Even though the death verdict delivered by the jury yesterday in the Tsarnaev case did not surprise me, I can’t stop thinking about it. Given the relatively short amount of time the jury took to arrive at its verdict, I believe most jurors probably started the deliberations having already decided to vote for death. That troubles me and has led me to ask why do we let troglodytes sentence people to death? This is my answer.
Time for a reality check and discussion regarding yet another reason to abolish the death penalty in this country. The Tsarnaev jury was a bad jury, which is what you tend to get when every member of the jury has survived the death qualification process. That means that every member of that jury declared under oath that they would sentence Jahar Tsarnaev to death, if the evidence introduced during the trial proved his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and the court’s instructions authorized them to vote to kill him.
Prospective jurors who either refused to sentence him or anyone else to death or who expressed doubts whether they could vote to kill anyone for any reason were excused because they could not follow the law and kill people, despite legal justification to do so. Sounds surreal, doesn’t it? I’m thinking the death qualified jurors should be bussed somewhere special for intensive psychotherapy sessions to find out what the hell is wrong with them and remedial sensitivity training training before slowly easing them back into their lives.
Given the peculiar human residue that made the final cut, it should come as no surprise that some of them reportedly did not believe Tamerlan was the primary mover and some of them thought that if they sentenced Jahar to life without possibility of parole (LWOP), he would be stirring up trouble at the ADX Florence supermax prison by recruiting inmates to join him in jihad to take over the damn place. Never mind that he has not attempted to recruit any jihadis or caused any trouble during his two years of incarceration awaiting trial. You just never know what these devilish demons will do.
The sad truth is that this type of fact-free speculation is probably the rule rather than the exception among death qualified jurors. Experience has shown that jurors who are willing to impose the death penalty, if the evidence and the jury instructions allow it, are also more likely to convict a defendant than scrupled jurors who could not sentence someone to death.
Death qualified jurors generally respect authority figures like police, especially if they wear a suit like all detectives and FBI agents do, and they assume they are honest public servants who are saving them from the criminal element that is infesting and destroying our society. Yes, that would be black people, Latinos and anyone who is poor and marginalized. They are so clueless, they do not realize they are prejudiced and they think killers should be put down like rabid dogs.
The FBI takes advantage of their presumption that they are mini gods by designating all of their agents as a “Special Agent” so-in-so, as if they’d won a prize for superior crime detection or something. FBI agents never videotape or audio record suspect interviews because they figure they will always win swearing contests against defendants who claim they are mistaken or lying about some damaging admission they supposedly made during the interview.
They assume cops never intentionally lie and they also assume they have better memories than defendants or civilian witnesses because, after all, they are trained observers risking their lives every day to keep us safe.
These assumptions have no basis in fact, of course, and they amount to a presumption of guilt when they are supposed to be attempting to presume the defendant is innocent.
Utterly blind to their own prejudices, they think they are performing a public service by doing whatever the prosecutor tells them to do.
That’s the kind of juror we see over and over in death penalty cases, along with the ones who are too stupid to pore piss out of a boot.
That places all defendants in capital cases at a considerable disadvantage and there is only one way to fix the problem: Abolish the death penalty.