"If you want to read a blog to get a sense of what is going on in Hong Kong these days or a blog that would tell you what life was like living in colonial Hong Kong, this blog, WALTER'S BLOG, fits the bill." Hong Kong Blog Review
"Given the chilling interventions mounted by the likes of Biden and Harris in the Rittenhouse case, they’ve rode roughshod over judicial independence."
After more than two weeks of evidence and 25 hours of deliberations, a 12-person jury acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse of all five charges he faced after fatally shooting two people and wounding a third in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last summer.
The events unfolded during riots that followed the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old man.
The first man Rittenhouse shot and killed, Joseph Rosenbaum, chased Rittenhouse and tried to grab his gun. The second, Anthony Huber, hit him with a skateboard after he had fallen to the ground.
The third, Gaige Grosskreutz, who survived, aimed his pistol at Rittenhouse's head when Rittenhouse fired. Grosskreutz admitted as much on the stand, bringing the prosecution crashing down. Hence, Rittenhouse's self-defence argument was bound to fly.
For the record, Rosenbaum is a convicted child rapist who’d been released from a mental hospital days before being shot. And the other two men are hardly upstanding citizens.
And yet, the decision to acquit Rittenhouse is now under attack from the highest levels of the US government. Both President Biden and Vice President Harris decried the result, even though neither sat through the evidence. Biden declared himself angry at the jury decision.
Harris went further. She called for reforms because the jury didn't return the result she wanted and expected. Wow!
Then, Biden, as usual in a confused state, sought to roll back on his criticism by a mealy-mouthed plea "to respect the jury decision". If Biden truly respected that decision, this should be the end of the matter, but he opted to play both ends.
What does all this tell us about respect for the US judicial system and the legal tenets at its foundation? One can conclude that Biden, Harris and many others don't seek a fair and open justice system, but rather a kangaroo court.
Also, the judge in the Rittenhouse case banned NBC from the court. One of their freelancers was caught following the jury bus in an apparent attempt to photograph the jury despite an anonymity order.
But, of course, there is a whole debate around allowing a 17-year-old kid to wander around with a semi-automatic rifle. Rittenhouse’s weapon was legal despite misleading reporting to the contrary. This is only one example of a myriad of distortions put out by the media. But I'm not going down that rabbit hole today.
All these shenanigans around the Rittenhouse case arouse my interest when viewed against the treatment Hong Kong's judicial system has received from US politicians. Years of brickbats, ill-informed criticism and outright distortions pepper their outbursts.
Recent events here, including the civil unrest and enactment of the NSL, prompted a renewed frenzy of bile from many self-serving, unqualified and deceitful pundits. As usual, British and US lawmakers topped that list.
Yet, stop for a moment to imagine the outcry if Carrie Lam made public statements lamenting the decision of our courts to acquit accused rioters. US politicians would be falling over themselves to fire criticism our way, and not to be outdone, the usual hysterical barking crowd in the UK would join in.
Although, any honest reading of the situation in Hong Kong must conclude that our courts continue to operate independently. We've seen accused rioters acquitted when doubts exist, and the recent decision on the matter of 'joint enterprise' demonstrates resolute common sense still exists at the highest levels of our judiciary.
Reading the judgment in the 'joint enterprise’ ruling, you can see the deep roots in common law that anchor Hong Kong's courts.
In the matter of 'joint enterprise', non-permanent judge Lord Sumption played a part. People are often surprised when I mention that Hong Kong courts still have 'on-loan' judges from the UK and elsewhere.
I wonder if the Americans would entertain such a provision? Their legal system is based in common law, therefore inviting judges from other jurisdictions is feasible. Hong Kong is open-minded enough to adopt such a practice.
I'd argue the integrity of Hong Kong's justice system is under direct attack, not from Beijing but from forces in the West. These unwelcome interventions are one element of the bitter public-opinion war against China, with Hong Kong as a pawn. Using an army of partisan think tanks and pseudo-experts, allegations are thrown around without any credibility.
Given the chilling interventions mounted by the likes of Biden and Harris in the Rittenhouse case, they’ve rode roughshod over judicial independence. They've allowed their negative emotions to eclipse reason. And when reason is eclipsed, mobs spring up.
That’s something we understand in Hong Kong. Thankfully our legal system remains above the fray despite many challenges.
Walter De Havilland was one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Royal Hong Kong Police and Hong Kong Police Force. He's long retired.