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Class Justice In America

justice.jpgA recent commentary on Wizbang offered some observations on the criminal justice system in America. However some huge flaws in the justice system went completely unnoticed and unmentioned.

The role of class is a vital determining factor in the application of "justice" in America. Wealthy defendants such as OJ, Robert Blake and record producer Phil Spector have the funds required to afford expensive private legal representation that can establish the grounds for raising "reasonable doubt" issues that make conviction much more difficult, while poorer defendants who cannot afford their own private legal representation, which averages $80,000 for a trial involving a felony charge, often have to opt for a court appointed public defender operating on an average $500 budget that does not include any funds for witnesses, expert testimony or other courtroom displays to help establish reasonable doubt issues that could result in aquital.

Often because of a heavy caseload, public defenders hardly spend any time with a defendant before a trial, fail to bring motions to suppress prejudicial character evidence, fail to use crime investigators, fail to bring witnesses to court, and often only assist the state in pressuring an accused defendant to accepting a plea deal to a crime regardless of whether they are guilty or innocent. Public defenders often make quick snap judgements based on a short interview with the client where the defendant stands in the process, and seem to use the plea process to move things along whether or not their client is guilty. In the public defender mindset, getting four years for an innocent client is better than risking seven years if they lose at trial.

Wealthy clients also have the advantage of hiring jury selection analysts, who decide which jurors get to hear the case, and then the defense is tailored with experts to appeal to these carefully screened jurors to establishing a reasonable doubt standard that makes conviction by a jury ethically difficult. With an average $500 public defender budget, poorer defendants have little say in jury selection or in elaborate courtroom expert use to establish reasonable doubt standards.

Great lawyers such as F. Lee Bailey lament that the American justice system often allows the guilty wealthy to buy their freedom, almost like the U.S. version of the wealthy paying their jailers in some Third World country to buy their freedom.

The wealthy who commit murder or even white collar crimes such as stock market fraud, mail fraud, Email fraud, subprime home loan fraud, payday loan fraud or other crimes know that the odds are against them being convicted, or sometimes even being charged. On the other hand, poorer defendants often have little choice but to accept some plea deal for a crime that they did not commit due to the economics of the justice system. And mandatory sentencing laws, 3 strikes laws or other new legal restrictions tie the hands of a judge who has doubts about the guilt of a poor defendant to offer reduced sentences as well. The role in a trial in which a judge can actually judge the guilt of a defendant has been largely gutted by legislation by conservatives who have often reduced the judge down to some mere moderator in the courtroom process.

The role of the wealthy to buy advantages in the American justice system and bad legal system "reform" legislation often inspired by conservatives have put the justice system in it's worst condition in years.


Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!

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Comments (2)

Steve Crickmore[TypeKey Profile Page]:

Paul, generally of course, the wealthier the client the better the chances for his case, but as this journalist indicates sometimes a client's wealth can be used against him.

In his closing argument last week in the murder trial of pop music legend Phil Spector, prosecutor Alan Jackson encouraged jurors to ignore the experts who testified for the defense because, he said, "if you hire enough lawyers who hire enough experts who are paid enough money, you can get them to say anything." He went on to inform the jury that "Phil Spector thinks if he throws enough money at a problem, he can solve the problem."

The thrust of the LA Times article "Don't Hang Specter by his Wealth" was generally pretty disillusioning, and focused on 'hired guns' who work for the prosecution to taint the evidence.

'John Sam, a detective in the infamous case of Rolando Cruz (who was wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to death), explained how prosecutors would shop for experts:

"The first lab guy says, 'It's not the boot.' We don't like that answer, so there's no paper. We go to a second guy who used to do our lab. He says yes. So we write the report on Mr. Yes. Then Louise Robbins arrives. This is the boot, she says. That'll be $10,000. So now we have evidence."

Spector's trial ended in a hung jury/ a mistrial. The jury's 10-2 split was in favor of conviction, a court spokesman said.

superdestroyer[TypeKey Profile Page]:

I guess that since the Democratic Party is going to be one dominate political party, it is no surprise that the push for emptying the jails and creating excusing for criminals will begin again.

I guess that most of the netroots are too young to remember how bad crime was during the 1970's. But as the Democratic Party becomes the one relevant political party in the U.S. and that party is dominated by trial attorneys that we can all expect the crime rate to go up again. In addition, we can expect to hear how it is the middle classes fault that there are criminals and that all criminals really just have medical conditions that need treatment instead of jail.

Remember, the real reason that the rich can escape justice is that the law is so complex, so contradictory, and so full of loopholes that lawyers will always be able to nitpick the results.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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