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State of American History, Civics, and Politics

Day 2: Will Jury Trials Survive the Insurrection if Facts Do Not Matter?

!2 Angry Men (1957) - from a time when reasoning was possible

The jury trail is a bedrock staple of the American democracy. People are very familiar with the phrases “see you in court” or “have your day in court.” It bespeaks the right of every American to have a dispute adjudicated or an action punished through the mechanism of the jury trial. As we were recently reminded, the best free legal advice a criminal can receive is to get the best “trumping-lawyer” you can get.

There is more to a jury trial than simply having one’s day in court. The resolution is not decided by the king or president or any elected magistrate. Normally, it is not rendered by the sitting judge either. Instead the decision-makers are the peers of the defendant. They are chosen from among We the People in that particular jurisdiction where the alleged crime occurred. These peers are then charged by the judge with the responsibility to pass judgement on the merits of the case.

Wait. There is more. How are the people on the jury supposed to discharge this duty? They do so through evidence. During the course of the trial, evidence is presented by both sides for the jurors to consider. The evidence may be testimony from people who are cross-examined during the trial. The evidence may be physical, something jurors can see and/or touch. The arguments of the competing lawyers in the opening and closing are not evidence. However, a lawyer who can construct a more forceful narrative based on the evidence and/or who can do so in a more compelling way, may help the jurors to decide what evidence to accept as true.

To assist in this process, jurors are screened to weed out people with biases one way or another. The goal is to create a jury who can fairly analyze and weigh the evidence to determine what really happened. If people cannot be reasoned with then the whole process collapses.

BARR VS. TRUMP

On Day 1 of the House Select Committee report, we heard the opening argument by Liz Cheney on the crimes committed and how the committee would prove the seven charges against the former President.

On Day 2, the House Select Committee presented evidence concerning the knowledge of the accused that the claim of the stolen election was a big lie. The foremost witness to that presentation was Bill Barr, the former Attorney General to the Hitman.

Barr recounted his various discussions with the Loser about his loss in the presidential election in 2020. According to the video clips shown, Barr uttered some lines that are destined to become part of American legal lore if not folklore.

“He’s become detached from reality if he really believes this stuff.”   

“There was never an indication of interest in what the actual facts were.”

We also heard about “Team Normal” in the effort to convince the Loser that there was no fraud and he had really lost. As we know, all these efforts were for naught. While Team Normal pushed its message, Intoxicated Rudy was whispering sweet nothings into the Loser’s ear and those messages were much more palatable.

THE FAILURE WHEN TREATING TRUMP AS AN ADULT

My position for years now has been that Donald Trump is an immature child in the body of an adult. Brain scans will show that certain portions of his brain never developed beyond the stage of when he was a seventh-grade-smart-aleck-dumb-aleck. To understand him one should consult child psychologists, seventh grade guidance counselors, and seventh grade teachers. He never developed a conscience. He has no ethics, He has no morality. He has no sense of right and wrong. There is only whether or not the child will be allowed to play his game for his benefit without being stopped. So far he has a pretty good record of being able to do exactly that.

Barr and Team Normal made the common mistake of treating Little Donee Waney as if he were an adult. They made the common mistake of thinking he was someone who could be reasoned with. But no matter how many times he was told that the election was not stolen and the supposed fraud was bogus, it never sunk it. His mind was never changed. He never challenged the evidence presented, he simply moved on the next “What about this…” in a never-ending game of Whack-a-Mole.  As Representative Zoe Lofgren said:

The directly told the president over and over again, they were false. These were his people. This is Trump World, telling the president that what he was saying is false. And he continued to say the same thing.

There was no getting through to him because any attempts at the adult level to reason with him were doomed to failure. The only surprise now is that people still think of him as an adult capable of being reasoned with. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is one definition of insanity. He has been an immature child for over 60 years and will be one until the day he dies. He will keep playing his game and advise others to do so without knowing or caring about the law or the Constitution because who is going to stop him? He will even con his own followers out of $250 million plus the travel expense of going to Washington on January 6 plus the legal expense incurred for defending their actions in court. What does he care? It is all about him.

Here we can see the appeal of Ridiculous Rudy with his intoxicated rantings. He never drew a line a sand. Quite the contrary, he constantly fed more and more outrageous claims into the ear of the immature child. Rudy enabled the game to be played longer. No adults in the room. No Team Normal. Just people playing into his delusions where facts do not matter to a mind incapable of understanding them. He could never grasp what Bill Barr was telling him; he could only move on to the next item. With Rudy, he never was confronted with reality. For the immature child, it was a dream come true. Just keep playing the game until someone stops you.

THE FATE OF JURY TRIALS

Imagine you are selecting jurors for a trial. Suppose you are confronted with candidates who are:

QAnon
Anti-Vaxxers
Stolen Election believers
Ivermectin users.

Would you want such people analyzing evidence rendering judgment on you? How about as a surgeon or a pilot or anything that involved critical thinking skills? Do you think anyone who participated in the insurrection now realizes that there was no there “there” and that they were conned? Do you think the Trumpican voters in Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Nevada and elsewhere now realize that the election was not stolen but that their Lord and Savior, the Chosen One, Blessed Be his Name was the one who tried to steal it? Do you think the testimony of Bill Barr and Team Normal has any more effect on Trumpicans then it did on Trump himself? Can I sell you a bridge in Brooklyn?

How can a jury system survive where facts are irrelevant?

How can a jury system survive when only what you want to be true matters?

How can a jury system survive when jurors lack the ability to think or choose not to?

I do not know the answer to these questions, but the example of a New Mexico Republican election board refusing to certify results in a Republican primary because they feel uncomfortable with machine results is an example of how trumpism is metastasizing throughout the country. Jury trials may be one of the causalities.

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