American Verdict

The verdict was no surprise. In fact, it was completely predictable.

I, as the prosecutor, had done my part.

Before the trial, at the preliminary hearing, I had introduced evidence to establish probable cause. It wasn’t necessary to prove guilt at the preliminary hearing. Just evidence to show that the case should go to trial. It was at trial that all evidence would be – or at least, should be allowed to be – produced.

Unfortunately for the cause of justice, we’re a community of one judge of general jurisdiction. And the judge was a friend, colleague, crony – even co-conspirator, I would darkly hint – with the man I was obliged to charge with the crime.

To say it was a “kangaroo court” gives disservice to kangaroos.

At the trial, the defense made a motion to disallow any evidence that I might present. It was ridiculous, of course, and my rebuttal laid out why.

Still, the judge granted the request. We would have a trial, but I could present no evidence.

“How can this be, Your Honor? How can a trial be held without evidence?”

The judge replied, “I’ll look at the transcript from the preliminary hearing.”

Of course, I protested. The preliminary hearing was just meant to establish a foundation for trial. It wasn’t all the evidence. It was never designed to be all the evidence. Otherwise, we would be holding two trials.

In vain, I protested. There were key documents and key testimony that was yet to be heard.

The judge demurred. “I don’t need to hear it.”

“But Your Honor, it’s relevant and probative!”

“I don’t need to hear it. Make your argument on the merits.”

My frustration grew. “Your Honor, how can I argue the merits when you won’t let me present them?”

And then the coup de grâce from the judge.

“If you have no evidence to present, the Court must dismiss the case based on lack of evidence.”

I tried not to turn apoplectic. “Your Honor, there is evidence! You just won’t let me present it!”

“I need relevant evidence.”

“It is relevant! Witnesses who were there!”

“I don’t see the relevance of that. Why don’t you do something productive rather than to bring this trial?”

“Your Honor, I have filed hundreds of cases this year, and you have not acted on but a handful. The others were dismissed for lack of speedy trial. I have been productive.”

“Don’t be disrespectful! Make your argument.”

So, yes, I made my argument, an argument based on the evidence at the preliminary hearing, which was never designed to make the case for conviction. And the defense, in his argument, ridiculed me for having no evidence, even knowing of the evidence that existed but was denied.

The judge made his inevitable ruling, and defendant walked, secure in the knowledge that he could go wreak the same wrongs on the public that he had been doing without consequences.

There is one hope I yet have. In the next election, the judge will be up for retention by the voters. If only the public could be made aware of his transgressions. Rational people could not let such a judge continue.

But to make that case for the public, I would need two things:

An actual thinking public.
A way to deliver that message.

If only.

— Grandpa

Comments

  1. Cindi Lynch says:

    To say it was a “kangaroo court” gives disservice to kangaroos. I’m going to quote the hell out of this!!!

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