Olympia, WA (10-11-18) — Washington’s Supreme Court has irrationally abolished the State’s death penalty unanimously, based on principle, if not logic…calling into question the justices’ competency in their current positions. The end result may be satisfying to death penalty opponents, but the reasoning used in the decision is deeply flawed–some might argue it was even par for the course…proof neither flatulence nor incompetence is any bar to Washington’s Supreme Court.
Solace that the principle of capital punishment is more about us than these hideous undeserving convicted miscreants, that it prevailed, is hardly reassuring in the face of the irrational feckless mental acuity (or lack thereof) taken to reach it.
(Judge George Steele’s Courtroom):
Washington State’s Supreme Court has ruled that the death penalty is unconstitutional and converted to life in prison all pending death sentences in the State.
The court’s decision on Thursday was unanimous, with the justices determining that capital punishment is applied “in an arbitrary and racially biased manner.”
“The use of the death penalty is unequally applied — sometimes by where the crime took place, or the county of residence… or the race of the defendant,” the court said in its opinion. “The death penalty, as administered in our state, fails to serve any legitimate penological goal; thus, it violates article I, section 14 of our state constitution.”
While all that may be true, it could be said equally of all criminal convictions in our State, burdened by an adversarial system inherently inconsistent with justice for all. Should the entire adversarial court system, as we know it, be abolished? Perhaps.
Or should we build more and bigger jails, increase surveillance and punishment, lengthen sentences, privatize the cannibalization of our children to stoke the fires of commerce and the industrial prison complex?
Beyond all that, the notion that justice can be had from an adversarial system is a superstition we can no longer abide. Many U.S. trials, devoid of factual evidence, have become little more than an exultation of denunciations…much like the old Soviet model. Rooted in the ancient trial by combat/ordeal tradition, it was thought by most that God was a Yankees fan. He would protect the innocent. God would not allow bad things to happen to good people. Job’s biblical friends believed the same, having no idea God was gambling with Job’s fate.
Women, children, the weak, the infirm, the elderly might hire a champion/gladiator if they had the right connections or could afford one. Today, we call them attorneys. The King always had an army of ‘champions’/combatants eager to serve. And, the King could not be sued for any miscarriage of justice because being God’s personal earthly representative (if the monarch did not claim to be a deity him/her self) the king, by definition, could do no wrong since, by definition, God could do no wrong. Thus the policy of sovereign immunity came about which burdens the people to this day. Judges have this kind of immunity from their incompetence/corruption.
Literal swords are not wielded in modern courtrooms, but the principle of winning at all cost remains despite the seldom realized theory that the proceedings are supposed to be a search for the truth. Judges regularly prevent juries from hearing the entire unvarnished truth. And the superstition remains that a jury/judge can distinguish between who is telling the truth in trial, and who is not. If that proposition were true, every con artist and politician (and not a few judges) would be out of business.
In such an adversarial arena (not all nations sponsor such adversarial forums), truth and justice are inherently inconsistent with the proceedings. Our prisons, and even death row, is legion with condemned citizens who are both factually and legally innocent. According to Washington’s Administrator to the Courts (which keeps such statistics) the percentage of acquittals (both by bench/jury trial) across the State for criminal cases that actually go to trial is a fraction of 1%. Moreover, inmates are denied public record requests that could help them reopen their case and reverse their conviction.
One might conclude from such statistics that either detectives and prosecutors are geniuses at ferreting out the guilty from the innocent…or that Washignton juries are too eager to believe lying cops and unscrupulous prosecutors. They agree with Ed Meese, not our founding fathers. They substitute the inapplicable preponderance of evidence standard (50%) for the required beyond reasonable doubt.
“I have seen the enemy…and it is US!” -Pogo-
Police officers who lie in their sworn written reports and testimony are not unusual. By law, they are permitted to lie to suspects (but not the inverse!) and even encouraged to do so, paving the road to Hell with their ‘good’ intentions. Most judges have never met a cop they didn’t like and will reject the notion one could be lying on the stand out of hand.
The government is permitted by law to offer bribed testimony to jurors. Defendants are not. The presumption of innocence has, in fact if not in law, become a joke in the public’s mind.
“You don’t have many criminal suspects who are innocent of a crime and suspects should not have the right to have a lawyer present when police question them.” -Ed Meese, Reagan’s AG- (Oct, 1985)
None of Mr. Meese’s attempts at scholarship achieve the eloquence of his unguarded response when an interviewer asked, Why shouldn’t people have the protections of the Miranda warnings? ”Suspects who are innocent of crime should. But the thing is, you don’t have many suspects who are innocent of crime. That’s contradictory. If a person is innocent of a crime, then he is not a suspect.”
In other words, guilty until proven guilty. (And “Catsup is a vegetable.”)