CSotD: The Waiting Game

Here sits the New York trial of Donald Trump for falsifying his campaign expenditures: The testimony is over, the jury is deliberating and, as Lisa Benson (Counterpoint) depicts it, both Republicans and Democrats are awaiting a verdict, along with the nation.

She appears to suggest that, while the political parties see things in immediate, pragmatic terms, the country is, to borrow a phrase, appealing to heaven. If you believe in the legal system — and we’ll be exploring that today — there is something of a tradition in believing that justice comes from God.

That was, after all, the theory behind Trial by Ordeal: That the result of a trial by combat or by dropping that accused into water, etc., was that God would intervene such that the truth would be revealed.

While trial by jury is a separate system, it carries a tinge of that old belief, though derided in Candide by Pangloss’s confident declaration that everything — even the devastating earthquake in Lisbon — is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.

The opposite, of course, is the hope for a bolt of lightning as God’s vengeance, and even more moderate True Believers will ascribe any subsequent mishaps to an angry God or perhaps a case of instant karma.

As the 2024 Presidential Campaign gets under way, Aislin offers a slight adjustment to the presidential seal, and it’s not only a reasonable overall look at the nation as it stands, but particularly well-suited to the moment, and to the trial in question.

Brendan Loper captures the suspense as we await a verdict, but his history is off-base. The right to a speedy trial is about when it starts, not how quickly it must be resolved. It’s a protection against a prisoner being held indefinitely with no chance to offer a defense.

Once the trial has begun, it takes as long as it takes, and justice might more likely be foiled by haste. I was on a jury in a fairly simple trial, but we had two full days of testimony, plus a half day of closing statements and jury instructions, though our deliberations took less than an hour and would have been over sooner had the foreman conducted a straw poll before reviewing the evidence.

Attorneys have all sorts of theories about what it means when a jury comes back quickly, versus what it means when they deliberate for days, but there are also theories that when cows lie down it’s a sign of impending rain.

I’m more inclined to trust in the cows than in the length of jury deliberation.

On the other hand, I’d be stunned if you were reading this any time today and already knew the verdict.

As for speedy trials, Ann Telnaes lays out the various charges Trump is facing and, so far, the misfiled hush money trial is the only one that seems speedy, while the misfiled classified documents trial appears to be least speedy of all.

This has created theories about whether Judge Cannon is too inexperienced to handle the case or is actively helping Trump delay until after the elections.

Misleading headline aside, a verdict in the current trial will help nearly a fifth of fence-sitters make up their minds.

But it seems highly unlikely that a conviction will result in jail time. Though Trump has been found to have committed fraud in the past, it remains a first offense for this particular law and he’s far more likely to get fined, put on probation and perhaps ordered to perform public service than tossed in the clink.

OTOH, his repeated violations of the gag order could have annoyed the judge enough to make him less inclined towards mercy.

It cannot be easy to maintain your cool when the defendant is spouting lies about the federal government running state trials or appealing to antisemites by claiming that George Soros “handpicked and funded” New York City’s attorney general.

And at a moment when judges on the highest court in the land are raising questions about their own personal feelings vs ethical constraints, the relentless attacks on Judge Merchan and his family by Trump’s media surrogates would test anyone’s patience.

Moreover, VP hopefuls JD Vance and Elise Stefanik have separately called for investigations of Merchan’s selection for the trial and of various actions he has taken in its course, adding to the effort to undermine the public’s faith in the integrity of the legal system, just in case.

And Jesse Watters has gone on record as believing the entire thing is a conspiracy against Donald Trump based on his theory that the jury includes two examples of attorneys whose firms practice racial diversity.

Thus it seems more logical than alarming that conservative cartoonists are attacking the integrity of the court and of the legal system, as seen (alphabetically) in this

Juxtaposition of the Day

Bob Gorrell — Creators

Mike Lester — AMS

Dana Summers — Tribune

A three-fold attack on the judge’s jury instructions does not seem at all like a conspiracy among the cartoonists but, rather, a natural outcome of the sustained attacks on the trial, which, as with the attacks on electoral honesty before the 2020 elections now being heard about the upcoming election, are intended to plant doubt in case of an unfavorable result.

Trump attorney Alina Habba went on Watters’ program to voice her objections to the jury instructions, saying “We’re dealing with people that are either going to believe a story—it was like sitting in make-believe land with the prosecution today—or you’re going to listen to the facts.”

Which is hard to disagree with, the question being which story you choose to believe?

And it really isn’t hard to believe that a person you admire is being railroaded by order of a person you dislike, particularly after a prolonged drumbeat of insistence that the system is rigged.

And so Mike Luckovich mocks the parade of sympathetic politicians who have shown up outside the courtroom — often dressed in Trump-like navy suits and red ties — to show their support for Dear Leader, predicting that, in case of a conviction, they will retain their loyalty.

As for the defendant, Kevin Kallaugher (Counterpoint) has little doubt that he and his team have planned their responses for either outcome.

“Only you can set you free”

8 thoughts on “CSotD: The Waiting Game

  1. Peter Leeson argues that trial by ordeal was actually a way to protect the innocent, on the assumption that criminals are a superstitious and cowardly lot, while the innocent will be willing to go through with it (and the priests will rig it for them).

  2. I must admit ‘divided states’ ‘Aislin offers a slight adjustment to the presidential seal’ means that for me, and many I talk to, it has reached the point where the ignorance, hate, violence and insanity of one of the divisions means I cannot and will not attempt to reason with them.

    And, looking at all the corruption, I often am compelled to correct people by saying: we may have a legal system, we DO NOT a justice system.

    I fear we are seeing the destruction of (what could be a civil) society by a cumulative combination of malicious intent, ignorance, and complacency all fueled by massive amounts of money. Can you prove otherwise.

    I cannot believe the tRUMP cult forces called Michael Cohen the GLOAT (greatest liar of all time) without there being a huge shriek from sanity about tRUMPs documented 30,000+ lies while (allegedly) president.

  3. Thanks, Mike. Your helping us be informed is important. (contrary to popular behavior)

  4. It would seem America does have twelve men (and women) good and true. How wonderful.

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