The Uphill Slide

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Call Me For A Hung Jury

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I felt sure (at least certain of something) it was coming after the jury’s first declaration of deadlock. Not acquittal but mistrial. Questions about reasonable doubt and consent meant disagreement about verdict. Finally, no swaying of diverging opinion. What can I say? Stick to your guns if you have a belief. I have belief. But reasonable doubt are wobbly words. He said, the other person said would seem intrinsically a case of reasonable doubt save for a super convincing witness. Or the case evokes other emotions. But a case without forensic evidence or witnesses to the actual act? There just would seem to always remain the ever so slight or not so slight sliver of reasonable doubt. Even confession is not certainty. So how can accuser be certainty either? Liar or truthful? Can you pick out who’s who? Which is which? Is the truth in the words? In the demeanor? In the appearance? Where is it? Studies and experiments seem to show our radar systems only work about half the time. Half! This all is driving me crazy!

Is my reasonable doubt your reasonable doubt? There is so often misunderstanding of what we individually understand. Words need definition and examples for decision-making just to make sure we’re on the same page. It’s one of those things you learn to do for employee evaluations, heck, any evaluation. “I think you’re doing a fair job. I mean by fair that you do this and this and not that, i.e. fair. Do we understand each other? Are we talking the same language?”

A mistrial. There is no vindication for either party though it can be spun by either side to imply what might have been in the jury’s minds to arrive at deadlock. That’s actually a decision too. But not what we call justice for victim or accused perp in this. Perhaps mistrial is the greatest admission of honesty though. We don’t know the answer. We are afraid to err on the side of guilt or innocence.

Fame has its rewards. Fame has it’s pitfalls. Getting and being able to buy pretty much whatever you want. Sense of entitlement to all the world. And a target. And everyone thinks they know you from your characters and appearances on talk shows and pictures in tabloids and seeing you with your family and other famous people. It all makes for difficulty in merging the dichotomy of a beloved television character with the man behind the role. As a family mired in Penn State tradition, I had a hard time accepting that Joe Paterno would turn his back to knowledge of sexual abuse. Scapegoated, I wondered. Some of that too, but no. Not the first time someone turned their back to evidence of criminal activity. So many decades-old stories of the Catholic Church hiding knowledge of abuse in their ranks. Hell, not just hiding but passing it on. An institution that should have held honesty as one of its tenets. Acknowledge and be saved. I sat down one night in the middle of another documentary about the Catholic Church. This one a Netflix original, The Keepers. Another story of sexual abuse that also included an unsolved murder of a Pittsburgh-born nun. Once again high-ranking officials of the church hiding the truth and shirking a duty to protect their members. For what? Appearance? Money? There seems no acceptable or rational explanation for it. Perhaps the only understanding is to attribute all to the faults of being human and faulty thinking or group mentality. Or maybe we just put it down to sociopaths or psychopaths living among and with us. Everyone says they would never have hidden those things, yet some of us did. Some of us human beings. Even those who have our utmost trust can betray us. Can we forgive? That’s a hard one.

Back to Cosby admitting to being the womanizing philanderer. Is that tautology? He doesn’t deny it. Womanizing philanderer tarnishes that television father and husband. I loved The Cosby Show. The husband and wife’s banter and those looks to each other. Such a great family. So loving and functional when in fact Cosby was a very dysfunctional man. But why do we want to believe that the character is the man? It wasn’t an autobiography. It’s acting, a mask. It’s a job. The best actors must be the ones who can convince us with a character they are not like at all. Did we ever know what a great actor he was?  Now this old man doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life in jail nor does his family. But he’s had a great life I suppose. So a roof and three meals a day, maybe two, maybe one if they’re really trying to cut costs. Probably special privileges for celebrity. Fame has its rewards. So jail sounds safe and secure.

I have begun to wonder about minds of the accused. Are there people who even with all accounts and facts true, believe that what they did was not criminal? Is that Cosby? The question occurred to me when he, according to the mother’s testimony, rationalized that the woman had an orgasm. Some small piece of the story that screams to him, consent. Drugged? So what? Part of the sex game. I’m repeating. I’m rambling.

I’m twisted almost to the ground in his guilt. You can tell that. It’s too many women telling similar stories. You can’t forget it even if they’re not part of the case. It’s the drugs. It’s the womanizing. Yet then, I think of the accusations of sexual abuse in day cares 20-30 years ago. Accusations snowballing with parents’ hysteria and therapists abetting memories, rather planting them, and justice officials making names for themselves on sensationalism and a public horrified and tantalized by accounts. Outlandish stories from young children that should have screamed reasonable doubt in jurors’ minds. It is possible for a group of people to all support the same lies. Still, I don’t think that is the case here. All is possible though. Reasonable doubt. Probably not reasonable. A little bit of conspiracy theory.

Cosby’s case still one complicated by race. I will never out live racism or hate. Comes almost concurrently with the exoneration of the police officer killing Philando Castile. Not just a question of black white racism. The officer, Jeronimo Yanez, is Mexican American. A question of police, civilian. Police, black civilian. Another story of a police officer acquitted of killing a civilian. Such verdicts reinforcing a view that police have some get out of jail free card. Not held accountable for fear or rational judgment. But after the verdict, fired from the force. Not fit for duty because of the shooting or not fit for duty before the shooting? Poor officer training? The officer said he feared for his life. Philando Castile feared for his life. He informed the officer about his license to carry and gun. Honesty? The civilian trying to defuse the situation? Yet still ended up dead. Doesn’t rational judgment say that he would not tell the officer about his gun if he meant to shoot him with it? Not enough seconds to think before shooting? I was shocked by the verdict. What did the jury see or not see on video or hear in testimony that convinced them there was a reasonable doubt in the telling of two stories. It must have been the missing moments of video.

It’s hard to be rational. It’s hard to look at both sides. It’s hard to be uncertain and forced to make a decision, popular or unpopular. That burden of being responsible for a person’s life and future. I would dread it. I feel relieved that I will probably be struck from any jury pool should I be called. Call me a coward. Call me indecisive. Call me for a hung jury.

 

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