How do we make sense of the George Floyd judge's bizarre behavior?
Prof. Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Law (emeritus), is probably right in remarking that the Derek Chauvin jury was intimidated into finding the Minneapolis ex-policeman guilty on all counts of homicide of George Floyd. But does that not apply, as well, to Judge Peter Cahill, who presided over the trial?
Attention has been paid the jurist's denial of a mistrial, notwithstanding Congresswoman Maxine Waters's inflammatory remarks, warning that the matter will be taken to the streets if Chauvin is acquitted. Yet equal attention has been paid the judge's additional comment that the case might be overturned on appeal, citing the threats from Rep. Waters.
If the intimidating comments from the congresswoman could overturn the Chauvin verdict on appeal, why did Judge Cahill refuse to cite Waters in declaring a mistrial? Arguably, for the same reason the jury, relatively quickly, found the former cop guilty of murder counts as well as of manslaughter: the image of burning cities had to come to mind if either jury or judge did not satisfy the mob's demand that Chauvin be punished as severely as possible — without reference to the concept "due process of law."
Andrew McCarthy concluded his instant analysis on the Chauvin verdict by asking: how is it that the left demands due process for terrorists accused of murdering Americans, "but not when an American police officer is in the dock?" To this might be added: how is it that the judge presiding over the trial of a cop charged with murder (which when I went to law school was an intentional homicide) is willing to defer matters of due process to possible appellate review, rather than apply due process principles in his own court?
This explanation comes to the forefront: the jurist is unwilling to follow due process principles strictly at risk that he will sow chaos in his own city and elsewhere in the country as well — chaos that may well result in more deaths, not to mention innumerable acts of looting and arson. Better that an appellate court, months down the road, when the risks of mob violence have abated, discovers the due process problem of the Chauvin verdict. Such, likely, were the thoughts of Judge Cahill when asked to declare a mistrial.
And what does that due process problem come down to? Curiously, the critics of murder verdicts against Chauvin did not cite a literary reference that, likely, would have been cited in similar context years ago. Perhaps that is due to a lowering of the literary quotient in Cancel Culture America. I refer to the inescapable fact that the Chauvin conviction of various degrees of murder for the killing of George Floyd reflects Mme. Defarge justice — which is not justice at all, but the sheer bloodlust of a vengeful mob.
It is unfortunate that Judge Cahill was unwilling to act as a real-life Atticus Finch and, rather than give in to the mob, stand firm against it.
Meantime, we have still the examples of a congresswoman and the president acting, as racists of a hundred years ago, trashing the concepts of due process of law, trial by jury based on evidence — not emotion, and the Statue of Justice standing tall with blindfold covering her eyes, her scales held in even balance.
That statue currently has tears streaming down her cheeks.
Image via Public Domain Pictures.
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