Last Tuesday, a jury found Hunter Biden guilty of three felonies involving filling out a gun permit. Many Americans will take away a reassuring lesson. Others won’t.

I was neutral about Hunter Biden’s trial. I also didn’t have a dog in the fight regarding Donald Trump’s recent New York conviction on 34 felony counts. A rooting interest casts a pall over our justice system. Every trial must be based on long-standing legal principles, and follow established rules and precedents. 

Hunter Biden and Trump went through the justice system’s conventional processes. Grand juries issued indictments. Attorneys engaged in pre-trial procedures. Jury trials followed. Both defendants were innocent until and unless proven guilty. The burden of proof lay with the prosecution. The juries rendered their verdicts. 

Both men now await sentencing. Trump will learn his fate on July 11, Hunter Biden likely this summer or fall. Each then can exercise his right to engage in the appeals process.

The legal system will take into account factors both prosecutors and defense teams will present. Whatever each judgment, I will accept it. Not doing so invites January 6-style chaos.

I find interesting the relatively mild response to Hunter Biden’s conviction from Trump’s MAGA base and Republican political leaders. Some of the latter hate Trump but know on which side their political bread is buttered. Ambition trumps integrity. All these folks were outraged when Trump was indicted, tried and convicted. They long anticipated Hunter Biden’s legal woes­. 

Joy! The president’s son was convicted. But a wise saying warns: Be careful what you wish for. 

Pro-Trump conspiracy theorists now struggle reconciling Hunter Biden’s conviction with their condemning the Deep State, which didn’t come to his rescue. The Deep State represents one of the far-right’s favorite bogeymen to hold over Joe Biden. What next? If Trump is sentenced to prison (unlikely) and Hunter Biden receives probation (fairly likely), they can scream Deep State manipulation—at the cost of their candidate being behind bars.

Perhaps MAGA adherents and Republican leaders will continue to insist that Trump was railroaded. His “supposed” crime took place back in 2016. Too long ago to be concerning. They’ll ignore that Hunter Biden filled out his gun permit request in 2018. 

Ultimately, the Deep State card will come into play in some fashion. Conspiracy adherents believe their undisciplined, heat-seeking “news” sources. Words like factsevidencetruth and civility leave them cold.

Will these verdicts and upcoming sentencing affect November’s election? Hunter Biden probably won’t be a factor. Re Trump, many Americans express little or no concern about his conviction. Would a prison sentence change that? 

Loosely committed and uncommitted voters will deal with their consciences when they mark their ballots. Some will consider Trump’s conviction and think, I can’t vote for a felon. Some of these will cast a ballot for Joe Biden. Others for a third-party candidate. Some will sit the election out.

You’ve probably seen images of Lady Justice holding balanced scales. Often, she’s blindfolded to convey that justice must be blind, our legal institutions must never show favor. America’s justice system sometimes fails, sometimes needs improvement. But it’s a good one.

All citizens have a duty to keep their eyes open to enhance, not destroy, that system. That’s how we can further assure equal justice for all.

Please pass on this post. 

Order my new novel, TAKING STOCK (Kirkus Reviews starred selection) in softcover or e-book from Amazonbarnesandnoble.com or iuniverse.com. Or from your favorite bookstore.


  1. David Newman on June 18, 2024 at 11:10 am

    We often overlook the role of juries in the jury system. My limited experience as a juror — two very different civil trials — shows that the lawyers and judges may or may not be very good, but that jurors approach their job with seriousness and integrity. They grapple with the facts, listen to each other and ultimately reach a decision based on the facts and mutual respect for the opinions of their fellow jurors. Even where the judges and lawyers are second-rate, the jurors do a first-rate job. They may make mistakes, but not because they are not trying to reach the right result.

    • David Perlstein on June 18, 2024 at 11:33 am

      Totally agree, David. I’ve served on three juries–two criminal, one civil–and found what you say to be right on the mark.

Leave a Comment