NAME: Curtis Giovanni Flowers, Petitioner v. Mississippi
JOINING: Roberts, Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, Sotomayor, Kagan
Case CommentaryI am fundamentally against voir dire. I believe both the Prosecution and Defence (or offence and defence, however you want to look at it) should be stuck with what they get. Suffice to say, if a person is fit to serve on a Jury, then they are fit to serve on this or any Jury.
Some folks think there should be an exception for relatives or personal acquaintances. But I am not so sure. I mean, who better than those who know a person intimately (socially, or whatever) to know (or have insight into) whether that person is fundamentally Good or Evil?
So, like, I am fine with a random selection of twelve Jurors out of the field of all possible Jurors.
However, that is not the system we have.
At its core, The Case at hand is about peremptory strikes: vetoes, if you will, that each side gets during Jury Selection. As I understand it (keeping in mind that I am No Legal Professional, so I don't understand much) these strikes can be employed for almost any reason... except for reasons of sex, gender, and the like... even though, if you're a black man going on trial for killing a white man (a white woman and others, as I believe this case is about), you probably want as many black folks on that jury as you can get. And if you are the prosecutor, you do not.
The Court puts forth a wonderful argument on why it is overwhelmingly likely that the peremptory strikes used in this case were racially motivated.
And the Dissent puts forth an amazing counter argument for why that's just not the case.
For the most, I side with the Dissent... which is odd, as I was ready to string the State Prosecutor up for Crimes Against Humanity prior to reading the Dissent.
That's one the reasons why I do not believe trials should be argued verbally.
Fine. You are good at talking.
But I am not... nor am I very good at listening.
And apparently, neither is the Supreme Court, as I am led to believe they hear evidence, read briefs, and take their time over the course of months to reach each decision. This is Docket #17-9572. And I assume that means this was the 9,572nd request for certiorari in 2017. But the decision was finalized on June 21, 2019, which means a whole heck of a lot of thought went into this decision... a whole heck of a lot of thought. And I'm pretty sure that if a Justice wanted more information (at any time), they could get it.
I'd run regular (run of the mill) trials this same way... with lots of time for thought, somber reflection, and chasing down loose ends and stray details.
Of course, I say that as one who is against the Adversarial System of Justice which we have... and believe that just about anything would be better.
But most definitely slow reasoned decision making would be better, as I consider the implications of the following to be a travesty of justice.
Flowers forfeited this argument by not making it at the trial court.What?
So, we convict an innocent man because his lawyer made a mistake?
That is not Justice.
Of course, I'm not really saying that I believe Flowers is innocent. But in theory, until his conviction, he's supposed to be treated as such. And as far as I can see, twenty years later, he still hasn't been convicted.
So tell me again, why must an innocent man (or at least, a man who is supposed to be presumed to be innocent) must forfeit any argument that works in his favour?
In his Dissent, Thomas says:
Only the trial judge can be aware of the variations in demeanor and tone of voice that bear so heavily on the listener's understanding of and belief in what is said.And although this sounds good, I'm pretty sure that good liars (that is to say, clever liars) are much better at lying in person than on paper.
Of course, I could be wrong.
Finally, let me loop around back to that Jury Selection Process. I don't know if folks should be Judged by their Peers (folks who know them personally) or by complete Strangers.
There are problems with either.
And thus, in keeping with the desire for fair trials, it may make sense to allow a Defendant to be tried in their own community or by strangers, at the Defendant's Desire.
After all, would I do better with a Jury composed of folks who have read my website? Or those who are completely unfamiliar with my work?
One hopes for the former.
But the later may be true far more often than most folks have any idea.