Justice for Castile v. the Authoritarian Juror

The charge, “So we have reached a point where it’s been proven a cop can do anything he wants when stopping or confronting a black person?” is entirely valid and worth broad discussion in the wake of the “not guilty” verdict in the Philando Castile case.

But leaving police hiring criteria and training aside for minute, what is it about juries, supposedly a random sampling of every day Americans that leads them to reject a seemingly cut and dry situation like this one, where a nervous young cop panics and kills a man who by the weight of 99% of available evidence was being fully compliant?

The questions I think ought to be rolled more heavily into the mix of topics related to the Jeronimo Yanez verdict and (the rare) other cases where cops are brought to trial, are these:

1: A shrewd defense attorney like Earl Gray, (he of the “it shouldn’t even have been charged” quote), has to have developed a well-tuned sense for jurors with an authoritarian mindset. “Authoritarian” is often confused as solely the attitude of the dominating personality, the one demanding or manipulating others to his will. But in jury selection the “authoritarian” aspect refers to those on the receiving end, people who have been acculturated to give uncritical respect to any authority figure, be they parents, teachers, government leaders or cops. When you’re raised to defer to the judgment of such people — people you regard as superiors, and with bona fides well beyond you’re own — it becomes an enormous leap of intellectual courage as a juror to see any such person being in critical error, much less guilty of felony behavior.

2: Added to that is the relative ease — or so it seems to me — with which defense attorneys are able to gum up what objective critical faculties remain in average jurors with a kind of absolutist concept of “reasonable doubt”. In this case “reasonable doubt” was laid heavily upon jurors trying to decide whether Yanez actually did see a gun — i.e. Castile going for the weapon he told Yanez he had on him. The end result of their thinking being that since there was “reasonable doubt” about whether Castile was not going for his gun, authoritarian-minded jurors gave the authority-figure the benefit of the doubt and voted for acquittal … because, you know, they were in “reasonable doubt” about what actually happened.

i don’t know what the solutions to these issues are.

Perhaps, in the latter, more articulate jury instructions from the presiding judge on what “reasonable doubt” means and doesn’t mean

But on the former, the prevalence of the powerful authoritarian impulse built into a society (I would argue human nature) trained by family, institutions and culture to accept the judgment of anyone in a position of authority, I suspect we have a monumental problem for every prosecutor who follows Ramsey County Attorney John Choi’s path and takes the case of a panicky cop before a jury of peers.

 

2 thoughts on “Justice for Castile v. the Authoritarian Juror

  1. I think the manslaughter verdict and the two other endangerment charges should have guilty.

    I think we have reached a point of not doing anything until backup is there to witness everything and a recording is made of everything. Keep your hands on the wheel or outside the window and request a second person to witness. Unfortunately this will be another cop (blue line brotherhood) but you can hope the recording will show what happens. If you have a passenger have them start recording immediately. Five year olds know how to do this.

    I say this as a old gray hair suburban senior female. I agree with what Mark Dayton said after the shooting, if he had been a white male it would not have happened. The numerous traffic stops were brought it – black man driving. Nothing but minor stuff for a long-term employed male, stable relationship, yada yada – what is used as an example of what a black males life should be.

    I don’t know the solution but I think with the administration currently in office (the orange idiot and company) it will get worse before it gets better. See the four part series the Strib did on the outstate and Trump voters. And this is in an educated progressive state. Articles from the red southern states are even worse.

    • Notice how they news reporters such as the Strib and NYT, etc., never bothered to follow up on the Obama voters when Barack was TWICE elected with both popular and electoral college majorities. And this time, when 3 million more people voted for Clinton than for Trump, ALL the coverage is ALL about the Trump voters—and not a whisper about the SILENCED MAJORITY. We’re doomed.

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