April 17, 2024

Patience wearing thin

In Other Words

We Americans are naturally an impatient people. We’re young in our history as a nation, compared to old countries in Europe and ancient regions in the Far and Middle East. It’s our nature to want to get things done, solve problems and move on.

It may explain our fatigue and frustration with the cumbersome legal system we’re having to endure. Following the brutal attack on the people’s House Jan. 6, 2021, justice is still elusive as our courts seem to be immune to timeliness. There’s an old saying, “justice delayed, justice denied,” that certainly resonates. Our patience is wearing thin.

After the attack on the Capitol, the Department of Justice quickly arrested, tried and convicted hundreds of rioters. Recognizing that the people who invaded the Capitol were not the instigators, Congress convened a committee to look into the events leading up to the attack. Their investigation was extensive and comprehensive. Their report informed us it was the former president and his cohorts who engineered the plot to overturn the 2020 election.

Unfortunately, the Department of Justice didn’t initiate a wider investigation until after the January 6 Committee completed their report. Two years had already passed before Special Counsel Jack Smith was appointed by DOJ Director Merrick Garland to investigate the role of Trump and others before and during the insurrection.

Smith hit the ground running and it was not long before a grand jury indicted the former president for trying to overturn Joe Biden’s election. That’s when the delays and appeals began - Trump’s favorite MO from several decades of filing lawsuits. Today, after more than three years, Americans are still waiting for the January 6 trial to begin.

There is a second case in Georgia where more than a dozen people, including Trump, were indicted by a grand jury for trying to overturn that election. This case, too, has been delayed with appeals and counter lawsuits.

An old case in New York, connected to election interference in 2016, resurfaced after an indictment by a grand jury. This is the Stormy Daniels, hush-money case that was never closed. Again, numerous appeals have delayed the case.

Just when we thought Trump couldn’t get into any more trouble, we learned the National Archives and Records Administration had tried for more than a year to retrieve presidential records from him. In direct violation of the Presidential Records Act, Trump took thousands of government records - including highly sensitive classified documents - with him to Mar a Lago, and he refused to return them to NARA. Because Trump refused to comply, finally, a subpoena was obtained authorizing the FBI to search for the documents. Later, it is alleged Trump had deliberately hidden documents during the search, and an obstruction charge was also leveled against him.

This particular case is plagued by delays, and missteps by an inexperienced judge, and probably won’t come to trial until after the election in November. It is considered the most serious threat to Trump’s freedom because of the national security aspects of his illegal conduct.

Many question why Trump does things that delay his pending trials. They think, perhaps naively, he would want to prove his innocence and have these trials concluded before the election. Others, less naively, think Trump knows he’s guilty and hopes to be elected so he can cancel the charges brought by DOJ.

All of this drama has left the public with anxiety and frustration. They’re tired of delays and appeals and zigs and zags in our justice system. They’re tired of rulings tainted by politics, and wondering what happened to the old idea that justice is blind. In previous years, one hardly ever thought about who appointed the judge; now, the first thing we think about is which president (party) appointed which judge.

Trump says it’s not fair to have “an election during all these trials.” Actually, it’s not fair that all these trials weren’t done before the election year started. Trump, anticipating being charged with crimes, jumped early into the presidential race, hoping to avoid facing trial while he’s running for office. I guess we’ll find out if his strategy works.

Meanwhile, he’s continuing to raise money from his donors for his legal fees. It’s reported he’s spent $100 million dollars of donor money on his lawyers, so far.