The dirt on Paryani involves two altercations, one in 1989 and the other in 2001. I wouldn't be surprised if most cabbies had some sort of history due to the nature of their work. After all, this is a job that involves picking up drunks and driving in bad neighborhoods (ironically, Paryani was avoiding such areas after a fellow cab driver was killed a few years ago--Paryani was murdered in Lakeview, one of the priciest neighborhoods in the city). On top of that, a lot of customers look down on them and insult them or treat them rudely (there is probably a racist element to this since many cab drivers are immigrants). Although the city sets the rates and the driver can't control traffic, customers blame the cabbie for high fares or being late regardless. It's a job I would never want to do, and I thank them for doing it. Many of the spoiled, pretentious yuppies in this city are less grateful. I'm not saying there aren't a few bad cabbies out there, but getting two beefs in a couple of decades in such a job doesn't strike me as a history of violence or aggression.
But that isn't the point. Quite frankly, it wouldn't matter if Paryani did have a history. It doesn't even matter who actually started the altercation that night, or what it was about. All that matters is how it ended: Jackson got into the driver's seat of Paryani's cab and ran him over. Repeatedly. Whatever happened before that moment is largely irrelevant. Jackson surely had other, better options than the one he chose. He was outside the car, and he chose to get back in and use it as a weapon. He could have walked away. He should have walked away. He didn't, and he deserves to pay for the life he took.
There are a couple of notable quotes in the article. Jackson's attorney, Thomas Breen, said,"My desire isn't to trash anybody. It's to get to the facts that occurred that night." If he is using Paryani's past to argue his case, that has nothing to do with the "facts" of what happened that night.
But this one is more thought-provoking:
Andrea Lyon, a DePaul University law professor and president of the Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said mentioning a person's prior acts of aggression is permissible in court. "If [Breen] investigated the case and has found some incident that this particular person has been violent, then it would not be an unreasonable investigative tactic to see if someone would come forward and tell you about it," she said.While the article says "a person's prior acts," it would be more accurate to say "a victim's prior acts." The history of the accused (not to say that Jackson had one, although he has since been charged with assaulting a nurse) cannot be used in court except in sentencing. It's an odd double-standard that puts the victim at a disadvantage, a situation that has been exploited to help some bad guys get away. For example, how many times has a woman's promiscuity been used in a rape case? That specific situation has led to "rape shield laws" to protect rape victims, although lawyers still find ways around them. There is no such protection for victims of other crimes, including murder. Consequently, Paryani's survivors get to watch his name get dragged through the mud in the process of trying his killer.