One of the things I really enjoyed about Max Brooks’ novel World War Z was that it took a fictional premise (zombies), set up the ground rules (slow moving unintelligent zombies, virus transmitted by direct contact, killed by headshot) and then tried to extrapolate how society would be affected in a logical manner. Last night in the open thread, I briefly posited the question of what would happen if a juror on the Manafort trial was bitten by a zombie.
Let’s explore that a little more.
First off, let’s assume that the basic zombie rules from World War Z apply. But we’re also going to have to assume that a major zombie outbreak isn’t an issue – society is subject to occasional zombie attacks, but they are of no more practical significance or frequency than people getting hit by lightning or wild animal attacks. There’s no cure, so if the subject survives the attack with only a bite or a scratch they will be turning into a zombie within a matter of days. That’s the premise of 11 Angry Men and a Zombie.
If the bite happened during the trial, it’s no problem – they would simply replace the juror with an alternate, and things would proceed normally, except for the hapless juror who would slowly perish after a few days of illness that included night sweats and shivering and feverish dreams of eating delicious, delicious brains followed by brain death, then reanimation and thereafter an immediate dispatch by a “medical” team that specializes in zombie disposal.
If it happened after the jury’s deliberations had begun, though, it’s a different story. Right off the bat, the judge could declare a mistrial. But let’s say that the judge doesn’t want to set that kind of precedent – he doesn’t want criminal elements such as gangs or organized crime to start directing untraceable zombies at jurors and disrupting the prosecutions of their cohorts. He wants to see things through.
So that leaves us with eleven jurors plus one juror who will be shortly turning into a zombie, and a set of charges that must be ruled upon.
A criminal defendant has a constitutional right to a trial by his or her peers. That’s been the subject of many challenges in the history of the U.S. justice system, but in general “peer” is taken to mean “fellow human”. So one could make a solid argument – and the defense certainly would, during an appeal – that a zombie is not the “peer” of a human being. But before we worry about the appeal process, we’ve got to have a conviction first. How do we get there?
The first, most obvious solution, is that the jurors finish their deliberations before the infected juror turns. If the zombie attack happens late enough into the deliberations, it’ll probably end this way. But if it happens very early in the game, or if it’s a long, complex set of charges like the ones in Paul Manafort’s trial, that juror will be craving brains before you can close things out.
Now if you’re stuck with a zombie juror, he’s going to have to be confined so they can’t attack the other jurors. A straitjacket and Hannibal Lecter type mask is probably a good bet, though if their groaning becomes disruptive it might be necessary to put them in some kind of soundproof booth (even something as simple as a fishbowl duct-taped over their head is probably fine) so they can still view the proceedings but not slow things down too much. But how does one determine whether the zombie believes the defendant is guilty or not guilty on a specific set of charges?
Simply get two servings of brains (the coroner should be able to provide these), label one “GUILTY” and the second “NOT GUILTY” and whichever the zombie chooses is the verdict. Now one might argue that this simply creates a coin flip situation, which can be repeated ad nauseam until an outcome is settled (either GUILTY or NOT GUILTY assuming the rest of the jury is in agreement or deadlocked if they are not), but again, that’s a matter for the appeals courts to rule on.
Anyhow, on to the music. Last week, a couple of chair-moisteners from the Patriots organization dropped by to put out a call for songs about “occupations”. The pick of the week goes to ALXMAC for his exploitation of child labor and his pick of “I Was a Teenage Hand Model” by Queens of the Stone Age. MAGARY APPROVED!