Juxtaposing the articles "UN Peacekeepers Face Tough, New Challenges," March 25, and "Baker's Record At 'State' Strong on Pragmatism, " May 5, illuminates why Secretary of State James Baker III has been criticized for lacking the vision thing. Nowhere in his otherwise provocative discussion of opportunities and problems that the United States faces in the world does Mr. Baker mention the increasingly important role of the United Nations.
While turning its attention inward in the wake of the Rodney King verdict and with the approach of the fall elections, the US must encourage international organizations such as the UN to address potential areas of conflict that the US might once have handled unilaterally. Unfortunately, Baker is not alone in the current administration in failing to recognize this point. Mark S. Sternman, Cambridge, Mass. Juries and the King case
You are to be commended for your defense of the jury system in the editorial "Trial by Jury," May 8. It is important to remember that although the jury system sometimes makes mistakes, it is so superior as a system to any alternative that it is well worth the occasional injustice. However, mixed with the editorial's laudable comments is an incomplete analysis of the verdict in the Rodney King case. The author comes too quickly to the conclusion that the composition of the jury was the deciding factor in the case. In fact, at least two other factors may have been much more important in the decision.
First, the prosecution seriously weakened its own case by several avoidable errors. The decision not to call Rodney King to the stand was only the most obvious of these errors.
Second, the testimony of "expert witnesses" was undoubtedly a major factor in the verdict. The fact that the defense was able to call "experts" to testify that, yes, brutally assaulting a suspect was a reasonable use of force clearly helped the defense raise the "reasonable doubt" that led to the acquittal of the officers.
Rather than merely tarring the jury, a good commentary on the King case would have raised all of these issues. Mark Wylie, Los Angeles
The jury in the Rodney King case has been accused of racism for finding the police innocent. We still seem not to understand that the life experience of most of that jury prevented the jury from understanding the life or perceptions of Mr. King. The one Hispanic woman among the jury members understood and tried mightily to counter the weight of the dominant mind set of the white members. She failed and therein lies the lesson for all of us.
Overt racism can be addressed, but until we find ways not to lock out the experience of the underclass from the body deliberating verdicts involving that class, justice will fail. Patricia A. Keefe, Oklahoma City