Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Amerika, Obama, and Eric the Unjust

To get a sense of what has happened to the "law" in the United States, and especially federal criminal law, the federal persecution of marine biologist Nancy Black tells us what we need to know about what is happening to the innocent. And shame on the federal grand jury that indicted her.

According to the story in The Economist:
ONE of the unforgettable experiences to be had in California is to go whale watching in Monterey Bay. Nancy Black, a licensed marine biologist, is one of the scientists who lead these commercial outings, besides doing her own whale research. As Lawrence Biegel, her lawyer, tells it, one day Ms Black was in her research boat with assistants when killer whales attacked a pod of grey whales and killed a calf. Its blubber floated to the surface, and the killer whales were about to feed on it. Seizing this opportunity to film their behaviour, Ms Black threaded ropes through some pieces of blubber, then lowered a camera underwater.
The government of Barack Obama and the Department of (In)Justice led by Mr. Perjury Himself, Eric Holder, had this response:
For this, Ms Black might now face up to 20 years in prison and half a million dollars in fines, after a federal grand jury indicted her this month. Little about the charges makes common sense. The federal law in question is the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act, which was intended to save dolphins, seals and whales from being killed and harassed. The law also banned feeding these animals, on the theory that doing so might compromise their ability to forage naturally in future. Feeding is what Ms Black is now accused of. She says she was using the protocols she had learned from the federal agencies that are now investigating her to observe a natural feeding that was already in progress.

Just as ridiculous, says Mr Biegel, is the accusation, increasingly common in federal cases, that Ms Black lied to the authorities, which carries its own prison terms. Ms Black always edits the commercial videos of her whale outings to make them more interesting. When investigators demanded footage, she gave them one of these edited videos. Prosecutors now claim that she had tampered with evidence.
So, Ms. Black cooperated with investigators who then decided to interpret an edited film as "tampering with evidence" and "lying to investigators," which is an extreme way of looking at things. For doing these things, an innocent person might go to prison for 20 years, given how federal juries are nothing but lapdogs of federal prosecutors.

Now, how do Obama and Holder deal with federal employees who actually commit real crimes? Oh, they give their com-padres a slap on the wrist. Here are TSA agents who STOLE $40,000 from passengers and what do they get? A few months in jail.

At least we know how Obama and Holder look at crime. Real crime is overlooked and real criminals get a slap on the wrist, but when it comes to a marine biologist who has committed no crime, they want to put her away for two decades.

Now, in their defense, it was not Obama and Holder who did away with the mens rea portion of federal criminal law. No, that was the Supreme Court of Earl Warren and William O. Douglas, both of whom are revered by "Progressives" who believed that the ancient Anglo-American view of criminal law -- that someone must inflict real harm upon individuals or their property -- should be discarded and be replaced by rules that would reflect "the public good." Of course, "Progressives" would be the sole creators of what would be in the "public good" or not.

Harvey Silverglate, who has been a mentor to me for many years, has written a great book Three Felonies a Day and notes that many federal laws are vague and are easily manipulated by prosecutors. Furthermore, because the laws themselves are unclear, juries are forced to INTERPRET the laws as opposed to their historical duties of (1) knowing that a crime has been committed and (2) determining whether or not the defendant committed the crime.

Unfortunately, much of federal law consists of prosecutors charging people with a series of complicated and wordy charges and then leaving it up to the juries to determine if the law even was broken. Under such circumstances, jurors often conclude that if someone has been charged, then that should be proof of guilt.

There is a reason that the USA leads the world in incarceration. This country has some of the harshest laws on the planet and some of the world's worst prosecutors. And it is sad to see the former Constitutional Law professor Barack Obama and Eric Holder carry on that sorry tradition.

5 comments:

Michael Hardesty said...

I once got myself appointed Jury Foreman on a DUI trial here in Oakland, CA.
Aside from the fact that I have never believed in DUI laws the experience was scary because of the stupidity of my fellow Jurors.
The case involved a large black woman who was driving a cadillac late at night, was pulled over by the CHP and given a breathalyzer which was inconclusive. The assistant DA was a slick black man and this absurd trial went on for three days.
The woman was almost a stereotype of obnoxiousness, even telling the
Asst DA at one point that she only spoke Swahili in her home.
The two CHP guys, one white and one Latin, were hot dogs, and I found their testimony unbelievable.
I made notes throughout the trial and after we were deciding the case had us called back to the court twice to review testimony.
One woman juror from Germany said that the police never arrest people unless they are guilty !
Another young Asian piped up immediately,"Let's convict her !"
An older white man accused me of
'confusing' the issue because I didn't automatically side with the state. It was 11-1 in favor of conviction and I was the lone holdout but the advantage of being the foreman was that I got to tell the Judge it was hopeless. They could have retried but probably didn't.
I went over to the woman and her not so great black attorney to let them know I was the one who held out.
Two young black women on the Jury later congragulated me though they hadn't voted with me.
Years I heard the same Asst.DA on a local NPR station bemoaning people who have an ideological agenda on juries ! Tough.
As if I had any choice about being on the Jury.

Anonymous said...

Good work, Michael.

Jury nullification is a very important "safety valve" that's inherent in the judicial system. I would encourage all juries to vote not convict where the alleged crime is one without a real victim.

RichardC said...

Never, EVER, talk to law enforcement without a lawyer. If Nancy Black had followed this rule she would be much better off than she is now. If a law enforcement agent asks "How are you?" ASK FOR A LAWYER. Once you ask for a lawyer, they cannot ask you any more questions. If they do, they cannot use your answers against you. DO NOT try to explain away what you did or did not do. LET YOUR LAWYER do it. Anything your LAWYER says cannot be used against you.

William L. Anderson said...

Michael,

Thanks for posting this. I appreciate what you have done, and Americans once used to be like this before they became sheeple!

Doc Ellis said...

Greetings Dr Anderson-

Shared

Thank you for writing this essay

Doc Ellis 124
http://docellis124.blog.com/