Signs of Hope from the Legal System?

Sam Walton and Daniel Woodhouse broke into a BAE Systems factory, intending to damage and thereby disable Typhoon fighter jets which were destined to be delivered to Saudi Arabia to assist in its brutal war in Yemen. The two were unfortunately detained by security before they could reach the aircraft, and then arrested and put on trial for “criminal damage.”

They were permitted to present a “necessity” defense, and presented evidence about Saudi war crimes in court. As a result, the judge found them not guilty.

It has proven much harder to present a necessity defense in American courts, and so you rarely hear stories like this in the U.S. However, there are some signs that juries are becoming willing to push back against the American legal system’s persistent attempts to turn them into a panel of twelve rubber stamps.

For example, the trials of the Bundy Ranch rebels have been extraordinarily frustrating for the government. Most recently, a jury returned exactly zero guilty verdicts on the many charges against four defendants. This was only one of a series of losses in court by prosecutors in these cases.

In other news…

  • In , an audit of IRS hiring practices found that 800 of the 7,000 employees the agency had rehired in had prior conduct or performance issues when working with the agency. “In response, the agency agreed to fully consider such issues in the hiring process and Congress later enacted a law imposing that as a requirement.” The agency was recently reaudited, and… “about 200 of the some 2,000 former employees rehired in had such issues.” Old habits die hard.
  • Erica Leigh, at NWTRCC’s blog, continues to advocate for the war tax resistance movement expanding its focus. This time she highlights divestment from the prison system as another good reason to resist taxes.
  • Mary M. McGlone meditates on the “Render Unto Caesar” koan at the National Catholic Reporter, and determines that “What we owe to God is a blank check.”