I Think You Need This Reminder

There are really some dumb fucking assholes in this world. Dumb fucking assholes who think something like this is funny:


Oh, it’s just a joke, watching a pack of police officers acting like goddam Nazi SS against one young student. While one of our elected officials looks on like an impotent dick. In what was supposed to be America!

It’s not funny. No part of that disgusting incident is funny.

Grow the fuck up. Meet reality.

From A Trial by ]ury by D. Graham Burnett, pages 160-162:

Further on I wrote, “There are no trick endings,” and then, later still, “We would choose this strong burden of proof . . . b/c the state is so powerful,” and beside that, circled, the insight that suddenly seemed to sum up the whole experience of the trial:

We have seen the power of the state.

This was the thing, I realized. For the last three days, we had struggled to come to terms with the burden of proof that the prosecution had to meet: lt seemed unreasonable, exaggerated, impossible. But here was a way to understand it: the burden of proof was so high exactly because the state was so powerful.

All of us probably would have agreed in the abstract, before the trial even started, that the state was powerful. But after four days of sequestration, we had developed a new and immediate appreciation of just what this power meant: the state could take control of your person, it could refuse to let you go home, it could send men with guns to watch you take a piss, it could deny you access to a lawyer, it could embarrass you in public and force you to reply meekly, it could, ultimately, send you to jail — all this, apparently, without even accusing you of a crime.

For (mostly) law-abiding citizens with no experience of the criminal-justice system, with no experience of what it feels like to be made wholly impotent by the force of legal strictures and the threat of legal violence, this discovery had been shocking. One could see the shock in Paige’s face as she emerged from her scolding in the court. One could hear it in Jim’s angry muttering before the bench. I knew the feeling all too well myself, from sitting in front of the judge as he insulted me and silenced me and sent me from the room when I had done absolutely nothing wrong. At times the encounter felt like the belittling and arbitrary tyranny of primary school: “Who are these people,” the child asks, “and how come they can make me do what they say?” Here, in the justice system, your mother couldn’t write you a note. It was a giant difference: before the state, there was no higher worldly power.

If we as a jury wanted to understand why the burden of proof fell on the prosecution, and fell with such gravity, we needed only to reflect on what we had discovered directly about the real power of the state and its agents. There was, in a deep way, no recourse. Yes, there were appeals courts, constitutional protections, citizen juries like us. But in the end — in the end there was, simply, the final power of the state. There was always this. This was a power even more terrifying, in a way, than a man with a knife in a closed room. That sort of raw, physical power, for all its horrors, can never extend indefinitely in all directions. If you were to run outside, people would object, would (in principle) come to your aid. In the room, you know this, even if you cannot actually escape. But there is nowhere to run from the state: it is the sine qua non of such an entity that nearly everyone outside the room (the courtroom, the prison) has already accepted the legitimacy of what the state chooses to do to you (or has at least acquiesced). In fact, all those people out there, they actually constitute the state itself. If you run out to them, they will help catch you. There is nowhere to go.

I began to sketch some remarks, in outline form, that centered on this observation. I was still scribbling when the sergeant knocked on my door to say I had to come down to breakfast. I opened to say that I wasn’t eating breakfast; could I please have another few moments? I was working on something important.

No. I was to come downstairs with him. Now.

This nation was founded by men who understood the naked fist the State could wield.

Those of you who think what happened to that student was in any way justified or funny are unworthy of this country.

You are a disgrace.

An Essay on the Trial by Jury – Lysander Spooner

FOR more than six hundred years – that is, since Magna Carta, in 1215 – there has been no clearer principle of English or American constitutional law, than that, in criminal cases, it is not only the right and duty of juries to judge what are the facts, what is the law, and what was the moral intent of the accused; but that it is also their right, and their primary and paramount duty, to judge of the justice of the law, and to hold all laws invalid, that are, in their opinion, unjust or oppressive, and all persons guiltless in violating, or resisting the execution of, such laws.

FindLaw: A Review Of D. Graham Burnett’s A Trial By Jury

A Trial by Jury in ebook format; in Sony Reader ebook format; and the print publisher’s page.

More Police Abuse Of Power — how’d you like to go to jail for making a video of the police?

Yeah, That’s It. Cue The Vigilantes! — how’d you like a police force that ignores laws?

Wake up now or be very, very sorry later!


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