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Author Topic: Thoughts on the Jena 6  (Read 28662 times)

aerynn

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Re: Thoughts on the Jena 6
« Reply #60 on: September 25, 2007, 07:12:09 PM »
Miss P, did the attackers stop themselves or was the fight broken up by others?  I read that it was in the cafeteria, so I guess I just assumed that someone else probably broke it up, and thus the heightened justification for inferring they would have kept kicking until the victim was dead or very gravely injured.

I also think that some people are inferring racism in the difference in the charges, when this fight happened on school grounds where other fights happened elsewhere in the community.  Every place I have ever lived has had stricter penalties for behavior on school grounds than out in the wider community, maybe because students are compelled to attend high school and not hang out at the local convenience store or a rowdy party.  I wonder how much is racism and how much is just the difference in circumstances.

It is a terrible situation for everyone though.
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country girl

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Re: Thoughts on the Jena 6
« Reply #61 on: September 25, 2007, 10:31:32 PM »
That whole situation is ridiculous.  Those boys should not have been tried as adults, and that one (Marcus??) who has been sitting in prison for almost a year??  For what, a school yard fight??  And then the white boys who pretty much started everything are still going to the school.  >:(  That is sad that that situation is occuring in 2007 and what's worse is that no major news network even covered it until Michael Baisden and them got involved. 

PNym

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Re: Thoughts on the Jena 6
« Reply #62 on: September 25, 2007, 11:15:10 PM »
Yeah I remember this bit from crim.  There is (under MPC and Texas law anyway) no such thing as an attempt at a reckless crime (e.g. manslaughter, depraved-heart murder.)  In-class hypo was a person shooting a gun into a crowd with no real intent to kill a specific individual, just a desire to cause mayhem, and miraculously nobody dies.  No attempted DH murder there - it's reckless something or other instead.

Thanks for clearing that up.

PNym

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Re: Thoughts on the Jena 6
« Reply #63 on: September 25, 2007, 11:34:18 PM »
According to Jason Whitlock, the beating was not connected to the nooses at all. The victim wasn't involved in the noose incident.

Here's the article I'm citing:

Quote
Lessons from Jena, La.
By JASON WHITLOCK

Now we love Mychal Bell, the star of the 2006 Jena (La.) High School football team, the teenage boy who has sat in jail since December for his role in a six-on-one beatdown of a fellow student.

Thursday, thousands of us, proud African-Americans, expressed our devotion to and desire to see justice for the “Jena Six,” the half-dozen black students who knocked unconscious, kicked and stomped a white classmate.

Jesse Jackson compared Thursday’s rallies in Jena to the protests and marches that used to take place in cities like Selma, Ala., in the 1960s. Al Sharpton claimed Thursday’s peaceful demonstrations were to highlight racial inequities in the criminal justice system.

Jesse and Al, as they’re prone to do, served a kernel of truth stacked on a mountain of lies.

There are undeniable racial and economic inequities in our criminal justice system, and from afar the “Jena Six” rallies certainly looked and felt like the righteous protests of the 1960s.

But the reality is Thursday’s protests are just another sign that we remain deeply locked in denial about the path we need to travel today for true American liberation, equality and power in the new millennium.

The fact that we waited to love Mychal Bell until after he’d thrown away a Division I football scholarship and nine months of his life is just as heinous as the grossly excessive attempted-murder charges that originally landed him in jail.

Reed Walters, the Jena district attorney, is being accused of racism because he didn’t show Bell compassion when the teenager was brought before the court for the third time on assault charges in a two-year span.

Where was our compassion long before Bell got into this kind of trouble?

That’s the question that needed to be asked in Jena and across the country on Thursday. But it wasn’t asked because everyone has been lied to about what really transpired in the small southern town.

There was no “schoolyard fight” as a result of nooses being hung on a whites-only tree.

Justin Barker, the white victim, was cold-cocked from behind, knocked unconscious and stomped by six black athletes. Barker, luckily, sustained no life-threatening injuries and was released from the hospital three hours after the attack.

A black U.S. attorney, Don Washington, investigated the “Jena Six” case and concluded that the attack on Barker had absolutely nothing to do with the noose-hanging incident three months before. The nooses and two off-campus incidents were tied to Barker’s assault by people wanting to gain sympathy for the “Jena Six” in reaction to Walters’ extreme charges of attempted murder.

Much has been written about Bell’s trial, the six-person all-white jury that convicted him of aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery and the clueless public defender who called no witnesses and offered no defense. It is rarely mentioned that no black people responded to the jury summonses and that Bell’s public defender was black.

It’s almost never mentioned that Bell’s absentee father returned from Dallas and re-entered his son’s life only after Bell faced attempted-murder charges. At a bond hearing in August, Bell’s father and a parade of local ministers promised a judge that they would supervise Bell if he was released from prison.

Where were the promises and supervision before any of this?

It’s rarely mentioned that Bell was already on probation for assault when he was accused of participating in Barker’s attack. And it’s never mentioned that white people in the “racist” town of Jena provided Bell support and protected his football career long before Jesse, Al, Bell’s father and all the others took a sincere interest in Mychal Bell.

You won’t hear about any of that because it doesn’t fit the picture we want to paint of Jena, this case, America and ourselves.

We don’t practice preventive medicine. Mychal Bell needed us long before he was cuffed and jailed. Here is another undeniable, statistical fact: The best way for a black (or white) father to ensure that his son doesn’t fall victim to a racist prosecutor is by participating in his son’s life on a daily basis.

That fact needed to be shared Thursday in Jena. The constant preaching of that message would short-circuit more potential “Jena Six” cases than attributing random acts of six-on-one violence to three-month-old nooses.

And I am in no way excusing the nooses. The responsible kids should’ve been expelled. A few years after I’d graduated, a similar incident happened at my high school involving our best football player, a future NFL tight end. He was expelled.

The Jena school board foolishly overruled its principal and suspended the kids for three days.

But the kids responsible for Barker’s beating deserve to be punished. The prosecutor needed to be challenged on his excessive charges. And we as black folks need to question ourselves about why too many of us can only get energized to help our young people once they’re in harm’s way.

I’ve been the spokesman for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City for six years. Getting black men to volunteer to mentor for just two hours a week to the more than 100 black boys on a waiting list is a yearly crisis. It’s a nationwide crisis for the organization. In Kansas City, we’re lucky if we get 20 black Big Brothers a year.

You don’t want to see any more “Jena Six” cases? Love Mychal Bell before he violently breaks the law.

PNym

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Re: Thoughts on the Jena 6
« Reply #64 on: September 25, 2007, 11:42:14 PM »
That whole situation is ridiculous.  Those boys should not have been tried as adults, and that one (Marcus??) who has been sitting in prison for almost a year??  For what, a school yard fight??  And then the white boys who pretty much started everything are still going to the school.  >:(  That is sad that that situation is occuring in 2007 and what's worse is that no major news network even covered it until Michael Baisden and them got involved. 


Jumping a kid from behind doesn't really qualify as a fight in my book. Nor does giving a kid a 6-on-1 beating.

If, as it seems likely, the Jena 6 delivered the beating, they do need to be punished. Not punishing them would be morally reprehensible, and would also send the wrong message to potential lawbreakers about how the rule of law can be skirted by political pressure.

I do agree that juveniles need to be charged as juveniles, and not adults, though. It seems odd that the prosecutor would overlook such a basic issue.

PNym

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Re: Thoughts on the Jena 6
« Reply #65 on: September 25, 2007, 11:43:43 PM »
It's not just about the damned tennis shoe, or even just about the attempted murder charge. It's about all the incidents leading up to it. Even if the DA is 110% justified in this charge (which is what the discussions seems to have boiled down to) there are other things that are really troubling about the whole series of events. There are lots of things worth protesting here.

What else is worth protesting about this case?

PNym

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Re: Thoughts on the Jena 6
« Reply #66 on: September 26, 2007, 12:18:00 AM »
Have you read the rest of the thread? Or other reports of the situation? I'm not being sarcastic. I'll go and dig up the specific examples for you, but there are some good articles that have been posted so far if you actually haven't heard  anything about this other than the attempted murder charge. Alci's article seemed pretty balanced. The D.A. coming into school before there had been any violent incidents and threatening to take away the lives of certain students with "a stroke of my pen" or something to that effect is one thing that springs to mind as worth protesting.

And I don't think the D.A. "overlooked" the fact that they should be tried as juveniles.

Oh yeah, I remember hearing about the "stroke of my pen" incident. That incident also struck me as bizarre. It could be that the DA enjoys an overinflated ego, or that he was having a bad day, but either way, the Justice Department should reconsider his appointment given that a person in such a position of authority should not make those kinds of threats.

I didn't realize that people were protesting that incident, though. Most of the activist literature I've come across has demanded that the Jena 6 be let free, not that the DA should be fired for abusing his authority or mistrying the accused as adults (which, aside from being uncalled for, additionally wasted taxpayer money by requiring a retrial). Based on what I've read so far, I'm definitely NOT for allowing the Jena 6 go free.

I'll continue looking thru the thread a bit later. I've got a few things to do tonight.

PNym

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Re: Thoughts on the Jena 6
« Reply #67 on: September 26, 2007, 01:06:28 AM »
It's not just about the damned tennis shoe, or even just about the attempted murder charge. It's about all the incidents leading up to it. Even if the DA is 110% justified in this charge (which is what the discussions seems to have boiled down to) there are other things that are really troubling about the whole series of events. There are lots of things worth protesting here.

What else is worth protesting about this case?

Have you read the rest of the thread? Or other reports of the situation? I'm not being sarcastic. I'll go and dig up the specific examples for you, but there are some good articles that have been posted so far if you actually haven't heard  anything about this other than the attempted murder charge. Alci's article seemed pretty balanced. The D.A. coming into school before there had been any violent incidents and threatening to take away the lives of certain students with "a stroke of my pen" or something to that effect is one thing that springs to mind as worth protesting.

And I don't think the D.A. "overlooked" the fact that they should be tried as juveniles.

Hey! This thread was actually a pretty informative read. I had expected the 5 pages to be full of self-aggrandizing displays of righteousness, but instead was blessed with an opportunity to learn from a measured discussiono.

I'd be interested to hear the evidence of the DA acting in bad faith not yet reported that Miss P is compiling for her project.

Prosecutorial overzealousness beyond what is reasonably supported by the facts is certainly a threat to the legal system.

t...

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Re: Thoughts on the Jena 6
« Reply #68 on: September 26, 2007, 01:24:49 AM »
Though I don't much agree with Whitlock, nor the first part of this statement, I do think it is a powerful message:

"You don’t want to see any more “Jena Six” cases? Love Mychal Bell before he violently breaks the law."
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Cady on October 16, 2007, 10:41:52 PM

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Huey on February 07, 2007, 11:15:32 PM

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Burning Sands, Esq.

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Re: Thoughts on the Jena 6
« Reply #69 on: September 26, 2007, 01:47:06 AM »
OK, the official Burning-Sands-clearly-needs-to-start-working-at-the-firm-because-he-has-too-much-time-on-his-hands brief.  My 2 cents worth of analysis on the aforementioned Jena 6 issue.  I woulda kicked it out sooner but I had to go catch a drink with the fellas.  Note to self, don't drink and do legal research!

Long story short, looks like both Miss P and Credo were right.  You can infer intent for attempted murder, but not in this case.

enjoy:

ISSUE:

The question presented is whether intent can be inferred from attendant circumstances and/or probable consequences for the charge of Attempted Murder where 6 high school students attacked another high school student with their hands and feet while wearing tennis shoes.

RULE:

The general rule for attempted murder in most, if not all, jurisdictions throughout the United States requires two elements: (i) a specific intent to commit murder, and (ii) an overt act in furtherance of that object.  People v. Acero, 161 Cal.App.3d 217, 224 (Cal. App. 4th 1985); People v. Rice, 505 N.Y.S.2d 726, 726 (N.Y. App. Div. 2d 1986); Holman v. State, 680 S.W.2d 894, 896 (Tex.App. 1 Dist. 1984).  With respect to the intent element, a number of states have explicitly held that intent may not be inferred or presumed from the circumstances.  See People v. Snyder, 15 Cal.2d 706, 708-709 (1940) (holding that the specific intent required for attempted murder must be proved by the evidence and may not be presumed); see also People v. Walker, 61 Ill.App.3d 891, 896 (Ill. App. 2d Dist. 1978) (finding reversible error for attempted murder charge where jury was allowed to infer intent for attempted murder even if they believed the defendant only had the intent to do great bodily harm); see also Graves v. State, 82 Nev. 137, 142 (1966) (holding that the specific intent to kill may not be based upon a presumption).  Conversely, a number of states, including Louisiana, have allowed specific intent to be inferred or rebuttably presumed from particular circumstances reasonably indicating the defendant's intent to kill.  See Free v. State, 495 So.2d 1147, 1159 (Ala. Crim. App. 1986) (finding evidence was sufficient to demonstrate that defendant had requisite specific intent to commit murder and attempted murder rather than mere general intent to shoot at passing cars, where location of bullet entry points in vehicles indicated intent to strike occupants therein, which was supported by fact that one person was killed and another was wounded); see also State v. Sanders, 742 So.2d 1009, 1013-14 (La. Ct. App. 5th Cir. 1999) (holding that intent for attempted first-degree murder could be inferred from firing seven shots at a police car and almost hitting the police officer); see also People v. Skian, 585 N.Y.S.2d 206, (N.Y. App. Div. 1st 1992) (holding that evidence in attempted murder prosecution was sufficient to allow jury to infer that defendant intended to cause victim's death when he repeatedly stabbed victim in chest, back, abdomen, side and shoulder, even absent express declaration on defendant's part that he intended to kill victim).

ANALYSIS:

The Louisiana courts have allowed specific intent for attempted murder to be inferred from the circumstances surrounding a defendant's actions.  State v. Graham, 420 So.2d 1126 (La. 1982); State v. Boyer, 406 So.2d 143 (La. 1981).  However, it is notable to observe that even though the use of a "dangerous weapon"1 is not essential to the charge of attempted murder,2 the Louisiana courts have consistently found such an inference reasonable only when a "dangerous weapon" is used.  See Sanders, 742 So.2d at 1013-14 (finding that intent for attempted first-degree murder could be inferred from firing several shots from a gun at a police officer); see also State v. Scoby, 536 So.2d 615, 621 (La. Ct. App. 1st Cir. 1988), writ denied, 540 So.2d 339 (La. 1989) (finding that intent for second-degree attempted murder could be inferred from evidence that defendant stabbed the victim with a butcher knife while the victim was lying on the ground, pursued the victim as he attempted to flee, and that the victim suffered life-threatening injuries requiring medical attention); see also State v. Cushman, 481 So.2d 1376, 1378, 1380 (La. Ct. App. 5 Cir. 1986.) (finding that intent for attempted second-degree murder could be inferred from repeated beating of victim's skull with an iron pipe); see also State v. Latiolais, 453 So.2d 1266, 1267, 1269 (La. Ct. App. 3d Cir. 1984) (finding that intent for attempted second-degree murder could be inferred from stabbing the victim several times with a screwdriver). 

Likewise, the Louisiana courts have consistently held defendants guilty of battery (not attempted murder) where no deadly weapon was used during an assault.  See State v. Garner, 913 So.2d 874, 877 (La. Ct. App. 2d Cir. 2005) (noting that second-degree battery was the appropriate charge for defendant where no weapons were used during fight); see also State v. Scott, 836 So.2d 1180 (La. Ct. App. 2d Cir. 2003) (charging defendant in a school yard fight with second-degree battery where defendant beat victim in the head with his fists and elbows until victim was unconscious). 

It is most important to observe that the Louisiana courts have refused to infer the intent required for first or second-degree attempted murder if the evidence shows that the defendant only intended to cause bodily harm to the victim3 even when a deadly weapon is used.  See State v. Butler, 322 So.2d 189 (La. 1975); see also State v. Guin, 444 So.2d 625 (La. Ct. App. 3d Cir. 1983); see also State v. Linear, 600 So.2d 113 (La. Ct. App. 2d Cir. 1992).  The Louisiana courts have thus held that "a specific intent to inflict great bodily harm is sufficient to find a defendant guilty of murder if the victim dies, but is not sufficient to find him guilty of the attempt if the victim survives."  Latiolais, 453 So.2d at 1268.  "In such a case, the defendant's intent to inflict great bodily harm would be sufficient only to find him guilty of a battery.”  Id.  Furthermore, although "specific intent to inflict great bodily harm may support a murder conviction, attempted murder requires a specific intent to kill." State v. Holmes, 653 So.2d 642, 645 (La. Ct. App. 5th Cir. 1995).

In the instant case, on December 4, 2006, 17-year-old white Jena High School student Justin Barker was assaulted at school.4  He was struck on the back of the head and knocked down by a black student. Id. According to some witnesses, a group of black students then repeatedly kicked him.  Id. A doctor treated Barker, who was left unconscious after the attack, at the local hospital.5 He was released after two hours of treatment and observation for a concussion and an eye that had swollen shut. Id. The emergency physician's record shows that he also had injuries to his face, ears and hand. Id. He was able to attend his school's Ring ceremony that evening. Id.  The instant case did not involve an assault with a dangerous weapon6 as recognized by Louisiana's attempted murder cases, nor did it provide circumstances where death would be the natural or probable result.  Therefore, although intent for attempted murder may be inferred under Louisiana law in certain circumstances, the facts of this case do not warrant such an inferrence.

CONCLUSION:

The defendants in the instant case have assaulted the victim without the use of a gun, knife, screwdriver, iron pipe, sharp object, blunt object, or any other type of weapon that allows the trier of fact to infer the intent to kill under Louisiana law.   The defendants have, however, assaulted the victim with their bare hands and feet while they were wearing tennis shoes.  Since Louisiana has been clear that this type of an assault warrants the charge of battery, it is contrary to Louisiana law to find an inference for the intent to kill under the given circumstances.

----

FN1. "Dangerous Weapon" is defined as any gas, liquid or other substance or instrumentality, which, in the manner used, is calculated or likely to produce death or great bodily harm.  La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14:2

FN2. State v. Roberts, 213 La. 559, 563 (1948).

FN3. "Since death is not the natural or probable result of a blow with the hand, it seems that no intent to kill will, under ordinary circumstances, be inferred."  Inference of Malice or Intent to Kill where Killing is by Blow Without Weapon, 22 A.L.R.2d 854, § 2 (1952).

FN4. Gretel C. Kovach and Arian Campo-Flores,A Town In Turmoil, Newsweek, Sept. 20, 2007.

FN5. Darryl Fears,La. Town Fells 'White Tree,' but Tension Runs Deep, The Washington Post, Aug. 4 2007.

FN6. Although the District Attorney cited the shoes worn by the Jena 6 as "dangerous weapons", the Louisiana case law does not support a charge of attempted murder where the "dangerous weapon" is a tennis shoe.  See State v. Munoz, 575 So.2d 848, 850 (La. Ct. App. 5th Cir. 1991) (holding that Rubber-soled tennis shoe which defendant was wearing when he kicked his victim in the head so forcefully that impact lifted victim's body off ground constituted a “dangerous weapon” for purposes of committing aggravated battery) (emphasis added). Therefore, the instant case is clearly distinguishable from Louisiana's attempted murder cases, and falls in line more so with its battery cases.
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