Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit


Hey, What's showing downtown?

Bear with my story here. Ten years ago I served on a jury as an alternate to convict a fellow of a drug charge. He had been held EIGHT MONTHS in Rikers Island for his " fair and speedy" trial, but that isn't the point of this post. The defendant, speaking only Spanish, attended the trial every day with an interpreter. He had a court appointed lawyer. A guard stayed with the defendant, two others were at the door to the courtroom during the entire trial. There was, of course, a judge. There was a bilingual stenographer. There were two lawyers for the prosecution who called two undercover policemen to testify. They called a court appointed chemist to describe the contraband. They had a person whose job was to tell us to stand up and sit down on occasion. There was another person who knocked on the door of the jury room when we were needed, and three people who were responsible for scheduling, that is, making sure all of us were in the right place at the right time. As it turns out, the defendant was not actually in possession of narcotics, he was charged with sales, although there was no money or drugs on the stoop where he sat...what he did was lift one hand and point to someone across the street who DID have drugs for sale. He was convicted and sentenced to five years, but allowing for the 8 months he had already served, it came to 4 years and 4 months. This means, including the jury, there were 29 people involved in convicting this prisoner. Oh...and one person who screened the movie "your responsibilities as a juror." That makes THIRTY. Deducting the 13 jurors, who spent one day waiting and three days "jurying"...17 full-time paid employees who earned their salary convicting the defendant. I assume he has been cared for and fed since. Now I am not advocating drug legalization or even finding fault with our jurisprudence system. I also don't use illegal drugs, I'm sick enough already. But I do often wonder if anyone has yet provided a job to our rehabilitated Spanish speaking ex-con with a five year record. The film being shown in this Texas town was directed by Elmer Clifton in 1937 with the slogan "a puff, a party, a tragedy".
"Assassin of Youth, El Paso, Texas" Original Silver Print Photograph c.1938 8 x 10 Collection Jim Linderman

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