Have Liberals Forsaken Due Process?
In the archives of legal fiction, one character most consciously embodied liberal self-perception. That was Juror #8, the character played by Henry Fonda in the 1957 movie, Twelve Angry Men.
In his screenplay notes, Reginald Rose described #8 as "a man who sees all sides of every question and constantly seeks the truth. A man of strength tempered with compassion. Above all, he is a man who wants justice to be done and will fight to see that it is."
Not one for nuance, Rose described #8's nemesis, Juror #3, played by Lee J. Cobb in the film, as "a humorless man who is intolerant of opinions other than his own and accustomed to forcing his wishes and views upon others." This being the mid-fifties, Juror #3 served as the inevitable Joe McCarthy proxy. In the film, he allied himself with Juror #10, "a bigot who places no values on any human life save his own." Such was the profile of the conservative in the liberal mind nearly sixty years ago. Not much has changed about that profile in the years since.
What has changed, however, or at least what has seemed to, is the liberal concept of the good juror. "Maddy," the one minority juror in the George Zimmerman trial, found this out the hard way. Although the public was told repeatedly that there were no blacks on the six-woman jury, the Puerto Rican Maddy is clearly of African descent.
After carefully reviewing evidence for sixteen hours, Maddy voted with her fellow jurors to acquit Zimmerman of second-degree murder in the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
"I was the juror that was going to give them the hung jury," Maddy said on ABC's Good Morning America shortly after the trial.
The law and the evidence eventually caused Maddy to rethink her initial position. Although inclined to find Zimmerman guilty of something, Maddy conceded, "As the law was read to me, if you have no proof that he killed [Martin] intentionally, you can't say he's guilty." This was not exactly the way the law was read to her, but it wasn't too wide of the mark.
Many on the left who followed the trial did not appreciate Maddy's judiciousness. Some did not appreciate it at all. "My whole life has fallen apart," Maddy told Inside Edition's Les Trent this past Thursday. "I've had death threats. On Facebook, someone wrote I'm gonna feel the same pain as Trayvon Martin's mom. Which means I'm gonna lose my son."
According to Maddy, a mother of eight, her role in acquitting Zimmerman cost her job in a nursing home, most of her friends, and finally her home. "My whole life has fallen apart," she told Trent. Much like Zimmerman's ex-wife Shellie, Maddy has attempted to gain a reprieve from public scorn by shifting the focus to Zimmerman himself.
"All this blame was put on me," she told Trent. "No one is looking at George Zimmerman. He's the one who killed the child." Zimmerman would beg to differ that no one is looking at him -- his speeding tickets are national news -- but clearly the trial has cost Maddy almost as much in the way of reputation and peace of mind as it has Zimmerman.
Dishonest to the end, the media have exploited Maddy's emotional turmoil to reinforce their corrupt take on the case. ABC's Good Morning America was first to do so. In an exclusive interview this past July, Robin Roberts asked Maddy, "Some people have said, point blank, 'George Zimmerman got away with murder.' How do you respond to those people who say that?" In the edited video ABC floated about, Maddy answered unhesitatingly, "George Zimmerman got away with murder. But you can't get away from God."
This clip led to headlines like "Juror Says Zimmerman 'Got Away With Murder'" in the New York Times and just about everywhere else. In fact, however, the producers at ABC shaped Maddy's response to have her say something she never intended. In the unedited version, after Roberts asked her leading question, Maddy paused, started her response over, and clearly played back Roberts's question as the stated premise to her own answer, "But you can't get away from God." In other words, this was how she would have answered that question if asked. In the Roberts interview, Maddy stood by her decision to acquit Zimmerman.
The exploitation continues. Instead of headlining Maddy's most recent revelations, "Conscientious Zimmerman Juror Faces Death Threats," the liberal Huffington Post went with "George Zimmerman Juror: 'We All Know Who's Guilty.'" That Maddy would try to shift the burden to Zimmerman is understandable. That the Huffington Post would treat her desperate evasion as proof of Zimmerman's guilt is unforgivable.
Maddy's quasi-recantation has bought her no grace from the left. "She should have stood her ground in that jury room. Its [sic] much too late to scream he's guilty now," said one Huffington reader. "Of course [Zimmerman] is guilty. If you all knew that, why did you all vote to acquit?" said another. "Why not speak up before a verdict was reached?" said a third, adding heartlessly, "To me it seems she wants to be in the spot light over this. It is time for her to move on!"
In Twelve Angry Men, as fate would have it, the defendant, like Zimmerman, was a five-foot-seven-inch Hispanic man accused of killing someone much taller. In the initial go-round, only #8, the Henry Fonda character, voted "not guilty." The other jurors were stunned.
"I just think he's guilty," said Juror #2. "I thought it was obvious. I mean, nobody proved otherwise." The Fonda character responded sagely, "Nobody has to prove otherwise. The burden of proof is on the prosecution. The defendant doesn't have to open his mouth. That's in the Constitution. The Fifth Amendment."
This being Hollywood, the good liberal juror persuaded the others one by one to his point of view. "We may be wrong," #8 conceded. "We may be trying to return a guilty man to the community. No one can really know. But we have reasonable doubt, and this is a safeguard that has enormous value in our system." Finally, even #10 and #3 yielded to his wisdom, and the jurors voted to acquit.
Leftists have not forsaken due process because they never embraced it. From the beginning, they have exploited it only when it suited their purposes. Twelve Angry Men was liberal propaganda. What Maddy and George Zimmerman faced was liberal reality.