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jvjim
27th April 10, 08:08 AM
While Let’s Get Free is eye opening and I agree with Professor Butler’s basic premise and most of his proposed methodologies for change, there are two ideas he advocates that I am strongly against: the idea that “good” people should not become prosecutors and the doctrine of jury nullification. Professor Butler’s principal argument concerning contemporary prosecutors is not directed at prosecutors directly, but is instead concerned with the culture present in most offices. This is where Professor Butler mistakes innate corruption with political reality. Prosecutor’s offices tend to be more geared toward “lock’em up types” because society generally wants to protect itself from dangerous criminal elements, not because the prosecutorial facet of the criminal justice system is inherently evil. While there is definitely dysfunction in the way in which some prosecutions are carried out, this can be changed by both public campaigns to educate the populace about the grim realities of modern criminal justice and the actions of internal agents of all political persuasions working to redirect the goals of the typical prosecutor’s office towards justice and away from destructive prosecutions.

Jury nullification, while constitutional, will only delegitimize the movement to affect change through the “Hip Hop” theory. Instead of instructing jurors to subvert the rule of law, proponents of the “Hip Hop” theory should petition their local governments to stop enforcement of laws that only serve to harm their communities. Additionally, communities can demand that their executives, either in state governor’s mansions or in the White House, issue mass pardons to those convicted of non-violent drug crimes. Ultimately, the movement’s goal should be to form a successful lobby in Congress, and the government at large, to repeal destructive drug laws and pursue a more equitable administration of justice.

I learned a great deal from Professor Butler’s book. Though I have a drastically different frame of reference, I sympathize with his ethical dilemma. He fell victim to a system he helped maintain and advance, and had to choose between a career he spent a life time building and what he felt was right. Luckily for us, Professor Butler made the right choice. However, that begs the question: How can those not privy to hip hop culture possibly use its theories to affect positive change?

My culture and life experiences are drastically different from Professor Butler’s. I was born in a sparsely populated shrimping community ten miles east of Bayou La Batre, Alabama far away from the gritty backdrop of the hip hop community. Many of the problems the professor encountered are alien to me and my experience. I have a different heritage, drastically different political beliefs, and a collection of problems separate from those of the black and hip hop communities. Seemingly, the problems of a community so different from mine could in no way affect me or my community. However, through taxation to fund the never ending war on drugs, the erosion of civil liberties, and a growing prison population the problems of the few are fast becoming the problems of the whole. These social and ethical dilemmas are a principal concern to the nation, and especially to those involved in the dispensation of justice.

I had no idea as I sat in that tiny room so long ago that I would even have an opportunity to discuss such problems, let alone be in a position to attempt to solve them. Much like my first few months at law school cured me of my misconceptions of the law, because of Professor Butler’s book, I view the law with less naiveté. However, I also view the future of the justice system with more hope. Professor Butler’s courageous story and his unorthodox proposal reassure me that even in a situation where there is no existing legal authority to solve an ethical or legal problem, I can always look to the society from which the law springs for direction. Regardless of the source, as a society, we must look somewhere for solutions to the growing problems we face in the criminal justice system. It makes sense then to at least consider the ideas put forth by Professor Butler, because even if a hip hop theory cannot solve our problems, it may at least spur movement in the right direction.

EuropIan
27th April 10, 02:20 PM
stuff abouts laws n' crimes n' black people n' stuff
cYuA2KD7jpA

jvjim
27th April 10, 03:28 PM
:)

Cullion
27th April 10, 03:49 PM
Could you explain how these activists are instructing jurors to subvert the rule of law?

jvjim
27th April 10, 03:54 PM
Ummmm...... I don't know that I can do it myself (ethics issues with not being a member of the bar), but I'll find a link about jury nullification and and post it.

jvjim
27th April 10, 04:03 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jury_nullification_in_the_United_States

Cullion
27th April 10, 04:06 PM
Isn't part of the purpose of a jury to be involved in the process of creating common law ? That's why it's been so long associated with protecting liberty.

jvjim
27th April 10, 04:10 PM
Short answer yes with and if, long answer no with a but. I honestly don't know enough about jurisprudence to answer it better than that.

HappyOldGuy
27th April 10, 04:59 PM
Isn't part of the purpose of a jury to be involved in the process of creating common law ? That's why it's been so long associated with protecting liberty.
Jury nullification is as good as the law is bad. :icon_rofl:

I actually read the whole thing jv. I'm still not sure I get the hiphop connection tho.

jvjim
27th April 10, 05:26 PM
I was worried that I didn't tie together that element very well. Professor Butler does so pretty well in one of the chapters, but in lieu of saying "read the book" (which you should if you have the chance, it's a written in the common vernacular, not in the legal style, which is a BIG plus):

The argument is that blacks and other minorities (Latinos, Native Americans, very poor whites) are disproportionately affected by the legal system. This puts them in a very interesting position regarding actual on the ground experience with criminal justice. Correspondingly, hip hop, the major expression of black culture, relects this experience and deals with these issues in, frankly, a more realistic and human way. Professor Butler's arguments is that the core principals that are involved in this "hip hop theory of justice" should at least be considered in crafting criminal jusilation.

I apologize if I was not clear.

Cullion
28th April 10, 08:59 AM
As a crank with no formal legal training but a reasonable knowledge of the historical reasons for the right to jury trial, I'm kind of paranoid about moves to classify the ancient right of jury nullification as counter to the rule of law.

It sounds like redefining the 'rule of law' to make it the province of a technocratic legal establishment, when the whole point of juries is to stop that happening.

P.S. We're starting to have serious criminal trials in the UK without juries btw. It's not good.

HappyOldGuy
28th April 10, 11:09 AM
It is counter to the rule of law (one definition anyhow). That's it's purpose. Because wise people realize that sometimes the law results in unjust outcomes.

But we should also remember that jury nullification has a nasty side too. Ask any klan defendant before the 70's.

We always have the option not to have a jury trial, but almost noone does. Are you guys actually forcing non jury trials in criminal cases?

Frank White
28th April 10, 11:56 AM
We always have the option not to have a jury trial, but almost noone does. Are you guys actually forcing non jury trials in criminal cases?

Juveniles don't have the right to a jury trial here in California. And if your stuck with a public defender, forget it.

Cullion
28th April 10, 12:05 PM
It is counter to the rule of law (one definition anyhow). That's it's purpose. Because wise people realize that sometimes the law results in unjust outcomes.

But we should also remember that jury nullification has a nasty side too. Ask any klan defendant before the 70's.

We always have the option not to have a jury trial, but almost noone does. Are you guys actually forcing non jury trials in criminal cases?

Yes, but it's very recent in a case where jury intimidation was alleged (but not, to my understanding, proven). I still regard it as the thin end of a wedge. We've already dropped them for corporate fraud trials deemed 'too complex for the public'.

I don't like the sound of that precedent where certain corporations or members of the legal establishment are involved.

HappyOldGuy
28th April 10, 12:11 PM
Juveniles don't have the right to a jury trial here in California. And if your stuck with a public defender, forget it.

Good point on the juvenile thing. Technically it's not a criminal trial, but if I have a choice between prison and YA, put me in with the big boys.

On the public defender. I'm not sure what you are saying. It's kindof a given that public defenders tend to push their clients towards pleas, but I haven't heard of them pushing their clients for a trial in front of a judge.

Frank White
28th April 10, 01:14 PM
Good point on the juvenile thing. Technically it's not a criminal trial, but if I have a choice between prison and YA, put me in with the big boys.
Why isn't it considered a criminal trial?



On the public defender. I'm not sure what you are saying. It's kindof a given that public defenders tend to push their clients towards pleas, but I haven't heard of them pushing their clients for a trial in front of a judge.

What I'm getting at is, if you are a juvenile and facing a judge, and you have a public defender who has no real incentive (that I'm aware of) to properly defend you, you're screwed.

Did you work in the juvenile system?

HappyOldGuy
28th April 10, 01:27 PM
Why isn't it considered a criminal trial?



What I'm getting at is, if you are a juvenile and facing a judge, and you have a public defender who has no real incentive (that I'm aware of) to properly defend you, you're screwed.

Did you work in the juvenile system?

I worked with older YA's a little bit, but mostly adults in work release programs. (back long ago and far away). I have some vague recollection that juveniles in californias superior courts did get jury trials, but not in family court trials, and that most trials were family court trials. But that is something I sortof remember from 20 years ago.

Keith
29th April 10, 05:02 AM
The criminal justice system is fucked up because human fallibility took a good idea and heaped shit tons of unintended consequences upon it. If we were to turn to "hip hop justice" I have to wonder what unintended consequences we would incur, and whether the result would be better, or worse, that what we have.