Judging the Judgers

When I was a kid I dreamed about being a lawyer. I still enjoy following trials, especially criminal cases, where too-often sleazy lawyers will do literally anything to try to get their clients an acquittal. I still don’t quite understand how that’s acceptable, but I digress. 

A verdict can literally make my day. Like some people who have been told a particularly clever joke, I can revisit the verdict later and it will bring a grin. I’ve been known to be brought to tears over judicial decisions that involve people I never have, or never will meet. Hey, last week a guy I work with admitted he teared up over the trailer for the new Star Wars movie, so at least my emotional reactions involve actual people living on a real planet!

A court’s refusal to consider appeals from most of the murderers involved in the Bandido biker killings nine years ago, gave me a rush of happiness late last week. None of these men were pillars of society and the execution-style, assembly-line killings were part of a power play within outlaw biker organizations. The men were not angels. But they were human beings who had families and friends and, arguably, didn’t deserve to die this way. The court said last week there were no grounds for appeals of the sentences or for new trials. These dirtbags will be very old men when they get out or they’ll die behind bars.

I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy following the New York newspapers’ coverage of criminal trials. They don’t hold back on details. It’s the closest thing to being a juror that you can get from media. They don’t seem to lack for reporters who can spend endless days covering the minutae of these cases and it’s riveting. Once a jury is sequestered, reporters can explain all of the evidence about the accused that was deemed inadmissable in court. These are things that show a pattern of behavior or other matters a judge decides would be prejudicial if the jury knew. By then, it’s obvious the dude or dudette is guilty and waiting for the verdict can be a nail-biter. Some people say sports is the only real thing going. I think watching the scales of justice tip is more exciting than any playoff game I’ve ever seen.


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