Here are some of the comments and replies from last weekend:
12 white men (0.00 / 0)
Are they inherently biased?
BMG: Reality-based commentary.
Not inherently, but in this case verifiably (0.00 / 0)
Bob, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that a panel of 12 white men is inherently biased. But a lawyer in this day and age would be nuts not to raise bloody heck if it looked like that was going to be the composition of a jury for a Latino accused of rape. It is well known that people in a homogeneous group feel licensed to say things they might never dream of saying in a more diverse group.
But the problem in Ben’s case goes much deeper than that. In 1987, three years after the conviction, a young AP reporter named John King, who would go on to become the CNN White House Correspondent, started calling up jurors from Ben’s trial. One of them, William Nowick, made the startling revelation that another member of the panel had made bigoted remarks before the trial and during deliberations. Nowick put those into an affidavit. The allegedly offending remarks included: “The Spic is guilty just sitting there, why bother having a trial,” and “Spics screw all day and all night.”
Why do you think people like Deval Patrick and many others got involved with this case? Because Ben is such a sweet talker? I don’t think so. The 1991 SJC ruling in Commonwealth v. LaGuer was a landmark decision in favor of Ben. But the SJC didn’t overturn the verdict, instead punting to the trial court judge who said he just didn’t believe the juror. (It’s a bit more involved than that, but that’s the gist.) That hearing was written up in the May 1994 issue of Esquire Magazine. Look it up. It was a farce.
Please take a look at these two YouTube clips and I think you’ll have a better idea of what I’m talking about:
Part I Part II
Actually, I’d like to put them up as new post, maybe you’d do me the favor of front paging them.
The point is that former Assistant United States Attorney General for Civil Rights did not become interested in this case for idle reasons. It’s an important case and it needs to be taken seriously. The DNA added a wicked twist, which spiraled off into the governor’s race. Right now, if we are going to understand this tangle we need to start advocating for an independent examination of that DNA test.
I enjoy the dialogue and am looking forward to your thoughts.
I’d like to follow it up (0.00 / 0)
If the retrial in 2007/8 had a jury of 12 white men, could it still be fair in your opinion?
And I do want to take a minute to appreciate your unyielding graciousness in this conversation Speaking Out — you are a class act and a great voice for your cause.
“The election of 2006 was a call to change – not merely to change the control of Congress, but for a new direction for our country” — Speaker Pelosi
jury selection (0.00 / 0)
Thanks for the comment. Graciousness on all sides is always appreciated.
As for your question, I wouldn’t want to prejudge the jury selection process. If Ben’s lawyer, James Rehnquist, for instance, with access to all the legal mechanisms at his disposal to ensure that, to the satisfaction of both sides, a fair panel would be selected, then I’d be okay with that. Having said that, I doubt very much that it would be an all white male panel, for the simple reason that the jury pools in Worcester County are much more diverse than they were back then. But if that’s the way it worked out in a fair and open process, then fine.
More comments and questions are welcome.