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Hakes: Trump Jury Has a Chance to Restore Battered Lady Justice

presidency judicial system press conference in the empire state

Former U.S. President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke to the press at the end of the day's proceedings in his trial at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City, on May 21, 2024. (Michael M. Santiago/Pool/ AFP via Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 23 May 2024 10:17 AM EDT


(Editor's Note: The following opinion column does not respresent an endorsement of any political party or candidate on the part of Newsmax.) 

Since the late 18th century, the United States Constitution has provided such bedrock legal protections as due process, freedom from unreasonable search or seizure, the right to trial by jury, and the right to confront one’s accusers.

These concepts were enshrined in our Bill of Rights and our entire justice system rests upon the idea that one is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

These critical precepts are all symbolized by Lady Justice, commonly depicted blindfolded and carrying a scale and a sword.

The blindfold means justice is never based on who you are, but rather, on what you’ve done. She is supposed to symbolize the components of the justice system, including an unbiased jury, that weighs evidence brought by professional prosecutors, who swear an oath to do their job "without fear or favor."

Partisan politics are anathema to this fair system of justice but Democrats are increasingly using the justice system in a way that reminds me of some of the worst excesses of England’s King George that caused our founding fathers to risk their "lives . . . fortunes and . . . sacred honor" to declare independence from England.

Last year former President Donald J. Trump was indicted in New York City to much fanfare. The indictment charged our nation's 45th commander in chief with multiple counts of falsifying business records to conceal another crime.

The records related to a 2016 non-disclosure agreement Trump’s lawyer negotiated with porn star Stormy Daniels.

If convicted, Trump could be sentenced to years behind bars.

It was historic, this indictment of a former president.

Surely, then, the case is rock solid with overwhelming evidence of the former president’s guilt. No sane or ethical prosecutor would charge a case without such evidence.

Or would they?

Enter Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

While the Democrats rejoiced in the possibility of Trump behind bars, clear eyed experts dug into the indictment.

And what they noticed should have been a glaring caution sign for prosecution cheerleaders. The case rested upon misdemeanor business records violations that were time barred and could not be brought by the time 2023 rolled around.

So Mr. Bragg bootstrapped a mystery felony into the indictment.

But, in shocking disregard for laws protecting defendants from trial by ambush (star chamber-like trials were part of King George’s excesses, noted above) Bragg declined to name the felony that supposedly protects the indictment from being time barred.

A small-town assistant district attorney I worked with in Columbus, Georgia used to say "if you can’t win showing all your cards, you shouldn’t be playing."

This down-home expression of ethics is a hallmark of the public prosecutor.

Or, it should be. Nevertheless, with the fatally flawed indictment as the framework of the mystery case against Trump, the trial began and legal experts waited for the proof that would surely be revealed of the felony crime the former president committed.

And kept waiting.

Because evidence of guilt, evidence that overcomes that fundamental protection of innocent until proven guilty, never came.

After seeing the entirety of Bragg’s case its shocking partisan political nature is blindingly clear. Bragg never presented evidence the former president committed any crime, including the one listed in the indictment.

Instead, he called witness after witness who only seemed to have evidence that Trump’s convicted felon lawyer signed a contract with Stormy Daniels to keep her from going public with her lurid allegations about an affair.

Tawdry, yes.

Criminal, no.

Stormy herself took the stand, speaking of lurid.

Her testimony, the same kind of bad character evidence that caused a reversal in the Harvey Weinstein case just a few weeks ago, would have never been allowed, or would have been severely limited in scope; that is, if the Judge overseeing this legal farce was doing his job.

But he, like Bragg, is a Democrat, with overtly partisan Democratic connections.

And so Stormy, in testimony that contradicted her proud prior statements about, er . . . let’s call it subjugating Donald Trump, dramatically expounded on how she was victimized, shaking, and blacking out after her sexual encounter with Trump nearly two decades ago.

The media swooned. And Lady Justice’s blindfold slipped.

Then Michael Cohen, the lynchpin of Bragg’s mystery felony case, took the stand.

The court was told he was the state’s last witness.

This despite not a single witness yet providing a shred of evidence of the guilt of the former president. Hanging their entire (mystery) case on disreputable convicted felon Cohen was the final revelation to anyone paying attention that this entire case is like the emperor with no clothes.

Only this isn’t a fairy tale, it's a deadly serious assault on a system of justice that has served us well since the late 18th century.

But Democrats are determined to rip off Lady Justice’s blindfold and have her wield her sword not against violent criminals, but against a political opponent named Trump.

The New York jury has a chance to restore that blindfold and shore up a weakened justice system. But be assured, if this banana republic style scheme works, it will be rolled out time and time again.

And then Lady Justice will be broken. For good.

Francey Hakes is a former state and federal prosecutor and is co-host of the true crime podcast “Best Case Worst Case.”

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

A small-town assistant district attorney I worked with in Columbus, Georgia used to say "if you can’t win showing all your cards, you shouldn’t be playing." This down-home expression of ethics is a hallmark of the public prosecutor. Or, it should be.
bragg, daniels, democrat
Thursday, 23 May 2024 10:17 AM
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