21 Responses to “Peter Watts Convicted”

  1. Been idly following his own record of events on his blog. While of course that’s not exactly going to be an unbiased source, the reports don’t sound like he intentionally assaulted the gaurd. But at the end of the day, there must surely be CCTV footage of the event as it was a border station, and his own faith in this tape proving his innocence would surely say that he at least thinks he did nothing wrong.
    Internet points to whoever leaks that tape first.

  2. Well this is terrible, i thought there was a witness that corroborated his version of events?

  3. Son of a bitch.

    I hope the appeal goes better.

  4. He was convicted of “failure to comply with a lawful command”. That was the actual charge he was convicted of- not assault, not resisting arrest, not obstruction of justice.

  5. So tell the newspaper that I ran the quote from.

  6. Fffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff

  7. My God, I remember when he was arrested for this, I didn’t think he could possibly be found guilty, all the evidence seemed to point to over-aggressive border officers. Well, that shows you how good evidence is when it comes to Canadian-American border issues, I know right now in Cornwall the border patrols want the right to be able to carry firearms in the Amerindian reserve that is stuck along the border. Why, exactly? Worried that a prosperous native town is suddenly going to try and pull a Tecumseh?

  8. @Owen

    Here’s his description of it: http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=1186

    Apparently his defence did rip apart the claims of the prosecution, particularly the ‘assault’ ones, but it remained that when the customs officer (after having punched Mr Watts in the face and ordered him out of the vehichle) told him to ‘Get on the ground’, Mr Watt’s response was “What is the problem?”.

    This response, as well as getting him maced in the face, constituted “failure to comply with a lawful command”, which is a felony. The statute is too broad, and doesn’t allow for mitigating factors – it’s a stupidly writ ten law. But the jury came back and went “Yep, he failed to comply”, so he got convicted.

  9. We’re becoming little more than a country ruled by police state goons over here. And nobody seems to give a fuck as long as American Idol and sports come on when they’re supposed to.

  10. Oh wait, and I forgot Cops, where we’ve turned state-sanctioned beatings of people we find it easy to believe are already guilty into popular entertainment.

  11. America: Love it or…

    … get beaten trying to leave it.

  12. I thought this trial was in Canada but learned it was here in the US. What an absolutely stupid jury — moreso because it’s American. Apparently no one stopped to think, “Hey, is that what we want *our employees* to *do to us too*?” A travesty of justice and a triumph of plodding literalism over liberty.

  13. If you’ve ever been to Port Huron or St. Clair County, you will still find this is hateful, grotesque and obscene, but not surprising.

  14. I’m sad. This should have gone the other way. I’d like Canada to ban Behrendt from their country. Beating a non-threat is horribly wrong.

    Appeal should alter things I hope. I mean it now is in court records that Behrendt is a lying thug. So why wasn’t this dropped.

    Then again, I can’t believe Katherine Shannon Collins was deported because of the lame Patriot Act.

  15. Jury wasn’t stupid. Read Watts’ blog on this. He doesn’t blame the jury.

    http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=1186

    They simply convicted him under a far-reaching (and stupid) statute that lumps in “failure to comply” under “assault.” Given the wording of the statute, they had little choice. Because they didn’t engage in jury nullification doesn’t mean they were idiots.

  16. I hate to sound like a stereotype of a radical but: why is anyone surprised by this? Don’t get me wrong, we should be upset. But the law isn’t on our side, and border guards aren’t “our employees”. That’s an illusion, always has been.

  17. Actually, I found the people of PH to be some of the nicest, least bigoted people I’ve ever met. A young lady cried when I told her the verdict on the way out of town. (And you would never believe who else did, I think). Sometimes you win in order to lose (as opposed to the other way around). Not one single person did I meet within the confines of said city did I think was not decent, kind, considerate, etc. (even if it took time to see that).

    The issue was the wording of the law and the instructions. Law is not perfect (and in this case I believe it’s so worded to protect the state from being sued anyway) because it’s written by people.

  18. Warren, maybe you could edit the post below, saying that the story you’re linking to is bunk. Convicted, yes, of assault, no.

    I think Watts– unsurprisingly, I’ve heard he’s downright lovely– is being too nice. The jury did indeed screw up. This case is a perfect time to use their powers of jury nullification. If the law is unjust, they don’t have to say “yes, guilty.” They can say, “Not guilty, this law blows, you can go suck a railroad spike.” (I think that actual phrase is used in the legal manuals somewhere).
    My guess is, it comes down to nothing more than their ignorance on what they as a jury are supposed to do. I don’t see ignorance as an excuse though, so… They fail.

  19. The outcome of this case was unfortunate and probably unjust in the greater scheme of things, but you can’t hate on the jury for this. Juries receive very specific instructions from the judge before deliberating – in particular, they’re told very clearly what they are and are NOT deciding. The judge almost certainly told them this:

    The statute says X. Regardless of whether you think the guards were A-holes or whether Watts’ behavior was nonthreatening, etc., the statute only says X and if Watts violated that statute, you must find him guilty. Regardless of whether you disagree with the statute, if Watts violated it, you must find him guilty.

    If they came back with a not guilty verdict based on their hunch about who was right and wrong, they’d be out of line. So let’s not take this out on Michiganders. Let’s just hope that effing video gets out.

  20. The statute says X. Regardless of whether you think the guards were A-holes or whether Watts’ behavior was nonthreatening, etc., the statute only says X and if Watts violated that statute, you must find him guilty. Regardless of whether you disagree with the statute, if Watts violated it, you must find him guilty.

    Then the judge was full of it, and the jury should have disregarded this instruction. The jurors are are citizens, not soldiers.

  21. I’ve never understood why our legal systems are set up so that amateur citizens representing the community (the jury) decide on technical facts and points of law, then legal professionals (judge) do not just manage the court, but also assign the sentence. Always wondered whether it wouldn’t be be better to reverse that: Judge, as an expert, first determines if a law has been broken (with jury listening to his judgement and reasoning). Then if that law was broken, jury decide sentencing (within max sentence limits) and have the power of mercy (“guilty but justified.”) It would be possible to appeal either verdict.