"What do you have to do today to get the death penalty?" asked Channon Christian's father incredulously.
Letalvis Cobbins, a black man, was convicted of kidnapping, raping, and murdering the 21-year-old white girl in the January 2007 Knoxville Horror. And yet the jurors sentenced him to "life without parole". [Letalvis Cobbins found guilty in Christian—Newsom murders, WATE, August 25, 2009.]
Since murderers have been known to be released from prison sentences of "life without parole", and prison is for the most violent black and Hispanic offenders a felon's paradise, replete with cable TV, weight lifting, and ample opportunities to deal and buy drugs and gang-rape white men, Cobbins' sentence is both misleading and of dubious punitive value.
The jury's pretext for not sentencing Cobbins to death for the most heinous crimes ever committed in Knox County: laughable "mitigating" factors, which it asserted outweighed any aggravating factors: "[A] horrific childhood, the pleas of his relatives and his alleged role as subordinate to an evil mastermind".
One or more of the potential jurors obviously perjured himself during voir dire. Because District Attorney General Randy Nichols had announced that he would seek the death penalty for Cobbins, each Cobbins juror had to be "death penalty-qualified" i.e., had to testify during jury selection that he was willing to consider the ultimate sanction or be automatically disqualified.
(In an instance of criminal justice affirmative action, in Tennessee a prospective juror in a capital case must also say that he will consider a convict's "background"—wink, wink—rather than simply his crimes, in deciding whether to sentence him to death.)
Presiding Judge Richard Baumgartner had sabotaged the possibility of a death sentence before the trial even began. Arguing that pre-trial publicity made it impossible for the defendant Cobbins to get a fair trial with a Knox County jury, Baumgartner went to Davidson County to fetch a jury to bus in to Knoxville, the Knox County seat, and sequester for the trial.
Baumgartner then permitted "Cobbins' defenders [to use] the jury challenge process to fashion a predominantly black panel from Davidson County."
The jury originally contained only three white jurors, for crimes whose victims were both white, and which were carried out in a jurisdiction that was 87.3 white, and only 8.8 percent black. By contrast, Davidson County is 27.5 percent black. (During the trial, a black female juror who was herself a rape victim was upset by pictures of the victims' rape wounds, and was replaced by a white man.)
Judge Baumgartner's actions give new meaning to the phrases, "busing to achieve racial balance", and "racial gerrymandering". He should be kicked off the bench and disbarred for his chicanery, but he'll more likely be the hero of the cocktail party circuit.
By all accounts lead prosecutor, ADA Takisha Fitzgerald (who is black), acquitted herself honorably. But she and her (white) co-prosecutor, ADA Leland Price, never had a chance with that jury.
This sort of behavior has become pervasive among black and other minority jurors. Their refusal to punish, or in some cases even to convict, heinous minority criminals amounts to a form of "jury nullification" that threatens the entire justice system.
Another recent example: Last December, Brian Nichols' confessedly racially motivated, 2005 Atlanta mass murder spree resulted in only a life sentence, "without parole".
The last case I know of (thanks to reader "D") in which black jurors sentenced a black defendant to die for his crimes, was the 1992 trial in Los Angeles' Mount Olive Church of God and Christ double-murder, in which both victims were black.
However, even that case required that prosecutors excuse numerous black potential jurors via peremptory challenges, after the latter expressed attitudes that were "anti-police, anti-prosecution, or anti-death penalty".
Black potential jurors have since gotten smarter, and now publicly conceal their true views.
In what constitutes the criminal justice credo of America's "civil rights" tradition, beginning during the 1960s, ever-expanding swathes of black America have decided, the facts be damned:
2. That black convicts are getting unfairly harsh (and white convicts getting unfairly light) sentences;
3. That innocent black boys and men are being arrested by racist, brutal white policemen ("police brutality"), and railroaded by "racist," white juries, while white criminals are operating with carte blanche;
4. That America's laws do not apply to blacks; and
Granted, the various points contradict each other and, to be sure, different parts of the black population initially adhered to different points of the above-listed, paranoid agenda. But some embraced them all. I believe that today the vast majority of blacks—in urban areas as much as 90 percent—embrace all five points.
Thus has the racist black lunatic fringe become the racist black mainstream.
I call this attitude, the paranoid, black supremacist, jailhouse philosophy of law. "Jailhouse," because such rationalizations are the sort of thing one used to expect from present and aspiring black convicts, not from black church deaconesses.
Today, black civilians, lawyers, and felons alike routinely invent non-existent legal requirements as a pretext for acquitting black criminals, or diminishing their punishment, e.g., variously denying, expanding, or twisting legal principles such as criminal culpability and "acting in concert" (in Tennessee, "criminal responsibility"—under the pre-diversity understanding of "acting in concert", Letalvis Cobbins would also have been convicted of Channon Christian's boyfriend's murder, of which he was acquitted), "burden of proof", and even the presumption of innocence, in order to rationalize acquitting guilty blacks, railroading innocent whites, and generally turning the law on its head.
For instance, in 1996, a black man who claimed that he dealt with the police every day professionally (while refusing to say just what his profession was), insisted to me that O.J. Simpson could not legally have been convicted, because: (1) The murders could not possibly have been carried out by one person; and (2) The law forbids convicting one person alone for a crime that was committed by two or more.
Black jurors have condemned police for engaging in perfectly legal practices, and used these non-violations as pretexts for acquitting black murderers, such as:
Not telling a non-juvenile suspect that his mother had secured him counsel;
Chasing a suspect whom they had just witnessed attempting to murder two people with a firearm; and
There is also mainstream black opposition to:
The foregoing dodges can be summed up in one phrase: "It ain't over 'til the black felon wins."
It's bad enough that most blacks embrace such insanity. But for over 40 years, they have increasingly succeeded at imposing it on America's criminal justice system.
The writer who laid the foundations for all this was the black novelist James Baldwin.
The 1960s saw an explosion in black crime in general, black-on-white crime in particular, in the form of both race riots and street crime, and some bizarre jury verdicts and sentences in racially significant cases.
Few people today know about a series of four black lynchings of whites carried out in Harlem from 1963-1964, by the racist Blood Brothers gang. Baldwin had previously provided the boilerplate for the "police brutality" myth, (later re-spun and rebranded as the "racial profiling" myth). When six suspects in the Harlem lynchings were arrested, tried, and convicted, Baldwin wrote the script for what would become, to my knowledge, the first successful, modern black race hoax. Baldwin "disappeared" the four lynchings, and got "The Harlem Six" retried and acquitted, under cover of "civil rights" hysteria.
Today, no one seems to know if the six were innocent.
This drama has since replayed itself many times.
In 1967, racial terrorist, mass murderer, and Black Panther (PDF) co-founder, Huey Newton (1942-1989), murdered white Oakland Patrolman John Frey, wounded white Patrolman Herbert Heanes, and kidnapped motorist Dell Ross. Although Newton's crimes were sufficient to see Newton executed, he was initially convicted of mere voluntary manslaughter, and sentenced to 2-15 years in prison. After serving 21 months, Newton's conviction was reversed on a technicality.
Newton was tried two more times, but after hung juries, California authorities gave up. Newton returned to his life of terror and crime.
In 1973, Brooklyn black supremacist "community organizer" Robert "Sonny" Carson (1936-2002) and seven of his henchmen kidnapped two men, murdering one, and shooting and leaving the other for dead.
Although Carson was charged with murder, attempted murder, and kidnapping, the jury convicted him only of kidnapping, under the legally irrelevant pretext that the jurors weren't sure "whether or not he had ordered the shooting", acquitting him on the other charges. He served a mere 17 months, was released, and picked up his criminal, er, community organizing career where he had left off.
In the late 1980s, a series of black and Hispanic New York City juries acquitted black mass murderer-robber-kidnapper-mass attempted murderer Larry Davis (1966?-2008) of attempting to murder nine policemen who had gone to arrest him, of aggravated assault for the six cops he had shot that night (while the same jury convicted him of illegal possession of a firearm!), and of all charges regarding five drug dealers he allegedly had murdered.
The shameless juries—many local blacks still lionize Davis—embraced Davis' defense attorneys' fairy tale that the police were his crime partners, who had sought variously to frame and murder him. Fortunately, in 1991, a jury convicted Davis in the murder of a sixth drug dealer.
In 1992, a predominantly black and Hispanic Brooklyn jury ignored the dying Yankel Rosenbaum's identification of Lemrick Nelson Jr. as his killer (during the 1991 Crown Heights pogrom), the bloody murder weapon, found in Nelson's pocket, and Nelson's two confessions. After acquitting Nelson of all charges, the jurors went out to celebrate with the killer and his attorney, where they "hugged and kissed" and "toasted" Nelson.
In 1995, a predominantly black Los Angeles jury acquitted O.J. Simpson of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole, and her friend, Ron Goldman, despite voluminous, incriminating blood evidence, the killer's lack of an alibi, and his attempted escape to Mexico. Millions of blacks nationwide celebrated.
"Respectable" black jurors in Baltimore (City), Maryland, support black murderers, and have a particular fondness for black cop-killers, even when the victim is black.[ Damon Neverdon was acquitted of murdering Korean-American Joel Lee by largely black jury in 1993, and a similar jury acquitted Eric D. Stennett of murdering Police Officer Kevon Malik Gavin]
Juror identification with predators translates into revolving-door justice, in which the most violent felons spend more time on the street than in lock-up.
The Knoxville Horror could never have been committed had the alleged "ringleader" not been given a token sentence for previous violent felonies. In 2001, Lemaricus Davidson was convicted in Tennessee of carjacking and aggravated robbery, for which he could have been sentenced to life in prison. Instead, he served a mere five years.
While exuberantly supporting the most bloodthirsty black felons, blacks also often demand the incarceration of innocent whites.
In 1992, four LAPD officers were acquitted in a state trial of using excessive force under color of authority. Their alleged "crime" was the brutal but perfectly lawful beating of parole-violating felon Rodney King who, while in a state of extreme intoxication, had led police on a chase at speeds of up to 115 miles per hour, violently resisted arrest, and assaulted four officers.
Their acquittal was greeted by the worst race riot in American history.
The feds responded by retrying the officers in an unconstitutional, double-jeopardy, civil rights trial. Jurors convicted two of them. Koon and Powell's federal convictions were the result, variously, of racist black jurors, leftist whites, and whites who either appeased the racist black jurors, or as Lou Cannon suggested in his monumental work, Official Negligence : How Rodney King and the Riots Changed Los Angeles and the LAPD, sacrificed the two officers to "the 13th juror"—the "street", i.e., the fear of additional black race riots.
One of the ever-burgeoning blessings of diversity is that it is not just racist black jurors who are destroying the criminal justice system. Racist, Hispanic immigrants likewise refuse to recognize America's laws, and diversity has emboldened a minority of white jurors dedicated to thwarting justice, who see themselves as the "allies" of blacks (read: black criminals), and as "race traitors" towards other whites.
Given that the state trials of Cobbins' three co-defendants are yet to come —with Judge Baumgartner presiding over all of them—and a federal retrial of convicted accessory Eric Boyd is possible, we will have the opportunity to observe up to four replays of the Cobbins travesty.
The destruction of America's criminal justice system is one of the many gifts of "diversity", which was originally called the "civil rights movement." When black civil rights leaders began their war on America's legal system, the country was 88 percent white, and 10 percent black. America is now only 66.3 percent non-Hispanic white, as opposed to 12.6 percent black, 14.7 percent Hispanic, and 4.4 percent Asian. And the law is being worn away a little each day.
I have touched here only on the jury problem—leaving aside the issues of diversity-oriented local and federal prosecutors, sentencing (and reversals) by judges, "de-policing", politicians who aid and abet criminals (here and here), and diversity-based, systemic overload.
America can have "diversity"—or it can have justice.
But, as is becoming increasingly clear, not both.
Nicholas Stix [email him] lives in New York City, which he views from the perspective of its public transport system, experienced in his career as an educator. His weekly column appears at Men's News Daily and many other Web sites. He has also written for Middle American News, the New York Daily News, New York Post, Newsday, Chronicles, Ideas on Liberty and the Weekly Standard. He maintains two blogs: A Different Drummer and Nicholas Stix, Uncensored.