Friday, May 27, 2011

The Reluctant Juror

Matt Taibbi: “The amount of money investors lost in this fraud scheme is probably gigantic. The ill-gotten money the banks made off that same fraud is probably similarly huge. And the damage to society, in the form of mass foreclosures and other losses, is incalculable.”

New York Times: “Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York attorney general, has requested information and documents in recent weeks from three major Wall Street banks about their mortgage securities operations during the credit boom, indicating the existence of a new investigation into practices that contributed to billions in mortgage losses.”

A couple weeks ago I got another jury summons. Over the years, I've been summoned many times and have served on four juries. I have little recollection of the first experience beyond some vague images from the deliberation. The second case was a burglary: we found the defendant guilty. When I found out after the trial that this was his third strike, something they don't tell you during the proceedings, I was sick to my stomach. Yes, he was guilty, but did he deserve the third strike “punishment”? Hardly. The third case was a few years ago, a civil case for damages being brought against a doctor. I was the only one on the jury who found in favor of the defendant. Unfortunately for him, since it was a civil case, the jury didn't have to be unanimous, and the doctor won. My last jury was about a year ago. I guess they can call you now every year or so. I was an alternate. It was a murder trial. The two defendants were accused of killing a homeless man. The defendants were found guilty. I disagreed (on the basis of self-defense and other factors), but of course, since I was an alternate, I had no say in the matter. The whole experience was a bit disturbing: they took us out to the scene of the crime, the family of both parties were in the courtroom during the case, many witnesses were homeless, etc. I journaled the experience for personal purposes and perhaps I'll post it later.

These last two cases reinforced something I've known most of my life, i.e., I have a bit of a different perspective on things than most folks. But that's not the point of this post. The fact of the matter is, since I've received that summons, I've pretty much decided that I cannot serve on another jury. In the last year or so, as I've learned more about this country's financial “collapse” and what actually happened, how we were originally “told” this whole thing was a bunch of “circumstances” that just happened to result in horrible financial misfortune for thousands of people, how the bankers/Wall Streeters HAD to be saved, how they were “penalized” with a slap on the wrist, and yet, how now we realize these people were in fact CRIMINALS with knowledge aforethought about the whole thing and who were MANIPULATING the system and the suckers so they could further expand what they seem to feel is their birthright for yet more wealth and power at the expense of everyone else. And that so far NO CRIMINAL CHARGES have been brought against them, except that, God help him, New York's Attorney General (see above) MAY be doing something about it. Good luck on that, sir. Remember Elliot Spitzer?

On June 6, which just happens to be my father's 87th birthday, I will probably (I have to call first) show up at the courthouse and wait to be questioned to see if I end up on a jury. Only this time, if I do get questioned, I don't think I will be able to say, with a clear conscience, that I can be impartial. I'm repulsed by the blatant two-tiered justice system in this country. Of course I know this has been the case forever, but to my mind, it's becoming too much the norm and too many members of the revolving door ivy league banker/legislator/lobbyist club are NOT EVEN BEING clandestine about it anymore and not a one of them is having to pay for anything. So when I look at that defendant in that courtroom, I will be partial towards their “situation” - I will not be able to look at anything in that courtroom with an open mind. And I suppose I will have to tell them how I feel.


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