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Michael Santos Headshot

Justice Isn't Justice Without a Guilty Verdict?

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Today I watched some television coverage on the Casey Anthony murder trial in Florida that resulted in a conclusion of the criminal justice process with a verdict of not guilty. Prosecutors don't like to hear that. Neither, it appears, do the media pundits who had convicted the young woman of murdering her daughter. According to the people speaking on television, justice doesn't exist without a guilty verdict.

I did not follow the trial, so I don't have any idea what the jurors heard. Nevertheless, the entire criminal justice process was carried out. The defendant stood trial. Prosecutors had their say. In the end, jurors said not guilty. Now pundits express shock, accusing the jury of getting it wrong, expressing outrage at the defense attorneys for celebrating their victory.

People who observed the case did not want justice. On the one hand, they hold rules of criminal procedure to be sacrosanct. They wanted a conviction. When the jurors did not return a verdict of guilty, they claimed justice was not served. They wanted their pound of flesh, regardless of how those on the jury evaluated the evidence.

After the verdict was read, I heard one commentator with the misleading name Nancy Grace suggesting that the jurors were biased. She ridiculed the jurors for troubles they had had in the past with the criminal justice system. Nancy Grace should celebrate the diversity!

Our nation now confines 2.3 million people. I've read reports indicating that 13 million people have criminal records. More and more people who have struggled with the criminal justice system live in American communities. As jurors apparently were in the Florida murder trial, more people may become cynical about our nation's criminal justice system. It is growing into a multi-headed, Leviathan-like beast. Frankly, I'm sick of it.

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