Friday, October 28, 2016

The Acquittal of the Oregon Occupiers

I confess I find this verdict shocking. I can't believe that persons who points a weapon at a police officer or federal agent is allowed to go free.

I am baffled that they would let people get away with this kind of behavior, especially as in other countries, the standard policing response to this is to shoot first and ask questions later.

I was reading the judicial instructions given to the jury in this case. [1]

The complexity of these instructions may account for what verdict has been returned. The jury probably found this level of complexity daunting, and the ten hours of testimony [2] by one of the defendants was able to influence the jury's perspective.

One particular part sticks out to me:

"A conspiracy is a kind of criminal partnership – an agreement of two or more persons to engage in illegal conduct.''
"It is not enough that they simply met, discussed matters of common interest, acted in similar ways or perhaps helped one another."

This essentially leaves the entire judgement open to the perception of what constitutes "agreement" and "illegal".

I have not seen the detailed reports of the case, but it seems that one of the defendants was able to convince the jury that though there was "agreement" - the actions themselves were not "illegal" but rather perfectly legal expressions of the first and second amendment rights of the defendants. The defendant was able to hoodwink the jury into looking at what he was trying to do as opposed to what he actually did.

Given that how much of that kind of con job rests on the ability of the defendant to secure trust in the minds of the jurors, I feel the judgement would have been quite the opposite if the defendant was not from the same ethnic background as the jurors or even if the defendant looked like someone less desirable.

This is beginning to look like a joke in the Onion [3].

I guess that is what is implied in the words "a jury of their peers".

That a judicial system would permit people of a certain ethnicity to go free despite challenging federal agents and police officers with lethal weapons is deeply deeply disturbing.

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