Friday, November 1, 2013

Mendel Beilis -- What does Scripture Say?

This is the summary of the 25th day of the Mendel Beilis trial, which occurred on 19 October, 1913 on the Julian calendar, 1 November, 1913 on the Gregorian calendar.

This day occupies pages 293 through 317 of Volume II of the transcript.
See the translation of the transcript for day 25.

Today the court gets set up to hear from the scriptural experts.  The court will rule the following.

First, materials will not be read out in court.  That’s understandable.  The scriptural experts are about to cite to works of Jewish classics that have not yet been translated into Russian.

Second, citations to materials will not be allowed. That is not understandable.  It does not permit either party to look up citations used by the other party and come up with questions to clarify what the expert meant by certain statements he made.

This second decision will allow rampant quoting out of context by Justinas Pranaitis, a fallacious proceeding consistently used to misrepresent oral and written material for nefarious purposes throughout history.  With the help of Benzion Katz, the defense will fight back on day 28.

Early in the day Karabchevsky gets up and shows that the court has charged Beilis with a crime that is not on the books in Tsarist Russia.  He invokes the great principle, Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine praevia lege poenali, there is no crime and should be no punishment without a previously-adopted penal law.  This goes back to reform of the Bavarian legal code in 1813, and the principle was adopted by all legal systems operating after a Western model, including that of Japan at the end of the 19th century.  It also appears in the Garden of Eden story in the Bible where Gd gives Adam and Chavvah the commandment not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, “or you become liable to the death penalty.”  The judge brushes it aside but it will have fallout on day 28.

Zamyslovsky takes a tack today that he thinks will help him report information on the 1853 Saratov case which is his particular baby.  Boldyrev has refused his requests, even after some 10 minutes of whining by this powerful member of the national Duma.  So during a recess before the evening session, he and the others – and I am convinced that Boldyrev sat in on this – work out the following tactic.  Zamyslovsky takes the strawman position that the defense stood out against the reading because they thought witnesses ought to be called.  It’s a strawman argument because the defense proposed no such thing, they simply said that not only is it not relevant to the Yushchinsky case, the Saratov case operated under pre-reform rules of procedure.  Zamyslovsky admits that and then says that’s the beauty of it.  The Senate rules governing procedure now, he says, are different, but they never envisioned that their decisions would be retroactive, eliminating evidence obtained under pre-reform practices. 

This amounts to an American lawyer trying to use evidence in a 2013 case, when that evidence was collected in a 1950 case, and would have been excluded under the Miranda rule.  The American judge knows that some Supreme Court decisions HAVE been made retroactive, and some are only forward-looking.  An impact analysis has to be done for each SCOTUS decision to see what burden it puts on the legal system if made retroactive.  Miranda, for example, is only forward-looking, and if the judge determines that  the 1950 case is related and probative in the 2013 case, he can allow use of the evidence.

Boldyrev decides both that the Saratov case is unrelated and that the pre-reform evidence is inadmissible.  But on day 26 Pranaitis is allowed, not only to discuss the Saratov case in depth, but also to present information on the 1840 Damascus case which is not even a Russian case and also involved evidence obtained by torture.  The defense proves that Pranaitis lied when he said he looked over the Saratov case files, and that he includes the Damascus case as ritual murder when it doesn’t even fit his own definition of how to tell when a murder is also a ritual murder. 

The judge orders to read places from Neophyte’s 1803 book that were selected during Mashkevich’s investigation.  They were selected on purpose and put into his hands, otherwise he would have had to get Prof. Troitsky to translate the whole book from Greek for him.  There is a quote that seems to be from the commentary of Rabbi Shelomo ben Yitschaq, usually known as Rashi, but it is mistranslated, misattributed, and mis-cited.  No rabbi gets Rashi wrong.  Neophyte was a fraud.  Mashkevich’s attaching Neophyte to the case has nothing to do with the truth of the material.  It has to do with relevance to the case.  And since Pranaitis published a pamphlet using material from Neophyte, that makes Neophyte relevant to the case.  Clear?

Shmakov reveals another attitude common to bigots.  He believes that the Christian experts could never agree with R. Mazeh on any opinion because the Rabbi is one of those people teaching the Talmud, which Shmakov believes is anti-Christian.  It’s a clearly illogical position, because there are three Christians, of high position and great respect in the academic religious world, who were willing to represent the defense case in court.  Whether he knows it or not, the defense also lined up two other Christians on their side of the case, one of them Prince Obolensky who held the highest lay position in the Russian Orthodox hierarchy and was in practice the superior of the highest clergy position.  Shmakov fails to realize that three Christians are about to speak the truth, and that it is the opposite of what he believes, and also the obvious conclusion that among Christians there is no one position on this case, still less that it is the same position he takes.

Judge:  Fyodor Boldyrev

            Criminal Prosecutor, Oscar Vipper
            Civil Prosecutor Georgy Zamyslovsky
            Private Civil Prosecutor Aleksey Shmakov

            Oscar Gruzenberg
Nikolay Karabchevsky
Dmitry Grigorevich-Barsky
Alexandr Zarudny
Vasily Maklakov

Returns to say there’s never been a case when psychologists dealt with ritual murder
Witness release
Whether to read scriptural material
Whether to bring in translators
Reading of Neophyte
Reading of government report on Chassidim
Scriptural questions


© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved


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