Law in Contemporary Society

View   r12  >  r11  >  r10  >  r9  >  r8  >  r7  ...
AustenBrandfordFirstPaper 12 - 22 Jan 2013 - Main.IanSullivan
Line: 1 to 1
Changed:
<
<
META TOPICPARENT name="FirstPaper"
>
>
META TOPICPARENT name="FirstPaperSpring2012"
 Draft 3

AustenBrandfordFirstPaper 11 - 30 Jun 2012 - Main.AustenBrandford
Line: 1 to 1
 
META TOPICPARENT name="FirstPaper"
Changed:
<
<
Draft 2 (I'd like to keep editing after another round of comments):
>
>
Draft 3
 
Line: 8 to 8
 

Dignity Through Defiance

Changed:
<
<
The cul-de-sac abutting my childhood home has eight houses around its perimeter and a very wide variety of residents: one pastor, three interracial families, a single woman, two Jewish families, and a gay couple. The neighborhood, located near the center of Seattle, is among the more affluent in the city proper. Given the diversity, friendliness, and financial comfort, my darker skin tone never led to feelings of inferiority or subordination. However, these feelings and the subsequent urge to lash out against everything that caused them could be found just a few minutes away.
>
>
Seattle’s Madison Park neighborhood is where some of the world’s wealthiest people own homes. In the middle of the neighborhood on an enormous and beautiful piece of lakeside property is the Seattle Tennis Club—a country club that was a summer hot spot for teenagers because we could lay poolside and charge drinks to friends’ parents’ accounts. Being from a nearby (although much less glitzy) neighborhood, I had some friends who were members of the Club. I went there once when I was 17 and I refuse to ever go back until things change.
 
Changed:
<
<
Madison Park is a neighborhood in which some of the world’s wealthiest people own homes. In the middle of the neighborhood on an enormous piece of lakeside property is the Seattle Tennis Club—a country club that was a summer hot spot for teenagers because we could lay poolside and charge drinks to friends parents’ accounts. I went there once when I was 17 and I refuse to ever go back.
>
>
Almost every employee at the Seattle Tennis Club is black. Every single member of the club is white. Noticing this immediately rubbed me the wrong way and I felt like I should trade in my swimsuit and towel for a uniform and platter of hors d'oeuvres. What really got to me, however, was the way that the members looked at me. When I walked by tables of people eating nicoise salads in my shorts and a tank top, they would realize that I was there to enjoy the club and not to work there. While some didn’t seem very bothered, others displayed facial expressions ranging from confusion to disgust.
 
Changed:
<
<
Almost every employee at the Seattle Tennis Club is black. Every single member of the club is white. Noticing this immediately rubbed me the wrong way and I felt like I should trade in my swimsuit and towel for a uniform and platter of hors d'oeuvres. What really got to me, however, was the way that the members looked at me. You have to be friends with a current member in order to get a spot on the club’s extensive waiting list. This is a very effective way for the club to explain the complete lack of diversity, as well as a very effective way to maintain it. When I walked by tables of people eating nicoise salads in my shorts and a tank top, they would realize that I was there to enjoy the club and not to work there. While some didn’t seem very bothered, others displayed facial expressions ranging from confusion to disgust.
>
>
I wasn’t going to just stand back and take that treatment. Instead, realizing that 1) these people already saw me as a low-life and 2) I would never be a member of the exclusive club anyway, I glared back at these people with my very best non-verbal “fuck you.” Then I started to disrespect the club’s rules, taking a glass into the pool, “horseplaying,” and eventually being told that if I did anything else out of line I would be asked to leave. I removed myself from the club soon after.
 
Changed:
<
<
I wasn’t going to just stand back and take that treatment. Instead, realizing that 1) these people already saw me as a low-life and 2) I would never be a member of the club anyway, I glared back at these people with my very best non-verbal “fuck you.” Then I started to disrespect the club’s rules, taking a glass into the pool, “horseplaying,” and eventually being told that if I did anything else out of line I would be asked to leave. I removed myself from the club soon after.
>
>
I’ll never go back because I hate what that environment did to me. Not only did I reaffirm what these people expected from someone “like me,” but I also acted in a way of defiance and disrespect that is completely out of character. I generally respect rules and order, but feeling like a disrespected, worthless outsider who would never be welcomed into their ranks made me truly not give a damn about their rules and customs. It was a way for me to try to protect my dignity, but it backfired and I walked out feeling like I deserved to be mistreated.
 
Changed:
<
<
I’ll never go back because I hate what that environment did to me. Not only did I reaffirm what these people expected from someone “like me,” but also I acted in a way of defiance and disrespect that is completely out of character. I generally respect rules and order, but feeling like a disrespected, worthless outsider who would never be welcomed into their ranks made me truly not give a damn about their rules and customs. It was a way for me to try to protect my dignity, but it backfired and I walked out feeling like I deserved to be mistreated. Luckily, I can simply avoid places like that. They belong to the very upper crust and elitist portion of society, which is a small (albeit powerful) group.

This experience made me realize that I have been very fortunate and extremely sheltered. While there had been times in which I had felt some level of race-related disrespect, I realized that there are many people in this country who feel this way every day. They feel like institutions like education and the legal system work against them. They push back in ways that others may see as defiance, but they are really just trying to maintain some pride while being forced to deal with systems that screwed them over from the start. The effects of this, like lower education and higher crime rates, are obviously harmful and perpetuate the problem, and the oppressive institutions are ubiquitous and powerful. While I could just get in my car and drive back to the safety of my cul-de-sac, many more people are stuck in a cycle that goes far beyond the confines of a waterfront country club.

And all this without anyone's even making an overtly anti-Black or otherwise hateful comment. Your story shows how powerful and far-reaching the social organization of prejudice is, and where the consequences for all parties lie. I still remember equally vividly the anti-Semitic outburst at a swimming and tennis club in the town where I went to high school, which was the last time I ever went back there. We remember the isolated instances because our lives are privileged, and we use privilege to escape, as you say, what we realize others are trapped in every day, throughout their lives.

You've also seen an example of the role of unconscious idea and behavior functioning in yourself, and you realize how much more sweeping the phenomenon is. Unconscious expression of racial bias, unconscious motivation to defiant behavior, and the cycle continues, trapping not only the powerful in their biases, but also the powerless in the hell made for them by those biases and the inefficacy and self-destructiveness of their rage at being mistreated.

The question in revision is whether the center of the essay, from your point of view, is your story, or what you learn from it. If the former, then you need only to rewrite the last paragraph, so that it's as tight and as powerful as you can make it. If the latter, then you need to rewrite the story with which you begin as a much smaller introductory image, placing it in the context of the larger lessons from the outset, devoting more of the essay, not just the concluding graf, to what you learned and where in turn that leads you.

>
>
This experience made me realize that I have been very fortunate and extremely sheltered. I grew up with a perception of equality that, although invaluable for my self-confidence, is arguably unrealistic and na´ve. Spending my childhood in comfortable, diverse, and welcoming surroundings with black role models led me to understand that my ethnic background wouldn’t hinder any progress toward my aspirations. This experience made me understand that there are many people in this country who have not been similarly situated.
 
Deleted:
<
<
 \ No newline at end of file
Added:
>
>
While I was able to simply leave the hurtful environment of the enclosed Tennis Club and head back to the comforts of my normal life, most people who face prejudice don’t have that luxury. Further, the experience and subsequent personal reaction that I faced at the Club has bled into many other aspects of their lives and caused a harmful spiral that perpetuates inequality and further separates the privileged and unprivileged.

Many others who are born into groups that have faced prejudice for generations have been told and shown that institutions like education and law enforcement will never be on their side. In order to maintain some dignity in these structures that they are forced to deal with, an air of disobedience or disinterest is adopted, which in turn leads to these institutions responding with oppression. Just like how the Club members’ assumption that I wasn’t worthy to be there led to my misbehaving, many who perceive oppression in school and from the law are more likely to have less education and more jail time.

Over time, these patterns have become accepted both within and outside of the affected communities. Because of this, the people with privilege are able to keep the privilege, and those without it have extreme difficulty attaining it. As the gap widens, those without privilege need someone to look up to. They need a role model to show that these patterns are unacceptable and that something like school can be an amazing resource if the teacher and pupil have a civil relationship and a common goal of enrichment and education.

Hopefully we are moving toward a world in which the mistreatment that I experienced at the Tennis Club would be shocking and unacceptable to any onlooker. Breaking down the established social structures has slowly been happening, but maintaining progress takes effort and patience. I hope to do my part and become a role model one day, helping people who experience oppression move toward the optimistic view of equality and upward mobility that I was taught to have. It may take some time for me to reach that goal, but it will be worth it. The view from the Tennis Club is amazing.


AustenBrandfordFirstPaper 10 - 23 Jun 2012 - Main.AustenBrandford
Line: 1 to 1
 
META TOPICPARENT name="FirstPaper"
Draft 2 (I'd like to keep editing after another round of comments):

AustenBrandfordFirstPaper 9 - 19 Jun 2012 - Main.EbenMoglen
Line: 1 to 1
 
META TOPICPARENT name="FirstPaper"
Draft 2 (I'd like to keep editing after another round of comments):
Line: 19 to 19
 I’ll never go back because I hate what that environment did to me. Not only did I reaffirm what these people expected from someone “like me,” but also I acted in a way of defiance and disrespect that is completely out of character. I generally respect rules and order, but feeling like a disrespected, worthless outsider who would never be welcomed into their ranks made me truly not give a damn about their rules and customs. It was a way for me to try to protect my dignity, but it backfired and I walked out feeling like I deserved to be mistreated. Luckily, I can simply avoid places like that. They belong to the very upper crust and elitist portion of society, which is a small (albeit powerful) group.

This experience made me realize that I have been very fortunate and extremely sheltered. While there had been times in which I had felt some level of race-related disrespect, I realized that there are many people in this country who feel this way every day. They feel like institutions like education and the legal system work against them. They push back in ways that others may see as defiance, but they are really just trying to maintain some pride while being forced to deal with systems that screwed them over from the start. The effects of this, like lower education and higher crime rates, are obviously harmful and perpetuate the problem, and the oppressive institutions are ubiquitous and powerful. While I could just get in my car and drive back to the safety of my cul-de-sac, many more people are stuck in a cycle that goes far beyond the confines of a waterfront country club. \ No newline at end of file

Added:
>
>

And all this without anyone's even making an overtly anti-Black or otherwise hateful comment. Your story shows how powerful and far-reaching the social organization of prejudice is, and where the consequences for all parties lie. I still remember equally vividly the anti-Semitic outburst at a swimming and tennis club in the town where I went to high school, which was the last time I ever went back there. We remember the isolated instances because our lives are privileged, and we use privilege to escape, as you say, what we realize others are trapped in every day, throughout their lives.

You've also seen an example of the role of unconscious idea and behavior functioning in yourself, and you realize how much more sweeping the phenomenon is. Unconscious expression of racial bias, unconscious motivation to defiant behavior, and the cycle continues, trapping not only the powerful in their biases, but also the powerless in the hell made for them by those biases and the inefficacy and self-destructiveness of their rage at being mistreated.

The question in revision is whether the center of the essay, from your point of view, is your story, or what you learn from it. If the former, then you need only to rewrite the last paragraph, so that it's as tight and as powerful as you can make it. If the latter, then you need to rewrite the story with which you begin as a much smaller introductory image, placing it in the context of the larger lessons from the outset, devoting more of the essay, not just the concluding graf, to what you learned and where in turn that leads you.

 \ No newline at end of file

AustenBrandfordFirstPaper 8 - 23 May 2012 - Main.AustenBrandford
Line: 1 to 1
 
META TOPICPARENT name="FirstPaper"
Draft 2 (I'd like to keep editing after another round of comments):

AustenBrandfordFirstPaper 7 - 09 May 2012 - Main.AustenBrandford
Line: 1 to 1
 
META TOPICPARENT name="FirstPaper"
Deleted:
<
<
 Draft 2 (I'd like to keep editing after another round of comments):
Line: 19 to 18
 I’ll never go back because I hate what that environment did to me. Not only did I reaffirm what these people expected from someone “like me,” but also I acted in a way of defiance and disrespect that is completely out of character. I generally respect rules and order, but feeling like a disrespected, worthless outsider who would never be welcomed into their ranks made me truly not give a damn about their rules and customs. It was a way for me to try to protect my dignity, but it backfired and I walked out feeling like I deserved to be mistreated. Luckily, I can simply avoid places like that. They belong to the very upper crust and elitist portion of society, which is a small (albeit powerful) group.
Deleted:
<
<
This experience made me realize that I have been very fortunate and extremely sheltered. There are many people in this country who feel this way every day. They feel like institutions like education and the legal system work against them. They push back in ways that others may see as defiance, but they are really just trying to maintain some pride while being forced to deal with systems that screwed them over from the start. The effects of this, like lower education and higher crime rates, are obviously harmful and perpetuate the problem, and the oppressive institutions are ubiquitous and powerful. While I could just get in my car and drive back to the safety of my cul-de-sac, many more people are stuck in a cycle that goes far beyond the confines of a waterfront country club.
 \ No newline at end of file
Added:
>
>
This experience made me realize that I have been very fortunate and extremely sheltered. While there had been times in which I had felt some level of race-related disrespect, I realized that there are many people in this country who feel this way every day. They feel like institutions like education and the legal system work against them. They push back in ways that others may see as defiance, but they are really just trying to maintain some pride while being forced to deal with systems that screwed them over from the start. The effects of this, like lower education and higher crime rates, are obviously harmful and perpetuate the problem, and the oppressive institutions are ubiquitous and powerful. While I could just get in my car and drive back to the safety of my cul-de-sac, many more people are stuck in a cycle that goes far beyond the confines of a waterfront country club.
 \ No newline at end of file

AustenBrandfordFirstPaper 6 - 23 Apr 2012 - Main.AustenBrandford
Line: 1 to 1
 
META TOPICPARENT name="FirstPaper"
Deleted:
<
<
 
Changed:
<
<

Subjectivity and the Evaporation of "Equal Justice"

>
>
Draft 2 (I'd like to keep editing after another round of comments):
 
Deleted:
<
<
-- By AustenBrandford - 13 Feb 2012

The Cyclical Outcomes of Subjectivity

The assumption that our system of law consistently leads to the “true” and “just” outcome is very na´ve.

Which means there's little reason to start from it in your essay, which is not supposed to be naive. Why not begin by stating an idea of yours, rather than by rejecting a straw man?

This is particularly apparent in criminal proceedings, during which the subjective perspectives of the fact-finders become most apparent, leading to particularly negative outcomes for the poor and oppressed.

You think it's the "subjective perspectives of the fact-finders" that is the primary source of "negative outcomes" (I think you'd have to mean injustices, rather than negative outcomes) for "poor and oppressed" people? "Fact-finders" are juries and judges. Do you actually think that they are deciding in a socially-biased fashion most or even many of the tiny number of cases that reach them for trial, after being selected by a prosecutorial system professionalized to discard cases in which there is apparent reasonable doubt, perfectly capable of resolving cases about which they are uncertain by offering favorable pleas? Of all the places in the criminal justice system to look for the source of systemically socially-biased outcomes, these actors don't seem to me the place to start.

It was said in class in the context of Jerome Frank’s article that “justice is a human thing” and that “power is very certain that it is just.” In any criminal case, the facts are subjective and the rules are illogical, leaving them open to a wide range of human determinations that eventually lead to the outcome. This outcome may not be just, but it will likely be the most pleasing to those given the power to make the determination.

First, Jerome Frank's point about fact-finding is that it introduces uncertainty, not predictable social bias. In any criminal case, the facts are facts. The evidence is either subjective or objective, depending on whether it is testimony or circumstances. To say that the rules are illogical is a sweeping statement of uncertain relevance. Whether rules are "logical" doesn't say anything about whether they produce justice, without a further demonstration that justice requires "logical" rules.

Given the demographic history and construction of the United States, it seems natural that this process is cyclical, creating more frequently negative outcomes for people who don’t fall within the majority and continuing that trend through generations.

That's not even a clear sequence of ideas, let alone one that can be called "natural." Are Jews, Koreans, atheists, short people or Tejanos "suffering through generations" "the more frequently negative outcomes of people who don't fall within the majority"?

In the criminal context, minorities and poor people are more likely to be convicted of a crime, which perpetuates a cycle that was likely initiated centuries ago.

You sure? Any evidence available? Any evidence available that they do worse in front of "fact-finders" as opposed to suffering arrest more frequently, or being more frequently prosecuted on more serious charges? On what not-so-subjective facts are you actually depending here?

Subjectivity and the Treatment of the Young Black Male

“When a poor man steals bread, we know he’s a thief.” This quote from class stuck with me because it seems to be the way in which poor people are treated by the subjective findings of US courts.

What's "subjective" about that? What does the word "subjective" mean?

However, I believe that this principle of “knowing” someone’s guilty status based on a piece of demographic data has extended beyond poverty and entered the arena of race relations.

What's the demographic data? When a poor man steals bread he is a thief, isn't he? Unless we're going to say that his social status excuses his action, his class has nothing to do with his guilt. It's people like me, who think that his social status is a justification for his action who are acting "subjectively," isn't that right?

Consider, for example, the young African American male. As a group, young black men in the United States are convicted of crimes and serve time behind bars at a percentage far beyond any other demographic in the country. Further, criminal behavior of young black men has been portrayed to countless consumers of music, film, television, and a variety of other media. It has gotten to the point that some may even argue that many young black men embrace this perception, which in turn leads them to more frequently engage in criminal behavior and relish in some level of pride by having spent time incarcerated.

Why resort to the shiftiness of "some may even argue"? If it's a conclusion you agree with, show why. If it's one you disagree with, you need not repeat it, because refuting it is not a necessary step in your argument.

Where did this begin and what effect does it have on the criminal justice system? I’d like to assert that this all began with the subjective fact-finding and determinations of people in power in the past and continues to affect fact-finders of today.

This now uses "fact-finding" in a new sense. Used strictly, as you were using it above, the assertion is facially implausible.

History and Contemporary Effects

Oppression of African Americans is nothing new.

Why start an important paragraph with such a jejune proposition? Isn't there a more salient idea you could put in this rhetorically important spot?

Along with the Emancipation Proclamation came the unfortunate realization for many ex-slaves that they were living a life of extreme inequality.

You think enslaved people didn't know they were living a life of extreme inequality before 1863? Do you really want to refer to this as an "unfortunate realization"? What nuance is that supposed to communicate.

Not only were they (for the most part) poor and uneducated, but also the more powerful, white members of society were holding them down with legislative and judicial measures. Even in the 20th century, black Americans were convicted of crimes as menial and undeserving

These words do not say what you mean.

as looking at a white woman, and potentially even sentenced to death for such an “offense.”

You don't mean "potentially," you mean "occasionally." You should edit your word choices more carefully in future drafts.

They were painted as criminals, treated as such, and forced to understand that this was the position that they were to occupy in society.

This appears to mean that the social treatment you describe was the only social activity defining the social roles of Black people. That's clearly false, and you want to find another way to say precisely what you mean, which is that this happened to the great mass of Black people, but (tellingly, because white supremacy is actually a functioning social system, not a comic-book villain) not all of them. Slave systems produce mostly degradation, hopelessness and pervasive brutalization, but also Epictetus, Diocletian, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman.

This treatment, paired with the general disadvantages that the group has faced, has arguably led to internalizations of these sentiments and an increase in criminal behavior amongst young black men.

"Arguably" is a weasel word here. Your specific proposition here is that "general disadvantages" produce "internalization" of hostile social prejudices, leading to an increase in criminally deviant behavior. If you think that's true, give us some of your reason to believe. There are, after all, no shortage of social psychology and sociology sources to draw upon. If you don't think you can show this relationship, how can you later depend upon it?

However, as things like The Innocence Project and post-conviction DNA testing have gone to show, many of these perceived criminals are still wrongly accused and convicted of committing horrible crimes. This continuing tendency begins to prove that fact-finders over the years have created somewhat of a subjective bias against young African American men.

There's no logical connection between the statement "false convictions occur," which is the meaning of your first sentence, and the conclusion drawn by your second. Where is the evidence for the intermediate propositions, that false convictions more often occur in the cases of young black men, and that those convictions result from errors by "fact-finders"? When a jury is given the undisputed but inaccurate testimony of a crime lab technician, believes the evidence presented on the basis of a botched or incompetent investigation which is not challenged, and convicts on the absence of reasonable doubt, would you actually score that as "fact-finder bias" if the defendant is a young black man? How would you score it if the defendant is not a young black man? Your editorial review of your outline was insufficient here.

The cycle that began centuries ago with the criminal treatment and portrayal of African Americans has led not only to higher crime and poverty rates today, but also to an inclination for many to assume that an African American man on trial for a crime is definitely guilty.

You haven't given any basis for any of the assertions in this conclusion. The last assertion has no basis in any facts I know anything about, unless "many" means "a few people I don't actually know." That any proportion of the people serving on juries in our criminal courts feel this way is unestablished, so far as I know. Voir dire is designed and conducted to exclude people unwilling to hear and determine on the basis of evidence, and I believe it is somewhat effective for that purpose, on the basis of my own experience in courtrooms, and the data we get from post-trial interviews from jurors willing to talk. Jury deliberation functions pretty effectively, so far as we have studied it by interviewing jurors post-trial and impaneling mock juries, to mediate away the first inclinations of people who are inclined to vote automatically for one or another result.

But I'm more concerned, as a reader, with the general tenor of the argument than the evidence on any single point. So much is claimed here, and so little is demonstrated, or even specified, in support of what is claimed, that the reader is unlikely to take the conclusions seriously.

Conclusion and Solution (or lack thereof)

If the connections that I’ve drawn are accepted as true,

This is in effect a concession that there is no support given for your assertions. Either we accept them as true merely because you've stated them, or there's no here here.

then this could serve as a prime example of one of the many ways in which the unavoidable subjectivity of the legal system works against equal justice.

But this an assertion of an example, which is supposed to be a demonstration of a complex proposition? How could a compound conclusion like "the unavoidable subjectivity of the legal system works against equal justice" be demonstrated by an example, no matter how prime? We don't have a definition of "subjectivity," or a reason why its avoidable, or a definition of "equal justice" that would allow us to grasp why "subjectivity" works against it. A system in which accusation of any offense was immediately followed by decapitation would presumably much reduce "subjectivity" however you are defining it. But surely it would work against equal justice despite being completely equal? Recourse to social processes rather than supernatural ordeals or cleromancy to determine facts may produce "subjectivity," but how does casting lots or trial by battle increase equal justice?

The simple application of rules to facts does not explain why outcomes vary so widely.

How do you know? Facts are as diverse as outcomes, and rules are complex and uncertain. Do outcomes vary more widely than the diversity of factual settings multiplied by the uncertainty of the rules? How did you come to that conclusion?

Many things come into play, including the ways in which particular people are perceived by those making the decisions. It is for this reason that equal justice in our current system is simply impossible. As humans, we don’t have the capacity to remove years of formative experiences and associations from decisions that we make.

If that were the problem, why wouldn't requiring all crucial facts to be found by the unanimous decision of a large number of humans with different formative experiences and associations be a very useful curative mechanism?

Given the fact that this problem is based in the human condition, it will be very hard to resolve. Jerome Frank refers to the trial as somewhat of a ceremony, making it seem like an unnecessary song and dance that the courts do out of habit. However, getting rid of this process would also remove some of the perceived dignity attached to having your “day in court.” Maybe the subjective (and perhaps unintentional) prejudices will fade more with time, but chances are that new ones will develop. Perhaps equal justice is simply an unattainable goal.

Did we come all this way for some "maybes" and "perhapses" about which we are no wiser than we were at the outset? For this we were supposed to have accepted as true all the assertions made without substantiation in the course of getting here?

The most important step in improving this draft is to go back to the outline, and edit it unsparingly. What is the central idea you are contributing in the essay? How can it be stated clearly at the outset, illuminated and demonstrated in the body of the piece, and given to the reader in a final form that stimulates further intellectual effort by the reader in the conclusion? Each step in the argument that demonstrates the basis and the power of your idea should be an item in the outline. The connections linking the items, to their immediate predecessors and successors in sequence and to the argument as a whole, should be completely clear and specific. When the outline edit is complete, each sentence of the next draft should have been anticipated: each sentence's purpose is known; the A from which it starts, and the B to which it gets by way of the idea which is its content, should be clear to you. Then it's a matter of choosing the correct words, and as few as possible, to do the job each sentence has been given. Getting that process to work for you will not only make this a fine essay; it will pay you dividends in every piece of writing you do for the rest of your life.

*Draft 2* (I'd like to keep editing after another round of comments):

 
Line: 277 to 11
 The cul-de-sac abutting my childhood home has eight houses around its perimeter and a very wide variety of residents: one pastor, three interracial families, a single woman, two Jewish families, and a gay couple. The neighborhood, located near the center of Seattle, is among the more affluent in the city proper. Given the diversity, friendliness, and financial comfort, my darker skin tone never led to feelings of inferiority or subordination. However, these feelings and the subsequent urge to lash out against everything that caused them could be found just a few minutes away.

Changed:
<
<
Madison Park is a neighborhood in which some of the world’s wealthiest people reside. In the middle of the neighborhood on an enormous piece of lakeside property is the Seattle Tennis Club—a country club that was a summer hot spot for teenagers because we could lay poolside and charge drinks to friends parents’ accounts. I went there once when I was 17 and I refuse to ever go back.
>
>
Madison Park is a neighborhood in which some of the world’s wealthiest people own homes. In the middle of the neighborhood on an enormous piece of lakeside property is the Seattle Tennis Club—a country club that was a summer hot spot for teenagers because we could lay poolside and charge drinks to friends parents’ accounts. I went there once when I was 17 and I refuse to ever go back.
 
Changed:
<
<
Almost every employee at the Seattle Tennis Club is black. Every single member of the club is white. Noticing this immediately rubbed me the wrong way and I felt like I should trade in my swimsuit and towel for a uniform and platter of hors d'oeuvres. What really got to me, however, was the way that the members looked at me. You have to be friends with a current member in order to get a spot on the club’s extensive waiting list. This is a very effective way for the club to explain the complete lack of diversity, as well as a very effective way to maintain it. When I walked by tables of people eating nicoise salads in my shorts and a tank top, they would realize that I was there to enjoy the club and not to work there. While some didn’t seem very bothered, others displayed facial expressions ranging from confusion to disgust.
>
>
Almost every employee at the Seattle Tennis Club is black. Every single member of the club is white. Noticing this immediately rubbed me the wrong way and I felt like I should trade in my swimsuit and towel for a uniform and platter of hors d'oeuvres. What really got to me, however, was the way that the members looked at me. You have to be friends with a current member in order to get a spot on the club’s extensive waiting list. This is a very effective way for the club to explain the complete lack of diversity, as well as a very effective way to maintain it. When I walked by tables of people eating nicoise salads in my shorts and a tank top, they would realize that I was there to enjoy the club and not to work there. While some didn’t seem very bothered, others displayed facial expressions ranging from confusion to disgust.
 I wasn’t going to just stand back and take that treatment. Instead, realizing that 1) these people already saw me as a low-life and 2) I would never be a member of the club anyway, I glared back at these people with my very best non-verbal “fuck you.” Then I started to disrespect the club’s rules, taking a glass into the pool, “horseplaying,” and eventually being told that if I did anything else out of line I would be asked to leave. I removed myself from the club soon after.

AustenBrandfordFirstPaper 5 - 23 Apr 2012 - Main.AustenBrandford
Line: 1 to 1
 
META TOPICPARENT name="FirstPaper"
Line: 275 to 275
 

Dignity Through Defiance

Changed:
<
<
The cul-de-sac on which my childhood home is situated has eight houses around its perimeter and a very wide variety of residents: one pastor, three interracial families, a single woman, two Jewish families, and a gay couple. Given the diversity and friendliness, my darker skin tone never led to feelings of inferiority or subordination. However, these feelings and the subsequent urge to lash out against everything that caused them could be found just a few minutes away.
>
>
The cul-de-sac abutting my childhood home has eight houses around its perimeter and a very wide variety of residents: one pastor, three interracial families, a single woman, two Jewish families, and a gay couple. The neighborhood, located near the center of Seattle, is among the more affluent in the city proper. Given the diversity, friendliness, and financial comfort, my darker skin tone never led to feelings of inferiority or subordination. However, these feelings and the subsequent urge to lash out against everything that caused them could be found just a few minutes away.
 
Changed:
<
<
Madison Park is a neighborhood in which some of the world’s wealthiest people reside. In the middle of the neighborhood on an enormous piece of lakeside property is the Seattle Tennis Club—a country club that was a summer hot spot for teenagers because we could lay poolside and charge drinks to their parents’ accounts. I went there once when I was 17 and I refuse to ever go back.
>
>
Madison Park is a neighborhood in which some of the world’s wealthiest people reside. In the middle of the neighborhood on an enormous piece of lakeside property is the Seattle Tennis Club—a country club that was a summer hot spot for teenagers because we could lay poolside and charge drinks to friends parents’ accounts. I went there once when I was 17 and I refuse to ever go back.
 Almost every employee at the Seattle Tennis Club is black. Every single member of the club is white. Noticing this immediately rubbed me the wrong way and I felt like I should trade in my swimsuit and towel for a uniform and platter of hors d'oeuvres. What really got to me, however, was the way that the members looked at me. You have to be friends with a current member in order to get a spot on the club’s extensive waiting list. This is a very effective way for the club to explain the complete lack of diversity, as well as a very effective way to maintain it. When I walked by tables of people eating nicoise salads in my shorts and a tank top, they would realize that I was there to enjoy the club and not to work there. While some didn’t seem very bothered, others displayed facial expressions ranging from confusion to disgust.
Line: 286 to 286
 I’ll never go back because I hate what that environment did to me. Not only did I reaffirm what these people expected from someone “like me,” but also I acted in a way of defiance and disrespect that is completely out of character. I generally respect rules and order, but feeling like a disrespected, worthless outsider who would never be welcomed into their ranks made me truly not give a damn about their rules and customs. It was a way for me to try to protect my dignity, but it backfired and I walked out feeling like I deserved to be mistreated. Luckily, I can simply avoid places like that. They belong to the very upper crust and elitist portion of society, which is a small (albeit powerful) group.
Deleted:
<
<
This experience made me realize that I have been very fortunate and extremely sheltered. There are many people in this country with a similar skin tone to mine who feel this way every day. They feel like institutions like education and the legal system work against them. They push back in ways that others may see as defiance, but they are really just trying to maintain some pride in systems that screwed them over from the start. The effects of this, like lower education and higher crime rates, are obviously harmful and perpetuate the problem. However, while I could just get in my car and drive back to the safety of my cul-de-sac, many more people are stuck in a cycle that goes far beyond the confines of a waterfront country club.
 \ No newline at end of file
Added:
>
>
This experience made me realize that I have been very fortunate and extremely sheltered. There are many people in this country who feel this way every day. They feel like institutions like education and the legal system work against them. They push back in ways that others may see as defiance, but they are really just trying to maintain some pride while being forced to deal with systems that screwed them over from the start. The effects of this, like lower education and higher crime rates, are obviously harmful and perpetuate the problem, and the oppressive institutions are ubiquitous and powerful. While I could just get in my car and drive back to the safety of my cul-de-sac, many more people are stuck in a cycle that goes far beyond the confines of a waterfront country club.

AustenBrandfordFirstPaper 4 - 21 Apr 2012 - Main.AustenBrandford
Line: 1 to 1
 
META TOPICPARENT name="FirstPaper"
Line: 286 to 286
 I’ll never go back because I hate what that environment did to me. Not only did I reaffirm what these people expected from someone “like me,” but also I acted in a way of defiance and disrespect that is completely out of character. I generally respect rules and order, but feeling like a disrespected, worthless outsider who would never be welcomed into their ranks made me truly not give a damn about their rules and customs. It was a way for me to try to protect my dignity, but it backfired and I walked out feeling like I deserved to be mistreated. Luckily, I can simply avoid places like that. They belong to the very upper crust and elitist portion of society, which is a small (albeit powerful) group.
Changed:
<
<
This experience made me realize that I have been very fortunate and extremely sheltered. There are many people in this country with a similar skin tone to mine who feel this way every day. They feel like institutions like education and the legal system work against them. They push back in ways that others may see as defiance, but they are really just trying to maintain some pride in systems that they think screwed them over from the start. The effects of this, like lower education and higher crime rates, are obviously harmful and perpetuate the problem. However, while I could just get in my car and drive back to the safety of my cul-de-sac, many more people are stuck in a cycle that goes far beyond the confines of a waterfront country club.
>
>
This experience made me realize that I have been very fortunate and extremely sheltered. There are many people in this country with a similar skin tone to mine who feel this way every day. They feel like institutions like education and the legal system work against them. They push back in ways that others may see as defiance, but they are really just trying to maintain some pride in systems that screwed them over from the start. The effects of this, like lower education and higher crime rates, are obviously harmful and perpetuate the problem. However, while I could just get in my car and drive back to the safety of my cul-de-sac, many more people are stuck in a cycle that goes far beyond the confines of a waterfront country club.
 \ No newline at end of file

AustenBrandfordFirstPaper 3 - 21 Apr 2012 - Main.AustenBrandford
Line: 1 to 1
 
META TOPICPARENT name="FirstPaper"
Line: 260 to 260
  every piece of writing you do for the rest of your life.

\ No newline at end of file

Added:
>
>

*Draft 2* (I'd like to keep editing after another round of comments):

Dignity Through Defiance

The cul-de-sac on which my childhood home is situated has eight houses around its perimeter and a very wide variety of residents: one pastor, three interracial families, a single woman, two Jewish families, and a gay couple. Given the diversity and friendliness, my darker skin tone never led to feelings of inferiority or subordination. However, these feelings and the subsequent urge to lash out against everything that caused them could be found just a few minutes away.

Madison Park is a neighborhood in which some of the world’s wealthiest people reside. In the middle of the neighborhood on an enormous piece of lakeside property is the Seattle Tennis Club—a country club that was a summer hot spot for teenagers because we could lay poolside and charge drinks to their parents’ accounts. I went there once when I was 17 and I refuse to ever go back.

Almost every employee at the Seattle Tennis Club is black. Every single member of the club is white. Noticing this immediately rubbed me the wrong way and I felt like I should trade in my swimsuit and towel for a uniform and platter of hors d'oeuvres. What really got to me, however, was the way that the members looked at me. You have to be friends with a current member in order to get a spot on the club’s extensive waiting list. This is a very effective way for the club to explain the complete lack of diversity, as well as a very effective way to maintain it. When I walked by tables of people eating nicoise salads in my shorts and a tank top, they would realize that I was there to enjoy the club and not to work there. While some didn’t seem very bothered, others displayed facial expressions ranging from confusion to disgust.

I wasn’t going to just stand back and take that treatment. Instead, realizing that 1) these people already saw me as a low-life and 2) I would never be a member of the club anyway, I glared back at these people with my very best non-verbal “fuck you.” Then I started to disrespect the club’s rules, taking a glass into the pool, “horseplaying,” and eventually being told that if I did anything else out of line I would be asked to leave. I removed myself from the club soon after.

I’ll never go back because I hate what that environment did to me. Not only did I reaffirm what these people expected from someone “like me,” but also I acted in a way of defiance and disrespect that is completely out of character. I generally respect rules and order, but feeling like a disrespected, worthless outsider who would never be welcomed into their ranks made me truly not give a damn about their rules and customs. It was a way for me to try to protect my dignity, but it backfired and I walked out feeling like I deserved to be mistreated. Luckily, I can simply avoid places like that. They belong to the very upper crust and elitist portion of society, which is a small (albeit powerful) group.

This experience made me realize that I have been very fortunate and extremely sheltered. There are many people in this country with a similar skin tone to mine who feel this way every day. They feel like institutions like education and the legal system work against them. They push back in ways that others may see as defiance, but they are really just trying to maintain some pride in systems that they think screwed them over from the start. The effects of this, like lower education and higher crime rates, are obviously harmful and perpetuate the problem. However, while I could just get in my car and drive back to the safety of my cul-de-sac, many more people are stuck in a cycle that goes far beyond the confines of a waterfront country club.


AustenBrandfordFirstPaper 2 - 11 Apr 2012 - Main.IanSullivan
Line: 1 to 1
 
META TOPICPARENT name="FirstPaper"
Deleted:
<
<
It is strongly recommended that you include your outline in the body of your essay by using the outline as section titles. The headings below are there to remind you how section and subsection titles are formatted.
 

Subjectivity and the Evaporation of "Equal Justice"

Line: 9 to 8
 

The Cyclical Outcomes of Subjectivity

Changed:
<
<
The assumption that our system of law consistently leads to the “true” and “just” outcome is very na´ve. This is particularly apparent in criminal proceedings, during which the subjective perspectives of the fact-finders become most apparent, leading to particularly negative outcomes for the poor and oppressed.
>
>
The assumption that our system of law consistently leads to the “true” and “just” outcome is very na´ve.
 
Changed:
<
<
It was said in class in the context of Jerome Frank’s article that “justice is a human thing” and that “power is very certain that it is just.” In any criminal case, the facts are subjective and the rules are illogical, leaving them open to a wide range of human determinations that eventually lead to the outcome. This outcome may not be just, but it will likely be the most pleasing to those given the power to make the determination.
>
>
Which means there's little reason to start from it in your essay, which is not supposed to be naive. Why not begin by stating an idea of yours, rather than by rejecting a straw man?

This is particularly apparent in criminal proceedings, during which the subjective perspectives of the fact-finders become most apparent, leading to particularly negative outcomes for the poor and oppressed.

You think it's the "subjective perspectives of the fact-finders" that is the primary source of "negative outcomes" (I think you'd have to mean injustices, rather than negative outcomes) for "poor and oppressed" people? "Fact-finders" are juries and judges. Do you actually think that they are deciding in a socially-biased fashion most or even many of the tiny number of cases that reach them for trial, after being selected by a prosecutorial system professionalized to discard cases in which there is apparent reasonable doubt, perfectly capable of resolving cases about which they are uncertain by offering favorable pleas? Of all the places in the criminal justice system to look for the source of systemically socially-biased outcomes, these actors don't seem to me the place to start.
 
Changed:
<
<
Given the demographic history and construction of the United States, it seems natural that this process is cyclical, creating more frequently negative outcomes for people who don’t fall within the majority and continuing that trend through generations. In the criminal context, minorities and poor people are more likely to be convicted of a crime, which perpetuates a cycle that was likely initiated centuries ago.
>
>
It was said in class in the context of Jerome Frank’s article that “justice is a human thing” and that “power is very certain that it is just.” In any criminal case, the facts are subjective and the rules are illogical, leaving them open to a wide range of human determinations that eventually lead to the outcome. This outcome may not be just, but it will likely be the most pleasing to those given the power to make the determination.
 
Added:
>
>
First, Jerome Frank's point about fact-finding is that it introduces uncertainty, not predictable social bias. In any criminal case, the facts are facts. The evidence is either subjective or objective, depending on whether it is testimony or circumstances. To say that the rules are illogical is a sweeping statement of uncertain relevance. Whether rules are "logical" doesn't say anything about whether they produce justice, without a further demonstration that justice requires "logical" rules.

Given the demographic history and construction of the United States, it seems natural that this process is cyclical, creating more frequently negative outcomes for people who don’t fall within the majority and continuing that trend through generations.

That's not even a clear sequence of ideas, let alone one that can be called "natural." Are Jews, Koreans, atheists, short people or Tejanos "suffering through generations" "the more frequently negative outcomes of people who don't fall within the majority"?

In the criminal context, minorities and poor people are more likely to be convicted of a crime, which perpetuates a cycle that was likely initiated centuries ago.

You sure? Any evidence available? Any evidence available that they do worse in front of "fact-finders" as opposed to suffering arrest more frequently, or being more frequently prosecuted on more serious charges? On what not-so-subjective facts are you actually depending here?
 

Subjectivity and the Treatment of the Young Black Male

Deleted:
<
<
“When a poor man steals bread, we know he’s a thief.” This quote from class stuck with me because it seems to be the way in which poor people are treated by the subjective findings of US courts. However, I believe that this principle of “knowing” someone’s guilty status based on a piece of demographic data has extended beyond poverty and entered the arena of race relations.
 
Changed:
<
<
Consider, for example, the young African American male. As a group, young black men in the United States are convicted of crimes and serve time behind bars at a percentage far beyond any other demographic in the country. Further, criminal behavior of young black men has been portrayed to countless consumers of music, film, television, and a variety of other media. It has gotten to the point that some may even argue that many young black men embrace this perception, which in turn leads them to more frequently engage in criminal behavior and relish in some level of pride by having spent time incarcerated. Where did this begin and what effect does it have on the criminal justice system? I’d like to assert that this all began with the subjective fact-finding and determinations of people in power in the past and continues to affect fact-finders of today.
>
>
“When a poor man steals bread, we know he’s a thief.” This quote from class stuck with me because it seems to be the way in which poor people are treated by the subjective findings of US courts.
 
Added:
>
>
What's "subjective" about that? What does the word "subjective" mean?

However, I believe that this principle of “knowing” someone’s guilty status based on a piece of demographic data has extended beyond poverty and entered the arena of race relations.

What's the demographic data? When a poor man steals bread he is a thief, isn't he? Unless we're going to say that his social status excuses his action, his class has nothing to do with his guilt. It's people like me, who think that his social status is a justification for his action who are acting "subjectively," isn't that right?

Consider, for example, the young African American male. As a group, young black men in the United States are convicted of crimes and serve time behind bars at a percentage far beyond any other demographic in the country. Further, criminal behavior of young black men has been portrayed to countless consumers of music, film, television, and a variety of other media. It has gotten to the point that some may even argue that many young black men embrace this perception, which in turn leads them to more frequently engage in criminal behavior and relish in some level of pride by having spent time incarcerated.

Why resort to the shiftiness of "some may even argue"? If it's a conclusion you agree with, show why. If it's one you disagree with, you need not repeat it, because refuting it is not a necessary step in your argument.

Where did this begin and what effect does it have on the criminal justice system? I’d like to assert that this all began with the subjective fact-finding and determinations of people in power in the past and continues to affect fact-finders of today.

 
Added:
>
>
This now uses "fact-finding" in a new sense. Used strictly, as you were using it above, the assertion is facially implausible.
 

History and Contemporary Effects

Changed:
<
<
Oppression of African Americans is nothing new. Along with the Emancipation Proclamation came the unfortunate realization for many ex-slaves that they were living a life of extreme inequality. Not only were they (for the most part) poor and uneducated, but also the more powerful, white members of society were holding them down with legislative and judicial measures. Even in the 20th century, black Americans were convicted of crimes as menial and undeserving as looking at a white woman, and potentially even sentenced to death for such an “offense.” They were painted as criminals, treated as such, and forced to understand that this was the position that they were to occupy in society.
>
>
Oppression of African Americans is nothing new.
 
Changed:
<
<
This treatment, paired with the general disadvantages that the group has faced, has arguably led to internalizations of these sentiments and an increase in criminal behavior amongst young black men. However, as things like The Innocence Project and post-conviction DNA testing have gone to show, many of these perceived criminals are still wrongly accused and convicted of committing horrible crimes. This continuing tendency begins to prove that fact-finders over the years have created somewhat of a subjective bias against young African American men. The cycle that began centuries ago with the criminal treatment and portrayal of African Americans has led not only to higher crime and poverty rates today, but also to an inclination for many to assume that an African American man on trial for a crime is definitely guilty.
>
>
Why start an important paragraph with such a jejune proposition? Isn't there a more salient idea you could put in this rhetorically important spot?

Along with the Emancipation Proclamation came the unfortunate realization for many ex-slaves that they were living a life of extreme inequality.

You think enslaved people didn't know they were living a life of extreme inequality before 1863? Do you really want to refer to this as an "unfortunate realization"? What nuance is that supposed to communicate.

Not only were they (for the most part) poor and uneducated, but also the more powerful, white members of society were holding them down with legislative and judicial measures. Even in the 20th century, black Americans were convicted of crimes as menial and undeserving

These words do not say what you mean.

as looking at a white woman, and potentially even sentenced to death for such an “offense.”

You don't mean "potentially," you mean "occasionally." You should edit your word choices more carefully in future drafts.

They were painted as criminals, treated as such, and forced to understand that this was the position that they were to occupy in society.

This appears to mean that the social treatment you describe was the only social activity defining the social roles of Black people. That's clearly false, and you want to find another way to say precisely what you mean, which is that this happened to the great mass of Black people, but (tellingly, because white supremacy is actually a functioning social system, not a comic-book villain) not all of them. Slave systems produce mostly degradation, hopelessness and pervasive brutalization, but also Epictetus, Diocletian, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman.

This treatment, paired with the general disadvantages that the group has faced, has arguably led to internalizations of these sentiments and an increase in criminal behavior amongst young black men.

"Arguably" is a weasel word here. Your specific proposition here is that "general disadvantages" produce "internalization" of hostile social prejudices, leading to an increase in criminally deviant behavior. If you think that's true, give us some of your reason to believe. There are, after all, no shortage of social psychology and sociology sources to draw upon. If you don't think you can show this relationship, how can you later depend upon it?

However, as things like The Innocence Project and post-conviction DNA testing have gone to show, many of these perceived criminals are still wrongly accused and convicted of committing horrible crimes. This continuing tendency begins to prove that fact-finders over the years have created somewhat of a subjective bias against young African American men.

There's no logical connection between the statement "false convictions occur," which is the meaning of your first sentence, and the conclusion drawn by your second. Where is the evidence for the intermediate propositions, that false convictions more often occur in the cases of young black men, and that those convictions result from errors by "fact-finders"? When a jury is given the undisputed but inaccurate testimony of a crime lab technician, believes the evidence presented on the basis of a botched or incompetent investigation which is not challenged, and convicts on the absence of reasonable doubt, would you actually score that as "fact-finder bias" if the defendant is a young black man? How would you score it if the defendant is not a young black man? Your editorial review of your outline was insufficient here.

The cycle that began centuries ago with the criminal treatment and portrayal of African Americans has led not only to higher crime and poverty rates today, but also to an inclination for many to assume that an African American man on trial for a crime is definitely guilty.

You haven't given any basis for any of the assertions in this conclusion. The last assertion has no basis in any facts I know anything about, unless "many" means "a few people I don't actually know." That any proportion of the people serving on juries in our criminal courts feel this way is unestablished, so far as I know. Voir dire is designed and conducted to exclude people unwilling to hear and determine on the basis of evidence, and I believe it is somewhat effective for that purpose, on the basis of my own experience in courtrooms, and the data we get from post-trial interviews from jurors willing to talk. Jury deliberation functions pretty effectively, so far as we have studied it by interviewing jurors post-trial and impaneling mock juries, to mediate away the first inclinations of people who are inclined to vote automatically for one or another result.

But I'm more concerned, as a reader, with the general tenor of the argument than the evidence on any single point. So much is claimed here, and so little is demonstrated, or even specified, in support of what is claimed, that the reader is unlikely to take the conclusions seriously.

 
Added:
>
>
 

Conclusion and Solution (or lack thereof)

Changed:
<
<
If the connections that I’ve drawn are accepted as true, then this could serve as a prime example of one of the many ways in which the unavoidable subjectivity of the legal system works against equal justice. The simple application of rules to facts does not explain why outcomes vary so widely. Many things come into play, including the ways in which particular people are perceived by those making the decisions. It is for this reason that equal justice in our current system is simply impossible. As humans, we don’t have the capacity to remove years of formative experiences and associations from decisions that we make.
>
>
If the connections that I’ve drawn are accepted as true,

This is in effect a concession that there is no support given for your assertions. Either we accept them as true merely because you've stated them, or there's no here here.

then this could serve as a prime example of one of the many ways in which the unavoidable subjectivity of the legal system works against equal justice.

But this an assertion of an example, which is supposed to be a demonstration of a complex proposition? How could a compound conclusion like "the unavoidable subjectivity of the legal system works against equal justice" be demonstrated by an example, no matter how prime? We don't have a definition of "subjectivity," or a reason why its avoidable, or a definition of "equal justice" that would allow us to grasp why "subjectivity" works against it. A system in which accusation of any offense was immediately followed by decapitation would presumably much reduce "subjectivity" however you are defining it. But surely it would work against equal justice despite being completely equal? Recourse to social processes rather than supernatural ordeals or cleromancy to determine facts may produce "subjectivity," but how does casting lots or trial by battle increase equal justice?

The simple application of rules to facts does not explain why outcomes vary so widely.

How do you know? Facts are as diverse as outcomes, and rules are complex and uncertain. Do outcomes vary more widely than the diversity of factual settings multiplied by the uncertainty of the rules? How did you come to that conclusion?

Many things come into play, including the ways in which particular people are perceived by those making the decisions. It is for this reason that equal justice in our current system is simply impossible. As humans, we don’t have the capacity to remove years of formative experiences and associations from decisions that we make.

If that were the problem, why wouldn't requiring all crucial facts to be found by the unanimous decision of a large number of humans with different formative experiences and associations be a very useful curative mechanism?
 Given the fact that this problem is based in the human condition, it will be very hard to resolve. Jerome Frank refers to the trial as somewhat of a ceremony, making it seem like an unnecessary song and dance that the courts do out of habit. However, getting rid of this process would also remove some of the perceived dignity attached to having your “day in court.” Maybe the subjective (and perhaps unintentional) prejudices will fade more with time, but chances are that new ones will develop. Perhaps equal justice is simply an unattainable goal.
Added:
>
>
Did we come all this way for some "maybes" and "perhapses" about which we are no wiser than we were at the outset? For this we were supposed to have accepted as true all the assertions made without substantiation in the course of getting here?

The most important step in improving this draft is to go back to the outline, and edit it unsparingly. What is the central idea you are contributing in the essay? How can it be stated clearly at the outset, illuminated and demonstrated in the body of the piece, and given to the reader in a final form that stimulates further intellectual effort by the reader in the conclusion? Each step in the argument that demonstrates the basis and the power of your idea should be an item in the outline. The connections linking the items, to their immediate predecessors and successors in sequence and to the argument as a whole, should be completely clear and specific. When the outline edit is complete, each sentence of the next draft should have been anticipated: each sentence's purpose is known; the A from which it starts, and the B to which it gets by way of the idea which is its content, should be clear to you. Then it's a matter of choosing the correct words, and as few as possible, to do the job each sentence has been given. Getting that process to work for you will not only make this a fine essay; it will pay you dividends in every piece of writing you do for the rest of your life.

 \ No newline at end of file

AustenBrandfordFirstPaper 1 - 13 Feb 2012 - Main.AustenBrandford
Line: 1 to 1
Added:
>
>
META TOPICPARENT name="FirstPaper"
It is strongly recommended that you include your outline in the body of your essay by using the outline as section titles. The headings below are there to remind you how section and subsection titles are formatted.

Subjectivity and the Evaporation of "Equal Justice"

-- By AustenBrandford - 13 Feb 2012

The Cyclical Outcomes of Subjectivity

The assumption that our system of law consistently leads to the “true” and “just” outcome is very na´ve. This is particularly apparent in criminal proceedings, during which the subjective perspectives of the fact-finders become most apparent, leading to particularly negative outcomes for the poor and oppressed.

It was said in class in the context of Jerome Frank’s article that “justice is a human thing” and that “power is very certain that it is just.” In any criminal case, the facts are subjective and the rules are illogical, leaving them open to a wide range of human determinations that eventually lead to the outcome. This outcome may not be just, but it will likely be the most pleasing to those given the power to make the determination.

Given the demographic history and construction of the United States, it seems natural that this process is cyclical, creating more frequently negative outcomes for people who don’t fall within the majority and continuing that trend through generations. In the criminal context, minorities and poor people are more likely to be convicted of a crime, which perpetuates a cycle that was likely initiated centuries ago.

Subjectivity and the Treatment of the Young Black Male

“When a poor man steals bread, we know he’s a thief.” This quote from class stuck with me because it seems to be the way in which poor people are treated by the subjective findings of US courts. However, I believe that this principle of “knowing” someone’s guilty status based on a piece of demographic data has extended beyond poverty and entered the arena of race relations.

Consider, for example, the young African American male. As a group, young black men in the United States are convicted of crimes and serve time behind bars at a percentage far beyond any other demographic in the country. Further, criminal behavior of young black men has been portrayed to countless consumers of music, film, television, and a variety of other media. It has gotten to the point that some may even argue that many young black men embrace this perception, which in turn leads them to more frequently engage in criminal behavior and relish in some level of pride by having spent time incarcerated. Where did this begin and what effect does it have on the criminal justice system? I’d like to assert that this all began with the subjective fact-finding and determinations of people in power in the past and continues to affect fact-finders of today.

History and Contemporary Effects

Oppression of African Americans is nothing new. Along with the Emancipation Proclamation came the unfortunate realization for many ex-slaves that they were living a life of extreme inequality. Not only were they (for the most part) poor and uneducated, but also the more powerful, white members of society were holding them down with legislative and judicial measures. Even in the 20th century, black Americans were convicted of crimes as menial and undeserving as looking at a white woman, and potentially even sentenced to death for such an “offense.” They were painted as criminals, treated as such, and forced to understand that this was the position that they were to occupy in society.

This treatment, paired with the general disadvantages that the group has faced, has arguably led to internalizations of these sentiments and an increase in criminal behavior amongst young black men. However, as things like The Innocence Project and post-conviction DNA testing have gone to show, many of these perceived criminals are still wrongly accused and convicted of committing horrible crimes. This continuing tendency begins to prove that fact-finders over the years have created somewhat of a subjective bias against young African American men. The cycle that began centuries ago with the criminal treatment and portrayal of African Americans has led not only to higher crime and poverty rates today, but also to an inclination for many to assume that an African American man on trial for a crime is definitely guilty.

Conclusion and Solution (or lack thereof)

If the connections that I’ve drawn are accepted as true, then this could serve as a prime example of one of the many ways in which the unavoidable subjectivity of the legal system works against equal justice. The simple application of rules to facts does not explain why outcomes vary so widely. Many things come into play, including the ways in which particular people are perceived by those making the decisions. It is for this reason that equal justice in our current system is simply impossible. As humans, we don’t have the capacity to remove years of formative experiences and associations from decisions that we make. Given the fact that this problem is based in the human condition, it will be very hard to resolve. Jerome Frank refers to the trial as somewhat of a ceremony, making it seem like an unnecessary song and dance that the courts do out of habit. However, getting rid of this process would also remove some of the perceived dignity attached to having your “day in court.” Maybe the subjective (and perhaps unintentional) prejudices will fade more with time, but chances are that new ones will develop. Perhaps equal justice is simply an unattainable goal.

Revision 12r12 - 22 Jan 2013 - 20:10:15 - IanSullivan
Revision 11r11 - 30 Jun 2012 - 17:51:24 - AustenBrandford
Revision 10r10 - 23 Jun 2012 - 14:47:46 - AustenBrandford
Revision 9r9 - 19 Jun 2012 - 15:28:32 - EbenMoglen
Revision 8r8 - 23 May 2012 - 21:08:03 - AustenBrandford
Revision 7r7 - 09 May 2012 - 09:43:33 - AustenBrandford
Revision 6r6 - 23 Apr 2012 - 17:52:12 - AustenBrandford
Revision 5r5 - 23 Apr 2012 - 00:38:08 - AustenBrandford
Revision 4r4 - 21 Apr 2012 - 19:18:49 - AustenBrandford
Revision 3r3 - 21 Apr 2012 - 16:55:58 - AustenBrandford
Revision 2r2 - 11 Apr 2012 - 20:40:42 - IanSullivan
Revision 1r1 - 13 Feb 2012 - 21:27:07 - AustenBrandford
This site is powered by the TWiki collaboration platform.
All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
All material marked as authored by Eben Moglen is available under the license terms CC-BY-SA version 4.
Syndicate this site RSSATOM