In the normal course of our days, this process is carried out many times over at the local, state, and national level with very little coverage beyond the scope of “local interest”. There have been a few exceptions which come to mind. Michael Jackson was tried for his purported inappropriate sexual behavior with minor children. The case was all over the national news. There was much conjecture bantered about and little evidence….mostly pointing to the claim that Michael was only charged because he was of the black race and thus is innocent of the charge…or should be. OJ Simpson was prosecuted for the grisly murder of his wife and restaurant employee, Ronald Goldman. Again…much conjecture and emotion with the cry being that OJ was charged with the crime because he was black and therefore he must be innocent. Then, we have the George Zimmerman trial which just concluded this weekend with the emotional outcry being that George Zimmerman, a “non-black” has slain a black youth therefore he is definitely guilty as charged.
Certainly one can understand the national interest in the Michael Jackson trial and that of OJ Simpson. Additionally, the media hype associated with the fame of these two drove much of the national attention associated with the trials. In the case of George Zimmerman, the accused, and Trayvon Martin, the dead black man, neither held any position of national prominence nor was either of them involved in a situation which would normally have garnered interest much beyond the local or state level with the exception of this trial.
At the same time, in either the case of Michael Jackson or OJ Simpson, did we see the President of the United States sticking his nose into the case and making public commentary? No, we did not. Did we see the Attorney General and Head of the U.S. Justice Department fly in to attempt to make a federal case out of what otherwise is a matter of State and Local law? No, we did not. But turn to the Zimmerman trial and all that fades as our President made comments; the Attorney General flew in and turned things into a racial kangaroo hunt for justice at the federal level, and then the Barracudas of “Making- Money- Off- My- Brothers-In- Racial- Strife” arrived. Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson descended upon the landscape and made sure the situation was painted in full “racial” array.
Personally, I do not have an opinion which matters in this case for I have little exposure to or understanding of the evidence which exists in the case. I would conclude the same thing about most of the folks running their mouth about how it should have been decided. This includes the miserable American media that turns everything into a ball of conjecture and emotion. Thanks to the actions of the President, the Attorney General, and the dog and pony show of Sharpton and Jackson, a local criminal act, the likes of which probably are carried out in similar fashion in many major U.S. cities each day became a circus which raised a level of emotionally-charged public pressure to find George Zimmerman guilty regardless of what the evidence did not did not prove. That expected outcome was made quite clear when calls for rioting went forth as a potential reaction to a “not guilty” verdict.
Back in the days when the Old West was wild, a handful of men courageously worked to bring law and order to the locales which populated that region of the country. Local justice was the order of the day and many times over it was dealt out with either a gun or a rope. Guilt or innocence was decided on the fanned flames of emotion which drove the crowd to demand an immediate outcome. The emotionally–charged crowds were referred to as “lynch mobs” and they were likely responsible for the death of numbers of otherwise innocent men of the times. We do not use the label anymore but the characteristics are the same. Certainly there are groups of accusers out there who would have dragged George Zimmerman from his jail cell and hung him from the nearest tree limb if the opportunity had presented itself.
Are we not better people than that? Is this an indication of how little progress we have made toward intelligence and understanding in our own judicial process? Is this the suggested method for curing our so called “racial divide” in this country? Sadly, in many ways, we are a more intelligent yet just nation in terms of judicial process but still we allow those on the fringe of our society, driven by their own ambitions, agendas, and greed to suggest that racial issues are at the heart of the matter. In doing so, we become blinded to any facts or logic and follow our emotionally-charged conclusions basically fulfilling the prophecy that “race” had anything to do with the matter in the first place.
In the case of a jury trial, the accuser must prove to the jury, beyond reasonable doubt, that the evidence supports the guilt of the accused in the crime. That becomes the litmus test in a truly equitable and reasonable justice system. Now, the accused certainly has the right to question the evidence and to attempt to counter it within the scope of the law. But, in the end, regardless of how good or bad the defense might be on the issue, the jury should be operating from the perspective as to whether the prosecution proved the case and the evidence supported the accusation. Then, and only then, should we see a jury return to the courtroom with a “guilty” verdict in hand.
Based on the overly emotion-charged atmosphere created by key people and the media, George Zimmerman was very lucky to have received a “not guilty” verdict. Going a step further, given that the evidence presented seemed to overwhelmingly support Zimmerman’s position, it is unbelievable that anyone could have concluded otherwise unless their conclusion was based on something other than the actual evidence at hand, which is likely the case.
Let’s take a quick example here. During the summation to the jury, the judge in the Zimmerman trial, a controversial figure as it progressed, was described as “storming out” of the courtroom during the closing statements to the jury by the defense attorney in the case. On the basis of that report by the media one would likely conclude that the judge was upset with the attorney or his presentation of information. Do we have any actual evidence to support that conclusion other than conjecture on the part of the media? No! So, is the judge guilty of impartial behavior? We do not know and without more evidence, we cannot support that conclusion in all fairness to the judge. Certainly the behavior she exhibited was not appropriate to the judicial setting but that is really all that we know.
The American judicial process is purposely blind and it relies on the evidence at hand as the litmus test to determine guilt or innocence of an accused party. If the evidence does not convince the jury of the guilt of the accused, then his/her innocence prevails as it rightly should in this case and all cases of the future. Sadly, in the case of George Zimmerman, the young man had already been convicted of his accused crime in the court of public opinion long before the evidence surrounding the case was presented in a court of law. George Zimmerman was already convicted the day he showed up for trial and the fact that he was found innocent of the charges means little in terms of his perceived public guilt. Mr. Zimmerman’s may be a free-man today but he will spend the rest of his life being pointed at, persecuted, and spit upon by people who have allowed the media and their own emotional dishonesty to control their reason and logic. In that sense, this is a sad day for the American Judicial System.
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