Monday, June 13, 2005

Class Justice In America

The verdict in the Michael Jackson case follows the pattern of class juctice in America. It is very difficult to convict the wealthy and the powerful of any major crime, only more minor offenses. Martha Stewart was the only recent exception, but that was partly due to the fact that her legal representation let her down, and the jury felt she would not have to serve long if convicted. But for a major crime, highly paid legal representation can parade endless witnesses and be able to meet and surpass the standards for acquital based on "reasonable doubt" standards.

Poorer defendants are often sent to prison without the benefit of a real "trial". Because of "three strikes" laws, mandatory minimum sentences, tough sentencing grids, etc., a poorer defendant usually accepts a "plea bargain" whether guilty or not, or whether evidence exists or not. Serving 4 years on a plea bargain is better than serving 43 if a person loses at trial. And the average defendant is likely to be convicted with a legal aid attorney, which often put in far less effort. A private attorney could cost $70,000 on up to millions, which most poorer persons cannot afford.

Of course the prosecution's main witness impressed the jury as a "grifter" and other problems existed in the Jackson case. Yet the trend is clear. The wealthy and powerful are difficult to ever convict of any major crime, while the poor, whether guilty or innocent usually serve time by being forced into "plea bargain" deals. This is the sad state of class justice in America.


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