If it’s Tuesday, with a nod to Peter Abelard's Sic et Non, it’s time for Hobbs’s Talking Points!
1. Will Kyle Rittenhouse be found guilty of homicide?
It is critically important that I begin by noting that the way that self-defense laws are set up across most of America that yes, even a provoker of a tense situation can, at some point, become the victim and legally capable of using deadly force. In the past decade alone, we collectively saw this play out when George Zimmerman stalked Trayvon Martin, 17, at gunpoint and when Trayvon started defending himself and winning the ensuing fight, Zimmerman claimed that he feared for his life and fired his weapon as a result of that fear.
The same is setting up to hold true in the Rittenhouse trial where, yes, common sense would suggest that had Kyle had his 17-year-old self at home that two people would still be alive, but he didn't stay home and now claims that he feared that he was going to be beaten to death on those Kenosha, Wisconsin streets during the Black Lives Matter protests that ensued after a local cop shot and maimed Jacob Blake, a Black man.
With closing arguments completed, the Rittenhouse jury surely has its work cut out for it as both the prosecutor and defense counsel argued their positions quite well yesterday afternoon from my perspective. Still, the old baseball adage that "a tie goes to the runner" applies to criminal trials, too, meaning that if both parties made great points of facts and law (tie), then that's reasonable doubt—and the victory, theoretically, should go to the defendant.
2. Is Kyle Rittnehouse remorseful for killing two people and wounding another?
In my day, having tried nearly 200 serious felony cases which included nearly two dozen attempted murder or murder cases (including ones where the death penalty was on the table), I can attest that the overwhelming majority of men (and women) that I represented were SCARED, NERVOUS, and TREMBLING during trial prep, jury selection, trial proceedings, or the death penalty phase of their cases. Those states of being were easy to understand when considering that the accused were facing up to life without the possibility of parole—or lethal injection!
But in Kyle Rittenhouse's trial, other than his well rehearsed "breakdown" on direct examination of his lawyer last week, the defendant has been the portrait of calm during the parts of the proceedings that I watched, including yesterday's closing arguments.
I took to Facebook during those closing arguments yesterday to state that there is a difference in Kyle at 18—and Chuck Hobbs at 18—when potentially life changing facts are/were in play. I reminded my Facebook followers that when I was 18-years-old, I was almost (operative word “almost”) reduced to boo-hoo tears when Morehouse College's Dean of Discipline, Dr. Raymon Crawford, informed me during the middle of first semester finals that he was kicking me out of school for beating on a fellow freshman, John from Baton Rouge, for bullying his roommate, Eric from Cleveland, in Graves Hall. Eric was a very diminutive and easy-going fellow who used to hang out occasionally with my crew, the Florida Boyz, as we played video games or waxed philosophically about life in between classes and other bacchanalian pursuits. After spending several days in the infirmary with the flu, Eric told us that he had gotten sick because John, his roommate, would not allow him to close the window that was adjacent to his bed during Atlanta's bitterly cold late Fall weather period. So, when John happened to stop by my dorm room on the Saturday before final exams, as I and the Boyz were seated watching Duke University play John’s home state LSU Tigers in an early season basketball game, I asked him about what Eric had just told us about his illness. When John replied "mind your f*cking business Chuck Hobbs," I made it my business to punch him to the ground and kick him repeatedly until my friends pulled me off of him.
The following Monday, as I sat in Dr. Crawford's office thinking I may have to pick up trash or clean the dining hall as punishment for fighting, when Crawford, a retired Marine Corps Lt. Colonel, said they were considering criminal charges and expelling me for a full calendar year, my hands got sweaty, my dress shirt was instantly draped in perspiration (despite it being 40 degrees that day), and my deep baritone voice probably sounded falsetto as I pleaded for another chance to prove that I could exhibit "conduct becoming of a Morehouse Man."
To my ever loving gratitude, the very next day, Crawford called me back to his office and informed me that he had decided to "suspend the suspension" and place me on disciplinary probation for a year; looking back, I thought that I was going to have a heart attack just waiting to learn my fate.
Now, juxtaposed to my nervousness about being kicked out of school at 18 was Kyle Rittenhouse's serenity in the face of a long stretch in prison at 18; despite being on trial for killing two people and shooting a third, Kyle sat there yesterday at counsel's table cool, calm, and collected—even grinning at times—as if he had no doubts whatsoever that this trial will end with his freedom fully intact.
The differences in fears of consequences and results, indeed, are quite telling...
3. Is McMichael/Bryan defense attorney Kevin Gough showing contempt to the court and Black Americans with his constant commentary about Black pastors in the courtroom as the jury considers whether Ahmaud Arbery's death was a homicide?
What makes little sense to me about Attorney Gough's two objections to Black pastors in general, and Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, specifically, sitting in the court gallery as a jury decides the fate of the McMichaels/Bryan clan that's accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery, 26, is this: How can Black pastors wield undue influence on an almost all-white jury?
While it would still be offensive, I could better understand Attorney Gough's logic if the jury featured 11 Blacks and one white. But since the jury make up is the reverse, I take counsel Gough's comments to be red meat dangled for those pitiful souls in the court of public opinion who despise Black people and Black pastors simply for being Black.
While I appreciated presiding Judge Tim Walmsley calling Gough's second bite at the racist apple "reprehensible," it reminded of a lesson I learned during my last year of law school at the University of Florida—one taught by my old Morehouse roommate, fellow Florida Boy, and University of Miami law graduate, Richard K. Alan, II.
It was the summer of '97 when Richard, working as a junior associate for an insurance defense firm, told me that a slightly older white male opposing counsel had gotten verbally nasty and started pounding on the podium as he addressed the court about Richard's arguments. Richard, having been raised in Tallahassee with the same customs as I, asked the aggressive opposing counsel whether he wanted to “go outside and do something about the problem,” and soon noticed that the bailiffs and judge were more fearful of the 6'2 245 lb. Black former defensive end turned lawyer, then they were about the 5'9 140 lb. White former Dungeons and Dragons player turned lawyer. The latter of whom, mind you, had popped off like he was ready to fight—only to cower behind the systemic powers that be once he provoked the brilliant (but bigger) young Black lawyer to wrath.
You see, Richard wanted his Ace to know that whenever I began to practice, that if ever faced with similar aggression by opposing counsel, to stay calm and handle it through the court process and not the 'street’ process. And yet, when I see clips of Attorney Gough sounding like racists of long ago like Bull Connor, George Wallace, or Lester "Ax Handle" Maddox, I can't help but think to myself: "somebody should teach this guy some manners."
4. Were Howard University students justified to protest conditions at the prestigious HBCU?
Kudos to the young Howard students who made their voices heard across the globe over the past month about conditions at their school and, by so doing, have served as living embodiments of the great Frederick Douglass's quote: "Power concedes nothing without a demand."
The demands from Howard students were relatively simple: an in-person town hall meeting with Dr. Wayne Frederick, Howard's president; the permanent reinstatement of student, alumni and faculty affiliate positions that were removed by the school’s board of trustees; a meeting with university leaders on housing; and legal, disciplinary and academic immunity for participating demonstrators.
With the Wahsington Post and other media outlets reporting yesterday that the administration had agreed to lift the stalemate, here's hoping that the multiple millions in funding that Howard has received through philanthropic gifts and federal funding will be used to modernize the campus and, by so doing, continuing its history of attracting top scholars across the globe to teach, research, at study at one of America's true academic treasures!
Thank you for subscribing to the Hobbservation Point—have a wonderful Tuesday!