Humanitarian activist Scott Warren, charged initially with three felony counts of aiding in human trafficking, was found not guilty of all charges as his second trial in federal court in Tucson concluded on Wednesday.
This past spring, the first jury to hear the government’s case against Warren could not reach a verdict. A hung jury was declared, and the federal prosecutor’s office offered to dismiss one of the three felony charges and ensure a sentence of time served if Warren would plead guilty to the two remaining charges. Warren refused, and chose to face a second jury.
The risk to his freedom is now over.
And the sense of risk that many observers have felt – the risk that our nation’s checks and balances might not withstand a mercurial, self-centered, autocratic president – is perhaps a bit diminished as well.
Federal prosecutors in Arizona report to U.S. Attorney Micheal Bailey, appointed by Donal Trump in February of this year. It’s not hard to imagine them feeling the intense antagonism of the President toward migrants and those who work within the law to help fewer of them die of exposure and dehydration. It’s not hard to image U.S. Attorney Bailey and his staff seeking to please the man who has counseled mobs to commit violence, the laws be damned (“I’ll pay for your lawyers,” he told one crowd). And we can, sadly, observe these agents of the state and many others making decisions based less on law, less on justice, and less on preserving the strength and decency of our society, and more on pleasing the man who spoke in his inaugural address of a rising tide of “American Carnage,” largely imaginary, and declared in his Republican nomination acceptance speech that “I alone can fix it.” In even more vividly fascist tones he said in that speech, “I AM YOUR VOICE,” to howls of joyous anger.
Enough of this. Today a jury has said as much. It is a light in the dark sky. Happily it is one point among a growing many.
Our system is better – does more good for more people – than the undeserving soul occupying the chair in the Oval Office. As White House staffers testify forthrightly and with moving dignity, at real personal cost, in Congressional hearings today, how fitting to hear the voices of twelve jurors in the desert concurring in the most perfectly American chorus.