You need people like me so you can point your f*****’ fingers and say, ‘That’s the bad guy.’ So…what that make you?Tony Montana, Scarface
Clarence Earl Gideon was a career criminal who had been convicted of robbery, burglary, and larceny. Gideon was a bad guy. Gideon had been convicted of a crime after being denied access to a defense lawyer. Gideon’s conviction was decided to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Gideon v. Wainwright. The Court ruled that “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.”
In the book ‘Gideon’s Trumpet’ author Anthony Lewis used the Biblical story of how the prophet Gideon’s small army carried trumpets and torches in attacking a larger army. The sound and light fooled the enemy into thinking that a much larger army was attacking them. Lewis used the story as an analogy for his bad guy taking on the entire American legal system and winning. Because of this bad guy’s case, the right to legal counsel for everyone in our society was clarified and affirmed.
Ernest Miranda was a convicted burglar. Miranda was a bad guy. Miranda had been arrested in Phoenix because of circumstantial evidence linking him to kidnapping and rape. Following a long interrogation, Miranda signed a confession. Miranda had not been made aware of his right to remain silent, the right to a legal counsel, or that his words could be used against him in court. Miranda appealed that ignorance of his rights made his confession involuntary. The Supreme Court, in Miranda v. Arizona, decided that a defendant cannot be questioned by police until that defendant is made aware of the right to remain silent, the right to have an attorney present during questioning, and, if the defendant cannot afford a lawyer, the right to have an attorney appointed by the court. Because of this bad guys case, all in our society have Miranda Rights.
George Floyd had been convicted of drug abuse, theft, criminal trespassing, aggravated robbery as well as entering a woman’s home and pointing a gun at her stomach while looking for drugs and money. George Floyd was a bad guy. George Floyd died while being taken into custody by police. Social media commentator Candace Owens has said
No one thinks that he should have died in his arrest, but what I find despicable to be is that everyone is pretending that this man lived a heroic lifestyle when he didn’t. …I refuse to accept the narrative that this person is a martyr or should be lifted up in the black community. …He has a rap sheet that is long, that is dangerous. He is an example of a violent criminal his entire life — up until the very last moment.Candace Owens Newsweek
Jacob Blake has had criminal complaints filed against him, charging him with felony third-degree sexual assault, misdemeanor criminal trespassing, and misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Jacob Blake is accused of being a bad guy. Jacob Blake was seriously wounded while being taken into custody by police. Social media commentator Andy Ngô has stated on Twitter that “Jacob Blake, the man shot by police in Kenosha, Wisc., has a history of assaulting police. He also has past charges for domestic abuse & a sex crime. There’s a warrant for his arrest. BLM rioters are currently destroying the city to avenge the shooting.”
Social media commentators seem to think that bad guys- documented or merely accused- are somehow less worthy of justice when they are wronged by our legal system. Bad guys Miranda and Gideon were wronged by our legal system. Eventually, our society afforded justice to those bad guys. That eventual justice for bad guys Miranda and Gideon also had the effect of clarifying and enhancing civil rights for all in our society. It remains to be seen if there will be justice for accused bad guys George Floyd and Jacob Blake and what it will mean for our society.
Thanks and a tip of the hat to DonkeyHotry for the image, ‘Scales of Justice’. See more of DonkeyHotey’s art at https://www.flickr.com/photos/47422005@N04/.