The American system of justice, once the envy of the world, is devolving into a corrupt tool of retribution for the interests of established power. The Obama Administration is using the federal courts to wage a war of intimidation against whistle-blowers, leakers, and journalists. The agri-giant Monsanto is using state courts to prosecute local farmers over highly questionable seed patent infringements. But, the unethical misuse of the judicial system is not confined to the federal government or large corporations. The following examples show just how pervasive this problem has become.
A Texas jury acquitted a man for the murder of a woman he hired as an escort, after his lawyers claimed he was authorized to use deadly force because she refused sex.
Ezekiel Gilbert shot Lenora Ivie Frago in the neck on Christmas Eve, after she denied his requests for sex and wouldn’t return the $150 he had paid her, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Under Texas law, an individual is authorized to use deadly force to “retrieve stolen property at night,” and Gilbert’s lawyers cited that provision as justification for Gilbert’s action, reasoning that Frago had stolen $150 from him by taking his money without delivering sex. In a police interview played for jurors, Gilbert “never mentioned anything about theft,” a detective told the San Antonio Express-News. Frago, who was 21, was critically injured and died several months later.
While the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida has generated notoriety for NRA-backed Stand Your Ground laws, which authorize the unfettered use of deadly force without a duty to retreat in defense of one’s person or home, Texas’ exceedingly broad law goes well beyond this, to allow deadly force in protection of any piece of “tangible” or “movable” property.
The Steubenville rape case, in which two high school football players were convicted of sexually assaulting a young girl at a party, helped spark a national conversation about consent, victim-blaming, and rape culture. The case gained national attention after the “hacktivist” group Anonymous leaked significant social media evidence implicating the assailants — including tweets, Instagram photos, and a 12-minute video of Steubenville high schoolers joking about the rape. But it turns out that working to expose those rapists may land one Anonymous hacker more time in prison than the rapists themselves will serve.
As Mother Jones reports, 26-year-old Deric Lostutter — who has been known as “KYAnonymous” throughout his role in the Steubenville rape case — could face up to 10 years of jail time if he’s convicted of hacking-related crimes. The FBI raided Losuetter’s home in April. The internet hacker told Mother Jones that he believes the FBI investigation was motivated by Stebenville officials who want to send Lostutter a clear message: You shouldn’t have gotten involved.