Professor Christopher Slobogin talks about the trial in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, the "intentional discrimination" in jury selection, the citizen's arrest law, and the potential impact all of this this could...
Lawyer 2 Lawyer
Professor Christopher Slobogin, director of the Criminal Justice Program at Vanderbilt Law School. Chris has authored more...
J. Craig Williams is admitted to practice law in Iowa, California, Massachusetts, and Washington. Before attending law...
In Glynn County, Georgia, the trial of three white men charged in the death of Ahmaud Arbery has selected a jury, however the makeup of that jury has raised some controversy. With eleven White members and only one Black member, the prosecution has accused the defense of eliminating qualified Black jurors from serving.
In response to a motion filed by the State, presiding Judge Timothy Walmsley said, “This court has found that there appears to be intentional discrimination.” However, after hearing arguments by the defense, the judge ultimately denied the state’s motion, and gave the greenlight to move forward, ruling that there were in fact valid reasons that went beyond race for why the jurors were dismissed.
On Lawyer 2 Lawyer, host Craig Williams is joined by Christopher Slobogin, director of the Criminal Justice Program at Vanderbilt Law School, as they spotlight the trial in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. Craig and Chris discuss the racial breakdown of the jury, the “intentional discrimination” in jury selection, the citizen’s arrest law, and the potential impact all of this could have on the case.
Christopher Slobogin: Even if Arbery somehow, even though he was unarmed, confronting them with deadly force or caused fear, them being subjected to serious bodily injury, the only time you can make a self-defense argument in that situation is when you are acting lawful and the victim is acting unlawful and if there’s no citizen’s arrest, the initial confrontation with the rifle could be said to be unlawful by the defendants and therefore their entire self-defense argument might fall apart.
Intro: Welcome to the award-winning podcast Lawyer 2 Lawyer with J. Craig Williams bringing you the latest legal news and observations with the leading experts in the legal profession. You’re listening to Legal Talk Network.
J. Craig Williams: Welcome to Lawyer 2 Lawyer on the Legal Talk Network. I’m Craig Williams coming to you from Southern California.
I have two books entitled, ‘How to Get Sued’ and ‘The Sled’. In Glynn County Georgia, the trial of three white men charged in the death of Ahmaud Arbery has selected a jury. However, the makeup that jury has raised some controversy with eleven White members and only one Black member in a community where the black population is over 25%. The prosecution has accused of defense of eliminating Qualified Black Jurors from serving on the Arbery jury. Well, in response to a motion filed by the state, presiding Judge Timothy Walmsley said, “This court has found that there appears to be intentional discrimination.” But after hearing the arguments by the defense, the judge ultimately denied the state’s motion and gave the green light to move forward ruling that there were in fact valid reasons that went beyond race for why the jurors were dismissed.
So today, on Lawyer 2 Lawyer will spotlight the trial in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. We’ll discuss the racial breakdown of the jury, the intentional discrimination in jury selection, the citizen’s arrest law, and the potential impact of all of this and what can do on the case. And to do that, we have Professor Christopher Slobogin, Director of the Criminal Justice Program at Vanderbilt Law School.
Professor Slobogin has authored more than 100 articles, books and chapters on topics relating the criminal law and procedure, mental health and evidence. According to the leader report, he is one of the five most cited criminal law and procedure professors in the country over the last five years. Professor Slobogin is also an affiliate professor of psychiatry at Vanderbilt. Welcome to the show Chris.
Christopher Slobogin: Well, thank you very much for having me, Craig.
J. Craig Williams: Well, Chris let’s talk a little bit about the Arbery trial. I mean, we’re right in the middle of it. We’ve seated in jury. We’ve seen the judge issued some admonishments and then back away from them once he saw some other evidence. But what are the things that were looking at in this trial? How did it come to be? What can we expect out of it?
Christopher Slobogin: Well, obviously, this is very high-profile trial simply because of the racial issues. We have three white men charged with killing a black man under controversial circumstances and there are a lot of issues that are already come up specifically with respect to jury selection whether this is a valid citizen’s arrest, whether it was self-defense in the part of the defendants. There’s a lot going on in this trial that is both interesting legally and important politically.
J. Craig Williams: Let’s talk about the jury selection since that seems to be a recent and prominent in the news. We’ve seen the judge step up and say that he thinks that there may have been some racial discrimination, but then he’d back down from that decision once he heard the explanations. What were the explanations? Why would he back down and should he have?
Christopher Slobogin: Yeah, maybe I should give a little background about all of this.
J. Craig Williams: Sure.
Christopher Slobogin: Of course, the jury selection process, if your audience is legally trained, they know this. But maybe some of your audience does not know this that during jury selection, both sides get an unlimited number for cause challenges which are challenges to perspective juror, which require a good reason for excluding the juror because they’re bias in some significant way to have a fix opinion against either the prosecution or the defendant.
Then there are peremptory challenges which are limited in number and those kinds of challenges don’t require any explanation. At least typically they don’t require any explanation. And as I said, those are limited. In this particular trial, the defense got 24 peremptory and the prosecution only got 12 and the reason for that there are three defendants. So, each of the defendants got eight peremptory challenges and the prosecution got 12 or only half of the 24 about the defense got. That may seem unfair, but the idea is that each defendant should be able to have his own peremptory challenges and so the way the judge resolved the issue is by cutting down the number of challenges for each defendant to eight and upping the number of challenges the prosecution had to 12. Typically, in Georgia, the number of peremptory is nine. In this case, its eight for each defendant and 12 for the prosecution.
J. Craig Williams: Well, that’s not unexpected for the prosecution. I guess the prosecution could have separated the three defendants instead of bringing them together.
Christopher Slobogin: That’s absolutely right. It could have tried these defendants separately. It shows to try them together, and thus knew what the cost would be. It knew that probably the defense would have more peremptory challenges than if the prosecution would have. Again, that is probably fair given that each defendant should have their own peremptory at the same time, each defendant probably is going to be pursuing the same strategy. In some ways, it could be seen as unfair and that it does in fact give the defense assuming their unit together twice as many challenges as the prosecution. But again, the prosecution knew this going in and they pay whatever price to pay for that.
J. Craig Williams: Right. The defendants really don’t even need to cooperate because they can just watch what’s happening in terms of the color of the people that are being struck from the panel.
Christopher Slobogin: Right. As I said, using peremptory challenge doesn’t require an explanation but when a peremptory challenge is used to remove someone on the basis of race or what looks to be the basis of race, then the analysis changes. The situation changes. Then an explanation does have to be given. It does not have to be as good explanation as you would need for a cause challenge, but it does have to be some kind of explanation. If the opposing side can make out a prima facie case that people are being excluded because of race. Of course, in this case, that arguably was happening, the defense is moving people, many people who are black and so this triggered what is called the Batson challenge, which is the Supreme Court case Batson v. Kentucky which required the semi for cause explanation. What Batson held is the explanation can be and I’m going to directly quote from the Supreme Court opinion, “The explanation can be silly or superstitious, implausible or fantastic so long as the explanation is race neutral and genuine, the explanation will satisfy a Batson challenge.”
J. Craig Williams: How is that even a standard?
Christopher Slobogin: Yeah, right. I mean, it doesn’t sound like much of a standard, right?
J. Craig Williams: Right, especially when you consider that strict scrutiny as the standard for the review in the constitution for racial issues.
Christopher Slobogin: Yes, very good point. But what the Supreme Court was trying to do in Batson is split the difference between a for-cause challenge and peremptory. It Did not want to remove the ability to have some kind of peremptory challenge, but it also wanted to make a bow to the protection of race that you see in the protection clause. So it came up with this hybrid kind of challenge. And again, as you say, it’s not much, it’s not much of a standard at all, but it does require a race neutral and genuine explanation. What the judge responded to initially was of course all these blacks were being removed, but then he heard the explanation from the defense attorney and so for instance, one explanation for excluding one black woman by the defense was that she said during the voir dire questioning, this whole case is all about racism.
J. Craig Williams: Right, and another one said that it was wrong.
Christopher Slobogin: That’s right.
J. Craig Williams: This killing was wrong. How does that not constitute cause?
Christopher Slobogin: Well, it could if it constitutes cause and of course, they don’t even have to use a peremptory challenge. But I think the judge might have found this was not a for cause challenge because the Supreme Court’s held with respect to for-cause challenges that the reason had to be very good. They have to demonstrate a fixed opinion against one of the parties. And simply saying that this case is about racism and even saying that the defendants shouldn’t have killed the individual doesn’t necessarily mean a fixed opinion if for instance that was followed up by a statement by that prospective juror. Well, I can still keep an open mind about this. Right now, I think it was wrong but if I hear the evidence, I could change my mind. Then, that might not be enough for cause but it’s certainly enough for Batson explanation.
J. Craig Williams: Right. Now it’s under Batson is what the Judge did. Walmsley, did he set up anything for appeal? Do these guys have – obviously, they have the right of appeal once and they are probably going to appeal if they’re convicted. But what consequence on appeal will the judge’s statements that there appeared to be intentional racism and then how are the explanation is going to get evaluated?
Christopher Slobogin: Well, of course, the statement by the judge was that he thought the defense might be engaging in an intentional racism, so the defense can hardly appeal that if there’s a conviction. And of course, if there’s an acquittal, the double jeopardy cause prevents the prosecution from appealing. We may never see any appellate resolution of this particular issue.
J. Craig Williams: That’s a tough situation to be in. Maybe that’s one of the reasons that they feel free to make the kind of challenges that they’ve been making.
Christopher Slobogin: Yeah, I think is particularly interesting because in Georgia at least in this case, the attorneys were allowed to ask questions during voir dire. I mean here voir dire is the process of jury selection asking prospective jurors question. The defense was allowed to ask questions. Now in federal court, as you know in some states, only the judge is allowed to ask questions.
But here, the defense attorney prosecution was allowed to ask questions and you can see how that could set up the situation we have here. The defense attorney can ask leading questions or questions that might trigger an answer that somehow provides an explanation, a Batson explanation. For instance, the defense attorney could say, “Well, do you think there’s racism involved in this case?” And the jury might respond, “Yeah, I think there’s racism involved in this case.” And then that maybe could be used by the defense as a Batson explanation. It’s really a situation to the rife for problematic results in terms of jury selection.
J. Craig Williams: It’s probably one of the reasons that appellate judges would defer to the discretion of the trial court.
Christopher Slobogin: Yeah, I think it is and I think even if the defense attorney’s explanations were raised neutral and genuine, I think the resulting juror with just one black on it is very bad obviously. It’s not a good representation of how the system should work in a case like this.
J. Craig Williams: In here, in this jurisdiction, the percentage of blacks in that community are 25% or so.
Christopher Slobogin: Exactly, yes.
J. Craig Williams: So, you would expect to see a juror where at least four people, 25% are black.
Christopher Slobogin: Yeah, three or four and we don’t have that and so I think again to some extent, I think probably undermines the legitimacy of the proceeding. Now, if the three white individuals are convicted that may not matter if they’re acquitted, I think it might add to the temperature after the verdict comes down.
J. Craig Williams: Certainly. Well, let’s talk about one of the defenses. The three defendants have claimed this kind of slavery era Georgia Law for allowing them to make a citizen’s arrest. Apparently, that’s founded in allowing slave owners to recapture escaped slaves at the time and interestingly, now that law has been repealed.
Christopher Slobogin: Yes. This specific law involving citizen’s arrest has to be repealed and changed, there’s still have the ability to engage in a citizen’s arrest, but now it’s only certain business owners and security guards. The average private system may no longer effectuate a citizen’s arrest in Georgia, but in almost every other state, this kind of law still exists. Georgia changed it precisely because of the Arbery case.
J. Craig Williams: Right here in California, you can make a citizen’s arrest if you have probable cause to believe that a felony has been convicted. But how does the era of the Genesis of the law play into the defense? Are the prosecutors going to make hay here with the fact that these guys were using a slavery era law to hunt down or in their words I’m sure, “Hunt down a black man”?
Christopher Slobogin: I think if I were a judge, I would not allow the prosecutor to make any kind of claim or statement about the Genesis of these laws. I think they would probably be considered irrelevant. I’m sure the prosecution would like to do that, but I don’t think the judge would allow it. By the way, on the Genesis of these laws, it is true. A lot of them were passed post-civil war as a way of effectuating Jim Crow and making sure that private white citizens could keep black people down by arresting them for trumped-up or minimal defenses. But it’s also true that some of these citizen’s arrests statutes pre-existed the Civil War and Jim Crow because there were no organized police forces in the United States until the 1830s and 1840s. Actually, citizen’s arrest was a pretty important implement with respect to criminal justice back in the 18th and 19th centuries.
J. Craig Williams: It worked for the first DA in this case. Apparently, the first district attorney declined to prosecute these three gentlemen because of the citizen’s arrest law even though apparently it wasn’t stated at the time of their arrest, the three gentlemen’s arrest, but how does that play into it?
Christopher Slobogin: Well, it plays into a very interesting way because actually, I think you have to think about the argument by the defense here and the congress argument by the prosecution in terms of two steps. The first step is the citizen’s arrest step and that is the argument that is legitimate for these defendants to follow Arbery, chased him down and confront him with the gun all because they believed that he’d committed a felony and that they were justified, therefore, and arrested. That’s the first step.
If it’s accepted, legitimates their presence there in front of Arbery, but then of course, they killed him and that requires a second step. That requires proving a self-defense claim. In other words, yes, they were there legitimately as citizens making an arrest under the Georgia Law, but that doesn’t necessarily justify killing someone unless they have a good reason for and that second argument is they were acting in self-defense that they were fearful for their life or at least fearful that Arbery would cause serious bodily injury.
J. Craig Williams: Well apparently, they didn’t know whether Arbery was armed?
Christopher Slobogin: Yes, so that’s relevant to both the citizen’s arrest issue and the self-defense issue.
One thing I would raise if I were the prosecutors under the previous Georgia Law that applied at the time Arbery was killed, it requires as you said, it’s similar to California, good cause to believe that the person had committed a felony. Now, if you remember the facts of this case, and from what I know at least, I may be wrong about this, from what I know what the defendant saw if they saw anything directly was Arbery exit a home that’s under construction knowing that he wasn’t armed and he didn’t have anything in his hands, right? He was running, he was in a jogging outfit. So where is the felony? He may have been trespassing but that’s only a misdemeanor in Georgia. You need at least a burglary.
J. Craig Williams: The owner of the property has come out and said, “Arbery didn’t take anything and apparently it wasn’t the first time he’d been in the house.”
Christopher Slobogin: Right. Of course, that’s only relevant if the defendants knew that at the time. If they can say they had reason to believe that he was committing a felony, then that does trigger the possibility of a citizen’s arrest argument. But what I’m saying is from what they could see, they had no idea this was a felony. So right off the bat, their citizen’s arrest argument might not win and also the citizen’s arrest law requires that the defendants observe or at least have a strong belief that a felony occurred. They didn’t observe any kind of criminal activity but this was rather something they surmised from where Arbery was the first time they saw him. That would be another problem. I think the main problem is I don’t see a felony here unless I’m missing some facts.
J. Craig Williams: Right. It appears from some of the admissions that they’ve made so far at least in the media and some of their police reports have said were, they didn’t know if there was any evidence that existed that a burglary had occurred.”
Christopher Slobogin: Yes, that’s my point. That is exactly right.
J. Craig Williams: That pretty much defeats the citizen’s arrest argument. What other defenses that they have left?
Christopher Slobogin: Well, so if this is not a legitimate citizen’s arrest, then their self-defense argument falls apart because even if Arbery somehow — and we’ll get to this in a second, I think but even if Arbery was somehow, even though he was unarmed, confronting them with deadly force or caused fear them being subjected to serious bodily injury, the only time you can make a self-defense argument in that situation is when you are acting lawful and the victim is acting unlawfully. If there’s no citizen’s arrest, the initial confrontation with the rifle could be said to be unlawful by the defendants and therefore their entire self-defense argument might fall apart right there from the get-go, right? Right from the initial aspect of this confrontation.
J. Craig Williams: Right. It appears that there is absolutely no evidence that they intended to hold him for the police.
Christopher Slobogin: Yeah. Well, that’s another problem. Let’s assume that is the case and that also creates a problem. If in fact they’re going to admit they weren’t really making a citizen’s arrest, well then that obviously blows the citizen’s arrest argument out of the water. But assuming there is a citizen’s arrest, this is assumed now, they still have to show that the use of deadly force is justified.
J. Craig Williams: They were following him.
Christopher Slobogin: Exactly. They pursued him for five blocks. I’m thinking in Arbery’s mind, he’s thinking, “Oh my gosh. I heard these three white guys following me in a truck with a confederate flag and now this guy with a rifle come out of the truck, I’m in big trouble here. I’m in danger.” So Arbery reacted the way he did.
Now, the defendants are going to say, “Yeah, he overreacted.” I’m just basing this on what I have seen. I may be totally wrong about what happened, but what I think may have happened is that Arbery grabbed the gun and then the defendants will have to argue they have reason to believe based on that conduct by Arbery that they are in danger of serious bodily injury or death and therefore they were justified in shooting.
J. Craig Williams: Right. Which doesn’t appear to be the case because at no point in the video does it appear that Arbery had any kind of a weapon with him.
Christopher Slobogin: Yeah. It appears he does not have a weapon and from what I can tell from the video, it also appears that he wasn’t remotely close to turning that rifle on one of the defendants but maybe that’s wrong. Again, we haven’t heard all the facts.
J. Craig Williams: Let’s just play devil’s advocate here. Do you know what I mean? We’ve all been in situations where we’ve seen construction in the neighborhood, what reason do you have to go walk into somebody’s construction site?
Christopher Slobogin: Ask my wife. She does it on a routine basis. There’s construction going all over the place here in Nashville and she will routinely walk at least into the garage space and try to pierce through the lattice work to see what’s going on. I think a lot of people do that. It is technically a trespassing.
J. Craig Williams: Do we all have a little bit of Mrs. Kravitz in us?
Christopher Slobogin: Yeah, I guess so, but the key point I was trying to make of their arrest even if it is a crime, it is a misdemeanor in Georgia unless something is taken or unless some kind of violence occurs. You don’t get the citizen’s arrest argument if it’s just a misdemeanor.
J. Craig Williams: Well, you don’t have citizen’s arrest.
J. Craig Williams: Well, you don’t have citizen’s arrest. You don’t have self-defense. It appears that you’re acting on reason to believe in what you’re doing. Are your predictions pretty much this is bad for them?
Christopher Slobogin: Well, let me make the defense argument. I have been pushing the prosecution’s point of view, but let’s make the defense argument here. They see a man come out of the house and they’ve heard reports of someone going into houses in the neighborhood before with a couple of break-ins. Even though they don’t see him carrying a weapon and even though they don’t necessarily see him carrying anything, they think maybe there’s something valuable in the house this guy may have just taken, which maybe adds up to a burglary.
Now they have probable cause to believe a felony has been committed. Now they think they have justification to make an arrest, so they followed him down the street he finally stops. They get out of the car and, just to be safe, they carry their weapons with them. He immediately grabs their weapon, tries to wrestle it from them, and the guy with the weapon is scared that Arbery’s going to be able to turn the weapon on him and so, before Arbery can do that, he shoots Arbery. That’s, I think the best story the defense can tell.
J. Craig Williams: Kind of explained away the racial epithets they used.
Christopher Slobogin: Well, yeah and the confederate flag and all that aura of —
J. Craig Williams: Because I wouldn’t classify these guys as white. I’d classify them as something else.
Christopher Slobogin: Yeah, okay. Well, in any event, yes, you could say there were some definite bad motives here, some bad faith on the part of the defendants, and I’m sure the prosecution will try to get that kind of thing into evidence. There’s one other aspect again if I’m the defense attorney I might emphasize because if I’m a prosecutor, I’d say, “Well, look, they didn’t need to get out of the truck with their rifles, right? Why immediately exacerbate the situation by getting out of the truck, with a rifle and apparently pointed it to Arbery? It didn’t need to take that step — and then once Arbery appeared agitated and start grabbing for the gun, instead of shooting him, move away from Arbery, right? Get out of the dangerous situation as opposed to immediately resorting to deadly force.
The reason I’m raising this point is this is where Georgia’s Stand Your Ground Law comes into play. About 20 states have a Stand Your Ground Law. Georgia has one. What Stand Your Ground Law says is, you don’t have to resort to less dangerous lawful alternatives. So long as you have reason to believe you’re in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury, you can stand your ground and shoot. You don’t have to retreat, even if you’re outside in public as opposed to inside your home.
J. Craig Williams: Right. But you don’t bring a gun to a knife fight?
Christopher Slobogin: Well, okay. Yeah, that’s the argument by the prosecution that they immediately exacerbated the situation by bringing the weapon, which arguably they didn’t need to do at all, or at least they should have stayed at a safe distance.
J. Craig Williams: All right. Well, let’s play this out even a different way.
Christopher Slobogin: Yeah.
J. Craig Williams: What is the right way to do it? Let’s assume that Georgia’s got this law and play it through if it had been done correctly, using these circumstances.
Christopher Slobogin: Yeah. So, first of all, they need probable cause to believe a felony has been committed and we’ve already talked to why that might not have been the case. But let’s assume they did have that. Then, what Georgia law says is, they may use reasonable force to effectuate the arrest. They cannot use excessive force. So, once again, there may a problem to the defense here. The argument would be that in effectuating what was otherwise a legitimate citizen’s arrest, they overdid it. They used too much force by getting out of the truck with a rifle aimed direct at Arbery.
Now, you’re asking, how could they have done it? How should they have done it? I guess the defense has an argument, well, how else could they have done it? If they actually were authorized to make an arrest with the fact in mind they’re not supposed to use unreasonable force, using some kind of detention technique that does not involve weapon, might have endangered them. Maybe they could justify using a weapon to least make it clear to Arbery that they meant business, and to hopefully cow Arbery into submission. But again, why get so close to him so that he can immediately grab the weapon. Be more careful on how you carried it out.
J. Craig Williams: Why not go with the old standard notice and the opportunity to respond? Pull up alongside him and go, “Hey, how you doing today?”
Christopher Slobogin: You’ve got it.
J. Craig Williams: “We noticed you’ve been walking into this place a couple times. We’re concerned about it. We’re thinking about making a citizen’s arrest. But, if you’ll just wait, we’ll give the police a call, have conversation with them. If everything’s fine, you can go on your way and everybody will have a happy day. If not, then you’ll need to answer for what you’ve done”. Why not that?
Christopher Slobogin: Exactly right. The argument by prosecution is going to be they did not need to use the degree of force they used in this case and what you just described might be considered the best and most reasonable way of dealing with the situation.
J. Craig Williams: Let’s take a moment and talk about what happened after the first DA turned down the prosecution of these guys because he thought the citizen’s arrest defense would be valid. Right after that, apparently, the video came out, and then everything blew up.
Christopher Slobogin: Right.
J. Craig Williams: Why would the decision be any different after the video? I mean, obviously, we have all the political pressure and the personal pressure, but why couldn’t the prosecutor stand on that ground and say, “We’re not going to prosecute these guys. First guy made it. I’m going to make it, too”.
Christopher Slobogin: Yeah. Of course, we want to be cynical. The video made all the difference in the world. The prosecutor figured no one’s going to second-guess my decision because no one really knows what happened, and I have control of the facts. But, once the video came out, prosecutor no longer has control of the facts. As a result, the prosecutor was sort of caught red-handed, if you will, and had to make what I think initially should have been the decision, which is there should be a prosecution here. Of course, we see this over and over again with advent of body cams. What would have been covered up, what never would have resulted in either civil or criminal liability to the police, now it’s happening because video is everywhere from the George Floyd case to the Walter Scott case. We can go on and on. There’s so much more video now out there that shows that what the police are saying is not right at all, or at least not completely right.
J. Craig Williams: Right. There’s accountability. Where do we need to make changes in our justice system to deal with this?
Christopher Slobogin: Well, it is an interesting question because based on what I just said, one solution would be let’s put cameras everywhere. Not only body cams on police, but also, because of course police were not involved in the Arbery case, but put a CCTV camera with zoom vision and night vision on every telephone pole in the country. Yes, that would help deal with some of the problems we are talking about here in terms of cover-ups and lack of information, but you know what the response would be.
J. Craig Williams: George Orwell.
Christopher Slobogin: Yeah, exactly. Privacy invasion at the wazoo, and so that would concern a lot of people. There is attention here between getting all the evidence we need and privacy concerns. Another possible way of dealing with it, but much less accessible, and I can say that because it’s already been tried, is to impress upon prosecutors that, hey, it’s their job to do justice and if they think the police are not on the up-and-up, or in this case, private citizens are not in the up-and-up, they need to act appropriately and ethically and either bring the charges or, in the case of police, maybe even prosecute them if they think there’s been perjury committed by the police or they think the police have covered up evidence and therefore engaged in obstruction of justice. It’s just very hard to get a prosecutor to do that because, of course, they rely on the police to make their cases for them. Basically, they are prosecuting one of their own in a sense when they do that kind of thing.
J. Craig Williams: Right. It seems like we need independence there, an independent prosecutor, and we also need an independent review board for the police themselves rather than having the police police the police.
Christopher Slobogin: Right. Some states are starting to do that. I mean, they’re always have been internal review boards, but usually, those only come into play when there is use of deadly force, and even those are within the police department typically. But more and more commentaries are calling for independent review boards to investigate every serious use of force.
J. Craig Williams: What’s your thought on that?
Christopher Slobogin: I think it’s a good idea. I think it’s expensive and of course, the police are going to say, “Look, this is just another layer of bureaucracy that’s going to make us look bad, but won’t really do any good. We’ve got very tough jobs. We got to deal with danger day in and day out. And if you’re going to be second-guessing us every time we pull out a pistol, we’re going to quit. This is just too much for us to deal with”. We’re already seeing some of that in the wake of George Floyd incident, there is a higher quitting rate, termination rate, quitting rate is the right word, amongst the police. It’s not significant, but we have seen more police leaving police forces.
J. Craig Williams: In some places, that has been cheered.
Christopher Slobogin: Certainly. The defund the police movement would say, “Hey, this is what we want. We want fewer police on the street. We want alternatives to the police. We want different kinds of first responders. For instance, people with mental illness or the homeless are involved. There are lots of other ways of re-thinking the so-called police function. So, hey, great, less police. Let’s go with something else”.
J. Craig Williams: Right. Well, Chris, it looks like we just about reached the end of our program. I’d like to take this chance to let you share your final thoughts and your contact information if you’d like for our listeners.
Christopher Slobogin: Well, I think this is a very important case. I think we all need to pay attention to it. I’m hoping whatever the outcome that the response will be measured, but that people assert their First Amendment rights if they don’t like the results because I think this is the kind of case that makes a statement about the kind of society we live in. I guess contact information, [email protected].
J. Craig Williams: Great. Well, thank you very much. As we wrap up, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you, Professor Chris Slobogin, for joining us today. It was pleasure having you on the show.
Christopher Slobogin: Well, it was a great pleasure being here. Thank you.
J. Craig Williams: Great. Well, after this discussion, I have a couple of thoughts about this myself. It appears that Ahmaud Arbery’s death was likely unjustified.
It appears that the three white defendants don’t have sufficient defense has to be able to avoid some type of conviction. I hope for the purposes of social unrest and racial harmony, that we have a decision that these gentlemen are convicted and that they’re sentenced appropriately by the judge. Glad to see the change in Georgia’s law on the citizen’s arrest. I think it’s some expression that you need some type of training or experience or qualifications in order to make it. It shouldn’t just be available to people on the street and that change needs to be made across the board like forgive some of the racial inequities in the past. Not forgive but at least start to remedy them.
For our listeners, if you like what you heard today, please rate us on Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcasting app. You can also visit us at legaltalknetwork.com where you can sign up for our newsletter. I’m Craig Williams. Thanks for listening. Join us next time for another great legal topic. When you want legal, think Lawyer 2 Lawyer.
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|Published:||November 12, 2021|
|Podcast:||Lawyer 2 Lawyer|
|Category:||Access to Justice , Diversity|
Lawyer 2 Lawyer
Lawyer 2 Lawyer is a legal affairs podcast covering contemporary and relevant issues in the news with a legal perspective.