Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Too Weird for the Wire - Kevin Carey

I tried to come up with a title but the real title is perfect so there you go. This issue of The Washington Monthly has an incredible piece about how arcane white supremacist legal theories are showing up in Baltimore courtrooms - out of the mouths of African-American drug dealers.

No kidding and after reading this, you realize how spot on the The Wire is about streets of Baltimore. But the story goes way past anything Simon could write for the show. This is something that could only surface in America. I mean it is nuts and then nuts some more.

Here's an excerpt::

Judge Davis ordered the three defendants to be removed from the court, and turned to Gardner, who had, until then, remained quiet. But Gardner, too, intoned the same strange speech. "I am Shawn Earl Gardner, live man, flesh and blood," he proclaimed. Every time the judge referred to him as "the defendant" or "Mr. Gardner," Gardner automatically interrupted: "My name is Shawn Earl Gardner, sir." Davis tried to explain to Gardner that his behavior was putting his chances of acquittal or leniency at risk. "Don't throw your life away," Davis pleaded. But Gardner wouldn't stop. Judge Davis concluded the hearing, determined to find out what was going on.

As it turned out, he wasn't alone. In the previous year, nearly twenty defendants in other Baltimore cases had begun adopting what lawyers in the federal courthouse came to call "the flesh-and-blood defense." The defense, such as it is, boils down to this: As officers of the court, all defense lawyers are really on the government's side, having sworn an oath to uphold a vast, century-old conspiracy to conceal the fact that most aspects of the federal government are illegitimate, including the courts, which have no constitutional authority to bring people to trial. The defendants also believed that a legal distinction could be drawn between their name as written on their indictment and their true identity as a "flesh and blood man."

Read the full story by Kevin Carey here.

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