Judge Joe Brown On Freddie Gray Trial: You Can’t Skip Jury Duty, Then Say Justice Wasn’t Served
Wednesday, Judge Barry Williams refused to dismiss charges against six officers in the death of Freddie Gray. The trial regarding the 25-year-old–who died from spinal cord injuries after he was unlawfully arrested by Baltimore police in April—has been scheduled for next month. While the trial being just around corner certainly offers hope that we could be on the brink of truly bringing about change in this country in regard to police brutality within the Black community, there’s a certain level of angst that lingers in the air. With the devastating Mike Brown verdict in our rearview and adjudication in the cases of Walter Scott and Sam DuBose still ahead of us, the mere thought of justice not being served in the Gray trial leaves many members of the Black community feeling helpless and emotionally taxed. However, former TV judge Joe Brown believes that people need a reminder of exactly how much power they possess in instances like this.
“Justice is served when the citizens participate,” said Brown, who emphasized the importance of movements like Black Lives Matter during a phone interview with Madame Noire Wednesday. “That means if you get called for jury service, go ahead and serve without trying to get out of it.”
He insists that those who are always trying to wiggle out of their jury responsibilities aren’t really in a position to complain about the judicial system.
“I hear people mumbling about justice wasn’t done, but they all wanted to bail when they were called to be on that jury. They’re harping after the fact, but they didn’t use the opportunity to be part of the process.”
One’s willingness to vote in local and national elections also contributes to whether or not social injustice will continue, says Brown.
“Basically, in America, the outcome comes down to how important you are,” he said, adding that he wasn’t referring to financial status. “Do you come out of a group that represents a solid voting block or are you someone the powers that be have to pay attention to because there are periodic elections?”
With the 2016 presidential elections coming up, Brown’s words couldn’t come at a more appropriate time. He’s encouraging Americans to get really in tune to what’s being said and more importantly, what’s not being said by the current candidates.
“We need to know you guys are going to come up with jobs for the country? When are you going to do something about employment for ordinary people?” he questioned. “The way I look at it right now, most of the candidates that I’ve been listening to are kind of like cheerleaders. You’re at a ballgame, and it’s like, ‘Go team go!’ But you don’t get anything said to you about what’s in the playbook.”
According to Brown, the lack of employment has a greater impact on poor race relations in this country than people give it credit.
“We are going through retro in this country in terms of not so much race relations, but it’s related to the lack of jobs, and it’s all around the country,” he said. “Racism reasserts itself when the country is stressed. When people haven’t worked in a long time or work at a job that they haven’t felt secure in for a long time.”
Of course, we had to ask him about the 2014 incident with juvenile court Magistrate Harold Horne that earned the television personality a five-day jail stint, which he wrapped up earlier this week. Brown explained that he was representing a 50-year-old Black woman who after receiving a new job and going through a background check, learned that she had an open warrant. As it turns out, the entire incident was a mix-up caused by a man from out-of-state who claimed that the woman mothered his daughter. According to Brown, his client never had a daughter, and the entire case eventually got thrown out, but not before he was sentenced to five days in jail for contempt of court after going toe-to-toe with Horne.
He also addressed the criticism that followed the incident, including words from fellow TV judge Judith Sheindlin who suggested that Brown “stay sober,” implying that alcohol may have been what caused him to lose it in the courtroom that day.
“Judy got a Jack Daniels problem,” Brown said, seemingly referring to rumors that Sheindlin is battling alcohol addiction.
Brown’s TV show, “Judge Joe Brown” was canceled in 2013 after a successful 15-year run. He is slated to return to daytime television in the fall of 2016 with his new series, “True Verdict with Judge Joe Brown.”
“We will be doing some stuff that will be a bit beyond what you’re used to seeing me do, which is handle arbitration that is enforceable,” Brown said of the forthcoming series.