Saturday, August 9, 2008

I was just following orders

Here is a video discussing the aftermath of the Charlie Lynch trial. 

Forgetting about the horrible abuse of power that was the prosecution of Mr. Lynch, what is most depressing to me about this was the Jury Foreman's response to after the trial. She (Kitty Meese) can be heard, starting at 1:02 into the video, making this horrifying statement:

"We found Mr. Lynch guilty on all five indictments. I think the majority of us thought he was a nice man with good intentions who didn't stay within the parameters of the federal law. Under the federal law we had no choice but to find [him] guilty."
The key phrase here is "no choice."

Kitty Meese, as well as her fellow jurors, is a symbol of everything that is wrong with our justice system.

Her sheepish sentiment that she isn't responsible for her decision; that she had to follow the law. She had to accept the states argument that it was acting justly without question. She couldn't question the appropriateness of the prosecution or the law used to justify it. Her judgement meant nothing and she wasn't responsible for the outcome of her decision. She had no choice.

This woman is morally reprehensible in my view.

First let me say that I despise drugs and drug users and very little philosophical sympathy for drug users, per se. My beef here is with tyrannical federal power that goes unchecked because of the meekness of those whose responsibility is to check it: the people.

Mrs. Meese is not without culpability here, just like the nazi officers who claimed to be just following orders. She isn't simply a cog in a machine or a part of the process. She is the process. She, and the eleven other jurors, are ultimately the ones responsible for what happens to Mr. Lynch. It is their responsibility not only to judge the facts of the case but whether the prosecution was just or the law constitutional.

What keeps the government from passing and enforcing oppressive laws? Juries.

What keeps the state from arbitrary, political, or personally motivated prosecutions? Juries.

The weapon of juries is the process of jury nullification. Their justification for its use should not be racism, celebrity awe, favoritism, etc. but rather the rational, independent judgement of each individual on the jury. 

Mr. Lynch may spend as much as one hundred years in jail for a prosecution based on a 5-4 supreme court judgement and the jury's morally responsibility is absolute. The state can't be blamed for abusive prosecutions, that's the nature of the government. What is supposed to keep the state in check is the people, by way of juries. Mrs. Meese and that jury abandoned their responsibility and tried to claim helplessness. The truth is that they cowardly ran from their greatest civic responsibility.

Mrs. Meese obviously lacks the moral courage or integrity to live in a free society and all of us will pay the price for it.

No comments: