United States, Fred Cook, Michael Tigar discussed on Law and Disorder
And yet there's limited access you certain portions of the spectrum on which you can broadcast, and if you allow to people to get in that same spot on the spectrum of radio waves, there's just confusion and gobbledygook. So as a condition for allowing people to use this public resource called the airwaves, the FCC mandated that you had to be fair. If you're broadcast a personal attack against somebody. You had to give that somebody an opportunity to get on on the air and to. Rebuttal that will broadcasters. They took the position. No, we own the hardware. We're sitting in a studio right now, we own the hardware because we own the hardware. We should be able to control exclusively. What goes out over the airwaves? Well, this got litigated actually and supreme court in the nineteen fifties. And sixties was quite happy to enforce the fairness doctrine and a guy named Fred cook. Those who those of us who are our age. Remember, Fred cooked. Crusading journalist who exposed the misdeeds of the FBI and the other intelligence agencies. He was attacked on the radio radio station owned by red lion. Broadcasting by the Reverend Billy James Harkess. Now, Reverend James was a famous, man. I wish my friend, our friend. Mike Meyerson was here. He did a better imitation than I could do. But Reverend better James had started a a college in Oklahoma. He had inveighed against communism. He said ninety miles off the coast of the United States is a communist satellite, and the communist leader of the communist statellite, his Fido, Castro Khrushchev's little puppy dog and Billy James, so Billy James attack. Fred cook. And Fred cook wanted to rebut and the station wouldn't let him and it went all the way to the supreme court in a case called red lion. Broadcasting had vindicated his rights, and of course, Billy James came to a bad end. You've got tax difficulties with his colleges. And there was even a story a reliable story that he had performed a wedding ceremony for a different man and a woman and then had sex with both of them on their wedding night. But we don't know whether they each got equal time. So that's but broadcasters campaigned against the fairness doctrine relentlessly. And finally it was abolished during. The Reagan administration. So once again, we own the microphones, and we own the towers, and therefore we own the right to determine what goes on. And what doesn't let's talk about the American phenomena of mass incarceration, you right? That's it is really a form of social control. What is with the United States incarcerates five to seven times as many people as a percentage of population than any comparable country almost any country in the world. And now when we start to break down, those figures, we can see how horrific this is on the supreme court has recently decided a case on this topic, but several years ago United States had more people serving life without parole for crimes committed before they were eighteen than any country in the world. We had twenty five hundred overwhelmingly people of color are disproportionately represented in the. Those who are incarcerated and they are being incarcerated based on selective prosecution. Selective again based on color the result. Of course of these prosecutions is that if they live in public housing, they get kicked out of the process of marginalisation goes on and on many states deny convicted persons the right to vote, even if they've served their time and been rebuilt rehabilitated. So this the yes, this is an instrument of social control, the United States of America uses the criminal law against poor people and people of color to an extent unheard of in all the rest of the world. And that's not an adverse moment for the so-called criminal Justice systems and the rest of the world, I've looked at some of them. But it is it is the fact really warehousing people that this capitalist economy has no room for they have no jobs for got no place for us. So they put them in cages and and. When you say cages, you this. I cannot tell you, I'm you know, how very true that is my son was a state court trial. Judge on a case about the conditions of incarceration of juvenile's in California is now a federal court judge in a long-running federal case about healthcare in the prison system in California, the conditions under which folks are held in this society of mass incarceration for the purpose of social control guarantees that when they get out they are not prepared to resume their roles as useful citizens. We're speaking with Michael Tigar, Michael has one of the great human rights lawyers of our generation, and he's written his fifteenth book mythologies of state monopoly power. It's really one of my favorites. I urge everybody a monthly review published it I got to the monthly review website and get this book. It's short book, but it's just a life older, Rita and your. Learn something from it mythologies of state and monopoly power, Michael. Let's talk about the myth of a fair trial. Lenny Bruce used to quip in Hawes of Justice. The only Justice you're going to find his in the halls. Let's talk about fair trial myth and plea bargaining, which is what's accomplished in the halls. You know, I I started practicing law in nineteen sixty six and shortly thereafter was sixty seven sixty eight to Columbia University citizen uprising Jong happened. I my firm asked me to come up and represented Colombia student, and so there I was as a young lawyer, very young. And I went two hundred center street in New York, which is where the criminal courts were. I've been there since they've repainted it. But here was a place the palace of Justice the place that called itself Justice, and I stepped in. And there was the bench. All the wood was cracked and peeling and so on and the American flag was covered with a plastic bag to protect it put the bag had become yellow and glut of grime and grit and on the back on the wall and incomplete set of aluminum letters proclaimed in God, we rust, and I knew that I was not in a place where I we could expect anything that remotely approach Justice. The only thing that that meant that we were going to get what we thought would be Justice is that after all there were a whole lot of cases and these were students from Columbia after all students fairly privileged backgrounds and the prosecutors didn't wanna waste too much time with him. Good lawyers had showed up so we made kind of a bargain, but then you look at the process more than ninety percent of people who are charged with crime, they plead guilty to something. You've had Angela Jordan Davis on to talk about this ineffective assistance of counsel counsel. Not taking the time even lawyers that one. Want to do a good job not being paid enough to really investigate the cases. So people being shoveled through this system. Judges are not taking the time to study the backgrounds of the defendant to decide an appropriate punishment. If any, and of course, it just we talked about just a moment ago, the prisons that are available to which people can be sent are horrified by anybody's standards. This is the case throughout throughout the United States. Then you say we ash and is placed on the plea bargain. Warps? Here comes our capitalist friend the great of contract to solve the problem of an overcrowded criminal Justice system. We will just offer defendants a bargain, and in the bargain, they will agree formalist in some formalistic way to give up all the rights to have their case investigated their case tried so forth. And so on. And they'll plead guilty. And then they'll be sentenced and one of the essays in the book is about an iconic. Plea bargain case guiding Brady he pleads guilty under the federal kidnapping act. And the reason he pleads guilty is that if he'd gone to trial and been convicted he could have got the death penalty. So he's serving his sentence about a decade later the supreme court declares the federal kidnapping act death penalty unconstitutional. So that he was his bargain to plead guilty was in fact, induced by his fear of suffering unconstitutional death penalty, surely the courts will understand that. That can't be what free bargain me what? Yes, it could the supreme court of the United States said, no, no, no, he he he pleaded guilty. And he took all the risk and the opinions by Justice white. I hope you'll read the essay in the book. I give a preview. Justice white says, that's that's part of your bargain. Was it happened? A couple of years after that case was decided I saw just as white on an airplane, and he was very upset because he did not get the special meal he had ordered. And I didn't have the courage of the whip to step up to just as white you agreed to get on the airplane. You must have agreed therefore as a matter of contract to accept all of the indignities discomfort and inconvenience of modern air travel, and after all, sir. It isn't really a matter of life or death. Now is it, but I didn't have the courage to say. Mythologies of state and monopoly power by Michael Tigar monthly review press, a really wonderful book. I urge everybody to read it. You don't have to go to law school just read this book, Michael this is a matter of fact, I had started doing blog posts about some things that occurred to me mythologies as it were were trying to emulate the style of Roland boasts, the great French writer who published a book called mythologies, which is the same title in French and English ought to get a copy. That's a great book. And I was walking with my friend John Major who works at monthly review about a year ago little more than a year ago. And he said, you know, these these little essays seemed to organize themselves into subject better areas. Why don't you collect goes? Right. A few more. So you fill it out and make a book. So that's what happened, and I meant it when I said, it was just it's funny to say this, but it was fun. It was kind of interesting too. Look at things in this way. This is the way people should look at things, but every educational institution in this country conspires to not let you look at it this way, and that's why people should read mythologies of state monopoly power this generation of law. Students wants to bust these mythologies they would like to have clinical legal education programs other opportunities to get out there and do this work. So. Don't mourn organize. What is your blog? I haven't posted lately because will work on the book. But it's there you can if you if you like this. There's a lot more for free. It's called TIGA R B Y T E S tiger bites. And if you just put in tiger bites then somehow Google, and it's magic will lead you there. Let's talk about the role of lawyers, which is an important role. But I believe in role in the end, you're right that lawyers provide outcomes, but not solutions outcomes. And then most centrally what happens below in society will what you say will settle the matter. What's the relationship between the role of lawyers and social change? I once wrote in a play a portion of which was reenacted last week at Texas, Lucy Parsons, the anarchist leader saying to Clarence Darrow, your lawyers ego makes you think you stand at the center of all the events by which the world has moved your right to standards only because some person has had the courage to stand up. There's been attacked by the government point is this. We had you may remember I certainly do in the nineteen fifties. And sixties, we some lawyers some lawyers believed that..