Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Fallout from the Zarate verdict

Photo: Paul Chinn

Heather Knight quotes
District Attorney Gascon in today's Chronicle:

“The first thing that came to mind wasn’t that we lost the case,” Gascón said in an interview Monday. “It was how horrendous this is for the Steinle family and what they must be going through.”

Bullshit. Steinle's family had a more nuanced reaction. They weren't interested in a vindictive verdict, which wouldn't have brought Kate Steinle back. They will be "going through" that loss for the rest of their lives.

For once I agree with Willie Brown:

The person we elect as district attorney should show his face when things go wrong and explain what happened. But District Attorney George Gascón didn’t go public the night of the verdict, instead leaving it to his spokesman to offer that the outcome “was not the one we were hoping for.” No kidding.

I can't remember agreeing with Tim Redmond, who actually attended the trial, about anything, but he gets it right here (Growing chorus agrees Gascon bungled the Zarate case):

This case was never about whether her death was tragic. It was about whether the district attorney should have charged an undocumented immigrant who has no history of violence with murder when the evidence suggested he picked up a gun that went off by mistake. The jury made it pretty clear that the evidence wasn’t there.

Interesting that Matier and Ross, who were not there for most of the trial, have come around to my perspective (as usual, without credit to 48hills). Same goes for Willie Brown, who noted:

"The prosecution’s case was a classic instance of a district attorney overcharging a crime, and in the process alienating the jury. By asking for a first-degree conviction, prosecutors upped the bar of proof and the chances of the whole case falling apart. There was precious little evidence that Garcia Zarate committed premeditated murder, and by raising that bar, prosecutors undercut their credibility with the jury."

Gascon also overcharged Ross Mirkarimi: D.A.'s attempt to destroy Mirkarimi continues. See also George Gascon for a recap of some of the lowlights of his career here in San Francisco.

See also I Saw the Kate Steinle Murder Trial Up Close. The Jury Didn’t Botch It.

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How big is the far right?


From Tablet:

...First, the American appetite for right-wing extremism has always been relatively small. Citing survey data gathered in 2013 by the highly respected Pew Research Center, Devin Burghart reports that only 0.14 percent of Americans (i.e., 14 for every 1000 citizens) admitted to being dues-paying members of the tea party, the most newsworthy radical-right grouping of our era. He estimates the number of “sympathizers” varies anywhere from 20 percent to 40 percent of the public depending on the crisis of the moment, and that active supporters (as indicated by Facebook “likes”) compose just 2 percent. 

Continuing a pattern that goes back at least six decades, the large majority of tea-partiers are white males from the sparsely populated states of Alaska (No. 1 in terms of per-capita membership), Montana (No. 2), Wyoming (No. 3), and Idaho (No. 4). This comports exactly with data gathered in the 1980s on the per-capita number of right-wing extremist headquarters by state.

Second, whatever its reputed size, American right-wing extremism is a cyclical phenomenon. In other words, while there has never been a time without government-bashing bigots and racists, there are definite moments when this sentiment captures the popular imagination. But just as quickly, it dissipates like morning fog. Without being overly mechanical about it, these upsurges seem to occur about once every 30 years or so...

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