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Monday, April 07, 2008

Sometimes You Have to leave the street stuff.......Well....in the street-Ruminating on the Bell Case

For the sake of brevity, I will try not to rehash my feelings about the tragic Sean Bell case as I addressed my general feelings about this incident a few weeks after the initial occurrence. And not surprisingly, I remain steadfast in my position regarding the conduct of both parties' as the prosecution recently rested their case in this situation. But I did want to comment on something that really bothers me about this case that tangentially relates to other aspects of a Black male’s existence-appearance. Take a look at the above photo of one of the defendants in the Bell matter, Officer Gescard Isnora and then take a look at one of the alleged victims, Mr. Trent Benefield (below). I’m not one for conspiratorial thinking but is there a problem with legal advisors telling their clients the importance (and the “game” of) looking as professional as possible to convey credibility? The accused, simply put, could pass for a wall-streeter whereas the victim looks like he is ready for the club.

And even delving into the issue further, the victim also has a 50 million dollar civil suit pending and again I ask where are the non-PC advisers that will tell him it may be wise to discard the street attire in order to bolster his case? Although I’m more familiar with civil litigation due to my employment, it is safe to say that appearance is crucial during the discovery process (and beyond) when dealing with our nation’s legal system. I have reviewed countless deposition reports and one's look and demeanor are always analyzed unbeknownst to the plaintiff (or defendant). Even one's intelligence (or lack thereof) is noted-trust me, this is not conjecture. The symbolic scales of justice not only signify or measure the strengths of a case’s support and opposition but also weigh credibility. And one should look credible. As I have stated many times in this blog, being polite or politically correct is literally killing people of color. Perhaps I’m making too much of this phenomenon. What do our readers think? Does appearance matter?

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