Category Archives: Courts

Ahmaud Arbery: Jury Selection

Blog #5

Jury selection in the trial of the men who killed Ahmaud Arbery is starting this morning. Speculation is that the process may take as much as three weeks.  Over 1,000 people have been called for jury duty which is a much larger pool than is usual in most cases, even in high profile cases like this one.  Attorneys have said that they have never heard of a case where this many potential jurors have been called.  There is speculation that many of the people called will not show up – for legitimate reasons and because they don’t want to take part.

The potential jurors have been asked to fill out a questionnaire.  It is not a long questionnaire especially not in comparison with other trials of this prominence.  Some of the questions are:  Have you seen the video of the shooting in Satilla Shores? How many times have you seen the video.  Have you been to the neighborhood?   Potential jurors will then be asked questions in the courtroom.  Commentators are creating the impression that

Social media posting will be searched for the potential jurors.  Strict rules about how they can access that information.  They cannot sneak onto their social media, but it is generally accepted now that the lawyers are responsible for searching any information that is public.  There will be people who have posted about this case, about the issues related to this case.  A lawyer is saying that she was not going to convict another black man.  She said that she was going to court and would not convict. 

No matter how many times people are told, and how many times they see other defendants’ videos of jailhouse conversations (Casey Anthony), they assume privacy when they post on the internet and talk on the telephone.  It is also difficult for people even if they know they are being taped, to remember this once they get into a conversation. 

One of the issues that was raised in this case was the use of the jailhouse phone conversations of the defendants.  As I previously posted, there are notifications literally beside the phones in jails and prisons informing people that their conversations will be recorded, but people still make those phone calls and conduct those conversations like it was 1950.  The judge in this case, for that reason, turned down a defense motion to exclude all the jailhouse conversations of the defendants. They argued 14th amendment, they even argued for Gregory McMichaels, spousal confidentiality.  But, the judge ruled, once you are informed that you are being recorded and you pick up that phone you make a decision to give up all those rights. 

The host of Court TV today is again repeating the William “Roddie” Bryan.  I have no idea why this middle name is repeated by almost every commentator on television and every print journalist. 

Court TV is doing live coverage of the trial. There are also several interesting interviews with attorneys in the case posted on the site.

Notes: 600 of the called 1,000 potential jurors showed up on Monday 18 October 2021. The court interviewed 8 of them in individual voir dire. One juror was dismissed after stating that he had negative views of Gregory McMichael but evidently not Travis McMichael. The potential juror said that Gregory McMichael appeared to be the “lead dog.”

Like Sharks in Charge of Water Safety: Elie Mystal and the Supreme Court

Elie Mystal, of the Nation Magazine, is a national treasure. 

He is like a breath of fresh air in the middle of the stale, phony, self-serving, power and celebrity worshiping hosts and commentators appearing regularly on corporate news.

One, just one of the reasons I love him is that he rolls his eyes on national television.  Another reason I love him is that he tells the truth and talks like a regular person.  He doesn’t use ten words with one will do, and he doesn’t surround every statement he makes with a boat load of qualifying phrases.  

He rolls his eyes, he tells the truth, he doesn’t obfuscate because (unlike almost every other person appearing on corporate news) he is not afraid.

The right is not afraid of stealing Supreme Court seats, lying, cheating, rigging elections, subverting justice and a whole host of other things.  The center, however, is a culture of people who are afraid.  They are afraid to see the truth right in front of their faces, afraid to confront depressing and distressing facts, afraid of the very possibility of offending somebody, afraid of being inconvenienced, afraid of not perhaps, maybe not getting some job they haven’t even thought of yet.

I spent almost a decade out of the country.  When I returned, I was astounded to hear a student tell me she couldn’t take an internship at World Wildlife (World Wildlife, not the Communist Party) because she might someday want to apply for a job with the State Department.  This is who we have become.  The right, the Republican party is fighting 24-hours-a-day to establish a Christo-fascist authoritarian government and those in the center are afraid of their shadows.

On Thursday, Nicolle Wallace, MSNBC, spent an entire segment of her program listening to people lionize the members of the January 6 Commission for considering, considering referring Steven Bannon to the Justice Department for criminal contempt.  But, as Eli Mystal pointed out on CNN this morning, the whole process of the referrals to the Justice Department is nothing but theatre.

What every news program and every host should have been pointing out is that the Committee has (but is not using) the right of inherent contempt.  Using this right, the Congress can jail people who don’t abide by subpoenas until they do abide.  They don’t have to refer the matter to the Justice Department and wait for Biden’s (wimp noodle) hatchet man, Merrick Garland to act. 

In addition, inherent contempt means that people like Bannon will be jailed and stay jailed until they provide the information that was subpoenaed.  Going down the criminal contempt path and referring to the Justice Department, assuming Garland will prosecute  (which he will not) and assuming a conviction, only punishes the offender for not cooperating.  It does not secure the information needed. 

So, the House Commission investigating the coup attempt should be shamed and criticized for not taking the path designed to get the information we need.  Instead, they are heralded as heroes, patriots, courageous public servants.  The Nicolle Wallace program last night became a virtual campaign ad for Benie Thompson and the other members.  Not once, did Wallace or any of the members of the panel she assembled tell the American people that what the Commission was doing was a sleight of hand maneuver to look like they were doing something and not doing it.

Similarly, the Commission Biden appointed to study the Supreme Court expansion was “designed to fail.”  As Mystal wrote in April when the commission was formed: “Biden’s choices confirm the worst fears court reformers had about the president: He doesn’t want a solution; he wants an excuse to do nothing.”

Quoting from Eli Mystal’s article IN APRIL:

“Instead of creating a commission of high-minded reformers or bare-knuckle politicos, Biden has created the quintessential government committee that is purposefully designed to accomplish nothing. The “Commission on the Supreme Court” isn’t even allowed to make policy recommendations on what to do about the Supreme Court. It is merely supposed to “study” the issue, which is like hiring a chef to draw pictures of food instead of cooking a meal. When Republicans take power, they don’t commission a book report on what they should do with the courts. They show up to Washington prepared to reshape the judiciary from day one. Biden showed up prepared to read a law review article.”

“Perhaps even more troubling, instead of balancing some of the center-left people on the commission with more, or any, outspoken advocates of court reform, Biden went the other way and put Federalist Society scholars and judges in there to drag the whole thing to the right. I cannot recall the last time a Republican president bothered even to consult a Democratic voice, never mind a genuinely left voice, on how to proceed with a matter related to the Supreme Court. But Democrats continue to act like they need a hall pass from Republicans before they take any action.”

Their inclusion—again, at the expense of some of the individuals who have been actively fighting these people and their conservative takeover of the courts—is insulting.

It’s also a giant waste of time. Donald Trump appointed 226 fire-breathing conservative judges to the federal bench in just four years; we are 20 months away from a midterm election during which Democrats might lose their tenuous grip on power; yet Biden’s committee on studying whether we should maybe, possibly try to fix the court will spend 180 days dickering with Federalist Society people about what Thomas Jefferson would do.”

This report did exactly what it was intended to do, provide cover for Biden who doesn’t have the stomach to expand the Supreme Court (or get rid of the filibuster for that matter).  As Mystal pointed out, the commission itself was composed of people who make their living arguing before the Supreme Court.  Appointing a commission like that is like appointing the sharks to supervise water safety.

In addition, the commission had nothing to say, nothing, about ethics and the Supreme Court.  The Supreme court is the only judicial body in the country with absolutely no ethics regulations.  There is no requirement for members of the Supreme Court to recuse themselves from cases in which they might have an interest.  There is nothing to prevent the wife of a sitting Supreme court Justice to participate in a coup attempt to overthrow the government.  Ethics complaints filed against Bret Kavanaugh were summarily buried after his appointment to the Supreme Court. 

But, the Biden administration, so widely hailed on corporate news spins its wheels, claims the high ground and does nothing.

Sources:

Eli Mystal

Ahmaud Arbery Trial: Glynn County, Georgia

Ahmaud Arbery

Blog #3

Case of Police Violence

Gregory McMichael was an investigator for the DA’s office for more than 20 years and was a Glynn County police officer for seven years before that.  He retired in May of 2019. 

When Gregory McMichaels saw a young man jogging past his house, he called to his son.  They immediately armed themselves, jumped in a pick up truck, and drove after Arbery.  They cut him off in the street with their truck and the truck of a neighbor who (of couse) saw the chase and joined in. They shot and killed Arbery in the street.

Three men, saw a black man jogging past their houses, armed themselves and gave chase.  Defense attorneys plan to argue that information Arbery was on probation should be admitted to the trial because that information explains why Arbery ran from the men.

First, Arbery was already running.  He was jogging.  He wasn’t in the beginning running FROM anybody.  Second, the fact that he kept running and did not stop does not necessarily mean he was running FROM the three men.  Third, Arbery had no obligation to stop running because someone ordered him to.  Even if you concede that Arbery was running FROM the men at some point in the chase, what of it?  I am a 71 year old white woman and I would have run from three white men (two of them armed) in pick up trucks who were driving after me and trying to cut me off when I was walking down a residential street. Third, none of these men could have known that Arbery was on probation, and even if they did, they had no right to stop him. 

Greg McMichaels has agued that he thought Arbery was a man who had burglarized a house in the area that was under construction.  But the owner of the house had access to all the video from the site.  The owner did not phone the police or become concerned about anything he saw on the videos.  So, who does Greg McMichaels think he is to try to hold a man even if he entered the house site?  Second, there is video of various people walking in and out of the house site.  Why is Arbery considered different from the other people (white) who entered the construction site?  Third, McMichaels has provided no evidence to demonstrate why he thought Arbery was one of the people on the video tape who had entered the house.   

It is obvious that Gregory McMichaels still considered himself active law enforcement, able to chase, stop and detain other people at will. And, also McMichaels also thought he was perfectly within his rights to arm himself and chase down another human being. None of the men saw Arbery commit any crime. They saw a black man in a predominately white neighborhood and assumed he had committed a crime. They armed themselves and hunted him down and killed him in the street.

A GBI investigator testified that Travis McMichaels used the N word in the conversation that occurred with the police officers who arrived on the scene of Arbery’s killing.  

Federalist Society Justice: Chris Hedges Interviews Steven Donziger

If you want a glimpse of what the legal system is already looking like under the reign of the Republicans and the Federalist Society, listen to this podcast where Chris Hedges interviews Steven Donziger “the human rights environmental justice attorney, about the grim reality when we confront the real centers of power.Donziger has been fighting polluting American oil companies for nearly three decades on behalf of indigenous communities and peasant farmers in Ecuador, and has been under house arrest in Manhattan for nearly two years. He went on trial in federal court in New York two weeks ago on contempt of court charges, which could see him jailed for six months, for appealing the demand to hand over his computer, cellphone, and other electronic devices to the court, a violation, he argues, of attorney-client privilege. No attorney without a criminal record in federal court has ever before been detained pretrial for a misdemeanor offense.”

YouTube channel: On Contact

People somehow believe that the authoritarian take over of the government will not affect them, that their lives will go on as usual. This is not the case. Increasingly, Republican ideologues are being appointed to the courts. They have no interest in law, reason, or justice. They have interest in power.

In this instance, the courts are persecuting an attorney for daring to confront the criminal behavior of a corporation. Federalist schooled Republican judges are using the criminal justice system to make sure that other attorneys realize that if they go after those in power, they risk their careers, their families and their livelihoods. This case is designed to send a message.

YouTube channel: On Contact

the buzz of white privilege: ahmaud arbery

AHMAUD ARBERY

BLOG #3

On a Sunday afternoon, February 23, 2020, a retired police investigator, Greg McMichael, 64, sees a young black man, Ahmaud Arbery, 25, jogging down the street past McMichael’s house. As it has been described, McMichael goes on “high alert.”  He calls out to his son Travis McMichael who also lives in the neighborhood, grabs his 357 Magnum and runs to his white pick up truck.  Travis McMichael grabs a 12-gage shotgun and jumps into the driver’s seat. 

Arbery is jogging down the street with no cell phone, no weapon, wearing jogging clothes.

The two men, the McMichaels, later claimed that they were on high alert because they recognized the young man.  They (with amazing rapidity) formed a self-appointed posse to hunt the young man down.

Ahmaud Arbery was a jogger.  He had jogged in the Satilla Shores neighborhood before.  In fact, this was part of the reason the two men (joined by another) pursued him.  The McMichaels claimed that Arbery had been observed on video tape, entering a house in the area which was under construction.

The owner of the house under construction had set up the video equipment and had also viewed the tapes.  Nothing he saw on the tapes alarmed him.  There was a curious white couple who entered the house, a group of white young people who carted off  pieces of wood.  Arbery has also been filmed wandering around the house and leaving without disturbing anything.  The owner didn’t call 911.  He didn’t even notify the authorities.

But, evidently, there was a buzz in the neighborhood about trespassers.  I would be willing to bet my bottom dollar this buzz wasn’t about the white couple, or the white kids who stole from the site.  It was about a young black man daring to act like any number of other people fulfilling their curiosity about the new construction. 

This is the kind of “buzz” that leads to two white men arming themselves in a matter of minutes and hunting down a young black man on the street.  This is the kind of “buzz” that gins up hyper vigilance for men who see themselves as protectors of white privilege.  It makes them feel special, like heros, like warriors.  They love it.

And, they thought they were perfectly justified in arming themselves, jumping into a truck and pursuing another human being, cutting off his escape and murdering him in the street.

essential podasts: ahmaud arbery. “I just need to know what he was doing wrong.”

https://www.wabe.org/shows/buried-truths/

On a Sunday afternoon, February 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery jogged through a neighborhood in Glynn County, Georgia.  He had jogged in the neighborhood before.

But, this jog ended with a retired police investigator and his son, Greg and Travis McMichaels, jumping into their pick up truck and pursuing Arbery.  They shot Arbery in the street and killed him.

For nearly three months, the police, prosecutors, and press DID NOTHING.  Only when a video of the killing surfaced on social media was national attention focused on the case and the total lack of action about the murder. 

Another man in the Satilla shores neighborhood phoned 911 about Arbery jogging.  After a few seconds, the caller said: “He’s running now” referring to Arbery.  The 911 operator asked:    “What is he doing?”  Then, she asked: “I just need to know what he was doing wrong.” 

Every citizen of this country needs to listen to the podcast about the murder of Ahmaud Arbery based on an investigation conducted by members of Emory University.

“I just need to know what he was doing wrong.” 

ON POINT WITH RENATO MARIOTTI: MATT GAETZ

CORPORATE NEWS IS NOT WORTH YOUR TIME

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti talks about the possible prosecution of Matt Gaetz.

Notes on the Podcast

  • Gaetz has finally hired an attorney and stopped running his mouth so publicy.
  • Gaetz is trying to act like Trump in response to the investigation.  The big difference is that Trump controlled the Justice Department, Gaeta does not.
  • There is no accountability.  We are still waiting for Trump to be indicted.
  • Barr did fantastic job misleading the pubic about Trump’s collusion with the Russians. 
  • Gaetz thinks he can talk his way out of this.
  • Gaetz’s girlfriend is the daughter of a big donor.
  • Greenberg was the tax collector in Seminole County.  He created a website slandering his political opposition as a pedophile.
  • This person, went to authorities which led to an investigation of Greenberg.
  • The investigation uncovered evidence of an identity theft scheme, making drivers licenses for women he is meeting on a Sugar Daddy website. 
  • Then, the investigation led to uncovering his interactions with an underage girl who had been interacting with Matt Gaetz.
  • Politico reported that a few days before Greenberg was indicted, he texted all his buddies that they had better lawyer up.  This text provided the feds a list of witnesses.
  • They don’t need to prove Gaetz knew her age.
  • There’s the sex trafficking statute (Commercial Sex Act) they can prosecute him under.  This involves transporting underage person for commercial sex.
  • They would argue that this wasn’t commercial sex.
  • Gaeta has a very good lawyer. 
  • Gaetz is sending payments to Greenberg and Greenberg is distributing the money.  Greenberg can testify about the purpose of the payments. 
  • Greenberg can tell the story of the criminal activity.

https://tunein.com/podcasts/News–Politics-Podcasts/On-Topic-with-Renato-Mariotti-p1151906/?topicId=162380555

a “bad day”

It has been days since I have watched corporate TV news.  I have been reading, writing, painting and binge-watching Dickens, Trollope, and Austen on Amazon Prime. 

Every time I turn on the corporate news I find CNN hosts interviewing other CNN hosts about their new books.  On MSNBC, I find people like Jason “Island of misfit black girls” Johnson, pontificating and acting like he’s something other than a vicious attack dog there to repeatedly blame the progressives in the Democratic Party for all the failures of the party establishment.    

Morning Joe has turned into a prayer meeting with Joe Scarborough spending whole segments lecturing viewers on what a “true Christian” is.  This is the news?  Mika Brzezinski relentlessly promotes her “know your worth” marketing/money making strategy.  She actually seems to think that people are going to believe this from a woman who “knew her worth” to such an extent she had an adulterous affair and then married her boss.  She defers to him, babies him, allows herself to be regularly demeaned, interrupted and ridiculed by him.  This is women knowing their worth.

In the afternoons, former Senator Claire MacCaskill has taken obsequious behavior to new heights, fawning over Nicolle Wallace at every turn, baking cakes for Wallace and lighting candles on the cake while lauding Wallace’s journalism.  This is the news?

MacCaskill does this while the other members of the panel (including the other prime ass-kisser, Jason Johnson) clap their hands like school children.  It is just nauseating.

There is no, no international news anymore on either CNN or MSNBC.  The amount of information being communicated is almost nil.  It’s like a televised circle-jerk, reporters interviewing other reporters, promoting each other’s books or (worse still) interviewing members of Congress, as if any member of congress is going to say anything either interesting or informative.  There are only a handful of people in the entire Congress who say ANYTHING that is not a collection of focus-group tested nonsense. 

The corporate media is, in short, like a toy my friend told me she bought her grandson a couple of years ago.  I couldn’t even grasp what she was talking about as she described this gadget.  It was a mechanical thing that had no purpose except to move.  It was called a “fidget spinner.”  The corporate news media is an intellectual fidget spinner – words and words and words and interview after interview after interview filling up space, for no reason except to make money for somebody and create the impression that things are under control.  As Scarborough says the “institutions are holding.”

Meanwhile, the institutions are not holding.  The criminal enterprise that was the Trump administration has gone without accountability or punishment, and will continue to do so.  The legal system works to prosecute, hold accountable, and punish only the poor.  We are repeatedly treated to an orgy of spectacle creating the impression that the powerful will be held accountable only to watch the whole sorry exercise collapse.

The Supreme Court which has sold democracy down the tubes with decisions such as Citizens’ United, is poised to further structure the legal system to favor the wealthy and powerful.  The Congress is afraid of its shadow.  If the Biden administration does not do away with the filibuster, alter the Supreme Court, fight for ordinary Americans, and ensure election fairness and security, the Trump/McConnell crime family will be back in power partially in two years, and totally in four.

All you have to do it look at the flood of voter suppression laws that have been passed in Georgia and other states to see that Republicans are going to make sure that the Democrats lose control of the Congress in 2022 and the presidency in 2024.  They are circling like sharks.  All four years of Trump did for them was to give them the smell of blood and demonstrate how easily they could turn this into an authoritarian Christian nationalist state.

Meanwhile, Ari Melber makes jokes, quotes banal rap lyrics (of sexist rap stars) like they were great literature and/or philosophy and interviews celebrities, barely keeping himself from peeing his pants with glee at his proximity to fame.  It is all just really disgusting.

And, then there’s today.  A 21-year-old man has murdered eight women and was on his way to murder more.  But, as the Georgia Sheriff’s office spokesman said, he “had a bad day.”  There are so many things wrong with this story and the coverage of it and the people involved, I don’t know where to begin.

I feel like my mother when she first started watching the O.J. Simpson trial.  She watched for a couple of hours.  “What do you think?”  I said.  “I think they should all be put in prison now,” she replied getting up in disgust to go and read.  “Who?” I asked.  “All of them.”  She said.  “Simpson, the judge, the prosecutors, the defense attorneys, the reporters, all of them.”  She was, of course, right.

That’s precisely what I feel about everybody involved in this murder case in Atlanta.

The Georgia Sheriff and CNN are talking about “sex addiction” as if sex addiction was  something real.  Law enforcement, politicians and the corporate media are actually mouthing the ludicrous sex equivalent of the “Twinkie Defense” for this Long guy.  The Cherokee Sheriff’s office guy, Baker, found it his responsibility to provide an excuse for a man who walked into businesses that employ women (at starvation wages) to cater to the perverted pleasures of men and murder them.   What is this Baker, Long’s defense attorney?  Official law enforcement provides a narrative for the future jury pool excusing this man because of his “sex addiction.”

“Sex addiction?” There is no such thing as a sex addiction.  It’s a fake con devised by the rehabilitation industry to make money.  No serious person would even allow those two words together to come out of their mouth.  A male reporter on CNN said that the young man “had issues.”  ISSUES?////// ISSUES????????? 

He hates women, that’s the issue, he hates and despises women and has racist exploitive sexual fantasies about them that he felt entitled to act out.  It has nothing to do with addiction.  Long is not mentally ill, that we know of.  He is just the same kind of oppressive, abusive, exploitive, violent bastard that this culture turns out by the millions.  He’s just like Donald Trump, Jeffrey Epstein, that old man who used to be a comedian who doped and then raped women (I’m 70.  I can’t remember his f…ing name), Weinstein, Cuomo, and God knows how many more. 

But, we can’t talk about that.  We can’t talk about a culture that makes the hatred of women fundamental, trades in the commodification of women’s bodies at every turn, provides a market for sexual perversion of every sort and then blames the impoverished women who are forced to participate in it for their own destruction at the hands of the very men they are forced to service. 

This guy “had a bad day.”  That’s what Baker, the Sheriff’s Office guy, said. He had a “bad day” and “issues” and “a sexual addiction.”  No, the women who were killed and their families had a bad day, a tragic day.  This guy acted out his violent racist sexual perversions, violent sexual perversions that are fed every day by the media and the entertainment industry and politics. 

putting together the pieces: reality winner, chris hayes podcast

If you are new to the Reality Winner story, this is an excellent place to begin. There are a number of things I disagree with in this podcast, especially the assumptions and analysis of Chris Hayes at certain points, but it is well worth listen to.

https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/explaining-why-reality-winner-still-prison-kerry-howley-podcast-transcript-ncna1119756