Deval Patrick’s Indefensible, Terrifying Admission

Welcome to my nightmare...

Welcome to my nightmare…

It is 4:30 AM. I can’t sleep, and among the reasons are not, as you might think, the fact that my father died five years ago today and I miss him terribly, or that this is my birthday, and I am that much closer to my own death. No, the cause for my tossing in bed is that I read  Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s comments on “Meet the Press” about the Michael Brown shooting (yes, those eleven Ferguson posts still weren’t enough) just before retiring, and they have been giving me nightmares.

What Patrick’s remarks suggest to me  is that this incident is quite literally driving Democrats, civil rights activists and African-Americans crazy, causing them to lose their grip on basic principles of ethics and democracy. Here is what Patrick said, in part, in his interview with Chuck Todd, who, incompetently, did not ask properly probing questions in response (falling over in a dead faint would have also been appropriate):

“Look, without knowing all the facts, of course I wanted to see an indictment. And mostly because I think a trial and the transparency of a trial would be good for the community. And because so many of us have the supposition that police officers are not going to be held accountable and not going to have to answer for the shooting of unarmed, young, black teenagers.”

I challenge any civil libertarian to defend this statement.

Patrick, a former civil rights attorney in the Justice Department and considered a rising power in the Democratic Party, stated that he wanted an American citizen to be indicted and tried for murder regardless of the facts, because trying a citizen—putting him on trial for his life, regardless of whether he can be convicted of any crime or is guilty of one, “would be good for the community.”

He believes, contrary to the ideals on which the American system of government was founded, that it is “good” to have show trials, to put citizens at risk of losing their liberty to satisfy “suppositions.” This man was elected to preside over the state of Massachusetts. He is a lawyer. But to him, such concepts as justice, due process and fairness are “obviously” not as important as satisfying race-based distrust of law enforcement officials.

Moreover, he believes that it is appropriate to put one man on trial—without facts to justify it—because of what Patrick and “many of us”—meaning, I think it is fair to assume, African-Americans, suppose. He also believes that one officer, regardless of what he did, should be tried for the shooting of “of unarmed, young, black teenagers,” regardless of what the teenager in that particular situation did to prompt such a shooting, in order to pay with that officer’s life for all the other instances when others officers were not held responsible and should have been. In addition to basic principles of justice, Governor Patrick also announced his rejection of logic and common sense.

The willingness with which this black elected official is willing, indeed eager, to sacrifice a young white public servant, who as far was he knows might be innocent of any wrong doing, to salve a racial grievance is chilling. The belief of such a powerful and influential individual that trying a police officer for murder who may have been guilty of no more than doing his job and protecting his person against an “unarmed, young, black teenager”—-who had evinced a clear interest in harming him and obviously had the physical ability to do so—would be good for the community is frightening. This country officially stands for the proposition that the government targeting and punishing individuals without a fair and objective application of due process, equal protection and the rule of law is not good for the community, and is in fact destructive to it.

Worst of all, and most ominous, is the fact that an individual in Patrick’s position feels that he can make such a statement on national TV without shame and with complete impunity, having no fear of horrified rejection within his own party and by his supporters. He has just expressed approval of the totalitarian tool of  show trials, and doesn’t realize how repellant that is….apparently because among the groups he identifies with, they aren’t repellant at all.

Reflect on that, and welcome to my nightmare.

The Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck should be an ethics alarm for supposed progressives that their biases and fervor are leading them down a monstrous path for which the description “unethical” is inadequate. For everyone else, this fiasco and the positions so many in the news media, the Democratic Party, African-Americans and progressives have adopted to make it the fiasco it is* should sound a general alarm. Their implications for our liberty and the future of the nation are terrifying, and we—and in my case, I mean Americans who oppose bigotry and race-based public policy in all of its forms—ignore them at our peril.


Sources: Boston Globe, Free Press

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts, and seek written permission when appropriate. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work or property was used in any way without proper attribution, credit or permission, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at



21 thoughts on “Deval Patrick’s Indefensible, Terrifying Admission

  1. I wouldn’t worry about it too much, Jack. Deval Patrick is a joke (up here in Maine, Boston media is pretty dominant – watching Deval in action is sort of like watching a game from the bleachers at Fenway – or, at minimum, from a bar on Lansdowne Street).

    Massachusetts is a deep blue state. Deval won his first term handily, but his track record as governor was replete with profligate spending and no small number of scandals (he’s not called “Mini-Me” for nothing). His re-election as governor was with a plurality, not a majority, made possible only by the presence of an “independent” that many savvy watchers believe was a stalking horse intended to draw votes away from the Republican candidate,

    It’s possible he’ll make a run at POTUS but the bottom line is that Deval is too much of a lightweight to be a serious threat. His views – and their propriety – are as alarming as you suggest, but I don’t think anyone who’s really watched the guy in action considers him much of a rising star.

    It’s not like he can rest on a curiously thin resume and bland slogans like “Hope and Change.”

  2. This seems fairly in line with liberal race policies for the last 30 years. This is the problem with fighting for an equality of outcomes instead of an equality of opportunities.

    I have been looking of YouTube for the Monty Python Flying Circus skit where they live in the world where everyone is tried for murder every 2 years. In the skit, you don’t get tried for a specific murder, you just have to prove that you haven’t murdered anyone since your last murder trial. In the skit, the stunned citizen asks “Do you find any people committed murder through these trials” and the government official responds “Oh, you would be surprised how many people we find guilty of murder this way”. I think that skit cleverly detailed the dangers of putting people you know are innocent on trial. You will end up wrongly convicting many of them and destroying their lives, just like we wrongly (according to all the evidence) destroyed the life of Officer Wilson.

  3. Isn’t it equally terrifying that Republicans make similar statements in support of the officer “without knowing all the facts?”

    Happy holidays and happy birthday. I just spent Thanksgiving with family (all of whom are some blend of Republicans/Conservatives/Libertarians) and they are all just as ignorant of the facts, our legal system, and are only repeating opinion points. I’m also depressed about the racism that still runs rampant in much of my family, and it makes me wonder how much their opinions on this are shaped by that. But I digress….

    Democrats do it, Republicans do it, and nobody cares. Of course your analysis is right. Assuming that the facts demonstrated that there was nothing improper with the shooting and the prosecutor didn’t try to abuse the process, the only correct answer was to not indict the officer. Based on the facts that were released, it certainly appears that the eyewitness testimony was not credible.

    The reason why Deval was able to make this statement is that Americans don’t care about the facts, they only care about their opinions. And if our citizens don’t care, then politicians will be able to exploit that to their own benefit. I’m wondering why you are just having this nightmare now. My nightmare started during the OJ trial.

    • 1. Absolutely it is equally terrifying, except that when Republicans do it, as in the case of those who immediately said that Zimmerman was justified in shooting Martin, or that Brown was a thug and deserved to die, they tend to be on the fringes, and they are swarmed by the media. Has any Republican of similar stature to Patrick done this? if so, I missed it.
      2. This is till different: Patrick admits that he wants an indictment without assuming the cop was guilty of anything, because a trial would be “good.” Don’t you find that attitude especially heinous?
      3. Thanks for the birthday wishes. My birthday curse continues—got some more very bad family news today.

      • Show trials are the new bread and circuses Jack. Or perhaps they have always been come to think of it. Numerous examples are springing to mind as I type this.

    • Interestingly enough I have heard about .001% of Republicans or right wingers in general make the absolute statements that Wilson must absolutely be innocent and damn the facts. I have heard a decidedly terrifying percentage of Democrats and left wingers declare that Wilson is absolutely guilty and damn the facts.

      This isn’t a partisan issue in the way the leftists wish it were (mostly to assuage their shame at making such indefensible claims- they don’t want to be the only people with egg on their face).

      • To be clear, it is partisan in that it shows some pretty terrifying societal views held by lefties. It is not partisan in that there is an equal and opposite stance held y righties (who for the most part I have heard typically state that “we don’t know what happened, let’s see what the Grand Jury says”).

        Which of course if you do see that as a partisan right winger position, I’m really scared about your other beliefs on the judicial system.

        • So what if you haven’t seen the same commentary as me? It doesn’t make my anecdotes any less true. My Facebook feed as been equally terrifying from both political sides. Perhaps you are just luckier in the family lottery than I am.

          Your last line doesn’t make sense in that regard, because it presumes a set of facts about what I’ve seen and heard. My favorite of which being, by the way, that if “[T]he Blacks don’t like what’s going on in Ferguson, they should all move to Syria and experience real hardship.” Both racist AND nonsensical, wouldn’t you agree?

          • Goalposts shifted. Here I thought we were discussing the specifics of the indictment/non-indictment of Darren Wilson, not the greater context of the Ferguson anger.

            As for racist, that comment doesn’t appear so.

            As for nonsensical, it seems extreme, but given that many protestors have compared American police to ISIS savages, it would seem fair to challenge them to really live a life with ISIS in charge.

            • (to be clear however, the dialectically proper response to an idiot comparing American police to ISIS savages is to demonstrate the difference or simply look at the fool making the assertion like they are a moron, it isn’t a logical response to demand they live with ISIS to see the difference for themselves…it is however understandable to assert that)

  4. Can someone explain to me why the prosecutor deviated from normal Grand Jury SOP?

    My understanding was that the prosecutor’s job was to try to get an indictment, and was supposed to present only the prosecutions perspective to the Grand Jury, all the while operating on a lower standard for evidence. I’ll admit that I’m not familiar with Grand Juries, I don’t think we have those in Canada, but of all the criticism of this process, that the prosecutor admitted into evidence things that could be seen as defense exhibits hits me as legitimate.

    • Now I know I’ve written on that here, and more than once. Let’s see… I just wrote this in the previous Ferguson post:

      4. I am looking at Prosecutorial Ethics (Second Edition), by R. Michael Cassidy. It is not a radical tome. Right here on page 13, it says that The NDAA Standards and the ABA Criminal Justice Standards state “that a prosecutor should not commence a criminal prosecution unless the prosecutor expects that that there will sufficient admissible evidence to convict the defendant.” The U.S. Attorney’s Manual takes a slightly different approach: it says that there should be no charge unless “the prosecutor reasonably believes that an unbiased finder of fact will be able to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

      Under either of these standards, Wilson could not be ethically charged. Got that? Everybody? It would be unethical for Wilson to just be charged to try to make the lynch mob happy, which is really what it would be. Cornel West, another former African-American Studies professor, at Harvard and Princeton, and now a full-time rabble-rouser, said recently that the proof of systemic racism in the Brown shooting was that any time Americans kill anyone, they are tried for murder, and should be. He’s a professor? He sure isn’t a lawyer; he doesn’t even watch enough lawyer TV shows. (On this and some other topics in this post, this article is relevant and helpful—and correct.

      Then I linked to a Washington Post piece in an earlier post, where you find this, debunking the accusation that “The Grand Jury Did Something That Grand Juries Ordinarily Don’t Do”:

      Ben Caselman at The Huffington Post has an objection styled as a factoid that “it’s incredibly rare for a grand jury to do what Ferguson’s just did.” He reports that in 2010, federal prosecutors sought charges in 162,000 federal cases, and yet grand juries declined to return an indictment in only 11 of them. This point confuses apples with oranges. It take as the apples a pool of cases where federal prosecutors had already screened the evidence for probable cause (or, more likely, reasonable likelihood of success at trial — see the next point below). Hopefully, if federal prosecutors are doing their jobs well, the number of these cases in which probable cause does not exist should be something close to 0% — as Caselman reports is the case. But Caselman then compares these apples to the orange of this case — a situation where a grand jury is investigating with no assurance that any criminal conduct is present. Obviously an investigation into a possible crime is never a sure thing — particularly in the area of police shootings, where the law gives officers some leeway for making split second decisions. The difference in the outcome with the Michael Brown investigative grand jury from a routine federal prosecution is hardly surprising.

      I believe under ordinary circumstances—that is, if Brown’s parents, the fake witnesses and the protests hadn’t co-opted the process, the prosecutor might have just decided not to bring charges: the GJ is used to charge when that’s what the the prosecutor believes should happen, but it can also be used as an objective investigative body, and often is. Here, faced with a likely bad case if the cop was charged but aware that he couldn’t make the call himself, the prosecutor had the jury review all the evidence, not just the evidence pointing to Wilson’s guilt. And there is nothing improper about that.

      • Thanks, I had read both of those articles, and for some reason the logic didn’t click. I think it was a disconnect between Canadian and American systems, we haven’t had grand juries since the late 1800’s, and I’m still not sure what value they add to the system. Perhaps it has to do with the way our courts are elected and appointed, respectively. Completely off the beaten path here, but can I ask your opinion on whether GJ add value to the system?

        • In the sense that it provides cover and the illusion (or reality) of objectivity when the charging decisions is politically or emotionally charged, yes, I think it has value. And it democratizes one of the system’s most undemocratic features.

  5. Happy Birthday, Jack. In remembering your Father, I hope the myriad memories of time shared with him warm your heart and lift up your spirits. I’m relatively certain he would be proud of his son. Thank you, again, for this enlightening and educational blog.

  6. Happy Birthday, Jack.

    It makes me worried. Deval’s statement is just more nastiness and its not alone. Despite not having any evidence of racial animus on Zimmerman’s part the Justice Department still convened a grand jury. And just around the last election. I’m sure it wasn’t to “drum up” some last minute votes.

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