Sunday, April 15, 2007

Travesties Of Justice

Twenty years behind bars after being declared innocent. This doesn't surprise me at all since I've seen a version of it happen before my very eyes.

I was the first alternate in an armed burglary trial and alternates don't get to participate in the deliberation process unless one of the jurors is unable to complete his duties. It took them five days to find the defendant guilty of twelve counts of robbery, even though he was only guilty of ten and they were just tired of debating and decided that since he was guilty of the majority of the crimes, what the heck. It was physically impossible for him to have committed one of the crimes and in the other, the witness was blind as a bat and making it up as she went along. Please don't let me ever get arrested for a crime and have to be tried by a jury of my peers. Anyway, we three alternates wandered the halls of Superior Court in the San Fernando Valley.

We wandered into a courtroom just after the victim had given her testimony in a rape case and there was some sparring between the lawyers. It was so fascinating that we decided to come back the next morning. The next day we were there bright and early. We waited for about a half hour and then the judge, assistant DA and the defendant's lawyer came into the courtroom. The first two, both women, were radiating anger.

The judge dismissed the jury and waited until they had left the courtroom, then she called the defendant to the stand. She told him to describe the events in question, and he did. Quite humorously in fact. After he was done, the judge said that she was extremely disappointed and that she had been sure he was guilty and that if he hadn't videotaped (turns out he filmed porn videos) the incident in question she would have made sure he spent many years behind bars. She then revoked his parole for a previous charge of having an open beverage container and sentenced him to finish out his year in county lockup, which was supposed to be eleven months but since he had spent the last six behind bars he could do the remaining five. She wouldn't even let him out to visit his mother, who had just had a stroke, in the hospital. She was actually shaking with anger. So was I.

We were wide-eyed and open mouthed. In astonishment That was when I finally understood how the justice system could be rigged and used to punish the innocent. Previous to that I had always believed that not being guilty would set you free. Now I know better. Our government is so anxious to make sure that everyone has a criminal record for something besides white collar crime, that they will even try someone again on the same charges after they have already received a conviction and the defendant has served his sentence, just because they want to waste the taxpayers money in order to prove a point. Ed Rosenthal can tell you all about that little scenario. If only they would use that pent up frustration to punish someone who dearly deserves it, like Osama bin Laden. But they would have to catch him first and they obviously aren't interested in doing that.

Jimmy Lee Page doesn't deserve to be behind bars any more than the guy I watched get railroaded into prison did. Hopefully Mr. Page will get true justice and be released before too much longer.

In one of those flukes that you usually only see on television, the innocent rapist became my boyfriend's roommate a few months later. Nice guy, he liked my cooking.

Crossposted at If I Ran The Zoo.


  1. Our justice system is whacked because people are whacked.

    Judges are just as human as anyone. And they screw up more than often.

    I do not trust my peers to give me or anyone a fair trial.

  2. Neither do I. A judge is not supposed to let their feelings get in the way. Especially not that much. We aren't allowed those kinds of mistakes at our jobs, and very rarely do we have control over someone else's life, just as with medicine, a higher standard should be expected. One that says you put aside your personal feelings and beliefs, or you go into another line of work.

  3. I think my old Dad had it right when he said, "When you go to court it doesn't matter who's right or wrong, it matters who has the best line of shit."

  4. I always thought it was who had the lawyer that the jury hated the least.