In Baltimore last week, Marilyn Mosby, the Prosecutor for the City of Baltimore, MD, announced that she will no longer pursue cases for marijuana offenses. Now… the BPD disagrees with the new policy and have made it clear that the arrests will continue. This disagreement seems to call the entire purpose of the policy into question, but it also raises bigger questions. One of which hearkens back to one of the most sensational trials of the mid-1800s.
Back in 1865, something happened in Springfield, Missouri that had not really happened before. And frankly, really didn’t happen as much as Hollywood and Zane Gray make it seem that it did. William Hickok and Little Dave Tutt found themselves face-to-face in the street. Somebody drew first and when the dust settled, Little Dave Tutt was dead.
Mr. Hickok, “Wild Bill,” as you know him, was charged with murder based on the twenty-two witnesses to the fight. A few days later, as stories changed, the charges were reduced to Manslaughter and the trial began. The witnesses seemed all over the place. Was there one shot, or two? Did you see who drew first? You were behind one of the men so you really couldn’t see what happened? Wait… you say he never fired but you admit that there is an empty chamber in his pistol?
At the time, the State of Missouri had no “self-defense” law on its books. Which meant that either Hickok shot Little Dave Tutt or… well… he did shoot Tutt. The law won’t recognize his self-defense claim, so there’s no way to instruct the jury to accept it. Or… is there?
Which has me wondering if there isn’t a better way for We the People to let our wishes be known than to have DA’s with more political aspirations than an understanding of their oaths telling us what they will and won’t do?
Many years ago, back in the 1970’s, you could, on rare occasions, actually learn something watching a TV crime drama. And so it was that way back when, Dave watched an episode of Quincy, M.E., during which he learned a fact about how Jury trials can work that he retains even today. That single fact is helpful when we recall the purpose of the Jury is to serve as a mighty bulwark against government. To make certain that government isn’t allowed to just run roughshod over accused citizens.
At the same time, that simple fact also makes certain that a person who is guilty can’t hide behind confusion and misdirection.
Back in 2012, a man stood accused of hacking into PriceWaterhouse and stealing the Romney’s tax returns, which he threatened to release to the highest bidder if he didn’t get paid $1Million in digital currency. The self-named “Dr. Evil,” was about as competent as his nom de guerre, and ended up in the custody of the US Secret Service, who take a dim view of people threatening potential Presidents with blackmail. He denied being involved, of course, and eventually found himself sitting in front of a Jury as the Secret Service laid out their digital case against him.
It was extremely complicated, and for people who aren’t computer experts, somewhat confusing. To make sure that the Jury understood the case, the Judge allowed the same thing that Dave learned watching Quincy, M.E., all those years ago to happen…
The most remarkable thing about the Bundy trial up in Oregon isn’t the verdict or the insane aftermath. It’s the number of people who are just now realizing that Jury’s have the power and – if you were to read the Framers – the responsibility – to nullify government laws and actions.
Why do you think that the Anti-Federalists and other Framers were so insistent on the Jury system? The myth is that any of the rights enumerated in the Constitution are “more important” than any other. Yes, we all have our favorites and yes, Washington himself said that the 2nd “puts the teeth in the 1st,” and so on. But without all of them, acting in concert together, we’d see the slow erosion of all of them. Particularly the ones we have wrongly deemed “most important.” Read the rest of this entry