I’m thinking that it’s going to be difficult getting a jury for Whitey. Judge Stearns plans on having the empanelment done in four days. He will work hard to see that we end up with jurors who are the equivalent of the three wise monkeys who prior to sitting in the jury box are supposed to have not heard, seen or said anything about the matter at issue, or as some suggest each juror must be a tabula rasa or a big black board upon which nothing has been written. Then the white chalk scribblings of the trial will fill the blackboards (jurors minds) with the necessary jottings to decide the issue.
If there are 16 people who will be able to say they know nothing of the case or if they know something are able to say they have an open mind, then one has to wonder at what planet these people are living on. Or, at a minimum to question their fitness to sit in judgment of Whitey if they have heard nothing of the case or hearing it still have no opinion on it.
Yet strange as it seems, for Whitey to have a chance at all, that is what he needs. The biggest threat to him is that a couple of the jurors with minds already made up as to his guilt are sitting on the case hoping that at the end they can get some type of book deal out of it by explaining how it was to sit in judgment of Whitey. I don’t know how his lawyer J.W.Carney will guard against this because one thing we know for certain is that you can’t tell when a person lies.
Originally the jury system was set up to impanel jurors who were called self-informing jurors who would seek out the facts themselves outside the court and then return to the court and give a a verdict. (Verdict comes from the Latin veredictum and means to tell the truth.) The idea was that the more you know from your own knowledge or investigation into matters the better you are able to judge something. This is like anything in life. If you’d studied civil engineering and worked in that field you’d be a better juror in a case where an issue of the construction of a bridge was at issue.
We took the jury system from England and the Common Law. It developed because as GK Chesteron noted it was the English belief that it is better for 12 men (they were only men at the time) to be drawn from the street to sit in judgment of a person than any judge, court official or law enforcement officer. Chesterton expressed the feeling the professionals were too hardened by the system and they could not differentiate one person from another. You see that today in probate court where cases pass like freight cars on a lengthy freight train in which no car differs from another lulling the judges into passing the same judgment on all the cars regardless of the differing circumstances.
How they arrived at the number 12 for jurors is not known. It may have had something to do with the Apostles or the months of the year or the tribes of Israel. But it was believed best to take important decisions out of the hands of one or two people and hand them to the many.
A requirement was added that the 12 had to all agree as if they were one. It is really amazing to think that you could get twelve ordinary blokes to come to an agreement on anything. Even more amazing is that you now you are asking men and women to agree on one conclusion. But the most amazing thing is that they must agree not merely that the thing may have happened, or probably happened, but to believe beyond a reasonable doubt that it did happen.
We accept that our jury system may not be perfect but it is the best system we have for deciding the facts of any issue. I know I would never want my fate decided by twelve strangers but given the choice of them or a strange judge I’d take the lesser evil, the jurors. (Of course I’d prefer a judge who I was friendly with.)
Whitey’s case is especially difficult because you are asking jurors to make decisions on things that happened in the Sixties and Seventies and early Eighties. People will be relating conversations and putting people into various situations from those times as if they can really remember them. Supposed someone you associated with back in 1997, a mere 15 years ago, came into court and swore that on October 10 of that year you were with him doing something or other.
How do you show that is untrue if you don’t have any idea where you were never mind on that day but the whole week or even that month? That is one of the reasons we have statutes of limitations. Older evidence is untrustworthy; stale evidence is like stale bread.
This case adds to a juror’s difficulty by asking him or her to believe the evidence from people who are master criminals. These gangster witnesses who have all murdered other people have led lives of lies. It’s like taking the jury to a three card monte game and having them pick the right card.
Imagine sitting on a jury listening to the following exchange. J.W Carney says to Murderman Martorano:
J.W. Carney: “Now isn’t it true Murderman you admit to murdering twenty people?”
Murderman: “Yeah, I told yuh that! What about it?”
J.W. Carney: “Yet you consider yourself a good man?”
Murderman: “Yes, good men can do bad things.” (Which he said in his book.)
The most stupid juror will realize that if Murderman thinks he is good he is just as fully capable of thinking that a lie is the truth. So it’s as likely his testimony is nothing but lies. If this is the case with these gangsters, then add in the age of the evidence and tell me how a jury can expect to tell what the truth is?
That’s the reason the prosecutor needed the bodies from Weeks. Jurors won’t be able to disregard those. All they will have to do is to somehow tie them to Whitey based on the testimony of liars.