by Mike Martin
Clash Daily Contributor
What the hell is justice anyway? Is it what you say it is? Is it what I say it is? Is it what the judge says is? Is it what the police or the law say it is?
It is none of those things, in my opinion!
It is a combination of things. We elect officials, they make laws, police enforce the laws, prosecutors prosecute lawbreakers, and the jury is supposed to arbitrate the outcome.
But prosecutors overcharge and then offer plea bargains for a reduced sentence. This is not Justice. Outcomes are determined by how good your lawyer or connections are, not on the actual case.
The jury is not only supposed to adjudicate whether an individual actually broke the law, but is it a good law, and is it being correctly applied in this instance? This is where justifiable motives come in. Yes, I killed him, but he broke into my house at 2 A.M. or yes I killed him, but he pulled a knife on me or my wife or another individual in need of protection. This is called justifiable.
In truth, there is such a plethora of laws on the books today that it’s almost impossible not to break a law in time. Can we entrust our legislatures to fix this problem? Survival rule # (you pick): never trust the ones that created a problem to be the ones that fix the problem (without oversight – of which our representatives have none.) What to do, what to do?
Lawbreakers (read: everyone) should always insist on a jury trial (assuming they think that they are either innocent or justifiable). A part of the trial process would be a disclosure of all plea bargains proposed and by whom. To this end all Prosecutors and Defense Attorneys would be required to testify of plea bargains offered. The Jury could draw its own inferences and conclusions of those facts.
The Judge could advise the jury on what the law is, but he must also advise them that it is the juries responsibility to determine whether it is a good law, how or if it applies to this case, and to make their decision according to their findings and good conscience.
All people should be equal under the law. If police are allowed to testify at a grand jury proceeding that is looking into their culpability in a matter, then we should all be able to testify. If we can’t testify on our behalf, then neither can they!
Police are seldom found guilty of crimes. They shoot someone and are not prosecuted because they thought that person had a gun, even though it hadn’t been used. By that logic you could shoot any policeman you can see because, after all, they are carrying guns! Do I advocate that you should be free to shoot police? Of course not. I advocate that they be subject to the same restraints that we are subject to, and if they break those constraints, they should be tried by a jury, not given a pass by a grand jury.
In summation, Justice is a combination of circumstances and justifications as determined by a jury. All too often, Judges advise juries that there is no such thing as jury nullification, when that is at the heart of our jury system, that this is not a good law, or it is not being applied correctly here, or just doesn’t fit the circumstances. It is therefore your duty as a citizen to serve on juries (grand or otherwise) and to exercise your best judgment as to both the crime (if any) and the appropriate punishment.
Lord, grant out citizens the responsibility to serve, the wisdom to serve, and the fortitude to make their best judgment, regardless of outside influences or pressures. In Christ’s name, I pray. Amen
Image: shutterstock_92423773.jpg; Everett Collection
Mike Martin thanks you for the opportunity to express “different points of views”, and if you were to ask his family they would probably tell you that he’s as different as they come….