The jury verdict acquitting the guards charged in the beating death of Martin Lee Anderson sparked some controversy on the blog.
In response to our comment about an all white jury acquitting the guards, some readers pointed out that one guard was an Afro-American and one other defendant was Asian.
Other readers commented on the apparent hypocrisy of a blog run by a defense attorney bemoaning the acquittal of defendants.
These are valid comments, and we shall address both of them.
1) There is a lingering opinion, based on decades of horrendous and un-just verdicts, that African American males are not valued by white southern juries when it comes to making a decision about them either as a defendant, or as a victim. This verdict opens old wounds. However, Herald reporter Oh Susannah Nesmith was present throughout the trial, and based on the evidence she saw, she correctly predicted an acquittal. If the evidence was not sufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, then we applaud the jury for doing what they were supposed to do. Whether this case was handled properly is a different matter. What we do know is that a young man was beaten for 30 minutes and died of asphyxiation and no one has been held criminally liable for his death.
2) As defense attorneys, we do not give up our right to see justice done. And sometimes, justice is a verdict of guilt. Beyond our jobs, we are citizens of this town, this community, this state, and this nation. As Martin Luther King wrote from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama, “Injustice anywhere is Injustice everywhere.”
An additional point is that as defense attorneys, we come in close contact with clients on a daily or weekly basis who complain of mistreatment at the hands of the police or corrections officers. Many of us have defended clients accused of battery of a police officer and been horrified at the booking photo, which shows our client beaten to a pulp. “He fell” is sometimes the response. Or who can forget the defense in the Sweetwater case in which the officer said the defendant repeatedly threw himself into the bars of his jail cell, rupturing his spleen?”
The point is that when our clients enter the system, they become vulnerable. “Who’s going to believe them?” is often the attitude of brutal cops or corrections officers. So when we see some corrections officers charged with brutality- which in and of itself is a rare event- we hope for justice just this once.
If these officers were innocent- the verdict is correct. If they are not, at the moment, they may only have to answer to their maker for their actions, unless the Feds take over, and we have conflicting thoughts about that.
Its been about three months since a new class of prosecutors and PDs descended upon our humble work place.
How are things going? Do you enjoy your job? What do you think about the REGJB?
We’d like to know.
On it goes. Rumpole and CK locked in a battle of wits. (CK is clearly not a robed reader or this would have been over a long time ago.)
Both of us won our games this past Sunday, so we proceed to week seven.
We had a winning week to get us back in the black, and we can’t help but crow about our prediction of the game of the week. We said Cheaters 45- Cowpokes 30. Documented Sunday morning before the game. Final score: Cheaters 48- Cowpokes 27. Not bad at all.
See You In Court.