict, recent dispatches from the “jury front lines” should lay those fears to rest.
The Alex Murdaugh Jury
Start with the jury that convicted Alex Murdaugh in just under three hours after a six week trial. Throughout the trial, the punditry insisted that the jury was as confounded as they were by this skilled, legally trained sociopath. The jury however was not confounded. Not one bit.
We’ve learned that the jury’s first vote – upon sitting down by themselves – was nine to three for conviction. I’ve sat on a couple of juries. If those three flipped that quickly? They were guilty votes walking in the door. They just needed the group to validate their impulse first before openly stating it.
“Not guilty” is safe in a group where you don’t know anyone yet. That person is usually more easily persuadable than the person convinced the citizen on trial is guilty.
The Fulton County Grand Jury
The other jury we need to consider here is the Fulton County Grand Jury in Georgia. All indications are that DA Fani Willis will charge Donald Trump and many others with election crimes, fraud and conspiracy. In Georgia, Grand Jury members can legally talk about their Grand Jury experience. That’s what Emily Kohrs, the Grand Jury’s foreperson, did. Of the Grand Jury’s recommendations, Ms. Kohrs said we’re “…not going to be shocked. It’s not rocket science.”
By that she meant, the facts speak for themselves. They don’t require any “interpretation” or parsing. A lie is a lie is a lie and attempts to screw with an election are attempts to screw with an election.
We’ve all heard Donald Trump ask Georgia’s Secretary of State Raffensberger to “find” him 11,780 votes that he did not get. Open, meet shut. One plus one equals two and that’s the end of it. No negotiations required, thank you very much!
Our punditry and journalists WILL express shock when it happens. I find that shocking!
That’s why we’ll be far better off leaving Donald Trump’s fate to a jury.
Juries I Have Known
One of the two juries I sat on was a civil trial. A long-time engineer at LA’s Metropolitan Transportation District accused his bosses of firing him because ageism. We found for the engineer. Now, while we connected with him emotionally far more than we did with the cold, calculating MTA suits, what sold us on where justice lay was the MTA’s internal communications. While none of the communications ever said “he’s too old”, we got the subtext clearly. By “too old”, the MTA meant “too expensive”. They understood that it would be cheaper to fire this engineer and hire someone younger (at a far lower pay scale). Even with the cost of training a young engineer, it was still less expensive to train them rather than keep the older, wiser, more experienced engineer.
We hoist the MTA on the petard of its own corrupt words. And then we delivered a huge pain and suffering reward. We spoke clearly with that reward as to where we believed justice lay.
Trump has broken the law and acted criminally out in the open – right in American journalism’s face. Though at least now they call Trump’s lies “lies”, still they refuse to call other things he does by their “adult names”. How long did it take American journalists to call what the Republican Party is doing “authoritarian”? Republicans didn’t just start behaving like this. They’ve been doing it for a generation (Hello, Newtie Gingrich!). But here’s the problem: American journalists insist they must be “neutral”.
By “neutral”, they mean politically neutral. But that assumes that everything “is” political and that everyone acts only for political reasons. Hello, horse shit!
The good news is that Americans are better than American journalists and American journalism. By and large, we’re quite reasonable. Put a bunch of us together – with as much diversity as possible – and we problem solve quite well. We see the truth for what it is – and all the players for who they are.
Give It To A Jury!
America’s jabbering class may fear American juries, but I for one don’t. The sooner we put Donald Trump (et al) in front of juries, the sooner we will see justice delivered. The jury system works!
As the courts have (mostly) backstopped America’s slide into fascism, the jury system has backstopped American justice.
How juicy and ironic that America’s citizens will be America’s ultimate savours!