When the Law Abandons Reason, Marilyn Mosby is What You Get

Baltimore attorney Marilyn Mosby at press conference

Baltimore’s top prosecutor acted swiftly, charging six officers in the death of Freddie Gray, who suffered a grave spinal injury as he was arrested and put into a police transport van, handcuffed and without a seat belt.

[Maryland] State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced the charges Friday amid the backdrop of a city in turmoil — four days after public anger over Gray’s death triggered riots, with heavily armed troops enforcing a nightly curfew, and the day before scheduled protest marches expected to draw thousands.

Within hours, the city’s police union questioned the prosecutor’s impartiality, accusing her of a rush to judgment and demanding she recuse herself from the case. Even some of those who support Mosby’s stand worry further violence might erupt if she fails to win convictions.

Alan Dershowitz, a well-known criminal lawyer from New York and professor emeritus at Harvard Law School, suggested that Mosley’s actions were motivated more by political expediency and short-term public safety than strong evidence. He called the charges “outrageous and irresponsible,” especially the second degree murder count filed against the van’s driver under a legal principle known as “depraved heart.”

“The decision to file charges was made not based on considerations of justice, but on considerations of crowd control,” Dershowitz told the Associated Press Saturday. [Source: Newsmax.com 5/2/15]

The issue here isn’t outcome — it’s methodology.

Of course Dershowitz is right. He knows what even a nonlegal expert can plainly see: The methodology Mosley is using to rush through this case is irrational. That is to say: It’s not based on reason, logic and facts. It’s based on other considerations.

Mosby’s actions reek of, “Quick, find some legal justification to get these cops arrested, indicted and jailed as quickly as possible. I don’t care what — find something! And fast!”

If Mosby had taken equally rapid action in the direction of finding the police innocent rather than guilty, more rioting would have ensued, and she would have been condemned for, “Jumping to conclusions of innocence and rushing to judgment.” In light of what she actually did, the only concern is that she won’t gain the obviously intended conviction fast enough — to calm down the foaming-at-the-mouth mobs.

If mob justice is what our legal system is about, then why do we even have a legal system?

Reason is the defining essence of any just or fair action. The ends do not justify the means. You don’t say, “As long as we get the right verdict — who cares if it’s done through reason or by more emotional means? Just do what you have to do to get the job done.” Isn’t that the very mentality the police in this case are accused of — and, if proven, for which they would justifiably be condemned? The minute you depart from reason as your methodology of determining truth or falsehood, guilt or innocence, you have undermined justice.

People who defend Mosley appear to do so on their assumption and claim that she’s right — so why not get on with it?

That’s the whole point. How do we know Mosley is right — that these police officers are all guilty, and there’s no need to delay an indictment and an arrest, since we can plainly see they are?

“The police get away with too much. It’s time to rein them in.” That may or may not be true. But even if it is true — what does that have to do with this particular case? What does that have to do with the guilt or innocence of each of the police officers in this particular case?

The whole purpose of a legal system is to utilize the methodology of reason — not emotion, not considerations of crowd control, and not the advancement of some ambitious state attorney’s reputation or career.

The mob has demanded, “Off with their heads.” And off with their heads we will go, at least to the extent that Mosley has succeeded so far.

Traditionally, these cases are about race. In practice, this generally means the allegedly guilty police officer is white, and the victim is black. Those are the cases that garner attention; never the cases where the violence is cop black-on-black, or cop black-on-white. When the races are the other way around, there are no crowds to control, and there are no careers to advance.

In this case, however, the narrative does not even fit. The apparent victim, Freddie Gray, was black. However, three of the six accused police officers are black; the one with the most serious charges against him in the death of Freddie Gray is black, according to The New York Times on 5/1/15.

So what’s the common denominator among this case and the other cases where the race configuration is different? It’s the victim mentality. You have an apparent victim, and you have an angry crowd. That’s all you need to know. If the crowd has screamed “bloody murder,” then you had better get on with the remnants of a trial — because the crowd determines truth, not facts, logic and reason. On our current course, we will eventually dispense with trials and even state’s attorneys — and simply let the mob devour those the mob deems guilty.

That’s the real issue here. It’s not what do we know — it’s how do we know it? Whatever it is we claim to know — guilt, innocence, or whatever the objective truth is — how are we to know it?

On this issue, Baltimore’s chief prosecutor has issued her verdict. The crowd determines truth.

“There’s no plausible, hypothetical, conceivable case for murder under the facts that we now know them,” [Dershowitz] said Friday on Newsmax TV. You might say that conceivably there’s a case for manslaughter. Nobody wanted this guy to die, nobody set out to kill him, and nobody intentionally murdered him.

That’s not what the crowd “thinks.”

“The worst-case scenario is a case for involuntary manslaughter or some kind of reckless disregard, but the idea of without further investigation coming down with murder indictments…,” Dershowitz explained. “This is a show trial. This is designed to please the crowd. It’s designed to lower the temperature.”

Of course it is.

The charges simply did not meet the criteria for justice in the United States, the famed Harvard litigator said.

Of course they don’t. But the fundamental philosophical principle underlying our entire system of government — reason — is slowly perishing before our eyes. The Constitution goes with it. Right now, the spotlight is on Baltimore, Maryland.

Wrongdoing and unjust acts by the police are a symptom of a legal system gone wrong. However, police are merely the “body” of a legal system; the practices of our states’ attorneys and other legal officials represent that system’s “mind.” If the body is getting out of control, via the actions of police officers, it’s a symptom of the kind of rotten methodology utilized by people like this Maryland state attorney. The crisis in Baltimore has brought to light just how lacking in quality, intellectual honesty, integrity and probably intellectual ability many of our top legal officials apparently are.

“It may have been the criteria in Rome, for Fidel Castro, in Iran, and in other countries, but in our country you don’t base indictments on what impact it’s going to have on the crowd,” [Dershowitz] said.

Why does this even have to be pointed out?

Too many people no longer appear to recognize the difference between mob rule and actual justice. Why? Because there’s no longer a distinction between reason and emotionalism. To them, it matters little whether you’re in Iran/Cuba or the United States. One’s as bad as another. But there’s supposed to be a huge difference in the two approaches: Reason versus emotionalism. It’s the remnants of reason that are keeping the United States so different from Iran and Cuba. But we’re setting those remnants on fire with every one of these irrational cases.

Reason means that the truth and the evidence tell the story. It will usually not be self-evident, and there will not always be universal agreement. But this is the only rational, fair or coherent method by which to determine anything.

When we abandon reason — and we permit our legal system to do so, as Maryland and many other legal systems are now routinely doing — then we have abandoned any hope in fighting the kind of injustice and brutality that may or may not have occurred against Freddie Gray.

Let the mob rule, and we’ll never know the truth about anything.


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