You know how effective To Kill a Mockingbird is as regime propaganda from the fact that never gets brought up: That Atticus Finch is a lousy lawyer. He stinks. The whole case is based on the false testimony of a lying harlot, yet he doesn’t think to sequester the harlot to make sure can’t line up her story against the other witnesses’. He despairs of representing a black man in the segregated South, notwithstanding the fact that his client respected the bounds of segregation and the harlot did not. In the end, he has the audacity to go in front of the jury and condemn them all for being racists. He ends by talking about his chances of successful appeal, and the coming of more enlightened times. It is kind of like a doctor butchering you on the operating table and highmindedly talking of better treatments to come.
I don’t really know if Chauvin will be acquitted. He should be. By any civilized standard, Eric Nelson won the case. He engaged with more of the evidence. He undressed the State’s experts and used them for a complete defense. He pointed out that the jurors were being manipulated. Though I found his prosaic nature to be frustrating at times, closing arguments showed that Nelson was always in control. Litigators should turn to his work in the future for a hugely outmatched attorney who took control of proceedings. The mob violence outside is Keith Ellison’s, but for three weeks the courtroom was Eric Nelson’s.
The State was pathetic on closing. Their use-of-force experts ended up being better for Chauvin than the State. They were left putting up still photographs of videos, and sputtering that Chauvin did not protect and serve St. George with “compassion.” The State actually asked the jury to put themselves in the shoes of the nine year-old witness in making its decision. The State’s strategy was always to make the jurors one of the screaming crying mob out of Cup Foods. On rebuttal, identified the mob as a kind of new Rainbow Coalition. “All genders, all races, and they all came together to…try to stop the suffering. They were all symbols of the love and caring we want to encourage.”
I honestly don’t know how effective this was. The tactic was so lazy and so apparent that I can’t imagine it working, but I also can’t imagine watching “The Good Place.” A jury of twelve men–real men, I mean–would never fall for this garbage, and they would be insulted at these lazy attempts at emotional manipulation. It was always Chauvin versus the mob, but the mob and the media are the same thing.
The really unique thing about the Chauvin show trial is how the State did not feel the need to do anything but recycle the media narrative. In the end, they had almost nothing besides the mob sentiment, both in the media and the actual mobs roving outside the courtroom. Even in show trials you expect the prosecutors to look semi-competent in the courtroom. The prosecution seemed to relish its incompetence at times, knowing that they were just cruising on mob forces bigger than themselves. They failed to prepare their witnesses, they conducted lousy examinations, and they got within a hair’s breadth of a mistrial on the last day of testimony. From a legal perspective it was shameful. If it weren’t the media-mob the case would’ve never been brought, and if it weren’t for the media and mob it would end now in mistrial or acquittal. They ended with that gormless picture of St. George. They might as well have left it with a picture of the jurors’ homes burning.
Robert Barnes talks much about appealing to people’s “lizard brains,” that is the parts of them that are sub-rational. I think this is overborne. People who talk about “lizard brains” usually think things like honor, family, and religion are irrational because they do not conform to a utilitarian outlook. In fact, we often react most virulently when we are treated like mere animals, when we are not engaged as moral or rational agents. I can’t imagine watching the State’s closing argument without being so insulted.
The problem Chauvin faces now is that the jurors will be too rational. If they are rational, the jurors will know the State made a garbage case. They will also know that their names are likely to be released following the verdict; it is not unlikely their houses will be vandalized, maybe burned; and if they are rational they will surely know that Keith Ellison will never punish anyone for these crimes. A rational utilitarian will know what to do.
To get an acquittal, Chauvin needs the jury to get mad–indignant with Keith Ellison’s staging his show trial, indignant with his incompetence in conducting the show trial, and indignant with the entire State of Minnesota’s descent into anarcho-tyranny. Will they stand up for Rule of Law, even while knowing the law will not protect them?
No, it’s unlikely justice will be served. Nelson needs a juror who is smart enough to understand “reasonable doubt,” but dumb enough not to know his house will be torched. Unlike Atticus Finch, Nelson made the masterful case. He did all he could, and he might even succeed on appeal. But the “long arc of history” is against justice, and the State will remain effeminate and evil as long as it can stay solvent.