Tuesday, July 16, 2013

On Justice

By Dave Dargo

What is justice?

Saturday night we heard the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial: not guilty on all counts.

A jury heard the evidence, applied the law and found Mr. Zimmerman not guilty.

I listened to the press conferences after the verdict was delivered and that's when I got scared of what our criminal justice system has become.

The prosecutors acted as if they were the losing coaches who had to explain a championship loss in a post-game interview. There was no simple, "The jury made their decision and we thank them for their service." No, the prosecutors went back over the trial and discussed their tactics as if they were discussing why a pass-play was chosen vs. an end-run in the failed touchdown attempt in the final three seconds of the game.

The prosecutors continued to insist that Mr. Zimmerman was guilty and, if not for a bad play-call or two, their side would have won.

Criminal prosecutions are not about winning. They are not a substitute for mob action. They are not a stage for sweeps-week-style sensationalism. Criminal prosecutions are supposed to be about justice, brought when the evidence supports the case and used judiciously.

I did learn an important lesson from watching the trial, though: never, ever, ever, ever give "your side of the story" to the police. In this case the police believed Mr. Zimmerman and the prosecutors twisted each and every word into the worst possible interpretation. For that lesson in our criminal justice system, I am thankful.

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