Legal Lynching Shames American Justice
Legal Lynching Shames American Justice
Derek Chauvin may well have been guilty of manslaughter. He might even - if we could really see inside his head - be guilty of murder. But at present, despite his conviction, we do not know. That's because he did not receive a fair trial. Derek Chauvin was the victim of a judicial system LYNCHING!
"I very seriously doubt if the petitioner ... has had due process of law ... because of the trial taking place in the presence of a hostile demonstration and seemingly dangerous crowd, thought by the presiding Judge to be ready for violence unless a verdict of guilty was rendered."
That quote fits the case perfectly, but it was not originally written with regard to the conviction of Derek Chauvin in 2021. It Is the great Oliver Wendell Holmes describing the trial of Leo Frank, a Jew convicted of murder in 1913 and eventually lynched by a mob that included prominent officials, after the governor commuted Frank's sentence from death to life imprisonment.
The legally toxic impact of incidents like Maxine Walters' outburst have been recognised throughout US legal history. The Supreme Court reversed the Ohio conviction of Dr. Sam Sheppard in 1966, in part because the trial judge did not sequester the jury and keep it from being influenced by outside pressures.
It does not matter to due process whether the crowd is right or wrong, Black or white, well-intentioned or malevolent. Nor does it matter whether the defendant is guilty, innocent or somewhere in between. Oliver Wendell Holmes correctly pointed out: due process simply cannot be achieved for any defendant in the presence of hostile crowds ready for violence if a verdict of not guilty is rendered. With BLM and Antifa mobs ready and waiting to set America ablaze if Chauvin had been acquitted, his warning certainly applies here.
Like Oliver Wendell Holmes, every American should "very seriously doubt" if Chauvin had "due process of law." He may well be guilty of at least manslaughter, but the process by which he was convicted was fatally flawed, in the same way that the process was flawed in the Leo Frank, Sam Sheppard and other cases. The ACLU, if the shoe were on the other foot, would be demanding a new trial — if the defendant were black, and white crowds were demanding a conviction or else. But the ACLU is no longer a neutral civil liberties organization. It has become a partisan claque that espoused due process for "me but not for thee." Real civil libertarians, who demand due process for all, including guilty police officers, must now take over where the ACLU has left off.
Whether guilty or not, Chauvin should be given a new trial at which the jury is sequestered, as it should have been from the beginning of this one. As an alternate juror candidly acknowledged, she had "mixed feelings" about jury duty, because of concerns about "disappointing" either side and the possibility of "rioting." There is no reason to believe that the unsequestered jurors who actually decided the fate of Chauvin were oblivious to this concern.
The appellate courts should use this case to establish a clear rule that jurors must always be sequestered in racially charged cases where outsiders are threatening violence in the event of a not guilty or reduced verdict. In that way, protesters will have their First Amendment right to demand a conviction, and the defendant with have his constitutional right to due process and a jury that is not influenced by the protesters. In the absence of sequestration, the legitimate protests of the outsiders may well deny the defendant his equally legitimate right to a fair trial. That is unacceptable under the Constitution.
If this does not happen, then white Americans will receive perhaps the most powerful signal yet that they are the new negroes, the new Jews. The new victims of injustice, oppression and institutionally ignored violence. IF that is the case, resistance becomes a duty.