Part 1 is here. As I expected, there was a lot of dubious as well as perceptive commentary after the verdict, and some related events with ethics implications.
1. I’d comment on this, but Ann doesn’t allow comments any more...The only note Althouse had on the verdict was a detached, “I’m sure that is an immense relief to many, many people.” Not to me. I’m not relieved when the justice system allows itself to be dictated to by mobs. Nor am I relieved when racial significance is illicitly attached to a non-racial episode so activists can lie about it.
2. The reason why there was no reason to be “relieved” arrived quickly, in the form of the Democrat reaction to the police shooting of 15-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant in Columbus, Ohio. Body camera footage showed Ma’Khia charging at another young woman apparently preparing to stab her with a knife. Attorney Ben Crump, looking for the next black family he can represent and the next white police officer he can demonize in the press, referred to Ma’Khia as “unarmed” in a tweet. “Squad” member Ayanna Pressley tweeted, “Black girls deserve girlhood — uninterrupted. Black girls deserve to grow up and become women” —apparently even if they kill other black girls on the way to growing up. Senator Sherrod Brown disgracefully tweeted, “While the verdict was being read in the Derek Chauvin trial, Columbus police shot and killed a sixteen-year-old girl. Her name was Ma’Khia Bryant. She should be alive right now.”
Naturally, BLM protests erupted in Columbus. When Ethics Alarms says “Facts Don’t Matter,” I’m not being cute. The push to brand virtually any law enforcement action against black lawbreakers as racist and an example of police misconduct will gather power with each perceived victory. The effort to bully elected officials and juries into discarding due process and sound policy to accomplish this will not stop or weaken until enough Americans have the courage to brave accusations of racism and say “Enough.”
3. Having unethically pronounced Derek Chauvin guilty while he trial was underway, The White House declared the shooting of Bryant racially motivated without any evidence whatsoever:
Words cannot express how irresponsible, dishonest and wrong this is. If, as it appears, the girl was preparing to kill someone, her background, race or status as a foster care are irrelevant. The officer did not have time to check her files. [Pointer: Jim Hodgson]
4. Then a hero of the black community and a perceived leader (ugh) tweeted this:
5. Commentary from Andrew McCarthy, among the more objective and reliable legal pundits:
For all the downsides of his unhinged commentary, Trump never took matters to the point of jury intimidation, as the preternaturally unhinged Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters did over the weekend.
The jury may have returned a verdict Tuesday, finding him guilty of all charges. But as the judge noted Monday, Waters’ inflammatory language offered Chauvin grounds for appeal. Because of her, this isn’t over. Waters checked every box. As a federal representative from a California district, she traveled to another sovereign state, Minnesota, to interfere in its judicial system. Her rabble-rousing was done in violation of a curfew that the elected mayor had imposed to suppress the rioting that followed the tragic accidental killing of Daunte Wright by a police officer. And her remarks can only be interpreted as an incitement to violence — one less ambiguously provocative than the one over which she and other House Democrats impeached Trump….For his part, President Biden waited until the jury was deliberating to make the stunning public statement that he is “praying” for Chauvin to be convicted.
The fact that the jury was sequestered when Biden spouted off is no excuse. He is a lawyer and former Senate Judiciary Committee chairman who well knows that sequestration does not make jurors impervious to prejudicial publicity. And if he’s been following the case as he claims to have been, he knows trial judge Peter Cahill has pleaded that public officials stop commenting on the trial — under circumstances where, even before the Bidens and Waters piped up, there was already substantial reason to doubt that Chauvin could get a fair trial in Minneapolis….
…Our viability as a free, prosperous, rule-of-law society is dependent on the viability of courts as the protection every one of us, equally, can rely on against overbearing government and politicized mobs. …How is it that the Left grasps the fundamental need for due process and the presumption of innocence when a foreign terrorist is on trial for mass-murdering Americans, but not when an American police officer is in the dock?
Yup. And another reason there’s nothing to be “relieved” about.
6. Conservatives also were demonstrating a lack of basic comprehension. For example, Fox News comedian/pundit Greg Guttfield said, “I’m glad that [Chauvin] was found guilty on all charges, even if he might not be guilty of all charges.”
Nice! Another conditional believer in fair trials and due process! A similar sentiment was expressed by John Nolte, who wrote,
While many people were justifiably disgusted by how the media, Democrats, and the left-wing terrorists in Black Lives Matter and Antifa used the Ku Klux Klan’s playbook to intimidate the Chauvin jury, at the end of the day that doesn’t change what all Americans know: the jury’s verdict was just, and former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd and deserves to go to prison for a long time.
I don’t know of a single person who was okay with what happened to Floyd, who found Chauvin’s actions justifiable, who was not sickened by that video.
This is one of many reasons I don’t read Breitbart. Not being “okay” with what Chauvin did to George Floyd doesn’t mean he should be convicted of murder without the benefit of a fair trial. If you don’t understand the Constitution and the law better than that, then don’t write about legal matters.
7. From Alan Dershowitz, a criminal appeal specialist:
“[T]he verdict is very questionable because of the outside influences of people like Al Sharpton and people like Maxine Waters Their threats and intimidation and hanging the Sword of Damocles over the jury and basically saying, ‘If you don’t convict on the murder charge and all the charges, the cities will burn, the country will be destroyed,’ seeped into the jury room because the judge made a terrible mistake by not sequestering the jury. So the judge himself said this case may be reversed on appeal. And I think it might be reversed on appeal. I think it should be reversed on appeal“I think the American Civil Liberties Union, which would be all over this case if it weren’t a racially charged case, all Americans who care about due process and liberty should be concerned that the jury verdict may have been influenced by, if not the thumb, maybe even the elbow of the outside pressures, the fears, the threats.”
This should sound familiar to regular Ethics Alarms readers.
8. Prof. Turley also wrote today that there are strong grounds for appeal:
…I believe Judge Cahill should have granted the venue change and also sequestered this jury. It is not clear if the court polled the jury on trial coverage, particularly after the inflammatory remarks of Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Cal.). However, there are credible grounds for challenging how this jury may have been influenced by the saturation of coverage of the trial as well as rioting in the area….The tragic irony is that Waters could be used to overturn the very conviction she demanded. If that happens, it is unlikely that rioters will go to her home or burn businesses in her district. Those crimes will be focused in Minnesota but could spend across the country, too.