I am not a Lawyer. I am, however, a Programmer — also known as a Coder — by education, and trade.
And it occurs to me that the debate over Garland’s DoJ (in)action, is a lot like the debates on writing code.
Balloon Juice readers have years of experience with applications built on code that means well, but has real flaws. Watergirl (among many) has done amazing work to keep the ship here, upright, in the face of some real “oops” in the areas of technology this blog requires.
Yet the level of coding you need to keep a blog up, is not the same level you need to keep an airplane up. The risks for the former coming down are, well, very obviously different.
So, too, the risks around the work centered on Former President Trump and his acolytes. I can only imagine — again, as a non-lawyer — how much work it takes to ensure these cases don’t fall out of the air.
And yet: that’s Justice.
Justice — real Justice, not the stuff we get on TV, or in my fave comic books — isn’t Vengeance. It isn’t swift. It sure as hell isn’t satisfactory from an emotional POV. I’ve not met a lot of Public Defenders, but they don’t strike me as a happy go-lucky bunch of people. Delivering people from poor decisions — including jailing them over those decisions — is work.
Justice takes time. And that means toxic people have chances to disrupt it. To derail it. To shutter it. We saw that with both how the Muller Investigation didn’t have the best start, and certainly was torpedoed in the ending, assisted by a GOP-addled Fourth Estate unable to process nuance and deflection.
I’ve seen something like rushed Justice, in the code that built wobbly Applications. So much of what we’ve built this Internet on is rushed, for a host of reasons. That rush makes it easy to exploit — again, as so many here will recall, just recently.
Garland cannot afford exploits. The code — the legal arguments — this DoJ writes, must be solid. Not solely, as some many has said, because of Democracy being on the line — rather, the reputation for impartial Justice in America, is on the line.
That is the reputation that these Authoritarian Asswipes should fear! Good laws, and wise enforcement, are critical to protecting Democracy. Bad laws? Well, from Dred Scott to Dobbs, we’ve seen how they rip up the landscape of Democracy.
And that is why it pains me to also say this: far too much of what happens in courtrooms in America, is Not Justice. And that’s relevant, as well.
We have overloaded these Courts with Injustice, friends. Put aside, for a moment, the decades of court-packing; we talk all about that here.
We don’t talk, as much, about the hellscape of Mandatory Minimums. Of law after law designed to target groups of people already marginalized. Of laws that fine you real money, in ways that drain already-thin coffers.
We don’t ponder how many Justices are just fuckin’ corrupt, and often prejudiced in their corruption — but empowered by that Black Robe to spread misery amongst those they hate, trapped in vicious cycles of bigotry, seeing too many flawed people, people who are themselves scared and angry and lack any real support.
Much less — and outside the scope, to be sure, of this essay — those whose lives are taken before Law Enforcement can even process them into these systems of….Justice.
Arguably: our drain of national empathy? Accelerated with our “wars” against “crime”.
So I welcome seeing, for once, something like true Justice. The bits and slices of slow, meticulous, and professional work. The quick glimpses into tracing crime down, of ensuring only people the DoJ thinks are highly relevant, are brought in. And although I don’t welcome seeing so many of us Good Folx in pain over how that justice is being attacked — or, yes, silent — my gut says this vision of hopefully-impartial work in our legal system? Far rarer than it should be.
To me? To my heart grown sin-sick and angry over a system built to crush me and mine? This is better than a lifetime supply of Dick Wolf Production shows!
I’m sure there are flaws in the DoJ’s approach. I’m sure there are legitimate criticism of their secrecy, and overall legal strategy.
Yet I’m not sure I’m the one to make them. After all, I’m not a lawyer.