Lawyers Have a Lot to Teach Us

First: don’t race ahead of the established facts. Build your case carefully and deliberately.

We know a couple of things from the notorious video evidence. First, the perp is white. Second, the victim is black.

Do those two facts, taken together, establish that the act itself was a racist act?

Not yet, they don’t. At this juncture, that is little more than an ideological extrapolation of the facts; a plausible one, to be sure, but we will need more facts to establish it. For example, does the perp have a history of racial animus? Does the act in question fall into a demonstrable pattern of behavior? What did the perp say, if anything, before and during the act that would indicate a particular frame of mind with respect to the victim’s race?

As usual, the ever-careful Andy McCarthy has weighed in judiciously on the question in a column that asked, skeptically, why it took so long for the perp to be arrested:

Since race, regrettably, is the full-field explanation for all phenomena for many progressives, the controversy becomes a black–white thing because the victim was black and the perp is white. And since the regnant political narrative — however divorced from reality — is that police are on the hunt for African-American men, the controversy is swallowed by that narrative, too.

Nevertheless, I don’t look at this as a racial issue, or a “cops against black men” issue. It is a matter of equal protection under the law. Any civilian, regardless of race, who did what Chauvin did would have been placed under arrest. The police officer was not — even after he and his three colleagues were fired because their actions were so indefensible.

Andrew McCarthy, former U. S. Attorney for New York

Exactly right.

What do you think? What other questions do we need answered in order to conclude that the act was racist in itself? And if that account moves from the plausible to the probable to beyond a reasonable doubt, at what point do the prosecutors add a “hate crime” charge? If the racial motivation is so patently obvious, why hasn’t that charge been added already?

It is not enough for a particular account to be plausible; it must be demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt, which is to say, to the exclusion of other plausible accounts.

That’s precisely why we simply must be patient and let the process work. The prosecutors will build their case carefully, step by step, avoiding ideologically driven leaps of inference. Only so will the prosecutors achieve their goal of justice (in its narrow sense), a punishment that fits the crime rather than one that satisfies the public’s bloodlust.

Officer Chauvin will be punished for the death of George Floyd. Let’s get it right the first time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: