Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Stories from the American Police State

Angelic Vision Is Probable Cause
I'd believe her.
In Texas (Where else?) a judge granted a search warrant solely on the word of a woman who claimed that "32 angels" had told her there was a mass grave of murdered children at a specific house. The police scoured the home and found exactly nothing. The woman was up front telling the police that her information came from her angels yet, somehow, she is facing charges for filing a false police report. The problem here is the unnamed judge who thought angels were reliable witnesses.

Share a Bagel, Go to Jail
In Florida people are being arrested for feeding homeless folk in a city park. Apparently in Orlando it is illegal to feed humans, but not pigeons, in parks. I'm guessing here, but I suspect it would have been legal if the people had thrown bread on the grass and forced the homeless to scramble for the food. The law has a problem with treating homeless folk with dignity and respect.

Jury Circus
I've got jury duty next week which mean I will possibly go through the circus that is modern voir dire. Originally, jury selection was a simple process gathering twelve people who had no vested interest in the case to use their collected common sense to judge the facts of a case. Now, "attorneys select jurors who they will be able to persuade, not jurors who will be 'fair and impartial' to both sides" (Source). This has led to the bizarre situation where jury selection is considered more important than the actual facts of a case.

The last time I was in a jury pool both attorneys pitched hypothetical cases at the potential jurors asking them to judge guilt or innocence in these hypothetical cases and, by clear inference, in the case before us that we had not heard a shred of evidence on yet. I refused to play, saying that I would have to stay impartial and hear all the evidence before I would feel comfortable reaching a conclusion. The prosecutor threw me out of the pool.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In the angel case, the police bear at least as much blame. I do not think they really believed the angel story. I think it just seemed like a great excuse to search someone's house and play cop for awhile. But, in a country where people believe that their varicose veins spell the word "god" and represent a message from you-know-who, why should we be surprised?