The system is working

To the editor:

It seems the anxiety level in our nation is rising every day as we come closer to the presidential elections and the various trials of our ex-president. The legal system has been chugging along at its slow but steady pace, but Americans like their justice faster and more immediate. That doesn’t happen because litigants—particularly criminal defendants—have safeguards within the system, including the presumption of innocence and the right to contest judicial rulings (and eventually convictions) in appellate courts.

Criminal lawyers will tell you that the most stressful moment in their practice is waiting for a trial jury to come back with a verdict after the case is submitted to them. That situation can possibly be days, but nothing compares to a whole nation waiting to see if an ex-president will be convicted as his numerous criminal and civil cases grind on.

It is easy to suggest that all of us not fixate on the various decisions and machinations of the parties in the Trump litigation as it moves forward. The news media treats these events as a source of revenue by catering to the need (primarily of those opposing Trump) for any hint of insight concerning how the various cases are going. Will the cases of the various litigants be severed, will the state case in Georgia be transferred to federal court, will a motion to dismiss a case be granted, etc., etc. The talking heads, plus attorney consultants, go on and on as the public wallows in the details of complex criminal (and some civil) cases.

In my opinion, the reality of the charges against Trump will be tried in some fashion after severances and the eventual narrowing and parsing of each case by the trial courts. The anti-Trumpers may not be happy with some of the decisions, and the pro-Trumpers will continue to talk about the “weaponization” of the judicial system. Eventually, 12 citizens will decide for which charges Trump is criminally liable.

I think it is important to absolutely discard the notion that our justice system is inherently corrupt. Starting with the spurious claim that the election was stolen, probably over 200 trial and appellate court judges, including the conservative Supreme Court, found no merit to any of those claims. These cases were filed in red and blue states and heard by Democratic- and Republican-appointed judges (including Trump appointees). Is it conceivable that all of them were secretly in cahoots to deny that the election was stolen?

Next we have to look at the criminal cases filed in Georgia, New York, Florida, and Washington, D.C. All were based on indictments by grand jurors. It is true that prosecutors have more control over the presentation of evidence in a grand jury, and the standard of proof is less than that at a criminal trial, but it is hard to imagine that none of the grand jurors adhered to their oath and vote indictments on what was presented to them. Did the witnesses who testified in those grand juries all perjure themselves and lie to indict an innocent man contra to the evidence presented? Doubtful at best, and much more obvious to all of us since many of them testified at the Congressional hearings.

Next we come to the acknowledged statements and physical evidence we have seen. Do our eyes deceive us when we see the classified documents stored in the bathroom at Mar a Lago? Or does our hearing deceive us when we hear Trump ask for precise amount of votes needed to overturn the election in Georgia?

Every defendant is presumed innocent, and every defendant in every felony criminal case, including all those acquitted, was once indicted. My suggestion is not that Trump is guilty per se, but that the system is working as it should, and that it IS inconceivable that the system itself is corrupt when literally hundreds—if not over a thousand—judges, lawyers, grand jurors, and witnesses (law enforcement and others) have been involved in bringing these cases in state and local courts. We have to also remember that there are other indictments in various state courts concerning the false electors and allegations that Trump supporters interfered and improperly gained access to voting machines and records.

And, finally, we come to the myriad of tried cases and convictions concerning the assault on the capital, the allegedly peaceful protest according to our ex-president. Our eyes don’t deceive us, we saw it plain as day. Is the justice system that convicted these individuals tainted, or is it an example of justice being fairly meted out?

Trump and some of his supporters may not like the system that is inexorably moving forward towards his trials, but the true corruption would be the oft promised pardons for those convicted by juries and judges, including the defendant-in-chief.

Stephen Cohen


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