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Historic – Unprecedented: It is Our Method of Democracy

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A Jury Has Spoken

On the evening of Thursday May 30, 2024, a jury of twelve selected community individuals rendered their decision to New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan regarding the criminal case against Donald J. Trump. The jurors were unanimous in a guilty verdict for all thirty-four counts. Historic! Unprecedented! In nearly two hundred and forty years since the signing of the United States of America Constitution, this is the first time a president has been convicted of crimes of felony status.

The pundits are quick to extol their opinions of this historic event. Whether you are in favor of the conviction, or opposed, it is important to uphold the judicial process. This democratic process is what defines our Country unlike any other country in the world. We cannot continue to beat the drum of allowing some people to be “above the law”. Nobody, regardless of economic means or political prominence is entitled to break the law. This process cannot only be esteemed when the judgment is in your favor. When choices are made to sidestep the rule of law then consequences must be enforced.

If you have never had the opportunity of sitting in a juror seat during a trial, then you do not have recourse to expound your viewpoint. This is a unique responsibility given to all American citizens to enact judgment on a peer once the facts of the case have been presented. It is unique to America. It is the system that prevents authoritarianism, totalitarianism, and dictators. Is the system perfect? No! However, it still remains the best legal system in the world.

I recall one time I served as a juror in a trial of a prominent surgeon who had been stopped by police for driving under the influence (DUI). For several days myself and the other jurors listened to the facts presented by both the prosecution and the defense. The defendant had objected to a DUI test at the time of the infraction. Hours passed before the defendant could be taken for processing and by that time the DUI test result was just below the minimum allowed for driving. There was no video car camera or police wearable camera in those days to corroborate the erratic driving or the resistance of the defendant to take the DUI test at the scene. Police indicated the defendant was staggering during questioning. In the confusion of the incident the police paperwork had missing data. The defense was able to obscure a “beyond a reasonable doubt”. As we deliberated the case in the juror room, we all felt the weight of our responsibility. This was a prominent surgeon. The outcome of the case could affect his career. The defendant was well-liked in the community and responsible for significant fundraising. Our conscience “felt” the defendant was guilty of being drunk while driving. What if this had occurred when he was being called to operate on one of our family members who had been involved in a serious traffic accident. A matter of life and death dependent in the capability of a drunk surgeon. We all wanted to vote guilty – but that was not our duty! Our duty was to review the facts and the guidance of the law then offer a verdict. In the end we unanimously agreed that based on the facts there was “reasonable doubt” and returned a verdict of not guilty. It was our pleasure as a jury to take the same elevator as the defendant as we were leaving. It was an exceptional castigation as the defendant had no place to go but to listen to our concerns and doubts as to ever needing to receive a surgery from this doctor. Hopefully, the message was received and future lives were spared.

Democracy at Risk

There have been many terms promulgated through social media throughout the course of this trial of Donald Trump. Including such phrases as: “weaponizing of the government”, “deep state is responsible”, “this is election interference”, “fake guilty verdict”, “it is time for Republican retribution”, “there is no evidence to these claims”, “highly conflicted judge”, “there will be revenge and civil war”, “politically motivated”, “political prisoner”, “witchhunt”, “sham”, “rigged trial”, and so on. These phrases are dangerous to our democracy when shared with no factual evidence.

Many citizens in America have taken on a lifestyle of “living above the law”. It is shameful this is so accepted. Those who have been elected to represent the American people in Congress have become so entitled to this way of life that it is now becoming generally promoted and accepted among all people. We have laws to govern society. Do I agree with all of these laws? No! But disagreeing with a law does not allow a person the right to break the law. You witness this willful breaking of the law perpetuated by parents to youth, by politicians to their representatives, by school boards to education institutions, and by law enforcement to communities.

Let me offer some examples that have become common practice:

InfractionJustificationTactic if Caught
Driving above the speed limit.Everybody does it;
If I drove the speed limit on the freeway everybody would be passing me;
The police told me I can drive 5 miles above speed limit and it is okay;
I am late for an appointment;
Blame – Don’t the police have anything better to do;
Deflect – others were driving faster than me, why didn’t you stop them;
Don’t stop for a Stop Sign at a little used Intersection.I look all ways before entering intersection;
Nobody travels this road anyway;
Nobody stops for this stop sign, it is just a nuisance;
Blame – The Department of Transportation doesn’t know what they are doing;
Deflect – This stop sign does no good here;
Drive across a parking lot rather than use the designated roadways.It is faster to drive across the parking lot rather than going around;
This part of the parking lot is always empty so it doesn’t matter;
I don’t know what the law says about doing this;
Blame – The engineer that designed this parking lot did a bad job;
Deflect – The business owner needs to setup barriers to prevent driving through;

Okay, many of you are laughing at such simple examples of breaking the law. I get it. These type of driving infractions are now so common that people feel they are just the norm. So we place ourselves “above the law” with justifications and tactics of blame and deflection. We make a conscientious decision that breaking the law is okay because we won’t get caught, or the few times that we may get caught is not a big impact. Our actions influence our children to act in a similar way, as well as other who see us, and so the mentality is propagated. The effects encourage greater resistance to following the laws of the land in all aspects of conduct and business engagement.

Conclusion

Democracy is sacred! There is no entitlement to our conduct that places us above the law. The lawlessness mentality has become so pervasive among this nation that we have become a people of “looking the other way”. We are better than this! Take responsibility for actions. Quit blaming others for the consequences of your choices. This is a nation founded “under God”. Whomever that God is in which you believe, raise up to the morals of that belief. Stop the bigotry. Stop the hate. Stop the demeaning and name-calling. Abolish racism, retribution, revenge, and retaliation. It is not to late to change. America requires our “…one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” (‘The Pledge of Allegiance‘).

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