Jeremy Christian Verdict Proves Jurors Don't Care About the Law

Blast Zone No. 3399 - 5 Comments
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Category: Other - Juries
Last Known Courthouse Address:
1021 SW 4th Ave.
Portland, Oregon 97204

Jeremy Christian was convicted on all counts because jurors vote with their hearts and do not care about the law. They don't care that Micah Fletcher committed a felony against him because they empathize with the people that he hurt with his response to that felony. They even convicted him of assaulting Demetria Hester the day before despite surveillance footage that clearly showed her attacking him with mace before he threw a bottle at her in self defense. How does this happen? It happens because even though jurors agree to base their decisions on the law, they rarely do that in practice. They see people crying on witness stands, become heartbroken, and vote how they feel. Often those feeling are so strong that they cannot be overcome by self-discipline. They just see people experiencing emotional distress, blame the defendant caused that distress, and decide to vote guilty without considering the technicalities of the law.

That leaves this case with one obvious question, were Jeremy Christian's lawyers incompetent for allowing this case to be tried before a jury? In order for counsel to be found incompetent the Supreme Court requires two things: First, that counsel's performance fell below "an objective standard of reasonableness ... under prevailing professional norms.;" Second, that there exists "a reasonable probability that, but for counsels ... errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different. A reasonable probability is a probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome."Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984).

I would argue that given the emotional issues in this case that no reasonable lawyer would want a jury to decide the verdict. The only person in a court room typically capable of setting emotion aside, reviewing the law, and reaching the right decision is the judge. Unfortunately, Judge Cheryl Albrecht has shown throughout this case that she is not reasonable. For instance, she refused to let the defense change their argument from insanity to "extreme emotional disturbance." I would argue that Jeremy's lawyers were incompetent for pursuing insanity in the first place. He was not insane, but his mential health diagnosis fits "extreme emotional disturbance" perfectly. Unfortunately, Albrecht's conduct shows that there is a good chance she would have convicted him also. When Jeremy seeks review of his conviction, Judge Albrecht will almost certainly say that she supports the verdict and that she would have done the same thing no matter what the lawyers should have done differently. That decision will allow her to reject the ineffective counsel claim based on the second prong of the Strickland test. When the second prong of the test is met then the court does not need to consider the first prong. These requirements allow incompetent public defenders to thrive knowing that the court will never question their competence unless the judge refuses to uphold the verdict, which almost never happens. Jeremy's lawyers could have been falling down drunk the entire trial, but that wouldn't matter if the judge and the appeals courts say the outcome would have been the same no matter what.

Personally, I would never trust a jury with my fate. Especially in a case like this. Self defense arguments rarely work on juries and they almost never work when the alleged victims have all the emotional pull on their side. Again, that is because jurors vote how they feel. If the judge allows a jury to decide an issue that issue will be decided based on the hearts of the jury. That is why it is important for lawyers and judges to do the technical work for them. It is up to them to make sure that charges are dismissed based on technicalities because letting a jury decide technicalities is a decision doomed for failure.

The most obvious miscarriage of justice here is the case involving Demetria Hester. Hester is on camera macing Jeremy Christian while he was walking away from her. He turned around and threw his Gatorade at her in self defense. It worked and she stopped macing him. The only problem for Jeremy is that Hester and others gave eyewitness testimony accusing him of threatening her and making racially charged remarks. That made the jury want to mace Jeremy despite the video and because they felt like macing him themselves they voted guilty. A qualified juror would have reached the conclusion that eyewitnesses testimony should be given the least weight, especially when there is video footage. If there is no audio recording then the vote should go in the defendant's favor due to lack of evidence and the unreliability of oral testimony in general.

If I were Jeremy Christian, I would immediately file notice of appeal based on several errors that the judge made. Errors that included failing to dismiss charges for which no evidence existed beyond oral testimony. Once the courts of appeals find excuses to rule against him then I would file an ineffective counsel claim. Jeremy is a fighter, there is question about that. He should appeal and then seek habeas corpus relief for ineffective counsel. This case is far from finished.

giffin503 Says:

Thanks for the real news. So glad I came across your sight.

wdx - good point. Portland is not a big city and they had nothing to gain by acquitting him. Anyone from the public can come and go to the trial. I went a couple of times. Sometimes I would see jurors in the public hallway where anyone could secretly photograph them (I didn't, but just saying).

I even noticed one staring at me in court one day like she recognized me and when I looked back I knew that I know her from somewhere. I couldn't figure out where but I had that feeling that I have definitely seen her face before. I think she is a clerk at a Fred Meyer store that I shop at.

wdx Says:

Appreciate your coverage. I agree. Just my .02, I'm assuming IF any jurors had it in them to think critically about the case, they probably didn't want to risk becoming a pariah. Considering how politicized & high profile the case became, perhaps they didn't want to risk becoming a target of local extremists for wrongthink.

More specifically, Judge Albrecht left plenty of issues for appeal such as not moving the trial out of Oregon, not trying the Demetria Hester case separately, not letting the defense change their insanity argument to just diminished capacity, and failing to dismiss counts not fully supported by the evidence

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