BLM and the state of the USA’s constitutional protections in Utah


Portland has been my focus, because I was on the ground there (I am now away from the city for a week, but I’ll be back). But Portland isn’t the only place where Black lives don’t matter nearly enough, and it’s certainly not the only place where Black Lives Matter is getting into some good trouble:

Black Lives Matter protesters in Salt Lake City have been accused of splashing paint on a road and smashing the windows of the district attorney’s building at a July protest — and now, the charges they face carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Madalena McNeil, the woman who committed the crime of – get this – buying red paint at a store that was later sloshed on a street by a completely different person, is now facing life in prison.

Now, any practicing criminal defense attorney in the USA can tell you more about this kind of injustice in 10 minutes than I will learn in a lifetime, but let me make the injustice of this absolutely clear to the people whose instinct is to shrug and say, “She’ll never actually serve that.” From the DA’s perspective, that is the point:

Despite [District Attorney Slim] Gill upgrading the charges against the protesters, he told the Associated Press that he doesn’t think “anyone is going to be going to prison on this.” Criminal cases are often resolved when defendants plead to lesser counts,

That’s right. The DA himself doesn’t actually think that life in prison would be a just sentence. The DA doesn’t think anyone should expect to spend any time at all in prison for this. But as the woman who bought the paint explained:

it would be silly to look at the potential of life in prison and not be scared.

The entire point is to threaten life in prison so that protesters will plead guilty to a lesser offense.

Okay, prosecutors use leverage, what else is new, Crip Dyke?

you might ask.

But my contention isn’t that this is new. I’m simply asking people to look at this a different way. Think about the essence of this situation without getting caught up in the specifics of this threat or how common it is to issue similar threats or even the history of how such threats came to be common practice, and what you realize is this:

The Utah DA is threatening with life in prison people who according to the DA deserve no jail time for the purpose of getting US citizens to renounce their right to a trial by jury as guaranteed in the Constitution.

We should be asking every DA in the country why they hate the constitutional guarantee of trial by jury, and when they say that they do not, we should insist that they show that they do not hate this constitutional protection by fucking acting like it.

Slim Gill hates the USA, its constitution, and freedom itself. Fuck Slim Gill.

 

 

Comments

  1. starskeptic says

    he doesn’t think “anyone is going to be going to prison on this.” Criminal cases are often resolved when defendants plead to lesser counts,

    “That’s right. The DA himself doesn’t actually think that life in prison would be a just sentence.”

    I don’t follow how you come to this conclusion…

  2. says

    I don’t follow how you come to this conclusion…

    He has no qualms about plea bargaining down to 0 jail time. He is using the fact that no jail time is unlikely to defend against the perception he’s acting badly.

    If he thought seeking a life sentence was the right thing to do, then IMO he wouldn’t seek to defend the decision by asserting it would never happen. Instead he would say, “…and I’ll fight to make sure they spend as much time as possible behind bars.”

    This isn’t a matter of logical entailment. This is a matter of understanding human beings and how they speak.

  3. Allison says

    It’s hardly just Utah (if anyone was under that misapprehension.) It’s everywhere.

    I was on a federal grand jury (in NYC) for 2 years, and it was pretty obvious that being a prosecutor is all about convictions. Forget about justice, it’s about winning an indictment (and thereafter a conviction) by hook or by crook. The grand jury, which was originally created to protect people from overzealous prosecutors, has become their tool instead. They use it to intimidate people and to get around constitutional protections.

    It doesn’t help that most grand jurors assume that anyone who the prosecutors ask them to indict must be guilty and not deserving of any consideration. One time, when I mentioned in the break room that it was the job of the grand jury to be skeptical of prosecutors’ claims, the other people there complained that I was subverting the grand jury process. In two years, we saw several hundred cases, and we only failed once to return the indictment that was asked for. I’m pretty sure, though, that they just presented the case to the next grand jury. The saying, “a good prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich” is not an exaggeration.

    The so-called justice system is all about railroading anyone who doesn’t have enough political power to stand up to them, and prosecutors are the engineers. C’mon, Casey Jones Esq., screw “justice,” let’s put as many people as possible away.

    (It’s no wonder prosecutors do their best to sabotage cases against brutal and murderous cops — they’re the same as those cops, they just use different tools.)

  4. says

    If every person charged with a crime demanded a trial by jury, the system would collapse in less than a week.

    That doesn’t happen because no one wants to be the first through the breach only to discover that no one is following.

  5. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    Im pretty sure Alaska actually did this experiment already. They practically all plea bargaining. The system did not implode. It can be done.

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