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Encounters with the Legal System

Flag flying at FSI on December 21, 2010

One of the punks that attacked Alex is up for trial.  He is summoned to give testimony.  He doesn’t remember anything, but he has to go anyway.  I don’t know how strong a case they have against this particular guy.  I am fairly sure he is guilty, but as I mentioned before he is one of six guys who attacked Alex.  The bad guys are taking legal refuge in the confusion about which of them actually did the kicking and stomping.

The attack on Alex has made me a lot more sensitive to random crimes and hate crimes.  He is very lucky that he was not hurt more seriously or permanently.  I read in the paper about a kid about his age who was in a fight that put him into a permanent coma.  Of course, Alex could have been killed and for nothing.  He was just in the wrong place and had the wrong appearance.  I like to think that the world is rational, but not always.  Life can change in a second and all the hopes and aspirations can be gone.

Alex really had a hard time last year.  He starts a new school, away from home for the first time.  That is stressful enough.  Then he gets set upon by six thugs.  He still finished his exams on time and never complained about his bad luck.  He didn’t even want to tell his professors why he missed a week of class and why he had some trouble concentrating after he came back.  I admire him for it, although I thought that he should have at least played for a little sympathy.  It must have impacted his grades.

My other contact with the legal system next month will be jury duty.  I have been a registered voter for nearly thirty-seven years, but I have never served on a jury.  Of course, I was overseas a lot of that time, but I don’t think I was ever even summoned before.   We are lucky to live in county with lots of voters in relation to criminals.  Some of my colleagues who live in DC, where the ratio tends to run less favorably, serve on juries with monotonous regularity.

I don’t know if I will actually get to/have to serve on the jury.  I just have to report and see if they need me for anything.   I want to serve on a jury, to have the experience, but I would prefer not at this particular time, when I am focusing all my energy and attention on learning Portuguese and about Brazil.  I suppose there is never a really perfect time to do jury duty, but last October would have been good.

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I was on a jury once, a few years ago. It was not a good experience. The defendant was a drug dealer and it was SO obvious he was guilty but by the rules we were given to use, the prosecution hadn't fully proven it, so we had to find him not guilty. When it was over the judge came in to thank us for our service and, about this particular criminal, said, "Oh, he'll be back." That's what this is all about in my opinion: nearly always, criminals who just know how to play the system. I guess we still need the innocent until proven guilty system but it's very discouraging to see this stuff in action. Not justice in the sense most working and law-abiding people would expect. You would not enjoy it. I went home angry and surely did not feel like I had played a part in something noble.

"nearly always, criminals who just know how to play the system. I guess we still need the innocent until proven guilty system"
Imo, you shouldn't have been surprised by this principle "in action"...
The justice system is terribly fallible, therefore must be tempered from causing to many false convictions.
However, it's interesting to consider the idea that "only the dumb criminals get caught"

"We are lucky to live in county with lots of voters in relation to criminals"
I hadn't considered that.

Btw ime, if you are calmly logical in manner and answers to screening, one of the attorneys will boot you out during selection.

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