As I indicated in my blog post last week, “Freedom Fun at FreedomFest,” I was headed down to Memphis this past week for Mark Skousen’s annual FreedomFest, where I would be criminally prosecuted for the offense of supporting open borders.
I had two co-defendants, Bryan Caplan, one of the most brilliant economics professors in the country and the author of the great graphics novel Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration (which I highly recommend buying and reading) and — get this — also our criminal-defense lawyer, Catherine Bernard, who is head of a major law firm in Atlanta named Bernard and Johnson. Yes, you read that right — our criminal-defense lawyer was also in the dock with Bryan and me as a criminal defendant — and representing herself as well as Bryan and me.
It was a fascinating trial.
The (mostly) no-nonsense judge was Michael Shermer, the founding publisher of Skeptic Magazine.
The prosecuting attorney was Larry Elder, the noted conservative talk-show host in Los Angeles.
The trial began with both attorneys making opening statements to the jury. I felt that Catherine’s opening statement was so far superior that I knew that we already stood a good chance of an acquittal.
The bailiff in the trial was Kennedy, the famous Fox News talk-show host. She swore in each of the four witnesses. She required Bryan to put his hand on his book Open Borders and swear to tell the truth “so help me Milton Friedman.” She had me put my hand on FFF’s book The Case for Free Trade and Open Immigration and swear to tell the truth “so help me Ludwig von Mises.”
Elder presented two witnesses to make the case in favor of America’s system of government-controlled borders. The first was Jim Geraghty, senior political correspondent for the conservative National Review. The second was Jan Jekielek, senior editor for the conservative Epoch Times.
In a masterful cross-examination, Catherine ripped both of them to shreds.
Then, Bryan was called to the witness stand and did a fantastic job of establishing the economic case in favor of open borders. I then presented my testimony establishing the moral case for open borders (pointing out the massive death toll arising from America’s socialist system of immigration controls) and the fact that the borderlands have been converted into an immigration police state.
Poor Elder. His cross examinations were not able to expose any flaws in our testimonies.
There were no final arguments, and the case was sent to the jury. The stakes were high. I didn’t know if we’d be sent to Gitmo if we were were convicted. In a major breach of American judicial norms, the jury was empowered to convict by majority vote rather than by unanimous vote.
Since we all admitted to the crime with which we were being charged, technically the jury’s verdict should have been guilty. But after we obviously made an extremely persuasive case as to why we favor open borders, the jury quickly returned with its verdict: Not Guilty! The verdict will undoubtedly go down as one of the most famous examples of jury nullification in the annals of U.S. criminal jurisprudence.
Needless to say, we were ecstatic. The three of us were able to walk out of the main ballroom and return home as free individuals. Justice was done!
The entire trial was videotaped and will soon be available for sale at the FreedomFest website. I’ll let you all know when it is posted.