jury

I read something today you should read – before you read what I have written.

http://amylhowe.com/2019/09/30/court-to-consider-whether-right-to-unanimous-jury-verdict-applies-to-state-criminal-trials/

This deeply disturbed me because it was something I was unaware of, as I’m sure many other people are as well. One thing we do know, though, is that black people are disproportionately convicted of crimes and incarcerated in greater percentage when compared to the white population. Some states have a higher incarceration rate than others. What in the law allows this to happen?

We also know black people never have a jury of their peers, and feelings of racism can be outwardly hidden. Token black jurors don’t affect the outcome of a verdict no matter how they determine the guilt or innocence of the defendant. I didn’t put two and two together. It didn’t matter if they voted against conviction, because in state trials the vote doesn’t always have to be unanimous. Even if there were more black jurors voting against an unfair conviction, and the verdict was 7 guilty to 5 not guilty determinations, barely more than half, there would still be a conviction.

I have never heard of a 7 to 5 vote. Juries are never balanced and racism affects to many. White jurors, even in the recent past, dont want to be seen as voting against their race to free a black man no what the circumstances were. The black and white population isn’t judged with the same scrutiny.

Given the racism that is still alive and well, it often doesn’t matter if a prosecutor has a weak case of insufficient evidence.  A black defendant is pretty much guaranteed a conviction, and if a white man is brought up on charges of the same nature he will often be acquited or have a severely reduced sentence. The outrage of the black community has largely fallen on deaf ears. No protest, no reasoning has changed anything. Too many white people are still afraid of losing their top dog superiority of being a better race who should be in control, regardless of how ignorant that is.

The United States has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world and the courts have fought to decimate the black race any way they can. They destroy families, keeping many families destitute without a father to bring money into the household and a man to guide his children. More and more families are losing their mothers, forcing their children into the child welfare system and keeping them from supporting their families.

Incarcerating black women is the fastest growing demographic today, looking past the incarceration in the past few years of immigrants the current administration p pegs as criminals and rapists to further turn America White. Underfunding schools in black neighbors cause the schools to be unable to buy books  for their students destroying their education and desire to learn.  Today President Trump’s urgency to cut off free lunches for low income students is the latest attempt to make their lives harder. 

The list is long in the ways white people have sought to prove their dominance. The court has been a main tool. That is IF someone charged with a crime can even get their day in court because as it stands only about 3% even have that privilege. If you can’t pay an attorney you WILL be forced to take a plea, innocent or guilty. 

People are threatened with extremely long sentences of they don’t take a plea. That means even the innocent go prison because they are given the choice of maybe a 15 year sentence instead of 40. Most of the black defendants can’t afford to hire a lawyer while many white defendants can. Decades and more of racist attitudes and application of those attitudes and laws in the courts have left many in the black communities unable to fight back against what was being done to them.

Right now there is a strong possibility of change being made in the courts and it is about something I didn’t know even existed because it hasn’t been written about that I have seen. Some states in our country are more racist than others.  We know that. By why is the incarceration rate higher in those states than others. Do they have more criminals? I’m talking about Oregon and Louisiana. Are laws different there or is the Constitution interpreted differently? 

Why? Because there has been a Constitutional amendment or rather a precident that has been followed for the last hundred years based on an opinion written by one Supreme Court Judge, that because of racist attitudes, a unanimous vote on a jury was no longer needed. It was later changed to mean that a unanimous vote was only needed in federal cases, not state. Understand that 75% of those incarcerated are sentenced by the state courts, not federal.

When the 3% of those charged, Black or white, go to court, it is rare for black individuals to see a jury of their peers and are often convicted on slim evidence resulting in conviction almost all the time. And if there are jurors who do not vote for conviction it doesn’t matter because their vote doesn’t count.

“When it was originally enacted, the Constitution’s Bill of Rights – the first 10 amendments – was interpreted as applying only to the federal government, not to the states. But beginning in the early 20th century, the Supreme Court ruled that some (and eventually most) of the Bill of Rights also applies to the states through the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which bars states from depriving anyone of “life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Just last term, the justices decided another case involving incorporation of the Bill of Rights, ruling unanimously that the Eighth Amendment’s ban on excessive fines applies to the states through the 14th Amendment.”

And,  “the knowledge that a conviction cannot be obtained absent a unanimous verdict deters prosecutors from bringing questionable charges in the first place.”

Over the years many states changed their bias about unanimous votes but there are two states that continue unchallenged and they are states with the highness incarceration rates – Oregon and Louisiana, and that is hopefully about to change.

This would not be retroactive to all cases, because there are those on the Supreme Court who are afraid it will cause those who have been previously convicted and have run out of appeals to pick up their fight again. It would jam up the courts.

Who cares if they are innocent, right? But the Supreme Court judges are also afraid that those who are still fighting their case will demand retrials.  But shouldn’t they be retried? If someone is innocent don’t they have the right as American citizens to fight for their life? Don’t they count? If there is not a unanimous vote to convict – if there are jurors who think they are innocent, or at least not enough evidence to convict, should they not have a right to a jury where all voices are unanimous?

“At last year’s oral argument in Timbs, Justice Neil Gorsuch seemed almost bemused at the idea that the justices were considering whether the Eighth Amendment’s excessive fines clause applies to the states. In an exchange with Thomas Fisher, Indiana’s solicitor general, Gorsuch observed somewhat incredulously that “here we are in 2018 still litigating incorporation of the Bill of Rights. Really? Come on.” We’ll have a better sense next week whether Gorsuch and other members of the court regard Ramos’ case as equally straightforward.”

**Words in quotes came from the linked article. There is much more in it that makes it worth reading, especially if you or a loved one has been affected by the racism in the courts.
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Added note. This past year I haven’t been able to keep up my blog due to illness. Hopefully I can change that.

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