“Hear me now, oh, thou bleak and unbearable world
Thou art base and debauched as can be
And a knight with his banners all bravely unfurled
Now hurls down his gauntlet to thee!
Hear me, heathens and wizards and serpents of sin
All your dastardly doings are past
For a holy endeavor is now to begin
And virtue shall triumph at last!”
So proclaimed Don Quixote. (Not the Don Quixote of Cervantes, but rather Don Quixote of the musical Man of La Mancha… but a rallying cry nonetheless.)
Years ago I was defending a client who was being prosecuted for a series of offenses. One of them was a firearms related offense, and I was brought into that defense specifically to combat the weapons charges. The issue was not the relative guilt of the client as it related to the other charges against him… The issue was a Fourth Amendment violation specific to the firearms charge. After we got that count dismissed, I was asked by one of the DAs participating in the case in a somewhat snarky and rhetorical manner, “Why, as an academic, would I represent a criminal”?
I turned to her and told her the following:
“I represent the Constitution of the United States, and by extension The People. You represent the State. The client here at counsel table is merely an unintended beneficiary of my defense of the Constitution.”
I feel that still holds true, but there has been a shift recently, and to say it is a troubling shift would lessen the magnitude. It is a shift that represents an existential threat to America itself.
Many of you might have heard about Sgt. Daniel Perry in Texas. Sgt. Perry was acting as an Uber driver during the pre-election purge events and found himself surrounded by Antifa protesters. One of the protesters was armed with an AR-15 and made the fatal mistake of pointing the gun at Sgt. Perry. (Sgt. Perry was blocked in by a swarm of Antifa that had surrounded his car and were pounding on the hood and roof. Sgt. Perry was also legally armed at the time). When he saw the AR-15 muzzle being pointed at him he engaged the putative shooter with his handgun. This caused the potential assailant to shuffle off his mortal coil, and the rest of the Antifa horde to flee. Sgt. Perry drove a block or so away and called 911. He was subsequently indicted, prosecuted, and found guilty of the crime of “defending yourself”.
You may have seen the story of Joseph Alba, a Bodega owner in New York, who had the Sword of Damocles hanging over his head until DA Alvin Bragg (yeah… that Alvin Bragg) finally admitted he could not get a murder conviction against him for defending his life from a thug.
On a more farcical level, we saw the McCloskeys in St. Louis having their livelihood and liberty put in jeopardy because they had the temerity to take up arms against an advancing army.
And then there is another case at bar… one that I am currently litigating.
I don’t like talking (or writing) about a case that is currently in litigation, for obvious reasons. I am going to refrain from mentioning the defendant’s name, and all of the specific events surrounding the incident, but the very fact that my client is on trial to begin with speaks to the political and ideological shift I mentioned earlier that threatens the core underpinnings of our Union.
Our client is on trial for defending herself against a criminal assault.
This is not hyperbole.
That is literally the gravamen of the case. She was involved in a minor fender bender on the freeway, and was subsequently chased down by a total of three cars. She was absolutely terrified as they tried to cut her off and block her from escaping. After evading them for over three miles, she came to a location secured by a guard shack and a guard. She pulled into the area, rolled down her window and screamed at the guard to let her in, that she was being chased. Before the guard could act, the chase vehicles came in behind her, and the driver of one of the cars (not the one that was involved in the accident) rushed up to her car and began pounding on the roof and reaching inside to open her door. (I should tell you that our client is 67 years old, and this “gentleman” is in his early twenties.) Fearing that she was about to be dragged from her car and criminally assaulted, she shot her attacker one time in the stomach (he survived).
The Los Angeles District Attorney made the decision to prosecute her.
We associated in a third defense attorney to assist us on this case. Last week we were sitting in his conference room and he looked at me and in an exasperated voice asked me, “What is the district attorney’s office doing prosecuting this case in the first place? They should be going after the thugs who chased her down.”
I looked at him and said, “Bruce, the District Attorney’s office is simply doing what they need to do to satisfy the needs of their constituents.”
“Their constituents? Our client is one of their constituents!”
“No, Bruce, she is not. Their constituents are now the criminals of Los Angeles.”
We both stared at each other for a few seconds and his eyes lowered to the conference table.
“Yes, yes they are, and God help us all.”
There has been such a disconnect over the last couple of years, and such a yearning for a rational explanation to the tectonic shift that has occurred in our society. What must the underlying motivations be for the governing class? Surely, the political subject matter experts in the temples of democracy must know what they are doing! What is the endgame?
The reality is pathetically simple.
We are the enemy.
The virtuous have become the marginalized, and the once marginalized sometimes are criminals. One part of the government seeks a shift of capital from one group to another, while prosecutorial agencies seek to criminalize victims and beatify criminals.
The single most immediate threat a criminal faces is not from law enforcement (not by a long shot). The single most immediate threat is from citizens who have the power (through sheer strength or the possession of a weapon) to thwart the criminal intentions of their attacker.
To protect their constituents… the criminals… these agents of the State, have no other choice. They must criminalize self-defense pure and simple.
Some District Attorneys (Todd Spitzer in Orange County for example) will have none of this nonsense.
Others, like Gascon in Los Angeles and Bragg in New York, relish the opportunity to engage in this nonsensical theatre in the name of “restorative justice”.
The one singular guard against their criminal conduct… and, yes… I am calling out these district attorneys and their deputies as engaging in criminal conduct, for they are literally aiding and abetting criminals… is the Constitution itself.
My client… the Constitution.
She is being battered, bruised, disrespected and ignored by these tyrants under the color of authority.
Yes… the windmills really are dragons. The wizards are the evil magicians that conjure, through modern sorcery and deception, the pathetic notion that the good are bad, that the evil are virtuous, and that the Constitution itself… that magnificent document, the ultimate protector of minority rights, is nothing more than flimsy parchment that should be jettisoned to open the gates of paradise.
So… I don my armor. Like my fellow classical liberal colleagues at bar… like the politicians on both sides of the aisle who look on in horror at the madness that is being wrought, and like the noble citizen who, with saber draws, a line in the sand and says, “not beyond here”…. we unfurl our banner and lay down the gauntlet… virtue shall triumph at last!