Sunday, July 15, 2007

Debito all too Debito (2)

Tokyo Dist. Court rules testimony invalid due to witness being African....a witness’s testimony was inadmissible because he is African. Debito


Tokyo district court
「(前略)証人は、徒前から原告と面識があり、本件骨折後も原告を病院に見舞っているなどかなり親しいことがうかがわれている友人であり、歌舞伎町の黒人コミュニティーの仲間であったこと等を照らすと、証人フランシスの供述は、目撃証言として客観性を有するものとはいえず、そのまま信用する到底できない。」(判決文19ページ)page 19

quick translation
The witness was acquainted with the plaintiff and he visited the hospital after the incident to see the plaintiff etc,. ; he was considerably close friend of the plaintiff. They were mates among the black community at Kabukicho. It is far from plausible to give full credibility to the witness's --- Francis's testimony as it is as being objective


In a nutshell, the testimony was regarded as prejudiced, not highly reliable not because the witness was black, but because the witness was considerably a close mate of the plaintiff.

(Might it be that Debit is projecting his own white man's prejudice into Japanese society?---not that every white man have such prejudice---that's far from truth---- but there are some cases where people say one thing, and mean another unconsciously)

Note also there is a difference between admissibility(証拠能力) and reliability(証拠力、証拠価値).If the document is not admissible, a judge can not read the document. After the admissible documents and testimonies are presented in the court, a judge weighs the reliability.

Note further that Debit himself quoted the ruling from Tokyo district court;He referred to it to back up his argument, but he didn't translate it , for some reason, for the English readership to judge the case.



Again there is nothing wrong with helping the minority;it should be encouraged, but there is something wrong in turning everything into racial issue.

On a side note, I wonder why Debito didn't turn the resolution 121 into racial issue;it smells like much racial issue. The U.S. blaming Japan who apologized several times for the comfort women system while the U.S. having engaged in the the same kind of crime in the backyard in Korea and in Japan and yet she hasn't issue any apology.

Debito all too Debito

14 comments:

Matt Dioguardi said...

Zero,

I think you need to examine this a little more.

Can you explain the relevance of mentioning the "black community" at all?

The lawyers are trying to discount this man's testimony. They want to argue it should be discounted because he is a friend of the relevant person.

How do they show he is a friend?

Well, he visited this guy in the hospital, right?
And they're both part of the black community, right?

Gosh they must be close friends.

Both these arguments are exceedingly weak. First, why shouldn't he have visited the relevant person in the hospital. He witnesses what happened and felt sorry for him. So he visited him. So what.

And what does "black community" mean? Yes, there are a lot of black skinned people in Kabukicho, and some of them a friends. So? Are all of them friends? How do we know there is solidarity between all "blacks" in this "community"? This is much like a kind of stereotype.

Ultimately, it is a weak argument and it is an argument that depends on the person's skin color.

With such weak arguments the conclusion reads "到底できない". Good grief, that's strongly worded, don't you think so?

Wouldn't you say that at a bare minimum this is questionable?

zero said...

Thanks for the comment.

The point is "black community" was mentioned to show that he was a close friend of the plaintiff, it could be any circle in which you intimately associate with your mates. For that matter, it could be Otaku for anime community at Kabukichou.
And I don't think it is usual for the witness to visit the victim in the hospital unless you are a close friend of his, or you have compelling reasons to visit him.
So I don't think the judge's inference is so unreasonable.
And it seems clear that being black
was not the reason for the judge's negative assessment of the testimony

Matt Dioguardi said...

Zero,

I've been looking a little more over the particulars of the case.

There are several red herrings here that really aren't relevant.

1. The hospital visit. You think it establishes close friendship, I don't. If I saw another America in Japan go through something like this, I would visit him in the hospital and testify for him in court (if he were innocent) even if he'd only been a distant acquaintance previously.

2. The close friendship angle. Close friendship in and of itself is not problematic. We're talking about lying under oath for someone. That's not to be taken lightly. I can understand if they were lovers, or if the plaintiff were a creditor and the other a debtor, there might be a case here. But I mean really ... they were both black ... what's the big deal?

Anyway, let's put the red herrings aside for a moment, the most significant thing here is what you stated here:

"The point is "black community" was mentioned to show that he was a close friend of the plaintiff, it could be any circle in which you intimately associate with your mates. For that matter, it could be Otaku for anime community at Kabukichou. And I don't think it is usual for the witness to visit the victim in the hospital unless you are a close friend of his, or you have compelling reasons to visit him."

Indeed, it very well could any circle, and that's just the problem. Today, the court discriminates against some one with black skin, tomorrow it'll be otaku for anime, and then it'll be ...

In Martin Niemöller's words:

"When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
I was not a Jew.
When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out."

zero said...

Thanks Matt Dioguardi
As for the hospital visit, I disagree. For instance how can you know which hospital he is in if you are not just more than a witness.

And suppose you are classamate of him at school. From that, I don't think it is unreasonalbe to assume that you tend to defend him, without further evidence to the contrary. And coupled with the fact
that you are in such a close relation that you borthered to visit him in the hospital after the incident, it is not unreasoble to assume that you are not telling the whole story.
Note the judge is not rejecting all of the witness's account. He is saying that he can not believe what the witness is telling is the whole story.
Note also that your class is not descrimianated unfairly , but being the member and studying under the same class was used to infer the initimate relation between you and him.



I am not exactly sure what you want to show by Martin Niemöller's words.
(Note we are not talking about the plaintiff, we are talking about the witness.)
But one thing is certain from his words. The case is not racial contrary to Deito's claim.

zero said...

Besides, the judge is not saying the witness's account is not reliable just because they were mate. If you read the jusgement on page 18 and page 19, the judge is saying the witness tesitimony is ambiguous about
the number of policemen present at the time, and he couldn't reasonable explanation why the plaintiff stumbled, he stated the post(看板) was on the high postion, which was contrary to the fact.
These are also the part on which the judge based in evaluating the testimony, and these are the parts Debit omitted to mention.

Matt Dioguardi said...

Zero,

You are discussing many different things, and they are not without interest, but as I said they are not related to my main point.

The main point I have been trying to make is that a person's race should not be a factor in considering their testimony as a witness.

Your response is to say, it's not. It's a factor in determining if the witness is a close friend of the plaintiff.

That may be, but the net result is the same. A person's skin color and/or ethnic background are being used in such a way that the end result is their testimony is being questioned.

There may be many factors used in determining if a witness favorably (and unlawfully) is biased towards the plaintiff. However, race should not be one of these factors. It's a vague claim and it unfairly excludes a large group of potential witnesses.

If a Japanese plaintiff called up a Japanese witness, would we question the integrity of the witness because he was Japanese? (After all if they are both Japanese, they could be friends ...)

Why is it different when an African plaintiff calls up an African witness?

You may, of course, want to argue that this something that has to do with the Kabukicho Africans. Who are, because of their size or background, a special kind of group. Well is that true? We're any expert sociologists called up to the stand to tell us about the culture of Africans in Kabukicho?

It's as if the judge thought, "Oh I know how it is with those Africans in Kabukicho. They're all in cahoots. Just the fact that their both Africans in Kabukicho is a big minus against the witness in my book."

You don't view that as racist?

What do you see as the relevance of them both being Africans in Kabukicho? What exactly do you know about Africans in Kabukicho? Do they all get along? Do some of them hate each other?

It is not up to the judge to form any opinions about Africans in Kabukicho. If conclusions are to be drawn, they need to be admitted via expert testimony.

zero said...

Thanks Matt.
"That may be, but the net result is the same. A person's skin color and/or ethnic background are being used in such a way that the end result is their testimony is being questioned."

If you read the judgement carefully, Black community was mentioned but was not used in accessing his testimony.
For that matter, the judge did not even say the witness was black; he said he was a mate in the black community.
Surely his name suggests he is not Japanese, but it could be anybody;it might turn out that the witness is not black.


It seems to me that your argument is that since the word "black community" was mentioned, the judge
must have judged unfavorably against him. But I have yet to see your ground for the inference.

zero said...

"What exactly do you know about Africans in Kabukicho? Do they all get along? Do some of them hate each other?"
This is a good point.
But again as I said before, it is not unreasonble to assume that members of specific community defend each other agasint non members of the community,if there is no evidence to show the contrary.

zero said...

As a Japanese I have little information to infer from "Black community" except if they are mate in the community,it would be natural to help each other.
(I posted how my image of black people has been formed.)

Now I would like to ask you.

What did you infer from black community?
What did you think Japanese judge inferred from it ? and on what basis. quoting the sentence from the judgement will be appreciated.

Matt DIoguardi said...

You say "mentioned" but not "used". But what does this mean? Why was it mentioned? To what end?

I think the judge was weighing many different factors in considering the accuracy of the witness's testimony. One factor considered was that he was an African in Kabuki-cho.

I don't think that should have been admitted as a factor.

Matt Dioguardi said...

I said African in Kabukicho, but I should have said black in Kabukicho, as that was what the judge said.

zero said...

"Why was it mentioned? To what end?"

I guess to specify community he beloged to in the same sense when I say "I went to Chinse restaurant" to specify which restaurant I went.

"I don't think that should have been admitted as a factor."

Right , he shouldn't and he didn't.

I have not seen your argument he used it as a factor that led to the
conclusion that his story is not entirely reliable.

Really, what do you infer from the "Black community".
What is your prejudice?
Is that the asscociation of the bad guys?
And what is your ground for asserting the judge used the race as a reason to his conclusion other
than your prejudice that Japanese must have evil prejudice against Black people?

Matt Dioguardi said...

Zero,

Why have you determined I am prejudice against Japanese? My opinion is that I am not.

The reason we specify a Chinese restaurant is because there is a certain kind of food we associate with Chinese food.

So what is the reason a judge would want to specify an African in Kabukicho?

The answer is pretty obvious, it was used to support the contention they were mates. You regard that as fair, I do not.

zero said...

Thanks Matt Dioguardi

"Why have you determined I am prejudice against Japanese? My opinion is that I am not."

I haven't determined yet.
My reason why I though you might be prejudiced is that you gave no reason for your assersion that the judge used race as a reason for his conclusion,
And only way I can think of to that
conclusion is the Japanese judge must be prejudiced against black people.

"The answer is pretty obvious, it was used to support the contention they were mates. You regard that as fair, I do not"

Right. That is the difference.