« Feed Problem | Main | Comparing Phoenix to Seattle and Austin »

The State Protects Itself

Dibor Roberts was convicted, somehow, for being attacked by a police officer.

The jury in the Dibor Roberts case returned a verdict that I can only describe as contemptible, finding her guilty of resisting arrest and felony flight from a law officer as a result of a brutal attack upon her by Sgt. Jeff Newnum of the Yavapai County Sheriff's Department.

Greg Nix of Larson newspapers has an interesting insight, suggesting that the trial could have come down to the prosecution painting a picture for the jury of "'angry black woman' v. 'respectable white officer.'" He adds, "I grew up in the South so running the 'angry black woman' strategy is nothing new and generally works for getting convictions."

Perhaps he's right, and the decision was essentially racist. Or maybe the prosecution succeeded in picking jurors who bow down and bang their heads on the floor every time they see a uniformed government employee. Or the result could have resulted from a little bit of both factors.

Posted on May 17, 2008 at 09:27 AM | Permalink


A jury found Ms. Roberts guilty. How did the State protect itself?

As to the blog that is linked, the entry is misleading at best because the newspaper reporter cited (Mr. Nix) wrote that piece before the trial was over, so Mr. Nix was offering only speculation. Moreover, Mr. Nix himself wrote the Ms. Roberts was angry while she was testifying, and so I'll leave it to others to speculate on why Mr. Nix (or the blogger linked, Mr. Tuccille) ascribes a bad motive to the prosecution.

Mr. Nix also wrote that when confronted with a discrepancy between her grand jury testimony and trial testimony, Ms. Roberts alleged that the grand jury transcript was wrong. This coupled with the anger Ms. Roberts displayed at trial (I accept that Mr. Nix was right about that), which have nothing to do with race, almost certainly must have affected the juror’s determinations of her credibility and reliability. And, absent any evidence to the contrary, I will assume that the jurors were not racially motivated.

For those that have not followed the links, a key point (to me) with respect to the officer breaking out Ms. Roberts’ window is that he was asking to see her hands and she would not show them. How many officers have been shot in similar circumstances?

One last point: for what it is worth, Judge Bluff has been a Superior Court Judge for only 2 or 3 months; prior to that he was a city magistrate, where if memory serves me, he would not have heard felony cases.

Posted by: mahtso | May 17, 2008 1:12:37 PM

OK -- I lied -- one more "last" thing:
"The jury in the Dibor Roberts case returned a verdict that I can only describe as contemptible, finding her guilty of resisting arrest and felony flight from a law officer as a result of a brutal attack upon her by Sgt. Jeff Newnum of the Yavapai County Sheriff's Department."
I have not seen any news accounts showing that Sgt. Newnum brutally attacked Ms. Roberts, or that he attacked her at all. (And I have been following this story all along by reading the verdenews.com accounts.)

Posted by: mahtso | May 17, 2008 1:19:07 PM

Well, the answer to how many officers have been shot in similar circumstances depends on what you think the circumstances were. If the circumstances are, cop stops lone woman in car for 15 over on rural road and finds no issues with the vehicle checking out as stolen, approaches the vehicle with his gun drawn and sees her on the phone, I'd bet the answer is zero. I don't know the specifics of this case and wasn't on the jury, but it seems the officer overreacted, and so did the prosecutor.

Posted by: Scott | May 17, 2008 11:14:47 PM

Ack ... sorry to be a grammar nazi, but "the result could have resulted from"? This is just a few posts after I read about your illustrious almae matres too. For shame.

Posted by: Tim | May 18, 2008 1:21:20 AM

Tim, as another Princeton/Harvard guy, I feel compelled to point out that Coyote was merely quoting. Might want to reconsider your Nazi stance.

Posted by: Defender | May 18, 2008 12:04:21 PM

I believe the title points to the overall issue of abuse by the police state and that there is NOT any check & balance on that power. The ultimate question should be, how does one insure their person against such an abuse by the State?

For example, a hot issue is "No knock warrants". A few example, of what appears to be the State protecting itself, can be found here:

With "No knock warrants", the SWAT are expecting to be met with resistance. However, when the State makes a mistake by entering the wrong house, how can any reasonable prosecutor charge a person with pulling a gun and firing at the perceived intruders. Heck, even if they are yelling outside that it is police entering, an innocent person would not understand why there are police yelling and most likely would be confused about whether he heard correctly. So, when all of a sudden your window is busted, your first reaction, in a confused state, is to protect yourself/family, but oops.... you pulled a gun and/or shot an officer. How could this be your fault, and why should you ever be put in a position to have to defend yourself against these charges? The only reason to try and find you guilty is because it removes guilt from the State (i.e protecting the State).

Posted by: Rob | May 19, 2008 5:42:29 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.