Thursday, April 12, 2012

This is why we have courts

Ah, the court of public opinion.

If you ever needed to narrow the reasons that we have a legal system down to one solitary justification, it's that one.  The public makes snap judgments about things they have limited information on.  The media can turn anything into a circus.  Cases are tried on TV before an actual arraignment is even issued sometimes.  People are biased.  People are racist.  People are sexist.  People allow their predetermined thoughts about others to determine what information they absorb.

This is why we don't allow "people" to determine guilt or innocence in this country.

This is why we have a legal system.

This is why we have voir dire, why every criminal defendant is entitled to a jury trial.

Sometimes people do terrible things to each other.  Sometimes people kill each other.  Sometimes there are reasons that the eyes of justice allow, and sometimes there is no claim to affirmative defenses permitted at all.

Only time will tell for George Zimmerman.

We, the public, have only the information leaked in the media about this case.  It seems that every single piece of that information has some bias attached to it.

As the days tick by, it's become more and more apparent that the police department failed miserably here.  The witnesses weren't interviewed.  The cell phone records of the shooter were looked at, but not those of the victim.  The criminal history of the victim made public, but not the one of the shooter.

Trayvon Martin was suspended from school for having marijuana.  Zimmerman had a history of assaulting a police officer and domestic violence.

Why was Trayvon's history relevant to the case here, when Zimmerman's wasn't?

Why weren't the witnesses interviewed for over a week?

Zimmerman was not arrested and charged immediately, apparently because the police supported his claim to self defense.  Think about the circumstances that night, though.  From the 911 calls, we know that Zimmerman called, claiming to feel threatened by a strange man walking around the neighborhood.  He was told by the dispatcher not to follow the man.  He did it anyway.  How can anyone claim self defense if they were the pursuer?  If they were the one tailing someone else?

Think about it from the perspective of Trayvon.  He was alone and minding his own business, walking back to his dad's girlfriend's house.  Some guy he didn't recognize started following him.  In the dark.

What do we teach our children if they are being followed?  If they are uncomfortable?  If someone they don't know is bothering them?  I've taught my kids to run, to get away, to scream.

Trayvon did that, at least according to the witnesses.

Several allege he screamed right before the gun went off.

Did he fight with Zimmerman?  It seems he did, yes.

But wouldn't you want your kids to fight back too in that circumstance?  Isn't that what we teach them?

After weeks, Zimmerman was finally charged with second degree murder yesterday.  Going against his attorneys' advice, talking to TV stations, setting up his own website soliciting money for his defense fund, and losing contact with investigators....not the way to look innocent and justified.  He's only made himself appear guilty.

Is he?  I don't know.  Only time will tell.  None of us have all the information here.  I'd venture a guess that the investigators don't even have it all yet.

This is why we have courts.  This is why we trust that the legal system will work.

This is why ordinary people aren't allowed to sit in judgment.

1 comment:

  1. "How can anyone claim self defense if they were the pursuer? If they were the one tailing someone else?" This is exactly what I don't understand. If Zimmerman had just stayed back like the dispatcher told him to, none of this would've happened. Trayvon's parents would still have their son. Zimmerman would be a free man. I just don't get the self-defense claim at all, seeing as Zimmerman chose to pursue. If anything, it seems like Trayvon likely reacted in self-defense during the final moments of his life. But like you said, we don't have all of the facts yet. So while I have a strong opinion about the case based on information available thus far, I'll refrain from condemning Zimmerman until all the evidence is presented. The only thing I can say with 100% certainty is that this is a real tragedy.


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