There Is No Justification for Ratifying Injustice

Zip it Mitch - Spare Us Another Lie

Photo by Jennifer Lo on Unsplash

The novelist and social critic Norman Mailer once wrote, “You can be the best in the world and still lose.” Mailer uttered these profound words to lament his defeat in a race for the office of Mayor of New York City. His prodigious ego led him to believe he was the best candidate in the race. Perhaps history will give him the benefit of the doubt and adjudge Mailer the best novelist turned politician in that contest.

The events of 2/13 give renewed meaning to those words of Mailer. For indeed, the House Managers in the second impeachment trial, as in the first impeachment trial of Donald John Trump, a year before, were the best lawyers on the senate floor.

But like Mailer jostling with windmills in the 1960s, the House Floor Managers lost to attorneys who were less gallant, less prepared, and on the wrong side of the facts and the law. Yet, the least gallant and the worst team of lawyers stumbled and bumbled their way to victory. Justice, you say, or just-us?

Day in and day out, pre-COVID 19, juries and jurists render unfair verdicts that have faint resemblance to the truth, justice, and the American way. These trials take place outside the sight of the public. Nevertheless, these trials have civil plaintiffs and criminal defendants leaving courtrooms shaking their heads over the seeming lack of justice dispensed in their cases. Their cries go up to the heavens for relief.

Often this is the poor people reality, even when they come into court with the better-prepared lawyer. The system has a way of settling things that protects the interest of the wealthy and well connected, the rich white-owned insurance company over the indigent Black or Brown plaintiff, the white police officer’s word over that of Black eye-witnesses, or video filmed by Black citizens.

Back in the days when I was an active member of the bar, I prosecuted a medical malpractice case against the only hospital in a middle Georgia county and a local doctor when a poor Black mother raising her three children on a welfare check, lost her fourth child due, we believed to the negligence of both the hospital and the doctor.

Practically every member of the jury used the hospital for medical care, and the doctor had birthed everyone or somebody in the family of every person in the courtroom, except the medical doctor and forensic economist I flew in from California because none of the local experts would tackle these two powerful members of the local community.

When a lawyer representing the insurance company learned that the doctor had successfully attended my birth some 40 years before, the lawyer quipped: “That’s the only mistake he [the doctor] ever made.”

As if to say, had the doctor exercised the same degree of negligence during your birth, he would not be seating in this courtroom today.

Later, after the jury retired to deliberate on the verdict a woman representing the insurance company’s risk management department for the hospital rushed over to my mom, who lived nearby and had come to watch me work, she told my mom how impressed she was with how well I represented my client. The risk manager was shaking in her boots, so was the insurance company attorney, as I had asked the jury to return a verdict in the amount of $10 Million to compensate my client for the loss of her baby. We had clearly won that trial. The opposition knew it and told us that they had been outmatched.

At the end of the day, the jury hung up and could not render a verdict. I was disappointed. I knew every fact and every law had been given to the jury to come back with a verdict in my client’s favor. As my mom and I walked to the car, the petite blond juror who sat in the front row, I knew her only as the wife of the Sheriff, ran to me crying. She said, “I fought hard for your client, but there was this one juror from the south county who said he was not going to give that kind of money to a welfare mother, I’m so sorry.”

The facts and the law be damned. That juror violated his oath to let his verdict speak the truth because he had a personal belief based on politics, that large sums of money should not be awarded to people who receive welfare payments to support their families.

White men have always violated their oath of office, like that juror in Middle Georgia those many years ago. Now it is out in the open. The US Senate will throw truth and justice into the wind for the sake of upholding their own personal political beliefs, no matter how wrong, untrue, and unjust the opinions.

Everybody in America knows it, and now the whole world knows that the American legal system is unfair. Those with the power to decide what is fair and lawful make those determinations based on which side they want to prevail, notwithstanding that facts and the law are not on the side they want to win.

No matter how hard you try, Mitch, you can’t ratify injustice. By the very definition, injustice is just that, the absence of justice, a state of perpetual troubled waters, calmed only by the balm of peace found inside the justice paradigm.

Now that we have seen with our own eyes the injustice voted into law by the US Senate in the Matter of Donald John Trump, show me one law enacted by that body any American is bound to respect?

What then becomes of American jurisprudence? Why shouldn’t the poor loot? Why not have inside trading by the wealthy? Why pay one penny in income tax?

How can citizens be held accountable when the lawmakers look the other way to protect their friends in high places? How can America raise questions about human rights abuses in other countries when our system has been exposed as a corrupt system?

Nope, no ratification justifying an injustice can pretend that the American legal system is something other than a sham, a false equivalence masquerading as a system of justice.

Harold Michael Harvey is the Living Now 2020 Bronze Medal winner for his memoir Freaknik Lawyer: A Memoir on the Craft of Resistance. He is the author of a book on Negro Leagues Baseball, The Duke of 18th & Vine: Bob Kendrick Pitches Negro Leagues Baseball. He writes feature stories for Black College Nines. Com. Harvey is a member of the Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and a member of the Legends Committee for the National College Baseball Hall of Fame. Harvey is an engaging speaker. He can be contacted at hmharvey@haroldmichaelharvey.com

Harvey is Living Now Book Awards 2020 Bronze Medalist for his memoir Freaknik Lawyer: A Memoir on the Craft of Resistance. Available at haroldmichaelharvey.com

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