Case Study: analysis of the Civil Court System

Pages: 6 (2143 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Law  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] The White-American ex-cop captured on camera fatally shooting a weaponless African-American citizen when his back was turned following a traffic stop in 2015 was awarded a 20-year prison sentence for civil rights violation. The judge was in agreement with the prosecutors’ claim that Slager displayed underhandedness and malevolence. The defense’s claims that the defendant’s actions took place in the ‘heat of passion’ and that Scott provoked him were rejected (Lacour 2017).

Discuss whether or not you believe that the outcome of the case was justified. Provide a rationale for the response.

Slager was accused of murder in June of 2015. The trial commenced in November of the following year, with the jury failing to reach a unanimous decision by December. Interviews of jury members reveal a 10-2 or 11-1 split for conviction for the lesser-included manslaughter offense, at the very least. According to the lone African-American jury member, its foreman, one member plainly refused to convict him of anything, and when requested to elaborate, stated, “I’ll leave it at that.” The shadow of race hung conspicuously over every aspect of the case, including the fatal confrontation, the jury’s discussions, and the trial. The case at the state level was pending, but the federal court found Slager guilty of civil rights violation (18 U.S.C. section 242) obstructing justice (18 U.S.C. section 1512) and perpetrating a violent crime using a weapon (18 U.S.C. section 924). The case at the federal level was on hold until the state verdict (Mason 2017). 

A ‘hung jury’ case results in the court declaring a mistrial, followed by ordering a retrial. A majority of observers believed Slager would be retried and sentenced; after all, the camera captures him shooting Scott 5 times when his back was turned, from a distance of 50 feet. Instead, the State completely dismissed the case when Slager pled guilty to the lesser civil rights violation charge at the federal level.

In my opinion, the government’s decision to dismiss the murder charge at the state level, and the gun and obstruction charges at the federal level, is not justified; another unjustifiable element is its failure to get the defense’s agreement regarding the parameters for calculating the sentence. Additionally, the plea agreement’s “factual basis” part utterly fails to mention ‘men’s rea’, except when stating that Slager intended “to do something that the law forbids.” It fails to admit that the intent was taking Scott’s life. Further, the provision necessitating state dismissal of murder charges is simply bizarre as the state doesn’t participate in the case at the federal level and the state’s case dismissal is not linked to any legal federal benefit or interest (Mason 2017). Finally, with clear proof of murder and within the context of a community that mistrusts law enforcers, it is alarming that the State accepted the defendant’s plea agreement. The above arguments support my stance that the case outcome was unjustified.

References

Charleston C. (2016). Former South Carolina cop faces federal charges in death of unarmed black motorist. Retrieved April 7, 2018 from http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-south-carolina-police-shooting-20160511-story.html

Cook III, J. A. (2015). Policing in the Era of Permissiveness: Mitigating Misconduct Through Third-Party Standing. Brook. L. Rev., 81, 1121.

Lacour G., (2017). Michael Slager sentenced to 20 years in prison for fatal shooting of Walter Scott https://www.aol.com/article/news/2017/12/07/michael-slager-sentenced-to-20-years-in-prison-for-fatal-shooting-of-walter-scott/23300297/

Manno A., (2018). Judge releases 57-page order explaining former NCPD officer Michael Slager\'s 20-year sentence. Retrieved 7 April 7, 2018 from https://theconservativetreehouse.com/2016/05/11/proactive-dept-of-justice-files-federal-charges-against-officer-michael-slager/comment-page-1/

Mason C., (2017). Why Did South Carolina Punt on the Slager Case? Retrieved April 7, 2018 from https://thecrimereport.org/2017/05/08/why-did-south-carolina-punt-on-the-slager-case/

Savage a. & Kent S. (2017). Motion to Dismiss the Indictment on the Grounds of Double Jeopardy, Due Process, and Cruel and Unusual Punishment. Retrieved 07 April 7, 2018 from https://www.courthousenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/SLAGER-MOTION-to-DISMISS.pdf [END OF PREVIEW]

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https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/analysis-civil-court-system/2133456.