Recently a fellow A/C writer by the name of JD wrote a piece about “The Philly Five” as they are called, they basically are several young Hispanic males who were convicted in the death of the son of a Philadelphia police officer. There are many in the community that allege that these young man were “framed” or at the very least deprived of a “fair trial”. In JD’s article he made reference to something along the lines of this being a continual problem in the United States, or something along those lines more or less, and in a lot of ways JD does make a valid point. The problem is that those that often scream the loudest for changing the system just don’t understand how the system in the United States is designed so I thought I would give a quick class on “Judicial 101” so to speak.
What most people don’t understand in the rest of the world is that the legal system in the United States is an “adversarial system” by design and what that means is that both sides have the right to bring forth their evidence to a jury of one’s peers to be challenged and judged. In many countries in this world the concept of a “jury” is unimaginable. Unfortunately, jurors are human beings and like humans they tend to be guided by their emotions and often make rulings based upon those emotions.
Does that make the system flawed in a sense? sure it does but the Founding Fathers provided checks and balances to that system. The Trial Judge has the power to overrule the jury if they feel the “burden of proof” has not been met by the state. If the trial level fails to exercise their duties and errors are made there is an appellate level that can review the trial level. Then as a final measure of safety in most states there is a Supreme Court to be the final arbitrator to assure justice was properly executed at all levels. Even after all these different levels have acted the Founding Fathers added the extra safe guard of the Federal Courts to oversee that a persons constitutional rights were not violated.
It’s not the system that if flawed in the United States it’s the players that are flawed. How many of you when you get a jury duty notice say to yourself “oh damn” and immediately start the wheels turning in your head on how you can get out of that damn jury duty? I know I do. What that leaves are people who as I have heard it said before “are to dumb to figure out how to get out of jury duty” left to judge cases. It is a proven fact that you tend to draw older, less educated individuals to the jury pools to judge cases that are becoming ever increasingly complicated by technical forensic evidence; how can you expect a person to judge the validity of DNA evidence if they have no idea what DNA evidence even is?
Then you have the fact the United States has become a sue happy society; every slight wrong in this country is now clogging the courts where citizens increasing search for that big settlement checks so they can be rich. So now instead of courts dealing with cases of merit they spend their time trying to decide if McDonald’s should pay millions of dollars to some moron who split coffee on themselves and are mad because it was hot. Your valuable resources are wasted on crap like this because the United States has a glut of attorneys who need to make money so they file any case they can get their hands on. We have laws on the books to deal with people and attorneys that file frivolous litigation but the courts seldom want to exercise those laws on fellow attorneys.
I’m the first to admit the United States has many flaws and sometimes I want to pull my hair out but it is still the best, fairest court system in the world and we should be very careful spouting the need for change so quickly; remember once Pandora’s Box is opened it is hard as hell to get it closed again and you may not like what pops out of it.