Was it corruption, incompetence, or both that ruined this man’s life?
Former Pennsylvania psychologist says he reported child molestation, lost license
Jim Singer, formerly a psychologist working in Pennsylvania, said that he reported a case of child molestation in 1986 to Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services agency, and not only was his report ignored, but soon after, in retaliation, the Pennsylvania Psychology Board prosecuted Singer and eventually removed his license to practice psychology.
Former psychologist Jim Singer
As the aftermath of the Penn State University molestation scandal unfolds, most observers believe that if the proper authorities had been alerted to the crimes much earlier, many children could have been saved. That’s not always the case, says Singer.
Speaking exclusively with The Daily Caller, Singer said that most of the same Pennsylvania government agencies that were outraged over the PSU scandal — Child Protective Services, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, and the Pennsylvania State Police — all ignored and buried his report of child molestation.
In 1986, Singer was working as a psychologist at the Dubois Regional Medical Center in Dubois, Pa. During a session with a female teenage patient, Singer said the patient revealed to him that she was being sexually abused by her father. Upon having two more medical professionals confirm this, Singer said that he reported the abuse to the state’s Child Protective Services agency.
TheDC has exclusively acquired a letter from one of the two medical professionals, Dr. Albert Varacallo, vouching for the veracity of Singer’s claims.
“If all this seems hard to believe,” Varacallo wrote to then-Pennsylvania Gov. Bob Casey, Sr. in 1991, “I agree with you … the events of the past three years have proven to me that this nightmare is indeed a reality and not just Mr. Singer’s imagination from the stand point of any health professional, once he knew all the facts.”
“While the state is supposed to provide immunity for reporters,” Varacallo wrote, “it actually prosecutes those who seek to protect the rights of children.”
This is purely conjecture, but what I think happened, after the alleged abuser was informed of Dr. Singer’s report and given his identity, is that he turned to someone pretty high up in government who either put pressure on various agencies or arranged for false reports to be generated and acted upon.
While I feel badly for Dr. Singer, I feel worse for the children who may not have had their cases reported, as the law requires, because the health practitioner knew what happened to Singer and did not want to be similarly treated by the state agencies.
It’s been twenty-six years since Singer filed that report. How many children have suffered horrendous abuse because nobody would do anything to save them?
If I had my way, a very lot of people back then and now, would spend a lot of time in prison for dereliction of duty and abuse of authority.
But then, I’m not a Pennsylvania child welfare bureaucrat or worker. What do I know?
Is anyone more familiar with this case or similar cases elsewhere?
71-year-old patron fires on, scares off would-be robbers
Two men who attempted to hold up an Internet cafe were shot and injured by a patron of the business Friday night, according to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff’s officials said they got a call at 9:54 p.m. about an armed robbery at Palms Internet Cafe, 8444 SW State Road 200.
When deputies arrived at the scene, patrons outside the business told them that two men in masks, one armed with a baseball bat and the other with a handgun, had barged into the business.The robbers told the approximately 30 patrons to get on the floor, and they demanded money.
Officials said one of the patrons, Samuel Williams, drew his own handgun and shot at the robbers, according to sheriff’s officials. Both robbers began running toward the front door, and the patron fired several more shots as they fled. The two men got into a car parked nearby and fled.
[Text reposted from YouTube]
Way to go Samuel Williams.
Lowlifes count on victims being unarmed. See how quickly they flee when confronted by armed resistance.
If this had taken place in Massachusetts, odds are nobody would have been armed except the robber and everyone would have lost everything they carried. Worse, if someone was armed and shot at the bad guys, he probably would end up in jail for armed assault and if he hit one with a bullet, the thief might well sue him.
Despite what mealy-mouthed politicians and Attorney Generals might tell you, the police cannot protect you. They know this in Florida. Why can’t they figure this out here in The People’s Republic and in Washington, D.C.?
Congratulations to this week’s Comment Contest winner — Mandi.
Below the fold on the front page of The Boston Globe Democrat today is a story about a prison inmate accused of running a multi-million dollar illegal drug ring from the slammer. Fourteen people were arrested. All for providing to a group of consumers a product the consumers clearly want and are willing to pay for. The story is here, if you are interested in the details, but it’s not this story I want to talk about today. The story was just the inspiration for an idea that would end the absurdly wasteful, destructive, and deadly war on drugs and provide benefits to every single person in the nation, drug user or not.
I don’t think I’ll get any argument about pointing out that providing recreational drugs to people who want them is a multi-billion dollar industry. In addition, the illegal drug trade has probably produced more well-paying jobs in America than the trillions in stimulus money Our Dear Leader has thrown away. But it’s a dangerous job. You could be captured by the government or killed by competitors or the government. Still, despite all the risks, the rewards are so great, that whenever government arrests one dealer, another steps right in to take his or her place. Which is why the drug war fits perfectly into the classic definition of insanity — doing the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome.
But I have a solution and I think it might be a good one.
Most recreational drugs, especially narcotics, cost next to nothing to produce and could be sold very profitably for a low-enough price to allow those who become addicted to live with their addiction, including holding down a job. Such was the case before government stuck it’s nose into the drug trade. Were all drugs legal to sell, those doing the selling would stand to reap huge profits. So, let’s legalize all drugs, regulate them, and designate the existing drug companies as the exclusive providers. And in return for the multi-billion dollar windfall, the companies will have to sell their medicinal drugs for a set percentage over production costs.
What will happen if we do this?
The cost of medicinal drugs will be sharply reduced, which will benefit everyone. Medicare and Medicaid expenditures will plummet.
The violence associated with the drug trade will end.
Addicts will no longer need to rob and steal in order to support their habits, A job at Burger King will pay enough to keep them high when they’re not working.
Government will no longer be killing innocents when they smash down the doors of wrong houses.
Billions will be saved by not having to incarcerate anyone for selling or using drugs or committing crimes to get the drugs.
Tax-paying jobs will be created at all levels, from manufacturing through wholesaling through distribution down to retail. And let’s not forget the local, state, and federal inspectors who will be checking to make sure the products are of advertised purity.
And speaking of taxes, think of how much new tax revenue will be generated, taxes that can go toward helping addicts, if such is society’s desire, or toward other worthwhile endeavors.
Is there a downside to this plan? If so, I’m not seeing it.
Some will say that legalizing drugs will just create more addicts and further burden society. I think more people will indeed experiment but I also think anyone who really wants to experiment can easily do so now given that most recreational drugs are readily available in most places. And some will suffer due to the lack of quality control.
What do you think?
Would you be willing to let drug companies produce recreational drugs in return for lowering the cost of your Lipitor and other medicinal drugs?
Do you see a downside to the plan that I’ve missed?
And if all currently illegal recreational drugs were legalized, which would you try, if any?
Truth? Facts? Innocence? What do they have to do with anything? Apparently nothing when there is political hay to be made, as in the case of George Zimmerman.
In case you were in a coma and missed it, Zimmerman is the guy who shot and killed Trayvon Martin a few months ago. Despite all reported evidence indicating Zimmerman told the truth about the incident, including that Martin attacked him as he was walking away and had him on the ground where he feared for his life, Zimmerman was arrested, forced to post bail even though he was not a flight risk, and has been systematically vilified by much of the media and the likes of race-pimps Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.
Now it appears there is even more evidence indicating Zimmerman’s innocence — a lie detector test Zimmerman passed and prosecutors had before they decided to bring charges.
George Zimmerman Passed Police Lie Detector Test Day After Trayvon Martin Killing
Trayvon Martin – George Zimmerman
A day after killing Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman passed a police lie detector test when asked if he confronted the teenager and whether he feared for his life “when you shot the guy,” according to documents released today by Florida prosecutors.
According to a “confidential report” prepared by the Sanford Police Department, Zimmerman, 28, willingly submitted to a computer voice stress analyzer (CVSA) “truth verification” on February 27. Investigators concluded that he “has told substantially the complete truth in regards to this examination.”
Zimmerman, the report noted, “was classified as No Deception Indicated (NDI).”
Why is this purely political prosecution of Zimmerman going forward despite all the evidence he’s told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth from the moment the police arrived on the scene?
Because Zimmerman is half-white and half-Latino while Martin was black.
From the very first moment, this case has not been about a crime, but about race, about the opportunity to brand a “white” guy as racist.
Here’s something odd — if being half-white is enough for Zimmerman to be considered white, how is that half-white Barack Obama is considered black?
Would Zimmerman be facing trial if he was black and Martin was white, or half white? Or if Zimmerman was only a quarter white, or an eighth?
Based on what I’ve read about the case, I believe Zimmerman confronted Martin that day because Martin was a black kid in a place where Zimmerman did not think he should be. But I also believe Martin attacked Zimmerman and was shot as a result. Perhaps there exists evidence to the contrary to which I’m not privy. But so far, not one shred has emerged.
I say it’s high time the political harassment of Zimmerman ended, this whole case was closed, and we move on to something more important, like getting that white guy out of the White House.
Interesting firearms-related columns today from my favorite news site.
Excellent advice, including the single most important piece you’ll ever read.
Legal Advice on Deadly Force From The Witness Stand By Ernest Emerson
I’m not a lawyer so take it for what it’s worth.
So what do you do if you are caught up in a deadly force scenario? Let me state again. I am not a lawyer. But, I have been on the witness stand for the Los Angeles Prosecuting Attorney Office.
The first thing that I want to tell you is this. Hold up your hand and say right now, out loud. I will not lie. Now repeat it. I will not lie. If you do not want to go to prison for something you needed to do, do not exaggerate, do not stretch the truth and do not lie, even once. Leave that to your attorney (no offense).
The aftermath of a violent act, a deadly act, is like a play. There are villains, there are bad guys, there are heroes and there are extras on the set. In fact, you may even really be on film. You never know. Play your part well and you’ll get the Oscar, play it bad and you’ll get free room and board for life.
Should every family own a gun?
By Lisa Bedford, The Survival Mom
Anti-gun rhetoric has been a fact of my life as long as I can remember. As a new mom, I even tried keeping toy guns out of the house, because I had bought into some of the myths surrounding gun ownership, such as:
1) Accidental gun deaths are bound to happen with a gun in the house.
2) A gun-free home will keep kids safe from guns.
3) If kids play with toy guns, they will grow up to be violent.
All of those are nonsense, of course, but as a mom, all I wanted was for my children to be safe. My husband wasn’t exactly on board, and I knew that. As a lifetime member of the NRA, he has always been vocal in his support of the Second Amendment and our right to own firearms, if we choose.
I suppose I could continue to tiptoe around the issue of firearms, but I am convinced that every survival minded family must own at least one gun, train their children in gun safety as well as in shooting skills, and that a firearm should be part of their preparedness plan..
As if anyone reading this today really needed to be convinced…
The Armed Citizen: Proof Guns Save Lives
By The NRA
A Michigan man was at home watching television with his family when an intruder ripped open the house’s storm door, began beating on the inner door and demanded entry. Homeowner Mark Goodman retrieved his personal firearm and held it up to the window. The intruder fled immediately, “like he had seen a ghost,” according to Goodman. (Macomb Daily Paper, Macomb County, Mich., 4/29/12)
Miguel Lopez Hernandez, 25, and an armed accomplice entered Kelly Jewelers. The accomplice produced his handgun, ordered the store manager to get on the floor, then tossed a roll of duct tape to Hernandez. The manager, however, was quickly able to retrieve his own handgun. The armed assailant dashed out the door upon seeing the firearm, leaving Hernandez armed only with the roll of duct tape. Hernandez was arrested and is under investigation for aggravated robbery; his accomplice remains at large. (KSL 5 News, Midvale, UT, 3/10/12)
On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs
By LTC(Ret.) Dave Grossman, RANGER, Ph.D., author of “On Killing.”
One Vietnam veteran, an old retired colonel, once said this to me: “Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident.”
This is true. Remember, the murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another. Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record rate of violent crime. But there are almost 300 million Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year. Furthermore, since many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably less than two million.
Thus there is a paradox, and we must grasp both ends of the situation: We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation.
They are sheep. I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. To me, it is like the pretty, blue robin’s egg. Inside it is soft and gooey but someday it will grow into something wonderful. But the egg cannot survive without its hard blue shell. Police officers, soldiers, and other warriors are like that shell, and someday the civilization they protect will grow into something wonderful. For now, though, they need warriors to protect them from the predators.
“Then there are the wolves,” the old war veteran said, “and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy.” Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep.
There is no safety in denial.
“Then there are sheepdogs,” he went on, “and I’m a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf.”
Congratulations to this week’s Comment Contest winner - Estes Mills.
You know how politicians and bureaucrats are always lamenting the fact that there are not more women who run their own businesses? Could the following be one of the reasons more women do not go into business?
Let’s say you’re a woman and you do decide to open a coffee shop, and it grows to 29 stores thanks to you hiring attractive, outgoing young women to serve the coffee while wearing snug, pink t-shirts. You better watch out because the goobers in the the government might decide to pay you a visit.
Marylou’s hit with discrimination inquiry
Coffee house chain bitter over federal ‘witch hunt’
South Shore coffee chain Marylou’s is singing the blues over a federal employment-discrimination investigation, crying foul that the feds are going after its long-standing practice of hiring bubbly young bombshells to peddle the shop’s trademark joe.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has been quietly probing Marylou’s’ hiring practices for nearly a year, the Herald has learned, with investigators pulling reams of job applications, interviewing company brass and grilling the 29-store chain’s pink-clad clerks about their co-workers’ gender, age, race and body type, according to the company.
Marylou’s execs deny any discrimination.
“We have never had a complaint against us for age discrimination or any kind of discrimination,” founder Marylou Sandry wrote in a plea for help to state Sen. John F. Keenan (D-Quincy). “We feel that the EEOC is on a witch hunt.”
EEOC officials would not comment, and Keenan said he would not intervene in the federal agency’s ongoing investigation.
Sandry declined to comment, other than to say, “I don’t want to say anything. I just want it to be over with.”
Company vice president Ronnie Sandry told the Herald that Marylou’s hiring is limited by its pool of applicants, who tend to be young women from the heavily white South Shore. “When you’re hiring a police officer, certain people show up,” Sandry said. “When you’re hiring a Patriots cheerleader, certain people show up. When we’re hiring, certain people apply, and we have no control over it.”
Katherine J. Michon, a Boston lawyer who specializes in discrimination cases, said the length and scope of the investigation indicates the feds are serious about cracking down on the company.
“It sounds like they’re trying to explore every possible protected category to see if there is a race-discrimination case, a sex-discrimination case or an age-discrimination case … whether people are being chosen for the position because they’re white, young and female,” Michon said.
According to Sandry, EEOC officials told the company the investigation started over Marylou’s local TV spots, in which perky young baristas prance about and sing the company’s bluesy jingle boasting that its roast is “the best coffee in town.”
Apparently, the EEOC thinks business owners should not have the right to hire those people they think will give them the best chance of making the business successful.
What I want to know is why a government on verge of bankruptcy is wasting tax dollars investigating a successful business that nobody complained about. Did some tight-ass prude in the agency catch the store’s commercial and decide pretty girls singing and dancing, or whatever they were doing, just wasn’t right? Perhaps so. A local talk show host opined:
The problem is that people are happy. They like being served by fun, attractive people. Men in particular like being served by fun, attractive women. And that’s why it’s bad. You’re not SUPPOSED to like it.
You’re supposed to be just as content being served by a Roseanne Barr as you would be a Reese Witherspoon. And if you’re not, you’re a bad person.
Instead of sending Marylou’s a note of thanks for providing jobs for lots of people in their 29 stores so the stores and employees can pay taxes to provide the EEOC bureaucrats with cushy jobs, inflated salaries, and great benefits, they harass them. It’s insane. It’s is the kind of thing that happens when government grows so big and bloated that bureaucrats have to do something, anything, no matter how frivolous or foolish, to justify their budgets
Maybe Our Dear Leader will take pity on Marylou’s and stop by for a cup of coffee the next time he’s here in The People’s Republic.
If Michelle let’s him, of course.
What do you think about this story?
If you’re a woman, would this kind of treatment dissuade you from taking the risk of opening a business?
Congratulations to this week’s Comment Contest winner – Dan.
Frankly, I’m surprised this story isn’t being reported from here in The People’s Republic of Massachusetts. I guess it just goes to show that Nanny Staters are everywhere.
New Troy Police initiative aims to reduce theft from parked vehicles
TROY – With a recent spike in thefts from parked cars, the Troy Police Department is looking to roll out some preventive measures it thinks will not only reduce the amount of thefts but also make some residents more aware of what they’re leaving in their cars.
In this effort, if a police officer does notice a valuable item laying out in plain view in a parked car, the officer will then check its plate numbers, and if the address comes back locally, the officer will go to the registered owner’s place of residence and leave a blue card in the entrance way of the building. If the car does not belong to a local address, the officer will then leave the card on its windshield.
If a car is found to be unlocked, according to Police Chief John Tedesco, the officer will lock the vehicle.
Tedesco said the plan was developed over the last several months and has been approved by Mayor Lou Rosamilia.
Troy PBA President Bob Fitzgerald said these measures raise several concerns for not only officers but also the city as a whole. He agreed there has been an increased problem with larcenies from vehicles in the city, but while saying there needs to be a proactive approach taken, he said this particular plan could land some officers in trouble.
First, he said putting the card on the vehicle is merely signaling to a criminal there are valuable items in the vehicle. Tedesco said they have modeled Troy’s program based on similar initiatives used in both the Syracuse Police Department and the City of Yonkers Police Department and said there had been no such incidents created by the cards.
Fitzgerald also criticized the plan as he said officers have no business being in someone’s car as it is their private property. He also said if residents have knowledge police officers are going into cars to lock them but come back to find property missing, they could place blame on the police.
Isn’t it great the Troy police have so much spare time they can drive or walk around looking in people’s cars to make sure they’ve not left anything valuable where others can see it? It seems to me that if crime is low enough in Troy that officers can spend their time locking car doors for folks, Troy could probably get by with fewer officers and lower the tax rate a bit.
What’s next? Will citizens be able to call the police for rides when they’ve had a bit too much beer at a local watering hole? Will they start checking front doors around town in case someone left theirs unlocked in their haste to get to work? And why stop there? They might as well check all the doors and the windows, too. And the garage. And shed.
What’s going to happen if you normally leave your keys under the seat with the door unlocked and a helpful gendarme locks he door, locking you out? Who pays for the locksmith to come and open the door?
I appreciate that Chief Tedesco and Mayor Rosamilia may well have had the best interests of the townfolk at heart when they cooked up and approved this scheme, but the PBA president had it right when he said the whole thing is problematical on several levels.
Locking one’s car in a city is something most folks understand is good practice. If others disagree, or believe themselves to be immune to bad things happening, then I believe it is not the business of the police or anyone else to correct them
Most people learn from their mistakes. The first time someone loses a camera or computer or watch or some other valuable, they’ll learn the lock their doors.
Experience is a great teacher. I say we should let it instruct those who most need the lesson.
And the police should keep their noses out of and hands off of private property.
Congratulations to this week’s Comment Contest winner — Dave.
Are you being tracked? The answer, of course, is yes.
Most of us know that our Internet activities are constantly tracked in order to better serve us relevant advertising and search results. Better for the companies serving the ads and possibly the advertisers, but not necessarily better for us.
Fewer of us know that our cellphone providers track our location as a matter of course, not for any nefarious reason, but because it’s necessary to deliver their service. If they don’t know where we are, they can’t send the signal to a tower near us. The problem I and others have with such providers is that they store the information beyond what is reasonable for billing purposes.
If I have ninety days to dispute charges on my bill, then holding the information longer serves no business purpose. However, it does help to satisfy the increasing intrusive inclinations of various law enforcement agencies, which far too often these days, behave as if our natural right to privacy, enshrined in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, does not exist.
Law enforcement agencies track cellphones without warrants
In August 2011 the ACLU issued public records requests to over 380 state and local law enforcement agencies and found that virtually all of the departments that responded tracked cellphones, most without warrants.
The majority of the 200 agencies that responded engaged in some cellphone tracking. Only a handful of those said they regularly seek warrants and demonstrate probable cause before tracking cellphones, according to the ACLU report.
Most law enforcement agencies said they track phones to investigate crimes, while others said they use tracking only in emergencies like a missing persons case. Only 10 agencies said they never use cellphone tracking.
Some law enforcement agencies provided enough documentation to paint a detailed picture of cellphone tracking activities. For example, Raleigh, North Carolina, tracks hundreds of cellphones per year based on invoices from phone companies. In Wilson County, North Carolina, police obtain historical tracking data where it’s “relevant and material” to an ongoing investigation, a standard the ACLU notes is lower than probable cause.
I don’t object to the cops obtaining location information when they are investigating a crime and there is probable cause to justify it. When such is the case, they should get a search warrant and have at it.
I do object to the growing trend of “law enforcement” at all levels taking it upon themselves to decide what is relevant and what is not, essentially becoming judge and jury during their investigation.
Yes, they have to make decisions about who and what and why. But who’s to say if those decisions are based on something reasonable or a baseless hunch about someone who rubbed the officer the wrong way, perhaps by not being deferential enough when they were interviewed.
With power comes responsibility. Far too many in government and especially in “law enforcement” seem to live for the power and ignore the responsibility.
We have judges and a warrant system for a reason. Instead of shrugging or making excuses, it’s high time we begin punishing those we entrust with power who ignore or circumvent the law through laziness or for any other reason.
Apparently, the new trend by government control freaks is to criminalize feeding the hungry without first asking government permission.
No, this is not a late April Fools joke.
New law bans feeding the homeless without government permission
Charitable organizations and human rights activists in Houston hope to put an initiative on the November ballot that would reverse a controversial new ordinance which makes it a crime to feed the homeless, or otherwise give food away, without special permission.
On April 4 the Houston City Council passed the law, ruling that feeding the hungry requires the permission of property owners wherever it occurs — including the City of Houston, if the feeding happens on public property.
Council members passed the law by a a 11-6 vote; the regulations are set to take effect in July, according to Mayor Annise Parker’s office.
Don't feed these or any homeless people without permission or you could be arrested and fined, maybe even jailed.
Amber Rodriguez, executive director of Noah’s Kitchen in Houston, told The Daily Caller that the new ordinance will shut her organization down if it is upheld. A single fine from the city, she said, could hurt the charity significantly.
The maximum penalty for violating the ordinance is a misdemeanor charge accompanied by a $500 fine. The original proposal, submitted by Mayor Parker, included fines as high as $2,000.
Rodriguez said a $500 fine would keep Noah’s Kitchen from providing roughly 750 meals to individuals who need them.
Initially, the mayor also wanted “all charitable food to be prepared in city-certified kitchens, at least one person from each feeding organization take a food safety class and that everyone who wants to feed the homeless register with the city,” according to the Houston Chronicle. Those requirements were eventually struck from the final version, and registration was made voluntary.
The final seven-page law authorizes the city’s health department to approve “Recognized Charitable Food Service Providers” and fast-tracks its final implementation because of what the bill’s authors call a “public emergency.”
Rodriguez, however, is unimpressed. “I never knew there would be so much red tape to cut through just to do what we all should be doing for each other,” she told TheDC. “This will shut us down.”
Government imposes economic and social policies that result in more economic and social hardship, then requires those who try to help the disadvantaged to beg their permission to continue doing so.
Better to let them starve, I guess, so they’ll go live under a bridge in some other city or town.
Maybe they should just round up all those human eyesores and ship them off to some of those big, fenced-in FEMA camps the Feds have been building.
What really astounds me is that nobody in government seems to recognize that as they impose more and more “controls,” conditions keep getting worse and worse. Or maybe they do recognize it and the whole point is to continue making things worse so they can continue imposing new restrictions and accelerate America’s downward spiral.
Or maybe it’s just me and my silly belief that leaving people alone is the best thing government can do for them…and for the nation.
The American system of trial by jury is often touted as the best possible means of dispensing justice. Certainly, that is the message of the short, 659-word column excerpted and linked below. And, certainly, that was once true. But that is no longer the case, and hasn’t been for a very long time.
Please take a few minutes to read it. See if you notice the same things that trouble me.
Judging the potential jury
It is the crazy, beautiful circus at the heart of the American justice system. Listen closely to a criminal trial jury selection and you learn a lot about the burdens, fears, foibles, and remarkable strengths of your fellow citizens. You hear profiles in courage and, from scattered artful dodgers, profiles in convenience. Above all you hear the solemn determination of ordinary folk to be fair.
On Monday morning, the jury pool gathered in Courtroom 18 at the Moakley Courthouse in South Boston, where US District Judge William G. Young presides. Young has an evangelist’s devotion to the jury system. In speeches to new jurors, he always calls it “the most vital expression of direct democracy that exists anywhere on the planet.”
He patiently explained why this pool of about 50 nervous souls were gathered. A man named Calvin Dedrick had been charged with gun and drug crimes. They alone could decide if he was guilty.
Then it was time to cull the group to 12 jurors and two alternates.
How appropriate the author chose the word “cull” to describe the jury selection process because, like culling a herd of animals, people are culled from the jury pool. Of course, with jurors, weakness and bad health have little to do with it. But undesirable traits have everything to do with it. Leading the list of undesirable traits are independent thinking and an unwillingness to do as you are told.
When the judge asked the man if he could find the defendant guilty even though the man believed drugs should be legal, he was really asking the man if he could put aside his conscience and do as he’s told. He’s telling the man his sole job as a juror is to decide if a law was broken. And that is a lie, one judges across the nation tell with daily regularity.
And what kind of person would vote against his own conscience?
While part of a juror’s job is to judge whether a law has been broken, it is also their job to decide if the law is constitutional, reasonable, and being applied in a reasonable manner in the case at hand.
The judge was asking that potential juror if he could find Calvin Dedrick guilty and send him off to prison merely for having a gun and/or for possessing and/or selling drugs, which the juror rightly believed should be legal. The judge was looking for people who could convict despite the fact that all laws restricting possession of firearms and of possessing and selling drugs are clearly unconstitutional. Of course, the judge would not be telling them that. It’s his job to keep the cops and prosecutors working, the prisons full, and himself employed.
“…you could understand Young’s great faith in these randomly selected, moderately vetted citizens.”
Jury pools may be randomly selected today, but Judge Young’s “great faith” in them rests on them being anything but “moderately vetted” as his questioning shows. He wants a jury who can be led, like sheep; a jury that will not question the law or anything else he tells them.
If the jury’s only job was truly to decide whether or not a law was broken, we would not even need a jury. A computer could do it.
“Our whole moral authority depends on the people we’re bringing up here,” Young said. In Courtroom 18, that authority was quite sound.
Judge Young was correct. A court’s moral authority does depend on the people they select. And once, that moral authority was sound. No longer. Juries packed with people who are willing to convict despite their personal beliefs are not juries at all. They’re human robots. And they are not dispensing justice.
In my courtroom, were I ever to sit in Judge Young’s chair, potential jurors would be asked
1) Do you in any way know or are you in any way related to any of the parties involved in this case?
Then I’d excuse those with long-standing vacation plans, health issues, etc.
Then twelve would be chosen at random as jurors and two as alternates.
Then we’d have some real justice.
What do you think?
Am I crazy? Do we need and want judges to “cull” jurors who are independent thinkers?
Comment Contest Winners # = Repeat winner
For the week ending
1/29 Leonard Barnes2 2/5 Pat
2/12 Brogan1 2/19 Stephanie
2/26 Scott Schluter
3/5 Storm4 3/12 Donna C.
3/26 Becky Holm
4/30 Brogan1 5/7 Blue_Sky
5/14 Drill Sgt K.
6/25 Woody3 7/2 Christie
7/9 Candace Delaney
7/16 No responses!
7/23 Rob Andrews
7/30 George Deas
8/6 Vinny V
9/17 Leonard Barnes2 9/24 Kathy
11/5 Kentucky Kid
11/26 Woody3 12/3 Leanne
12/10 Gina Jackson
12/31 charles scamman
1/7/12 Gloria Meyer
1/14 Liz Gavaza
2/4 Phillip Dukes
2/11 Storm4 2/18 Leslie
3/3 Debby Rich
3/17 Carolyn McBride
3/24 Keith Hodges
3/31 Jeffrey C. Anthony
4/7 Sue Reynolds
4/14 No responses!
5/5 No responses!
5/19 Estes Mills
6/16 Chip Johnson
6/30 Elizabeth Martin
7/21 K Howe
8/4 Will you be this week's winner?