Ref pt. 1 .
So, I know I’m pretty much preaching to the choir here judging by the last comments on prosecutorial discretion (see above). But I’m going to say some things that I don’t think have been said and why I think it should be focus number one for anyone still interested in working within the system. If you still vote or communicate with your elected reps, then you’re working within the system, something I’m taking a break from for a while. Do I think the problem of prosecutorial discretion has much of a chance of being solved by working within the system? I don’t know. And if you’re not committing illegal acts to affect political results, you’re not yet working “outside the system.” That’s what I take “outside the system” to mean, and, no, I’m not working outside the system either. But before we get into which is more effective, inside or outside the system, let’s again take a look at the severity of the problem and why I believe it is issue #1. Here is how I put it in a comment on the previous “Prosecutorial Discretion” post:
If there are so many laws and so many crimes happening that prosecutors have to triage which incidents to move on and which ones to look the other way, then that points to more serious underlying problems (too many laws?). Whatever the supposed justification for the practice, I don’t see how empowering some ”top cop” to look the other way solves anything. I mean you could have, hypothetically, a perfect set of laws and a perfect police force, but if the D.A. gets to pick and choose, and he isn’t perfect, then none of the other stuff matters. What is needed is some kind of referendum or petition process to compel prosecutors to move on certain cases. Democracy may not be the best answer to everything, but I think a little application of democracy here would be much, much better than having the kind of autocratic power that prosecutors wield. You may as well scrap all the constitutions and all of the laws on the books so long as a few individuals get to decide which laws to enforce and whom to enforce them against.
I’m by no means an expert. I’ve never even witnessed a trial in person, and I don’t really follow them on TV. But from simply reading public sources and having a basic knowledge of what types of things constitute crimes, I think even a simpleton such as myself can grasp that there is something seriously, seriously wrong here. Every day almost, there are news reports of individuals engaging in acts which obviously, obviously to an 8-year-old, are crimes, but for which there is not even an attempt at prosecution. It reminds me of the Ally Bank commercials with the guy and the kids: ’even kids know it’s not right to….”
Do I need examples? No, not here. Not this time. You guys already know what’s up; I don’t need to fill this thing with hyperlinks today. But I’ll be glad to provide examples to anyone stumbling upon this blog needing a welcome to the party.
I know y’all understand what’s going on, but what I’m trying to persuade you of is that this issue isn’t just an important one; it is the keystone, the foundation, the one deserving the most attention and effort. Challenge me on this point, please, if you think I’m wrong.
Think gun rights are more important? Well, you already have guns, and, in the worst case, the guns can be used against the forces of tyranny if you and your friends have what it takes. Enough said, our gun rights are what we make of them, and the issue is now at somewhat of a resolution-point: No one is coming to take your guns tonight, but, if they do, you already have the means to defend yourself. Not a perfect resolution, but one that is satisfactory enough for the political issue not to be the number 1 priority.
Now let’s take the flip side: Let’s say we made guns, for example again, issue number 1. And let’s say we achieved “constitutional carry” across the land…..even in Philadelphia, PA, where, interestingly, it is already “legal” to open carry a firearm with a permit. Except no one does. Because police will threaten and intimidate open carriers to the point where no one dare do it. Alright, here we go – one hyperlinked news reference which took about 5 seconds to find:
“Lt. Raymond Evers, a spokesman for the city police, told FoxNews.com that gun owners who open carry, which is legal in the city, may be asked to lay on the ground until officers feel safe while they check permits.”
“Asked to lay on the ground?” Uh, yeah, we know what that means – threatened with the prospect of pain compliance to lay on the ground.
So goes the logic goes in these kinds of things (Atlanta has the pretty much the same problem, but only with the rail and bus police, not the whole city):
Cop sees gun, which is cause enough to temporarily detain on suspicion of carrying without a permit. I don’t know all the ins and outs, but somehow enough local government suits can say to each other with straight faces something that doesn’t even pass the laugh test: that seeing someone doing something for which a permit is required is cause enough to detain them on suspicion of not having the permit they are required to have. Have these jackasses not heard of driver’s licenses? Why does this line of thinking, this highly unreasonable line of thinking, even get off the ground? I remember watching former GeorgiaCarry prez (and lawyer and former cop) Ed Stone argue this kind of thing with some real jokers in a GA legislative committee one time. He wanted a law passed to clarify that carrying a pistol was not cause to detain. It’s a sad day when a gun rights group rightly decides that this actually needs to be spelled out. But it shouldn’t need to be spelled out; we have enough laws and verbage as it is. Does every problem of this nature require its own law to solve? And if so, it’s just a big whack-a-mole game trying to get suits and badges to 1) respect citizens’ basic rights, and 2) actually follow the friggin law!
OK, so you may be saying “Let’s focus on real constitutional carry so we don’t need to deal with the crap about permits. Cops won’t be able to detain us on suspicion anymore if nobody needs permits.” Sure, I’m all for constitutional carry, but that only deals with the surface and doesn’t get to the root of the problem. We don’t need to play whack-a-mole. We don’t need to waste energy on this-or-that issue until we can get some real control over these unreasonable people who say ridiculous things with straight faces. I mean do we really need to argue that seeing someone driving a car is NOT cause enough to pull someone over on suspicion of driving without a license? Is arguing that point with a moron really a worthwhile endeavor? And once we whack the Constitutional Carry Mole, do we have the time and energy to whack the next mole that pops up from the tunnels? Why not go into those tunnels and cave in the biggest node used by the most moles?
Here is how doing away with the practice of prosecutorial discretion via a petition process would finally, finally, get these corrupt animals under some form of control:
Cop sees gun, threatens citizen into laying on the ground. News is made, citizen files lawsuit, fact come out. Prosecutor, who is not involved at this point, either knows about the incident or doesn’t know about it. In any event, he sees no reason to charge the cop with assault, or making threats, or false arrest, or kidnapping, or whatever charge may be available for the very obviously criminal act of threatening someone to lay on the ground for no real reason. However, we have a petition process in this rosy scenario, and some activist citizen comes to be aware of some of the facts of the case and assembles a certain number of petition signatures to compel the prosecutor to actually do his job and charge the cop, something prosecutors are generally eager to find a way out of doing.
And of course in real life the police departments are glad to help by doing their own internal investigations and “punishments,” thereby assuring that prosecutors are seldom actually put in “a tough spot.” And then there are the police unions who contribute to the prosecutors re-election effort, and, well, there we have it: the rule of men and the subversion of the rule of law out there in the open as plain as day.
So, in our rosy scenario, here is what a law creating such a petition process might look like:
1. Any citizen may petition his or her jurisdiction’s district attorney’s office to bring charges in any potentially criminal matter even if the citizen is not connected to the alleged offense, provided the office is petitioned in the following manner:
a. The petition must clearly state the names of the individuals to be charged and the full text of the laws they are accused of breaking.
b. The petition must include the name of at least one victim of the alleged offense.
c. The petition must include how the citizen came to be aware of the alleged offenses
d. The petition must include the signatures of at least X% of the population of the jurisdiction.
2. Upon receipt of a valid petition, the D.A. office has x days to present the relevant information of the petition’s charge to a jury for further disposition. Relevant information shall include, at a minimum, if reasonably possible, victim testimony, any written statements or complaints made by victims to police, and any video or audio recordings of the alleged offense.
So this is what an as-good-as-one-can-expect-to-get solution to problem #1 might look like, as worked “within the system.” Voting, rallying, calling, visiting, etc, could possibly be used to get legislatures to adopt something like this. Someone more versed in this stuff than I might be able to write some “teeth” into it and make it something real. Or, most likely, it will end up only as a hypothetical example in a rosy scenario on this little anti-government blog site.
In the next and final post on the topic, I will do a little exploration of what an “outside the system” solution might look like. UPDATE: I’ve decided to use a fictional story to illustrate this. Part one of that story is now here.