Criticizing courts and juries is a pasttime in the U.S. How many people actually thought former Buffalo Bills running back/actor OJ Simpson was innocent in the double murder case involving Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman? How about the Casey Anthony case where she was acquitted of first-degree murder in the death of her two-year-old daughter, Caylee. The jury deliberated ten hours and 40 minutes.
The second Phil Spector trial deliberated for 30 hours and convicted him of second-degree murder in the death of Lana Clarkson. Scott Peterson was convicted of first-degree and second-degree murder for killing his wife and their unborn child. The Menendez brothers were convicted of two counts of first-degree murder for killing their parents.
Sometimes the public and media agree with a conviction/innocent finding, but there are always those who disagree with a jury’s decision.
Ask any prosecutor/defense lawyer and they all admit they had a case they thought was a slam dunk, only to have their hearts sink when the jury decision was announced.
What we do not understand is the external/internal pressure put on a jury, sometimes by a single juror with a mind set one way or another. Juries have almost totally reversed their initial decisions, based upon one person’s stubbornness.
First, you have to find a totally impartial jury, something short of a miracle. People who have either never heard of the case, or have no predetermined notions. Just what is a jury of your peers?
A person’s religion, race, upbringing, socio-economic status all play in to how a jury weighs in on a guilty or innocent verdict. No matter how many times a person is questioned about their prejudices, we all have them. How about – how much lawyering you can afford?
Now imagine you are not in the U.S. court system. We all shook our heads at the Italian Court system’s methodology in the case of Amanda Knox and her then-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito in the 2007 brutal killing of Meredith Kercher, her roommate and fellow foreign exchange student in the university town of Perugia.
By U.S. standards of innocent until proven guilty, or innocent beyond a reasonable doubt, there was no question Amanda and Raffaele could have never been proven guilty.
In Italy, it is the accused who must prove innocence and there is no level of “beyond a reasonable doubt”. As Americans, we cannot wrap our minds around such a system, one that is even worse in many other countries.
If you have a hard time believing other countries systems, just imagine how the world felt about the OJ case, or the Casey Anthony trial and outcome.
We (The U.S.) also have a shady court past when it came to some infamous race, or spy trials, always ready to pre-convict in the media eye.
No, we do not have a perfect court system, but we have the best human conscience can provide.