A very interesting read by Gene Weingarten in the Washington Post: On the jury, Gene Weingarten didn’t believe the D.C. police’s eyes
Weingarten tells of being an alternate on a jury for a small-time drug case. He was convinced the suspect was guilty. So was the other alternate. So, apparently, were most if not all the regular jurors.
And yet, 10 of the 12 regular jurors voted to acquit and both alternates would have done the same. Clearly this was a form of jury nullification. Did they vote to acquit this scumbag drug dealer because they opposed the drug war? No.
It was the lyin’ eyes.
You see, in the drug war, the police often feel that they’re at a disadvantage â€” after all, nobody reports consensual crimes, so the police have to be the aggrieved party, the witness, the investigator and arrestor. This leads to the temptation to “firm up” their case, particularly in those rare cases when a defendant chooses to go for a jury trial.
In this case, the “eyes” (policeman who witnesses the transaction) gave a nice detailed description of the suspect: “black male, black jacket, royal blue baseball hat, v-necked white t-shirt, sneakers, key on a chain around his neck, carrying a bottle of ginger ale.” Two other police officers agreed that they had heard this exact description over the radio, and then they moved in and arrested the suspect, who matched the description in every particular.
Turns out, the “eyes” was 172 feet away from the transaction.
The jury members were sure the defendant was guilty, but they didn’t like being lied to by the police.
I believe they knew they had the right guy and were willing to cheat a little to assure a conviction.
I believe they had the right guy, too. But the willingness to cheat, I think, is a poisonous corruption of a system designed to protect the innocent at the risk of occasionally letting the guilty walk free. It’s a good system, fundamental to freedom. I think a police officer willing to cheat is more dangerous than a two-bit drug peddler.
And that’s another reason to get rid of this corrupting drug war.