Perhaps one of the more troubling stories we’ve seen of late is that of the alleged plot to kidnap Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer.
The basic premise is that a bunch of right-wing types were angry about Whitmer’s COVID response, so they plotted to kidnap and potentially execute her in an act of armed rebellion. This is very ungood, to say the least.
However, since thing, we’ve learned just how much of a role FBI informants may have played in the actual planning of this plot, enough to wonder just how much of this was these guys’ idea in the first place.
If that wasn’t enough, now it seems the prosecutors are trying to stack the deck against the accused.
Have you ever blown up a bomb? How do you feel about face masks, the right to own a gun, or the governor’s handling of the pandemic?
These are some of the questions potential jurors will have to answer in the alleged Gov. Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping plot case, which is set to go to trial in a month.
After much haggling, federal prosecutors and defense lawyers have agreed on a list of 75 questions that prospective jurors will answer in the case involving five men accused of plotting to kidnap Whitmer, largely fueled by anger over mask mandates and state restrictions on business and travel during the pandemic. The alleged plot also included a plan to blow up a bridge near Whitmer’s vacation house, prosecutors say, though defense lawyers have argued there was no real plan to kidnap the governor, and that the suspects were merely engaged in puffery and tough talk.
Meanwhile, the jury questionnaire seeks to find out how jurors feel about the governor’s efforts to fight COVID-19, asking questions like: “Do you have any strong feelings about masks?”
It also gets into the issue of guns and militias, as the five defendants allegedly belonged to militias and are gun enthusiasts with strong views about the Second Amendment.
“Please explain your view on whether citizens should have the right to bear arms,” the questionnaire asks.
Honestly, the idea that the defense lawyers agreed to this seems more than a bit baffling to me.
See, the problem isn’t that such a questionnaire will weed out militia members so much as it may well weed out anyone who isn’t a liberal. While it’s entirely possible that such people will reserve judgment until they’ve seen all the facts, I have yet to see evidence of that in our day-to-day lives, so color me skeptical.
Granted, I’m not a lawyer, so maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there are enough other questions in there to keep the juror pool from being prejudicial, but I kind of feel bad for the guys now.
To be clear, I don’t approve of what they allegedly plotted. Even if the whole thing was an FBI informant’s idea, they still reportedly thought it was a swell idea and even recorded their weapons training to make life so much easier for the FBI. If they did all of that, then they screwed up and will probably pay the price.
As for me, I just want a fair trial. I want to know the facts of what happened and just how big a role the FBI informant played. I want to know so we know just how much to demand from the agency going forward. I don’t like the idea of entrapment in the least and I suspect part of what will come out of this will be calls for reform at the FBI.
The Whitmer kidnapping plot has been a sore point, to be sure, and it hasn’t painted our side in any glory, but the trial needs to be scrupulously fair. That includes having a juror pool that’s not slanted in such a way as to make their conviction a foregone conclusion.