Jury Verdicts, Apologies, Kangaroos,
Law Has No Place In A Perfect World?
(Random Introspections From A Criminal Defense Attorney)
Along with my Bankruptcy practice here in St. Louis, Missouri, I am a Trial Attorney. In most cases, I represent people who have been accused by the government (Either the State of Missouri or the Federal Government) of committing a crime. (Insert Lawyer Joke Here) Someone once told me that I should lose every case; I argued with him again and again until one day it hit me, maybe in a warped sort of way he’s right; maybe I should lose every case! Perhaps that is, if the government is always right. After all, it is the government that accuses people of breaking the law, and surely no one is suppose to question the government are they? And so it is, I pose this question:
Does Anyone want to go on record stating that “The Government Is Always Right?”
Ahh, the idea of a perfect criminal justice system; In such a system, only the guilty should be charged with committing a crime, and only those who the government could prove guilty would be prosecuted. That is right, isn’t it? I mean, this ideas of the presumption of innocence, and burden of proof come from somewhere don’t they? Or is it, in a perfect system the government would never fail, and hence, all those who commit crime would be held responsible. Or, maybe it’s, in a perfect system, we would never accuse someone of doing something they didn’t do, and would only jail people who truly deserved to be locked up. Hence, why don’t we just develop a perfect system, and save the taxpayers a ton of money, put criminal defense attorneys out of work, and save judges time for more important things like tea, crumpets, golf and tort reform, and other things are just wrong?
The most recent nationally publicized trial involving Casey “Anthawhoever” barely caught my attention. What did catch my attention were the thousands of comments, emails, TV show one-liners, on-line postings at the outrage of the not guilty verdict. In that case, we have a government controlled system, based on the laws of our land, and people were just stunned at the verdict. Hate mail ensued, pundits roared, Facebook (And no, I won’t give the link to Facebook) posts flew, tweets were tweeted, emails jammed the airways or whatever it is that they jam, and everyone looking for a “safe” cause had one for a few days, and all the same, 12 random citizens who swore to uphold the law made a unanimous decision, any one of which could have stopped it; 12 out of 12 agreed, that’s amazing! In what realm do we ever see 12 out of 12 people agree on anything, especially when the government gets involved in some fashion? Now, in a perfect world, if she did it, the system would have worked, and she would have been convicted and possibly fried, and if she didn’t, she wouldn’t have been put through all of that. Of course, in a perfect world, there wouldn’t been a trial at all, like in a totalitarian state… “wait a minute, that’s not a perfect world; that’s a very imperfect world”. As it stands, no one knows what really happened, trials don’t determine what happened, trials determine if the government made its case. Many cannot accept the decision made by the impartial jury of peers who sat through the entire trial, and there’s a bunch of people really pissed off because she didn’t fry in the electric chair and complaining about the system because the Nancy Graces of the idiot box tell them to. “How dare you go free Tot-Mom!” “Outrage I tell ya, just plain wrong!”
Hence, I’m forever puzzled. I like my job, though at times, it makes me very unpopular. I’m convinced that though our system of justice is the best the world has ever seen, it’s still fallible to human error. I won’t lose every trial, because not every trial is one in which the state can prove its case. At times, the state cannot do so because my client simply didn’t do the crime. In those cases, the government got it wrong, and the people spoke out against it to protect my client. I’ve never really won a criminal jury trial. I’ve had plenty of juries find my client “Not Guilty”, which some I suppose, would call a win. Perhaps it’s better to think of it as, the people have ruled, and “government”, again, you were wrong!
No, perhaps in a perfect world I wouldn’t lose every time. In a perfect world, there wouldn’t be a need for my services, because there would be no crime at all. That said, I’ll gladly quit my job, when the government gets accusations perfect, but I don’t see that ever happening. Until then, I think I’ll continue pointing out why they are not always right, and letting the people decide when once again, they’ve gotten it wrong.
Side Note: Ya know, no one ever apologized to my clients after a not-guilty verdict. “Um, sorry man, we charged you with a terrible crime, but apparently you didn’t do it, just like you told us before we put you in jail, and the people of the land told us we were wrong too and that you really didn’t do it, yeah, sorry ’bout that.” Just sayin! Funny the things we’ll apologize for. Just today, I apologized for not holding the door for the guy behind me at the Quickie-Mart. He was slightly inconvenienced by having to grab for the handle, and I felt sort of dumb for not swinging it wider so he could catch it, but then again, he wasn’t accused by our government, so it was socially acceptable and appropriate to apologize to him if I was slightly wrong.
Now, the next time that slip comes in saying your up for jury duty, weasel out of it, don’t show, skip it, or call in sick, because as we know, the government never gets it wrong, they’re always right. If the government says a fella committed a crime, he must have done it. Let the guy charged fry! And the stop complaining about government, politicians, or taxes, because government is always right. Or, in the alternative, go see for yourself, how did the government do this time? “Throw the witch in the water, and if she drowns, well, then she’s not a witch after all, and they were wrong.”