An excerpt from the above linked-to article by Steven Helling follows:
Although the jurors found Tsarnaev guilty of 30 felony counts last week, their job is not yet complete. On April 21, they will return to the courthouse to hear more testimony. This time, they will determine whether Tsarnaev will get the death penalty or spend the rest of his life in prison…
Steve Helling didn’t quite get it right, Did he? His comment implies that the judge will give the jurors a ‘choice’ whether Tsarnaev lives or dies. He didn’t and didn’t intend to, as we now know. We now know that they had a choice, but the judge hid it from them.
My online response to the above linked-to article follows:
In society you have gatekeepers, namely individuals who are very free – to the point where they can break rules, big and small, that others can’t – because they possess the ‘right’ political views. What are those ‘right’ political views in our gangster corporatocracy? They can be summed up as: *Agree with the powerful whoever they are and whatever they say.* Some gatekeepers are appointed and some are self-appointed. Anyone can be a gatekeeper. You can be a homeless person and be one. Or you can be a powerful Judge and be one. George O’Toole Jr. is a powerful appointed gatekeeper.
The state (American) decided that it wanted to execute Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, period. What this lawless state wants, it gets. Often it gets it right away. But it never takes no for an answer, so when it meets with no (80% of Massachusetts residents are against the death penalty and 85% of Boston residents are against it), it uses the tools at it’s disposal to overcome resistance and get it’s way. Although the police state rule (post 9-11) about Special Administrative Measures (stripping away client/attorney privileges of criminals branded ‘terrorists’) are one tool it will use, as experts on Democracy Now (May 18 show) indicated, those apply not to presentation in a courtroom but to prisoners in prison. Which helps us to see clearly where George O’Toole Jr. is coming from when he decides to break a rule by not informing the jury about the facts surrounding the range of conclusions they might come to. By failing to inform jurors, who had already been improperly (from one standpoint) screened to include only those who believe in the death penalty, that even if a single juror ruled that he or she felt that life in prison was the proper penalty for Tsarnaev, then that would be the end of it, O’Toole transgressed. A decision of life instead of the death penalty by even one juror (which doesn’t preclude that juror from believing in the death penalty) would mean no re-trial and no execution of Tsarnaev. He omitted that fact and went further by saying that “You need to agree.”
ERIC FREEDMAN: The rule is different at guilt and at penalty. At guilt, if there’s a hung jury, you can, if the prosecutor wants to, retry the defendant on guilt and go through the whole thing all over again. And Etan Patz in New York has been a recent visible example. Penalty is not like that in a death case. If a single juror insists on life, and therefore the jury cannot unanimously come to death, then it’s life—period, done, end of story. And that gives a huge incentive to a juror who’s being overwhelmed by her fellows to hang tight, as opposed to thinking, “This is useless, because, after all, it’s only going to be retried again, and they’ll probably sentence him to death again. Who needs it?” If the juror knows, “I can stand firm, and there will be life,” the juror has a lot of incentive to do that.
George O'Toole Jr. came through for the lawless state. I'm sure that his career is safe. And that's a terrifying thought.
I personally support the death penalty. I also believe in God, by which I mean a Creator God and not humankind. (Beliefs like a belief in a creator God, I'm sure, will influence other beliefs you hold, such as belief for or against the death penalty.) And I try to be principled. I [do] agree with the view that the brain young Tsarnaev possessed when he committed his crime was not developed enough for him to fully realize the nature of his crime, but I don’t accept that as a good enough reason to exonerate him. He was aware enough. The issue, for me, is fairness. If you have a system in which the powerful have proven to be criminal (just review the segment of the Democracy Now show, from which I take this information about Tsarnaev's sentencing, in which Ralph Nader reviews Obama's record) and have used the instruments of the state to commit crimes, including having the innocent put to death after being tried, then you can't support the death penalty for anyone. If you can't do the death penalty right – and absolutely guarantee that only those deserving it will receive it – then you can't enlist my support for having it on the books.
An excerpt from the segment in the May 18th Democracy Now show in which Amy refers back to a previous show in which she and Juan talked to Ralph Nader (about the missing in action Bernie Sanders) follows. I will bold one sentence in the excerpt. I don't think he meant to bring it up, but in the course of talking about Bernie, Ralph ended up reiterating how lawless Obama is. He also very correctly notes that his country is unprepared to deal with the blowback from it's war on terror. What he means is that, with the current makeup of the ruling class, the American government is totally prepared to exploit terrorist attacks and to continue it's own terrorist 'war on terror' and the people. Nader's problem is that he's too close to the establishment to always really call it like it is. He does a good, but not perfect, job in that respect. Which is to say that I wouldn't want to say that Ralph isn't a very decent, principled, courageous man:
RALPH NADER: Yes. Of all people, he should have recognized this. He’s also an expert in constitutional law, and he has violated the Constitution and federal statutes in terms of his drone warfare and other foreign policies right and left. You know what the lesson, Juan, is, that it really doesn’t matter. If the power structure persists, it doesn’t matter who’s in office. It doesn’t matter what ethnic, racial background. It doesn’t matter how much they know, how much they don’t know. They’re all molded by the corporate power structure that controls Washington from Wall Street, to use a symbolic tour.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Ralph, I wanted to ask you about the issue of empire, which you mention that even progressives like Bernie Sanders doesn’t want to question. We have a president who was elected to office as a candidate of peace, of ending the wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq. He pulled the ground troops out, but he has expanded air wars in Yemen, in Pakistan, in Libya and in Syria. So, your assessment of this issue of how President Obama has done with the question of empire?
RALPH NADER: Well, he’s expanded it, and he’s basically broken every international law relating to national sovereignties. He’s broken some of the Geneva Conventions, all of which the U.S. is a signatory to, U.N. Charter. No wars are permitted under international law in the U.N. Charter, unless they’re for strictly defensive purposes. And obviously, we attacked Iraq. They never threatened us. And we’re attacking all kinds of other areas around the world.
What are we getting for it? We’re getting the massive proliferation of violent groups, offshoots and sub-offshoots of al-Qaeda. There are so many of these groups in Africa and Asia spreading, Southeast Asia, that the Pentagon is having trouble indexing them. But they have all this—kill list, of course, every Tuesday in the White House. And what people in this country don’t understand is that the drones may take a few dozen lives here and a few dozen lives there, but when you’re living—when millions of people in Asia and Africa are living under drones, they hear that whine 24 hours a day, it’s terror, it’s horror. They don’t know whether their homes are going to be blown up from this lightning bolt from the sky. And then we wonder why people are hating us and want to do us in.
And it’s only a matter of time. As we push these fighters to become more skilled, more bold, greater in numbers, it’s only a matter of time when the suicide belts are coming to this country. And our country is totally unable to withstand preservation of its civil liberties and democracy with these attacks. And the whole process of democratic processes, allocation of public budgets, will be completely turned upside down in this country with a couple violent terrorist attacks.