Yeah. Thanks, Bob. I think Nate is so wound up about this that he didn't really read my post. Why are you so wound up about something that happened to a total stranger, Nate? Or do you know Watts? (One never knows when discussing things like this on interweb fora, so I guess I should ask.)
Also, I don't *presume* that he was a smart aleck. I have in fact been been *told* that he is a smart aleck, by many sources, including several on the blog you posted, including several of his FRIENDS. I've read everything he wrote on that blog- he comes across as a drama queen, and a bit of a smart aleck. Sorry. (I found the whole episode fascinating, and read that entire blog. It was quite long.) And, for that matter, Watts himself. Recall that I said he eventually admitted to mouthing off and not cooperating, though he didn't quite use those words, as he was trying to spin things. He then said exactly what you did- that that's not a crime.
But it is a crime, you see. It is obstruction. And he was found guilty. And more proof that you didn't even read my post before flying off the handle is to be found in this quote:
"This was the crime for which he was beaten, pepper sprayed, and now faces jailtime."
Because he does not, in fact, face jail time. (There is even doubt that he was beaten, rather than just wrestled to the ground and subdued.) The trial is long over- a month ago, now. He has been given a suspended sentence. (And I mentioned this in my post above, so obviously you didn't read it.) An appellate decision can not increase his sentence, only decrease it. So pardon me if I already do not consider you a very well-informed source. :o)
Now, there is a reason that judges have wide latitude in sentencing. Yes, he could potentially have faced up to 2 years in jail- the offense of which he was charged covers a lot of ground, some serious and some not. But jail was obviously inappropriate in the judge's eyes, so he got a suspended sentence.
As I said, all things considered, that seems fair.
What isn't fair is that it still stands as a felony conviction- which is ridiculous. The offense of which he was found guilty needs to be better defined in the law, with a misdemeanor option. Also not fair AS I SAID was that the cop who flew off the handle walked away.
Basically, the gist of my entire post was this:
Anytime I hear someone stand and loudly proclaim some version of "I was walking down the street minding my own business when for no reason this guy came along and..." did whatever, I instinctively doubt their story. Indeed, Watts did later change his story and admitted that he was mouthy and uncooperative, when he initially stated that he innocently asked what was going on then was immediately sprayed, punched, and beaten. (I'm forced to suspect because his profanities and lack of cooperation were obvious on that video.) So he wasn't the wide-eyed innocent as he tried to initially present himself.
That's all I'm saying. And I still think I'm right about Watts.
You seem to want to emphasize that there are bad cops out there. I was merely pointing out that most people who get into altercations with cops aren't starry-eyed boy scouts.
Most. I certainly don't doubt that innocent people have been harassed or abused by cops. Or worse. The NYPD shot that one guy dead for producing a cell phone, once...
Obviously, an unprovoked police attack on someone who is cooperating would be at least moderately more disturbing than an attack on an uncooperative mouthy ass.
I stand by my statement that Watts probably didn't need to be pepper sprayed, wrestled to the ground, and cuffed. (And he definitely WAS twice warned that he was about to be pepper sprayed if he didn't get back into his car.) But I also stand by my informed opinion that he was being a bit of an ass at the time, so his whining strikes me as just a bit hollow. Lord knows, cops with Napoleon complexes annoy me, and the one who failed to de-escalate and got into this altercation with Watts probably needed to be at least censured.
I want to point out another thing- I'm peppering my post with a lot of "probablies" and "it seems". Because I wasn't on the jury. By definition I don't know the truth- I am only making informed guesses. I don't understand your near-theological certainly on the issue.
Final responses to some of your points:
First: Watts was NEVER charged with assault, despite what you say above. That was mis-reported in the media, and verified by Watts himself. Yes, part of the case hinged on how much Watts resisted after being pepper-sprayed, including the accusation that he got a hold of the cop and tried to choke him. Frankly, I charge anyone to get pepper sprayed then try to lay still and take directions like a nice little boy. It's hard to do. One is going to flail around a bit after being sprayed. (Voice of experience...) So I can understand the misunderstanding. And in fact the jury didn't think he had tried to choke the cop. Nonetheless he was being obstructive, and they found him guilty, and the judge handed him a suspended sentence rather than the jail time he would have gotten had he really tried to choke the cop. As I said- this seems fair.
Second: Regarding the quote from the juror... Yeah. What I said. Didn't I say that?
Regarding jury nullification... I agree that it is an important institution in American jurisprudence. Great injustices have been prevented. But the standard for it is set necessarily high. Almost all jurists agree with me. It is not meant to allow any random jerk to obstruct a cop. His ultimate punishment (i.e. some inconvenience, a mark on his record, and some legal fees) was fair, even if I don't think it should stand as a felony conviction. I'm sorry- if you tangle with a cop you had better be the lily-white aggrieved party that you present yourself as.
So, no one got thrown in jail. We agree that the cop needs to get spanked. But I maintain that Watts was an ass who was asking for trouble- though that probably doesn't justify pepper spraying him and cuffing him. I can't say for certain, as I wasn't there, but the jury thought he had at least done *something* wrong, even ONE of them (one) later stated that the cop was in the wrong, too.
Regarding his prior conviction- say what you will about how people can change, but the psychiatrists will tell you that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. How many (good) (possibly Canadian) cops did he mouth off to in the past two decades who managed to de-escalate the situation successfully, thus sparing Watts an arrest? I don't know. Do you? In most courts prior bad acts are often excluded, but since I'm not a juror in this case I get to have all the information and make whatever judgments I like.
Lots of uncertainty in this case, especially among all of us who were not on the jury. Eh? All I'm saying is that he wasn't a random victim who was attacked by a cop for doing nothing, as he initially claimed (lied).
EDIT-- Just to be sure I'm not in right-wing-nutjob mode on this I had my wife, who easily meets any definition of pinko liberal lawyer, read about it. She agrees that Watts was probably guilty of something, and that a suspended sentence was fair. If anything, she is even more inclined to support the cop than I am, which surprised me. She seems to be a big believer in Niven's Law 1a and 1b.
Wow. This is going to be a good one. How can we fit guns into this discussion? Or global warming? :o)