A look at the justice system

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A look at the justice system

Matthew Norwood, Staff Reporter

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Our nation’s unity is in jeopardy. Every way you turn, people are screaming “injustice” and “end the prejudice.” The country’s citizens are up in arms against a perceived infringement of their rights.

As most know, the past few weeks have been punctuated by controversy after controversy concerning police brutality. America has seen shades of Rodney King and the 1992 Los Angeles riots, with flashpoints showing the potential for mass violence.

Aside from a few radical protesters and the actual events of protest themselves, the situation has remained peaceful. Even so, many in America have raised their voice because they feel wronged.

The jury, comprised of 9 whites and 3 non-whites, reached a verdict on November 24, deciding not to convict the police officer who had shot and killed Michael Brown. Many took this as an affront to liberty, a spit in the face of what America stands for.

Ferguson reminds many of the trials of Casey Anthony and O.J. Simpson, both which ended with unexpected and disagreeable results. The difference here is that Ferguson gives way to a discussion on racism in our society, which make up the large portion of arguments for or against the indictment of Officer Wilson, the defendant in the case of Brown’s shooting.

The issue here, and one which we have to view subjectively, is that this case is an assessment of the law. There is no legal code dealing with racism in the court, and there are no ways to prove racism without it being explicitly stated. Essentially, we have to understand that it is nearly impossible to measure racism. Any implications we assume as racist in the case is just that, an assumption. Yes, white officers may have a history of disrespecting the black community. Yes, racism is still an issue today. Not, however, in the court of law.

As of now, America’s court system is still based on “Guilty Until Proven Innocent.” Allowing moral issues to constitute reasonable doubt will set a precedent allowing any assumption to be taken as fact as long as it fits someone’s moral debate. Because morals can differ so much, we have to rely on facts.

In the Ferguson case, as is the case with a huge number of controversial cases, the public never got the full picture. On more than one occasion we were presented with two different sides to a single event, and we never had all the facts disclosed, as many inevitably remain secret to the grand jury in order to protect witnesses and refrain from giving out compromising information.

When it comes to the justice system, it is worth knowing that it is not fool-proof. However, changing it just because we want to, as so many of the protesters are trying to do for no empirical gain, will only make it worse. We have to understand the jurors given the responsibility to decide the fate of indicted defendants are varied in who they represent and will make a decision that we can’t help, so trusting them and keeping our system as it is is the best way to maintain peace in our society for the long run.

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