Mollie Tibbett’s Accused Killer Cries Victim

According to Breitbart, the defense team for Christhian Bahena-Rivera, the Mexican illegal alien accused of murdering Mollie Tibbetts, has moved for a change of venue. Bahena-Rivera’s attorneys claim that he cannot receive a fair trial in Powesheik County, Iowa, because of “negative perceptions of Hispanic community in the area.”  The clear implication is that  residents of the region are racist and, therefore, more likely to convict Bahena-Rivera on the basis of his race – as opposed to evidence presented by the prosecution.

Sadly, this is an all too common tactic in major criminal cases. It is based on an over-reading of the right to be tried by a jury of one’s peers. Motivated largely by suspect ideologies such as “critical race theory” and “critical legal studies,” activist defense attorneys have begun taking the term “peers” literally.

The standard argument is that a minority defendant cannot be fairly tried by a jury that isn’t composed of people who share the defendant’s race, ethnicity and gender. This is because minority jury members will understand the circumstances and world view of the defendant, whereas a jury of Powesheik County residents allegedly won’t be able to see beyond stereotypes about race, ethnicity or gender.

That’s a woefully flawed idea, for several important reasons:

  • It’s legally inaccurate. The notion of being tried by a jury of one’s peers flows from the British Magna Carta, which includes a provision ensuring that juries trying nobles would be composed of other nobles. In that context, the term “peer” refers to individuals who belonged to a particular order of the English nobility. In modern legal usage, it simply means members of the local community. If it did not, how could an immigrant from a tiny country like the Republic of Vanuatu ever be tried for a crime in the U.S.?
  • American juries are responsible for hearing the evidence presented by each side and determining what facts are established by that evidence. But facts don’t change according to one’s race or ethnicity. Perpetuating the notion that they do, injects identity politics into the application of the law, which should be an apolitical process.
  • The claim that America’s criminal-justice system is racist simply isn’t supported by the evidence. In fact, in the United States, illegal aliens on trial for crimes – whatever their ethnicity – are subjected to exactly the same legal process as citizens:
  • As the Supreme Court opined in Yick Wo v. Hopkins, “The guarantees of protection contained in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution extend to all persons within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States, without regard to differences of race, of color, or of nationality.”
  • It followed up that holding with Wing Wong v. United States, which specifically addressed the issue of foreigners on trial for crimes. It stated “…even aliens shall not be held to answer for a capital or other infamous crime unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”

Christhian Bahena-Rivera is entitled to a fair trial. He’s also entitled to whatever other process he is due under our Constitution. But his continuous assertions that he has somehow become a victim of racial bias are profoundly offensive. One suspects that he’ll get a fairer trial as an illegal alien in American court than he would as a Mexican citizen before a tribunal in Mexico. The World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index 2019 rated Mexico 99 out of 126 countries, just ahead of such beacons of justice as Myanmar (110) and Venezuela (126).

About Author


Matthew J. O’Brien joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2016. Matt is responsible for managing FAIR’s research activities. He also writes content for FAIR’s website and publications. Over the past twenty years he has held a wide variety of positions focusing on immigration issues, both in government and in the private sector. Immediately prior to joining FAIR Matt served as the Chief of the National Security Division (NSD) within the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where he was responsible for formulating and implementing procedures to protect the legal immigration system from terrorists, foreign intelligence operatives, and other national security threats. He has also held positions as the Chief of the FDNS Policy and Program Development Unit, as the Chief of the FDNS EB-5 Division, as Assistant Chief Counsel with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, as a Senior Advisor to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, and as a District Adjudications Officer with the legacy Immigration & Naturalization Service. In addition, Matt has extensive experience as a private bar attorney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from the Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law.


  1. avatar

    The Open Border Party (OBP) Infamous 9th Circuit Federal State Courts

    Couldn’t sue Trump for calling the recent “HORRIFYING SURGES” of WALL invasion/penetrations “a National Emergency”….or IMO, they would have done it by now…..nope, this is much better. Now the Senate votes on the WALL National Emergency and those [phony Populist GOP, that are really OBP] that vote against it will face the Reaper in 2020 IMO….LOL

  2. avatar

    It’s no surprise that the Democrats would not support a declaration of an emergency by Trump. They WANT open borders. They may outright say it or do the usual double talk, but the goal is the same. But Republicans should know better. The Border Patrol says they are “overwhelmed”. And that is not hyperbole. It has reached the point where some people are crossing without being processed because the border patrol has their hands full with other people. It’s two thousand people a day and increasing.

    It’s true that a lot of drugs are coming through ports of entry, and then the argument becomes there’s no need for a wall. But it’s like proving a negative. To think that no drugs are being brought over the open border areas defies logic. The drug mules know that when the only agents within miles are tied up with illegals crossing, then they have a clear shot to cross elsewhere. Estimates are that less than half of the drugs coming through the ports of entry are being discovered and a big reason for that is because agents are out in the field where there are no barriers. A wall/barrier allows them to maximize their man power. Let’s take THEIR word for it, not some pandering politician.

    The Democrats say if Trump declares an emergency with the border then a Democratic president can do it with guns. But they have really had that power already, under the same authority Trump is using. Let them try it and see how it works out at the polls.

  3. avatar

    The ACLU [Alien Criminal Lawyers’ Union] will give this PoS all the help he needs to beat the rap. The life of a young woman counts for nothing in the eyes of the Loony Left.