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My original analysis of the now-famous shooting of a robber out in Texas got a lot of good comments. Out of 30, there was only one Cherrystone (someone with lesser intellectual function than a Cherrystone clam and the reading comprehension of a fruit fly). There are a number of things I think we need to cover in regards this story.
First, if you are involved in a self-defense/defense of others shooting (heck, even if you just have draw a weapon), call a lawyer immediately. Get a good one. Never met the man in person, but have Guy Relford’s number programmed into my phone just in case. I also have a different lawyer in for the same thing, as a backup, in case Guy’s on vacation. If at all possible, wait to speak to the police until your lawyer is physically present. Be nice, be polite, but wait for the lawyer and only say anything after talking with the lawyer. If the lawyer gives you advice, follow it. Overall, the less you say to LE, to the media, or on social media, the better.
It sounds as if the shooter in Texas did just that. He got a lawyer, and has let the lawyer do as much of the talking with police as possible. Smart. Very smart. Net result is that I think that if he is indicted, he’s got a good chance at winning in court. Given something that was pointed out in another venue about that final shot, think he’s got a very good chance. Grand juries can be rigged to indict a ham sandwich; but, I’m wondering if they will indict for several reasons. Not only is this case a political hot potato that voters are following closely, but voters and non-voters are also getting tired of soft-on-crime prosecutors.
Which brings up a point that several of the commenters to the original post discussed, which is what does this mean for the future? One of the prime functions of the justice system is not to prevent crimes or predict them. Rather, it is to moderate public response so as to protect the public from itself. History is full of horrific punishments for what many would consider minor crimes. If you read the founding fathers, one of the things they wanted to ensure was a just system that avoided cruel and unusual punishments by the government and by the people.
They were well aware of the mob mentality, and did as much as they could to try to limit it via swift, impartial, and even-handed justice. Justice delayed is justice denied is a truism they knew well. They also had first-hand experience with a two (or more) tiered justice system and capricious sentencing. There is a reason that mob “justice” in the U.S. stands out; namely, while any such is to be condemned, we have had surprisingly little of it when compared to other countries and to history.
Which brings us to today. Swift justice? Tis a joke. Impartial? Not hardly, as we see a lot of rules for thee, not for me in courts and elsewhere. Even-handed? Eh, not so much. There are literally thousands of possible citations to prove those points, sad to say. The public has noticed, and again is not happy.
What happens now? I think there is a growing probability (not possibility) that we are going to see “justice” dispensed at the street level. When people are scared, do not feel safe anywhere, and have no faith in the system, they tend to take things into their own hands when they can. After all, if they know the person who just threatened them is going to be out in an hour or two after the prosecutor cuts a sweetheart deal with them, why take the risk?
That this will drive down crime for a while is a given. Looking at history, it also is going to cause the violence associated with crime to ramp up as well.
It is also likely to destroy our justice system as it currently exists. Prosecutors, who are often dug into their positions like a tick despite being on a ballot, are going to respond one of three ways, really only two as the third option requires unicorns and fairy godmothers.
They can look at reality, admit they were wrong, and change their ways and go back to something closer to real justice. And the fairy godmother will then wave her wand and give me a horse too.
From a historical perspective, the most likely response will be to double-down on what they are doing, and crack down on those defending themselves. The real bad guys will continue the revolving door treatment, while those who dared defend themselves will feel the full weight of the law and the ire of a prosecutor who takes it personally. Trust me, they will. Any criticism, or worse yet action, that calls into question what is being done will be taken personally by any politician, so expect to see mayors and others going along with such actions. Yes, I am cynical when it comes to politicians.
The final option is that they realize they are in an untenable position, and reluctantly, with much dragging of feet and wailing and gnashing of teeth, move reluctantly away from being soft on crime. They will also have the sense not to vindictively prosecute those who act in self-defense/defense of others.
That’s the truly critical point in all of this. If they go after those daring to defend themselves and others, it will destroy what little respect and faith people may still have in the justice system, as well as the larger political system of which it is a part. It is also quite likely to bring about a true mob response, because the public is not going to put up with such prosecutions. There is already a lack of faith in the ballot box as a solution, and if any politician is stupid enough to think that people will just sit and take it while their families are being threatened and killed, they are mistaken.
I do NOT want to see us get to that point. There are people out there on all sides pushing for violence and a ‘new civil war’ and they are idiots. Quite a few of them seem to think it will be exciting, and that none of it will touch them or theirs. Here’s a clue: look at history and even current events around the world. There will be no true safe place. That is not a world we want.
What can we do? I hate to say it, but not much. Local elections matter, so get active and get involved. Push hard for real election integrity to try to build back some of the trust that is gone. Other than that, our best options are prayer and preparedness. And to move away from cities/areas with those soft-on-crime prosecutors. Not ideal maybe, but if you love and want to protect your family, it is the right thing to do.
UPDATE: Third and final(??) post on the shooting is here for your reading pleasure.