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Read the story forwards, not backwards

The lie I hate most is the lie I once fell for.

When George Zimmerman was charged with murdering Trayvon Martin, there was much much I did not know till later. But from the day the story broke, I could see cause to keep an open mind in the face of the narrative. There was more to the Ferguson story than I knew till much later. But I saw from the start that there was more to it than the media wanted me to know.

Not so with the Floyd story. If I’d seen Floyd being restrained by nurses in an emergency room, the idea that they could be trying to save him, not kill him, might have occurred to me. But everyone knows police and suspects are adversaries. The police arrived on the scene in the first place to arrest him, not hospitalise him. Who wants to watch a distressing video of a man dying? Surely the picture of Floyd on the ground under Chauvin’s knee was enough. So my mind confabulated a simple connection between the two.

So I accepted an incident-report from BLM!

I could see it was wildly oversold. I could see that BLM demanded we think it represented all police, all white people and above all Trump, although Minneapolis has not seen a Republican official for decades. I could see the same BLM demanded we think their ‘mostly peaceful’ gunning down of an 8-year-old black girl represented nothing at all. But I assumed the Floyd incident was what they said it was in itself, despite knowing who and what the overwhelmingly white marxists who run BLM were, and where they come from.

That’s embarrassing!

It was days later (prompted by a twin-cities-based web friend) that I woke up enough to watch the video – and to think about it. You don’t asphyxiate a man by pressing on the back of his neck – and you usually don’t murder a man under the eyes of hostile videoing witnesses when you could just put him in your car and drive off. Two-thirds of the way in, the video itself drops a unintentional hint that it may not be the whole story. A guy comes to the man videoing and says, “Let me help. I saw the whole thing”, whereupon the man swiftly gets very aggressive in his determination to make the unwelcome informant go away again. Very soon he is shouting “I know where you live. I know where your parents live.” to make the guy leave – a strange thing for someone concerned about Floyd to do.

So I began to try and learn more.

Many detective stories have plots that would be very straightforward – if they were told in order from start to end. Instead, the hero is introduced to some late side-effect of the crime, or to a crime with an obvious suspect, then gets (with the reader) a series of baffling shocks as they try to unwind the hidden earlier history. Only at the end does the ‘great detective’ tell the story in order, from start to finish, and then everything that puzzled us makes sense.

Let’s tell the George Floyd story in order, start to finish (as best we can for now). The police are summoned by a shopkeeper to an unusual suspect, who is still parked nearby, acting silly, when the usual passer of forged $20-bills would have driven off. As they go through the routine of questioning him, Floyd’s strange behaviour starts to get to them. They ask Mr Floyd “Are you on something right now?” (See bodycam transcripts for Officers Kueng and Lane.) At first Floyd denies this, saying “No, nothing” but then Officer Koenig tells Floyd he is “acting real erratic” and asks Floyd why he is foaming at the mouth. “I was hooping earlier”, George explains.

(Hooping: street slang for absorbing drugs via the anus, believed by some to enhance their potency. The autopsy confirms George Floyd was telling the truth: the amount of fentanyl in his system was far above lethal dosage.)

For a while, the police try to stick to their script – to put him in their car and take him to the station – but it gradually (or fairly quickly, one could argue – the whole incident takes but a short time) becomes clear that things are serious. Foaming-at-the-mouth George starts to complain he can’t breathe – both directly and also indirectly (Floyd’s indicative fear of being in the closed police car, his begging them to “crack [open] a window”, appears even earlier than his first “I can’t breathe”). Floyd himself repeatedly asks to get on the ground rather than into the car – and repeatedly says he can’t breathe before he is on the ground. Chauvin puts him on the ground. By now, the police have abandoned the idea of arresting him and instead summoned an ambulance, at first because Floyd cut his mouth on the car door, but soon afterwards Chauvin tells Lane (who is handling comms) to call again and ensure the ambulance is high priority – which would be an odd thing for a would-be murderer to do.

Meanwhile, what do the police do with Floyd till the ambulance arrives (soon, they hope)? They do what they have been trained to do by order of the left-leaning Democrats who rule Minneapolis. They restrain the suspect (the theory is his own struggles may otherwise exhaust him, especially if drug-induced Extreme Delirium occurs). They use the knee-to-rear-of-neck hold they’ve been taught to use (“the conscious neck hold”, their political masters’ manual calls it, because that hold should not make the subject lose consciousness, let alone face the dangers of a frontal choke-hold). “I can’t breathe”, yells Floyd yet again now he is on the ground. “Then stop talking and yelling.”, replies Chauvin, “It takes a lot of oxygen to talk.” But though the hold is designed not to take consciousness, let alone life, Floyd nevertheless passes out after four minutes on the ground (or at least, both Lane and the ex-wife who has been with him from the start, say at almost the same time, “I think he’s passed out”).

We know from the autopsy that Floyd’s lungs (two-three times normal weight when examined, because of all the liquid in them) must by now be dangerously full of fluid – probably already lethally so. Knowing what we know now, Floyd was most unlikely to resume struggling. Floyd is having an episode all right, but not of Extreme Delirium. The active restraint no longer serves its intended purpose.

But the police do not know this; they are still wondering whether Floyd is on PCP. Fentanyl has not occurred to them – and why would it? And if it had, would Floyd’s foaming lungs have had a better chance of draining if he were face up instead of face down? He was given CPR by Officer Lane and the ambulance crew when the ambulance arrived. The four officers would have done their own PR a favour if they had broken their training and started it four minutes earlier. But with flooded lungs between mouth and heart, would it have favoured Floyd’s survival at all?

Told in order from first to last, the story of how George Floyd came to die makes more sense than the start-at-the-end BLM narrative ever did. I guess if we could all have seen that right away then detective story writers would be out of business, which is a fate I would not want for them (for BLM, by contrast, … ).

Last Friday, a judge dismissed Derek Chauvin’s third degree murder charge over George Floyd. (Here is a critcal assessment of the charges written when they were made). Earlier this month, the same judge gave Chauvin monitored $1 million bail release from his high security ‘protective’ custody. The second-degree charges remain against him and his colleagues. Those charges must meet a higher standard of proof to convict. A matter so ‘tried’ in the ‘court of public opinion’ may benefit from the clarity of a real trial. The judge may be serving the truth as best he can.

One final question: why do BLM focus on cases like Zimmerman, Ferguson or Floyd instead of genuine criminal police shootings of blacks? In the brutally racist U.S. that BLM claim to believe in, there should be loads of strong legal cases to choose from – and in the real U.S they certainly happen. I think the marxist revolutionaries of BLM see no profit in highlighting a valid case – it may well end in evil oppressive America convicting the cop. Far better a case where there is a real chance of acquittal. If there is acquittal, they can have yet more riots. If there should be acquittal in honest law, but judge and jury are too fearful or propagandised, they’ve made a real advance towards their goal.

30 comments to Read the story forwards, not backwards

  • Flubber

    I think there is a genuine case to be made against the cops in the us. But its not a racial issue. See the Daniel Shaver execution as a prime example.

    There could be a genuine movement for police reform. But its not about that.

    BLM has an explicitly anti-white agenda. Its being used as a racial wedge primarily around the election. Strangely enough a lot of BLM’ers are the usual Antifa rabble plus a hell of a lot of commie student twats. And thankfully, the black community, judging by recent polls, is seeing through it.

  • Flubber

    And to answer your question: “why do BLM focus on cases like Zimmerman, Ferguson or Floyd instead of genuine criminal police shootings of blacks?”

    Because they’re very rare. 13 instances last year, and almost all of them were examined and found to be justified.

    Its the same issue as why are there so many race hoaxes e.g. Jussie Smollett?

    Because as Douglas Murray says, the demand far exceeds the supply.

  • bobby b

    “One final question: why do BLM focus on cases like Zimmerman, Ferguson or Floyd instead of genuine criminal police shootings of blacks?”

    Very good summary above the question.

    My guess: timing.

    Look at Kamala Harris and Jussie Smollet. One week they’re working together to gin up outrage with multiple rallies in California specifically targeting white supremacist hate crime against blacks – and two weeks later Smollet manufactures his fake attack and attributes it to white supremacist hate.

    Trayvon was killed only a week or so after Obama had been championing the cause of wayward black youth being killed by racist cops and whites. Many other wayward black youth were killed that week – and during the week before, and the week after, and every week for years. But Trayvon was killed while the ink was still wet on Obama’s speeches, by someone who might be called white by some. And so, he was The One.

    Floyd was killed as the left searched for a name to attach to a cause to shore up their flagging black support. The optics were right, there were lots of cell phones recording, and the officials in Minneapolis were sure to do whatever needed to be done to enflame the mess (as they did.) Few such people are actually killed by cops, so this case, with its flaws, had to do. It was the right time, and so Floyd was The One.

    If the case now peters out, well, no matter, because the value of the case was in how it could be used in this election. That’s next Tuesday. It has accomplished what they needed done, and I’ll predict that Keith Ellison steps back from the case on Wednesday. (Although this might be complicated by the fact that Mike Freeman – the Hennepin County Attorney who would normally be in charge of prosecution – has been disqualified from the case by the judge due to sloppy work.)

    A 3-4 block area surrounding the place where Floyd died has been an occupied zone – Minneapolis’s own CHAZ – since he died. Can’t drive in, don’t dare walk in unless you’re the right type. Unnoticed by the press, surprisingly, even though Minneapolis has had to reroute a lot of traffic and quiet a lot of enraged businesses. But I bet that quietly disappears on November 4 also.

    It’s all theater.

  • ’ Far better a case where there is a real chance of acquittal. If there is acquittal, they can have yet more riots.’

    Spot on. They have a cozy gig, and they don’t want anyone ruining it.

    The thing to ask of any crime: ‘Who benefits?’

  • Paul Marks

    There were nine police shootings of unarmed black people in 2009 – 9. This includes shootings by BLACK police officers. Many black people are police officers – and many HEADS of police departments are black.

    In almost every case the black person (of the NINE unarmed ones who were shot dead by police in 2019) was on drugs and (the balance of their mind disturbed) attacked – it is the same with WHITE people on drugs, they attack as well and they are also shot dead.

    In short the reason the Marxist BLM do not focus on a “real” tidal wave of police shootings of innocent black people is because such a wave DOES NOT EXIST.

    Why do the media lie?

    Why do they, for example, pretend that an Hispanic Democrat in Florida was a white Republican? As well as mutating Mr Zimmerman they also showed (constantly) hopelessly out of date photographs of Mr Martin – pretending that a six foot tall violent thug was a young child (murdered by the FICTIONAL white Republican George Zimmerman).

    Officer Wilson in Missouri faced a drugged up violent criminal (a very large man) who was trying to beat him to death – Officer Wilson was smaller than I am, if he had not fired he would have been torn to pieces. Sadly the police stopped employing big “Officer O’Reilly” types – modern police have to have finished High School and they are not (normally) Big Men used to having a fight every night after drinking in the bar.

    The “racist” trope of the big Irish-American police officer used to using his fists “Officer O’Reilly” was the sort of police officer who did NOT have to go for his firearm – indeed he often did not even carry one. Firearms only became common among American city police officers after the First World War (pistols were sold off cheap and lot of police forces bought them).

    But instead we get the “hands up don’t shoot” LIE – Sky Television has been pushing this LIE even now. with adverts (or whatever they are) of a respectable black man (in a suit) raising his hands and saying “you can see my hands, so why are you pointing that gun at me?” – as if Officer Wilson was facing a respectable old man in a suit, rather than a drugged up violent criminal who was trying to tear him apart (not “raising his hands”). There are also adverts (or whatever they are) of a blue haired middle aged women talking endless garbage about “how can we change YOU Officer – make you see ME”. Why this blue haired women thinks police officers would want to arrest her (rather than drugged up violent thugs) is not explained.

    In Minnesota – George Floyd (a violent criminal) was drugged out of his mind. I am told he was lovely man when he was NOT on drugs – and perhaps if he had not lost his job (due to the LOCKDOWN) he would NOT have returned to drugs and crime, but there we are.

    And it goes on – Marxist BLM can not go for REAL murders by police, because there are very few real murders by police.

    And when THERE ARE REAL MURDERS BY POLICE it is not very useful for Marxist BLM – as they tend to be, for example, the white Australian woman who was MURDERED by a Somali police officer in Minneapolis.

    The lady was unarmed, she had done nothing – and the Somali police officer murdered her.

    Were their riots all over America? No there were not. And the media did not give a toss about the killing – because it was not useful for their “Critical Theory” Frankfurt School of Marxism AGENDA.

    Are the media Marxist – as Black Lives Matter (a Marxist organisation founded by Marxists in 2014) is Marxist?

    Technically most of he media are more “Fellow Traveller” than Marxist.

    The average Media person could not explain Marxist economics to you and would most likely not even think of themselves as a Marxist – they think of themselves as “Progressives” or even “Liberals” (in that bizarre misuse of language in America). They absorb Marxist “Critical Theory” at school (even before High School there are crude versions of it pushed “racist America”) and university – often without fully understanding what it is.

    The Big Corporations who own the media are also dominated by “educated” Progressives – even the most senior managers.

    They hate and despise people like “Trump” and they buy the semi Marxist narrative of “structural oppression” and so on, and desperately want to destroy American “capitalism”.

    Yes you read that correctly – the senior managers of most American “capitalist” Corporations want to DESTROY CAPITALISM – because it is “vulgar” and “uncouth” (Plato, Plato, Plato) and they want an “ordered” system without nasty free competition and freedom of choice by ordinary people.

    Whether it is Marxism or Saint-Simonism (the Big Corporations in charge – with no free competition or freedom of choice by ordinary people) we shall have to see. But what is left of freedom must-be-exterminated – that is their view.

    And the Economist magazine supports this (you knew I would rope them in) – hence “it must be Biden” on the front cover of the present issue.

    No freedom for ordinary people – everything planned from above by the government bureaucracy, university “experts”, cultural “elite”, and of course – the Corporations, especially the Credit Bubble BANKS who (as with the vision of Saint-Simon) will be at the very top of the “scientific” planning of society.

    It does not matter what the EXCUSE is – “racism”, “Covid 19”, “the environment”, as long as freedom is EXTERMINATED the university trained establishment elite will be happy.

    At least they will be happy till their despotic system finally collapses around them – but (alas) I will not live to see that day.

    When President Trump is defeated the last defence against the totalitarians (for that is what they are) will be gone.

  • Very good summary above the question. (bobby b, October 31, 2020 at 4:02 am)

    Thank you bobby. (I especially appreciate such a commendation from you.) I presume every samizdata comment reader was able to guess who the “twin-cities-based web friend” was who started my mind working. 🙂

    I sometimes wonder if, had bobby not given a hint, we would be like those people I still sometimes see in anti-PC outlets damning BLM who write about ‘George Floyd’s murder” as if it were a fact.

  • Rich Rostrom

    There was a flagrant case in Chicago eight years ago. Rekia Boyd, a 22-year-old black woman, was shot in the back of the head by off-duty CPD detective Dante Servin. Servin had words with Boyd and three friends late at night in Douglas Park. They walked away, Servin got back in his car – and then Servin drew his gun and fired over his shoulder at them.

    Servin was charged with involuntary manslaughter. But Judge Dennis J. Porter ruled that since Servin fired intentionally, involuntary manslaughter could not apply. Therefore he issued a directed verdict of acquittal.

    There was no particular reaction. There has been no move to challenge Judge Porter for election or retention.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Many detective stories have plots that would be very straightforward – if they were told in order from start to end.

    But it is the stories that DO tell the plot from start to end, that are unlike real life.

    The key concept was introduced by Sherlock Holmes (in The Sign of Four, i believe): to find out what happened, we must reason from effects to causes.

    In real life, there is no author who decides what is going to be the plot. While there is an objective ‘plot’, we’ll never know for sure what it is. In most cases, we accept the simplest (hypothetical) plot that explains the facts that we do know. Then we might keep looking for more facts or we might not. We might even question whether the “facts” are real facts.

    Is all of the above relevant to the George Floyd case? To the extent that the media were not lying, but bullshitting, yes, it is. Once the media find a story that supports the narrative, they have no incentive to dig deeper anymore. People do tend to subject to closer scrutiny stories that do not fit their preconceived notions — and in many cases, that is a sensible policy.
    Not in this case, however.

  • jmc

    Funnily enough when I saw the first short video of Floyd on the ground my immediate reaction was – looks like the guy is having a drug OD. Which it what it was.

    How did I know? Because I have lived for many years in a ultra-“progressive” city so I had seen quite a few drug ODs in real life. Its just part of normal day to day life in a Democratic Party controlled ultra-“progressive” city. Street junkies OD’ing. You need to be able to distinguish between someone having a real heath emergency and just another street junkie OD’ing. In the first situation you call 911, the second 311. Maybe.

    My reaction when I read the county coroners report, he was 6 foot 4? And a club bouncer? I know exactly what kind of guy he was. The sort you notice on the street from way off and keep well away from. Those sort of people have a nasty habit of randomly punching out white people. Just for kicks. Mainly old people. They hospitalize a few people every year in most big cities. And sometimes kill them. I know of at least two deaths, old people, in the last few years in just one mid sized city and a dear friend was very lucky not to be one of them.

    So no sympathy here. As for the BLM mob. Lots of rich white folk (liberal white guilt useful idiots) and the people causing the trouble almost all have a criminal records. Funny how much domestic violence and rapes show up in the criminal records of both the BLM “martyrs” and the BLM rioters. Very nasty scum when you meet them up close. Very often violent psychopaths.

  • John


    The “fake girlfriend” theory in the Zimmerman case has been completely ignored by most of the mainstream media leaving it to sites like the American Thinker, which Neill linked to, to carry the story. However the above story from the less easy to ignore New York Post should surely have received more publicity.

  • John

    On second thoughts in the light of the coordinated suppression by Facebook, Twitter, Google, NYT, CNN, NBC, NPR, BBC etc etc of the NY Post reports about the Biden laptop perhaps I should not be referring to it as “less easy to ignore!”.

  • bobby b

    Rich Rostrom – at the risk of coming off as a pro-cop scold once again, Porter was correct in his ruling. The prosecutor screwed the case, and then made it unfixable, so Porter had no real choice unless he did what we all hate by ignoring the actual law and ruling by his feelz.

    The state should have had the intentional charge sitting there to box him in no matter how he testified, but they didn’t file it, and the defense lawyer saw the opening. So, Servin testified that he intentionally fired over his shoulder at the group. Thus, one element of the unintentional crime was unsatisfied, and Porter had to find him not guilty before the defense even started their case. It’s all chess.

  • Katy Hibbert

    Thanks for this article. I had, lazily assumed that George Floyd’s death was a result of excessively rough restraint, though I didn’t think it was murder or manslaughter. In fact it is likely that he died and wasn’t killed.

    Either way, the outrage around this was totally confected.

  • “A lie travels around the globe while the truth is putting on its shoes.” These days the Left (and I include the media, Antifa, and BLM and a million others) don’t care about the truth. They care about the Narrative, and lies are preferable there. It’s feasible to demonstrate a truth; it’s hard to deny, let alone disprove, a lie.

    Even if you say “I did not beat that horse!” the words “… beat that horse” have come from your mouth. A few quick snips in the newsroom will have you saying it on TV. And the beat goes on.

  • bobby b (October 31, 2020 at 2:31 pm), was there any reason not to re-charge the cop with an intentional crime? Such mistakes look suspicious if they are correctable but not corrected – and the law looks strange if, “Did you accidentally kill her? No, I did it of intent.”, is a get-out-of-jail-free card.

  • The “fake girlfriend” theory … (John, October 31, 2020 at 2:18 pm)

    I saw at the time from the original trial testimony that something was up with the girlfriend – and that the defence suspected as much. The idea that the prosecution had substituted a witness because the genuine one refused to lie on oath never occurred to me, but when (IIRC) the defence asked her to read the letter to the court and she replied she could not because she “could not read joined-up writing” (when her letter testimony had to mean that she could read and write it), then it was clear to me that something about her testimony stank to high heaven.

    I’ve added your useful link to the main post, while keeping mine (which analyses the facts in yours).

  • Flubber

    Re: Niall.

    When Chauvin and his colleagues are acquitted it will just reinforce the narrative that the black man cant get justice in a system of white supremacy.

    Its all about the revolutionary narrative, always has been.

  • Niall,
    In answer to your question, George Floyd = Horst Wessel and that would be true even if by some chance the story had been true. The reason the Left needs their astroturfed Horst Wessels is that real life is messy and has unexpected things come up while a Horst Wessel case is neat and contains no surprises. @_@

  • Fraser Orr

    @Niall Kilmartin
    was there any reason not to re-charge the cop with an intentional crime? Such mistakes look suspicious if they are correctable but not corrected – and the law looks strange if, “Did you accidentally kill her? No, I did it of intent.”, is a get-out-of-jail-free card.

    IANAL, but I have watched a lot of “Law and Order” so I can take this one. They cannot recharge him because the constitution gives criminal defendants protection against double jeopardy — which is to say they cannot be charged by the government twice for the same criminal transaction. This is in many ways a good rule. Otherwise the government, if they didn’t like you, could simply keep prosecuting your over and over again for the same crime, with the same or slightly different charges. However, it does seem to be not uncommon (on Law and Order anyway 🙂 ) for criminal defense lawyers to manipulate the trial in this way, and as Bobby said the fault is on the part of the prosecution for not having a back stop charge that the jury can find. (The challenge with this is that you want juries to find on your top count and not give them options to downgrade your charges, so it is a bit of a gamble when you think the jury might be on the edge.)

    Which is to say, this is a classic case of the defense working the system to get their client off on a technicality (or in the alternative the prosecution did not cover all their bases.)

    It is also worth pointing out that in theory he could be charged under federal charges, since the federal government is a separate sovereign (and double jeopardy does not cross sovereignties) however, there generally isn’t a federal charge against murder/manslaughter (with some special case exceptions) because it is the job of the state to prosecute those kids of crimes. They might be able to trump up some charge like depriving the dead guy of his civil rights, but that seems to be a rare thing.

  • Thanks for the information, Fraser. I had often heard one could not be charged twice for the same offence but had thought the word ‘offence’ (as in ‘legal offence’ played a different role in that sentence. I had not thought that the rule so ruthlessly excluded an in-trial legal re-classification of the same deed – one that the defence themselves asserted.

    It seems that, by this procedure, the defence gets to reclassify the offence but the prosecution does not get either to agree or disagree with them. Not only can the prosecution not agree that this is now a murder trial. They also – apparently – don’t get to disagree. Why couldn’t the prosecution claim the policeman was lying when he said it was deliberate, to escape on a technicality (he must have claimed otherwise before), and so have the jury retire to consider their verdict on the original charge?

    If confessing to a more serious charge is a known trick, not an almost-first-time way of exploiting a technicality in the double-jeopardy rule, how could it not have become absolutely routine for prosecutors always and invariably to file charges for every degree of killing, regardless of which one they thought applied? (As well or instead, has any attempt been made since to change laws or procedures?)

    I note that this happened in Chicago, the same place I linked to from my “they certainly happen” remark at the end of my post. Why did not it, instead of Floyd, become the BLM cause celebre? As a trial, it was wholly in the public domain, the cop’s own words leave no doubt of guilt, and it far better supports any claim that the system, not just a rogue cop, did not serve the ends of justice. (I can of course, think of answers to my question.)

    I welcome further enlightenment on the legal issues of this ruling – but understand if people are happy to move on to more urgent matters. I hope I am not being tedious in remaining suspicious of this Chicagoan event.

  • bobby b

    Niall Kilmartin
    October 31, 2020 at 5:30 pm

    “bobby b (October 31, 2020 at 2:31 pm), was there any reason not to re-charge the cop with an intentional crime?”

    What Fraser Orr said above.

    I’m just here to throw out a complication. Charges against Servin weren’t even brought for about a year and a half after the shooting, IIRC. There were political machinations that I didn’t really understand that made this a very uncomfortable case to prosecute – this was Chicago, after all – and some thought that the charging mess was intentional. I knew some of the people involved, and can’t completely discount that possibility. When you’re in a hole, make the judge take the blame.

    “Which is to say, this is a classic case of the defense working the system to get their client off on a technicality . . .”

    When almost all of your clients did exactly what they’re accused of doing, this becomes your job description. 😛

  • Bobby b, I’m happy to take your comment of (November 1, 2020 at 3:56 pm) as an answer to my latest (Niall Kilmartin, November 1, 2020 at 3:33 pm), though I’m guessing it was written independently.

    There were political machinations that I didn’t really understand … this was Chicago, after all …

    That was what I suspected. The word Chicago suggested something to me, both about the cop walking and about why BLM preferring to highlight something else.

    When you’re in a hole, make the judge take the blame.

    OK, this helps me understand (I think) your original point. The judge was set up to have to rule the way he did.

    It’s the Chicago way – a phrase one often heard when a certain Chicago Democratic Party machine community organiser was applying the same techniques as president.

  • bobby b

    “It seems that, by this procedure, the defence gets to reclassify the offence but the prosecution does not get either to agree or disagree with them.”

    Philosophical legal point – the state’s burden is to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to the factfinder – the jury – that the defendant’s acts satisfy the elements of the charged crime. The defendant’s burden is – nothing. The defense didn’t reclassify anything – it merely showed that the charged crime didn’t match what happened.

    Why didn’t the state amend the complaint before the trial to charge intentional conduct? It could have – it had the defendant’s statements by then – but it didn’t. And that’s the mystery of Chicago.

    What baffled me was that none of the people who I would normally expect to erupt in anger over this seeming thrown game by the state erupted. There was more to this than met my eye, obviously. I never did figure it out. It led me to believe that justice got done somehow – the usual honest anticop ideologues let it go.

    But, again, it was Chicago, where things are usually occulted to us outsiders. Fraser Orr could probably tell more about this than I.

  • Fraser Orr

    @bobby b
    But, again, it was Chicago, where things are usually occulted to us outsiders. Fraser Orr could probably tell more about this than I.

    The Chicago rule is simple — if it looks corrupt, it almost certainly is corrupt, if it doesn’t look corrupt it only probably is corrupt.

  • Fraser Orr

    @bobby, something I don’t quite understand though — it is common for the prosecutor to charge high in the hope of getting a plea deal at a lower charge. But, if we take this case, if they had charged with murder 1, then pleaded down to reckless endangerment (perhaps because they thought the evidence was not strong enough to guarantee a conviction), then presumably, if the facts of the case fit the elements of murder 1 (such as intentionality), then they would not fit the elements of reckless endangerment. How then can a judge (or for that matter a prosecutor) in good conscious accept such a plea deal when the criminal is certainly not guilty of the crime to which he pleads since he is guilty of a more serious crime?

    FWIW, the CPD are not known for their clean hands. My first experience with them was watching them hauling off a guy in handcuffs for the aledged crime of “disrespecting the police”, which, AFAIK, is not a crime, even in Chicago. However, no doubt that person had a very bad few days indeed.

  • bobby b

    ” . . . if the facts of the case fit the elements of murder 1 (such as intentionality), then they would not fit the elements of reckless endangerment.”

    First, we have to differentiate between the evidence and the facts of the case. “Facts” are what the factfinder determines them to be after hearing the evidence. (Juries are the fact finders in jury trials, judges in bench trials. In a plea agreement, the jury goes home and the judge becomes the factfinder.)

    In a plea agreement, the two sides agree on stipulated “facts” to be presented to the judge, who then accepts them and adopts them as his factual findings.

    So, the “facts of the case” fit whatever the agreement calls for.

    The charges against the defendant are contained in the complaint by the state. Normally, once a certain amount of time has passed (or once trial is getting closer) the state can no longer simply amend the complaint on its own – fairness reasons, you don’t want to be preparing to defend against assault and then get murder charges a week before trial – but if the two sides agree, they can ask the judge to accept agreed-upon amended charges – say, subbing in Manslaughter II for Murder I. (In a plea, the judge generally accepts whatever the two sides agree on.)

    So, the two sides to a plea agreement stipulate to the amended set of charges, and then the defendant or the prosecutor reads into the record the stipulated facts that amount to a confession by the defendant to the amended charges. With that, the judge adopts the facts set out by the parties, and makes a finding that the defendant is guilty of the amended charges.

    A plea usually can’t be to something completely unrelated to the original charges – after all, the defendant has to confess to doing specific things under oath, so they can’t just pull any old criminal offense out of the air – but you can usually find some lesser charge that can be massaged to fit the acts of the defendant. And in the overcrowded-court pressure to get cases resolved, no one spends a lot of time scrutinizing the factual basis to make sure it’s a complete and accurate match to reality.

    Does that explain what you were asking?

  • Fraser Orr

    @bobby, yes thanks, very interesting explanation. I am ambivent about the whole thing — it seems destined to railroad a lot of people on charges they really aren’t deserving off (much as they are probably deserving of something) on the basis that we want to keep the costs of court down. But I guess the justice system is far from perfect.

    Now having delivered such a great explanation, can you also deliver MN for Trump and a Senate flip? I am a afraid I can’t promise the same here in IL, I’m afraid the loathsome Dick Durbin is a shoe-in, and although Trump will win everything south of Chicago, he’ll win everything in Chicago.

    MN’s whole “George Floyd” thing really screwed us all up, so I think MN owes us at least that much 🙂

  • bobby b

    ” . . . it seems destined to railroad a lot of people on charges they really aren’t deserving of . . . “

    Yes, but (and this is from a defense lawyer) it almost always railroads them into pleading to an offense less serious than the one for which they were arrested (and for which the vast majority would have been found guilty at trial.) For my clients, it was a good thing. For the prosecutors, it was a frustrating thing.

    We always hear about the apocryphal guy who was innocent but couldn’t take the chance of trial (because the evidence made him look guilty) and so pleads to avoid an even harsher injustice, but that hardly ever happens, plus without plea bargaining, he would most likely have had to suffer that harsher injustice without any other choice. All in all, it works out better for defendants than not having it.

    “Now having delivered such a great explanation, can you also deliver MN for Trump and a Senate flip?”

    I guessed wrong for Obama’s first election, and for his second. I guessed wrong for Trump’s first election. It’s even worse this time – I can’t even guess who’s going to win Minnesota, much less the presidency. Soooo frustrating . . .

  • Surellin

    I’ve asked myself the question you raise in the last paragraph. Apparently BLM is unable to find an ordinary decent citizen who is gunned down by evil cops. It’s always a criminal, high, resisting arrest. Amazing.

  • Jacob

    There was once a joke about the ArchDuke Franz Ferdinand beeing alive, and the whole WW1 was fought for nothing.
    Similarly – George Floyd died of an overdose so the whole rioting, looting, arson and mayhem were for nothing.