UNITED STATES─Watching this trial unfold on television, many of us might wonder why we who serve on juries don’t get the same advantages that our senators enjoy.
Just like in the trials where we have served as jurists, the senate rules stipulate that all are supposed to be seated for the entire procedure and only allowed to leave the room during breaks.
But a Washington Post reporter who was in the room – as well as was Chief Justice Roberts – could see what TV viewers could not. At least 20 republican senators were not in their seats or even in the senate chamber. Instead, some were walking outside the senate floor or hanging out in the cloak room or in private rooms just off of it. They were also seen passing notes to each other while House Managers were speaking.
Some who remained in the room were otherwise distracted; Rand Paul was seen with a crossword puzzle and Joni Ernst was eating Skittles, snuggling under a blanket.
Now imagine you getting up in a jury box to stretch your legs or leave the courtroom in the middle of a lawyer’s opening statement. Could we snack at our seats, bring a cozy blanket, pass notes to other jurors, work a crossword puzzle without the withering admonishment of the judge to pay attention to the proceedings? I was on a trial when a jurist returned late from lunch and was immediately reprimanded and fined.
Why then is our Chief Justice allowing this disrespect of not only the senate rules, but of himself and of course us, for whom they all are supposed to be representing? Does our Chief Justice not realize that his out of control jurists are making a mockery of our justice system? When is he supposed to pound his gavel and call for order in the court?
Also troubling to laypeople across the country is why he is allowing defense attorneys to utter factual lies without objection? How could a jurist make an honest decision if they are allowed to be fed easily documented false testimony?
Then there is Trump’s surrealistic tweet that not only confessed but bragged about the White House withholding information: “Honestly, we have all the material.”
What is a judge to do with all of this conduct? We are living in a time when openly admitting to wrongdoing seems to inoculate the perpetrator from any consequences.
If the Chief Justice of the United States allows all of the above in silence, is he sending Americans the unspoken message that as future jurists or defendants, we too can behave in like fashion?
We already know that Trump will not be convicted. But it would better secure the appearance of legitimacy if rules and decorum were not openly flouted in full view.
Chief Justice Roberts – don’t insult our intelligence by displaying the blatant disrespect that you and the United States Senate are perpetrating on us.