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Re: Officers Who Killed Eric Garner and Mike Brown Walk — Will Cops Ever Be Held to Account in the Courts? | Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project

From: domainremoved <Aram>
Date: Tue, 9 Dec 2014 21:03:24 -0800

Hi Wayne,
Thanks so much for your detailed critical comments (see below) re my recent piece. My views on the subject of the epidemic of white police officers engaged in the routine killing of African-American males is a work in progress, and all views, including yours, add to this much needed national conversation. Rather than respond to each of the arguments you have taken great pains to construct, I suggest we open up the conversation to others who have yet to weigh in on this critical subject.
Best regards,
Aram

P.S. I know in your comments yesterday you were critical of the quality of the questions I posed to DA Steve Wagstaffe re the three Menlo Park police officers who shot and killed an alleged burglary suspect back on Nov 11. I hope you will consider drafting your own questions for the MPPD and DA Steve Wagstaffe.
 

Sent from my iPhone

> On Dec 9, 2014, at 11:45 AM, Wayne Martin <wmartin46_at_(domainremoved)
>
> Aram..
>
> I find the following opinion piece to be more emotional, than rational, and infused with much misinformation. Given that this author is a former Officer of the Court, it’s difficult to understand his views, in the extreme. The following is an attempt to refute some of the author’s claims with alternative views--
>
> > How is it that in 2014, a decision whether to prosecute such a shocking crime,
> > one carried out in broad day light, before numerous witnesses, can be
> > relegated to a secret, behind closed doors, grand jury process?
>
> While there may be issues with Grand Juries in general, we have to remember Grand Juries are managed on a County-by-County basis here in the US—so flailing away at all Grand Juries because this author’s sense of justice has not been met in these two cases must be seen more as a fit of pique than a well thought-out review of the use of the Grand Jury here in the US.
>
> Moreover, claiming that both the Ferguson incident, and the NYC incident, were “shocking crimes” is simply ludicrous. Each of these incidents was the result of a sworn officer(s) in contact with their control officers, or a supervising officer, operating within the parameters of their training and department procedures. Neither of the deaths claimed by Mr. James were the results of “rogue police” killing people for no reason at all!
>
> Moreover, this situation was not swept under the carpet--it was reviewed by a duly impaneled Grand Jury. And relative to Mr. James’ claims of “secrecy”, the records of the Grand Jury’s proceedings were released to the public. From Mr. James’ narrative, it sounds as if he feels that having access to these records does not offset the fact that the public was not present when the testimony was taken. Perhaps true, but certainly the testimony does seem to counter Mr. James’ implication that the death of Michael Brown was nothing more than a police execution of a random citizen—a claim now substantiated by the Grand Jury records. (Link to on-line source of the testimony in the Michael Brown case can be found below).
>
> (One question not asked, or answered, in this screed is whether the DAs in each case was free to take each case to court in spite of the Grand Jury’s finding? If the DAs were bound by the findings of the Grand Juries they have impaneled, then perhaps that fact could have been better handled by the media when the Grand Juries reports were released. If they could have taken the cases to trial, that is a situation worthy of discussion.)
>
> Two-Tiered Justice System
>
> Mr. James’ claim that there is a two-tiered justice system is demonstrably false. Any suggestion that police are not subject to legal action in the same way an ordinary person when, say, a man kills his wife is ludicrous. There are a number of troubling examples of what might be considered “police privilege” that have become media-worthy over the years, but most of these issues seem limited in number. In California there is something called “the Policeman’s Bill of Rights” that has allowed a certain “curtain” to exist that separates police officers from the general public—but this legislation is intended to protect the officers from physical assault and harassment from criminals that might be vengeful and seek retribution against officers during their assigned duties. (To what extent police departments hide behind this “bill of rights” to protect officers is an open question.)
>
> > What are the necessary steps we must take to restore trust in our criminal
> > justice system, when the police seem, rarely, if ever, to be held fully
> > accountable, when they shoot and kill, strangle and tase and brutally
> > beat to death, unarmed people of color, and the poor?
>
> Comments like this one definitely cause me to question virtually everything the author has to say on the topic. Broad-brushing the whole system based on two cases—both of which have been extensively reviewed by Grand Juries, invalidates this claim completely to my mind.
>
> Arguments that Grand Juries are incapable of determining that insufficient evidence exists that would likely allow a prosecutor to win a conviction in a subsequent trial is certainly not an argument that is going to gain much sympathy in most quarters. There are issues involving witness protection and security that sometimes allow Grand Juries to examine evidence more effectively than open trials—particularly when witness intimidation and bribery exists. It would be helpful, however, to have County DAs provide yearly performance reports that offered transparency into their activities—which might include the number of cases that required Grand Juries in making a disposition of those cases.
>
> > The elected district attorney would delegate to this unit the responsibility
> > for prosecuting serious police crimes, with the same prosecutorial skill,
> > equal protection of the law and professionalism as any other serious criminal activity.
>
> It’s hard not to want more transparency in our justice system—provided that it helps to keep the system “honest” and that there are workable schemes for the public to initiate investigations into situations that might help to correct problems that exist, or might come to exist. But given the fact that Grand Juries are a “country” matter, systemic change would is not likely unless Mr. James is suggesting nationalizing the whole criminal justice system---perhaps to be run by the US Department of Justice? Such an idea certainly will not be very workable—no matter how much people promoting it claim to have lost faith in the local administration of the “justice” system.
>
> Conclusion
>
> There are far too many issues involved in dealing with any criticism of our country’s criminal justice system to ever hope to deal with more than one or two in a short bit of opinion-based writing. Infusing such writings with half-truths, non-truths, and misinformation is never helpful. Sadly, it seems to me that the takeaway from this very personal opinion of the author is not useful in any discussion of the criminal justice system, its flaws, and any possible changes that would benefit society, in the whole.
>
> Wayne Martin
> Palo Alto,CA
>
> Ferguson Grand Jury Report:
> http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2014/11/us/ferguson-grand-jury-docs/
>
>
> On Sunday, December 7, 2014 7:57 PM, Aram James <abjpd1_at_(domainremoved)
>
>
> FYI: updated to include reference to choke-hold murder of Eric Garner.
> >
> > http://acjusticeproject.org/2014/12/08/officers-who-killed-eric-garner-and-mike-brown-walk-will-cops-ever-be-held-to-account-in-the-courts/
> >
> >
> > Sent from my iPhone
>
Received on Tue Dec 09 2014 - 20:57:53 PST

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