We may well be at an inflection point with regard to our institutions serving their legitimate purposes as opposed to partisan ones.
Antagonism to President Trump may now be such that even juries in criminal trails see their verdicts as a chance to stick it to the president rather than get justice for the violated or dead.
We don't know the deliberations in the jury room in the trial Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, the illegal immigrant in whose hands was the gun that killed thirty-two year-old Kate Steinle in 2015 in the sanctuary city of San Francisco.
But we do know that the defense attorney regarded it as a chance to stick it to President Trump when Zarate, a seven-time felon who had been deported five times, was acquitted even on involuntary manslaughter. Zarate's only conviction (in this trial, at least) was for illegal possession of a gun.
In commenting on the verdict afterwards, the defense said this:
"From Day 1 this case was used as a means to foment hate, to foment division and to foment a program of mass deportation. It was used to catapult a presidency along that philosophy of hate of others," defense attorney Francisco Ugarte said after the verdict. "I believe today is a day of vindication for the rest of immigrants."
Got that? The verdict had nothing to do with Kate Steinle and everything to do with Trump. The lawyer for the winning side said that–not me.
As I said, we have to be careful in second guessing a jury. But in this case it is justified. As Dennis Saffran, a Queens-based appellate lawyer and former GOP City Council candidate, argues in City Journal, the case for at least involuntary manslaughter was overwhelming. (Urge you to read the article–very interesting.)
Here is what Saffran believes happened:
The only plausible explanation of the Steinle verdict is that it was pure jury nullification. Most people in Garcia Zapate’s position would have been convicted, but not a repeatedly deported illegal alien in San Francisco, tried before a largely millennial jury including tech workers and Ph.D.s, whose defense lawyers saw the case as an opportunity to “vindicate the rights of immigrants” and strike a blow against Donald Trump, “hate,” and “division.”
Without question, prosecutors erred in stressing the intentional-murder charge. But the jury understood the lesser charges, too, and knew what it was doing in acquitting on them: giving a middle finger to Trump and his “deplorable” supporters in flyover country, with the Steinle family as collateral damage.
Other institutions besides the courts are affected. The press no longer even tries to hide its bias.
More disturbingly, recent reports show that a top FBI official may have let partisanship affect the outcome of the Clinton email investigation. This official went on to work for the Mueller investigation (he has since been fired) where he joined another member of the Mueller team whose animosity towards the president threatens to taint the whole Mueller operation. And don't forget the IRS!
Just for the record, John Sexton at Hot Air suggests that the verdict came out as it did because the prosecution failed to set up the conditions for involuntary manslaughter.