Murder Capital of America
I was called to jury duty in Compton, California, the city that has been called "the murder capital of America." As I sat with 44 other people in the jury selection process, the judge asked the prospective jurors in the jury box if they would give as much credence to the testimony of a gang member as they would to the testimony of an officer of the law. I looked across at the two gang members who were on trial for the murder of an Hispanic “human being,” as the judge had put it. They looked nice enough, in their plush suits and ties. I imagined them in their baggies, with their long socks and hats to the side, holding their guns the way gangs do.
The judge also asked the prospective jurors if they would be prejudice against anyone who pleaded the Fifth Amendment, and didn’t testify on their own behalf.
The next day I was called to the jury box. When it came to my turn, I gave my name, and then my marital status. I said, “I am married to my wife.” That got a laugh all around, even from the judge. Then I gave my occupation and told him that I would like a “side bar.”
As we stood in the hallway outside his office, two lawyers and the court typist joined us. When the door was closed, he looked at me and said, “Okay . . .”
I said, “Your honor, yesterday you asked if I could give as much credence to the testimony of a gang member as they would to the testimony of an officer of the law. I definitely would not. An officer of the law is sworn to uphold the law, but when someone joins a gang, they submit to a creed that is one of lawlessness--of lying, stealing and killing. You are asking me to give credence to someone I liken to the Mafia, the KKK or someone who is in the Nazi party.
“I am horrified that every time I turn on the television, I see some poor mother crying because gangs have murdered her child, and they are doing it in the thousands. I am a preacher, and think that all gang members should be lined up against a wall, and I be allowed to preach to them. I know what’s wrong. They don’t fear God, because they have deadened their consciences. I know how to resurrect the conscience. That’s what I do. I teach Christians how to speak to the conscience. I turn down more than 500 invitations a year to speak around the country. They offer big money, but if you would cut through the red tape and get me into the prison system and let me preach to the gangs, I would do it free of charge. Instead of sentencing me to seven days on a jury, sentence me to seven weeks preaching to gangs, and if I have the help of the finger of God, you would see a big change.” My voice trembled with nervousness, as I shared these thoughts.
The judge became thoughtful. He said, “I don’t have the authority to do this. I wish I did.” Both he and the lawyers were very sympathetic and made some suggestions on how it could happen, but there was nothing concrete. I passed the judge my card and said, “Well, contact me if you have a dream in the night.” He said that he would.
I added, “And by the way, you asked about my attitude towards a murder defendant who pleaded the Fifth. I would be very suspicious that he was hiding something. If I was on trial for a murder that I didn’t commit, I would definitely want to take the stand. I would want to face the jurors, let them see my eyes and hear my voice. I would plead directly, not through a lawyer.” One of the lawyers said, “That’s because you would never murder anyone.” I agreed with him. The judge thanked me for being honest, and dismissed me from the jury pool.
May God give him a dream.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Murder Capital of America
Posted by Ray Comfort on 3/20/2008 10:32:00 PM