So there was news today that another juror from the George Zimmerman trial spoke about her experience. For those of you who do not know about the Zimmerman trial, George Zimmerman was acquitted of criminal charges in the death of teenager Trayvon Martin. I am not going to get into the nitty-gritty of the trial there are plenty of links, tweets, and blog posts by others for that.
I am writing to speak more specifically about the comments from the second juror. She basically stated that Zimmerman got away with murder. She thought he was guilty of second-degree murder, but the evidence did not show it. I think that others often forget the position jurors are put in. Jurors are human, yet they are charged with the duty of putting aside their emotions and ruling solely as to the law. I know some people are going to say she should have hung out and voted with her gut, but if we start that trend then we start down a slippery slope. I am sure there have been defendants who jurors felt were guilty, but the evidence did not show it (and it turns out were not actually guilty). But for the jurors voting according to the law, instead of how they felt, an innocent person could have been sent to jail.
There is the saying that it is better for guilty men to go free, than for one innocent man to go to jail. In part, I think that is what our legal system is based on. That is why we have such a high standard for the prosecution to prove. When someone’s life or liberty is at risk, we want to make sure that that person truly deserves to have those rights taken from him or her.
Logically speaking, the juror voted as she should have and the legal system worked as it was supposed to work. According to her, and the other five jurors, there was not enough evidence to convict Zimmerman of second-degree murder or manslaughter. That means that the prosecution did not meet the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, so the jury should not have convicted him. For those unhappy with the outcome, I do not think it was the system that did not work, but rather the law. It has been argued that the issue with this case arose from Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. If you really want to change the legal system, I think one major step is changing the laws. Involve yourself in local politics and stay abreast of what is really going on in your community. Make your voices heard.
At the end of the day, the truth is maybe Zimmerman did get away with murder or maybe he actually did fear for his life and thought deadly force was the only way to survive. At this point, we may never know the full truth of what happened that night except that Zimmerman and Martin got into some type altercation, Zimmerman walked away, and Martin ended up dead. I realize there are those that do not see how justice has been served by a grown man basically having no legal repercussions for killing an unarmed teenage boy. The sad truth is, maybe justice has not been served. That is one of the downfalls of any human legal system, it does not always lead to outcomes that seem just. But it is the system that we have, so we can either complain and do nothing or decide to take action and see what we can do to make it better.