Was Justice Carried?

Rich Galen

7/15/2013 9:09:00 AM - Rich Galen

We often hear about a "miscarriage of justice" but rarely a "carriage of justice." As much as we call people inept, we never say someone is really, really, etp.

Okay, but there's no such word as "ept," so that doesn't count.

The national news corps was all a-twitter when the jury came back with its not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial for the death of Trayvon Martin.

Too many of them expressed everything from disappointment to outright shock at the result.

I realize life is passing me by and the notion of a reporter without an agenda is as outdated as an 8-track player connected to a AM-only radio in a car with bench seats and white walls.

I get that.

But what I don't get is a bunch of people who were not in the courtroom and probably only watched snippets of the trial deciding that they knew how this was all supposed to turn out, and an acquittal was not it.

None of these people would have been allowed on the jury because they had made up their mind that Zimmerman was guilty before he was even arrested and charged.

Speaking of the jury, the all-woman jury consisted of five Whites and one Hispanic. This, according to Fox News legal analyst Tamara Holder, was fraught with danger because the jury didn't match the racial makeup of Seminole County and "The George Zimmerman prosecution and defense teams should have considered the potential for such a response in this case, because race was at issue from the outset."

Everything I know about jury trials I learned from watching Law & Order episodes and covering Municipal Court as a young reporter in Marietta, Ohio. But I know this: A defense attorney that potentially damages his client's chances for a fair trial by choosing less than the best jurors he can is likely to lose his license.

At the beginning of the trial, Zimmerman's lawyer Don West told his infamous knock-knock joke about the difficulty in finding jurors who had not already made up their mind because they'd read and heard so much about the case:

Knock, knock.

Who's there?

George Zimmerman.

George Zimmerman who?

Alright good, you're on the jury.

The legal geniuses on the cable chat shows called for West's head because the jury didn't laugh.

Now that Zimmerman has been acquitted on the charge of 2nd degree murder, that same crowd is calling for the prosecutors' collective heads because they couldn't prove 2nd degree murder.

But if the State's Attorneys had chosen to charge Zimmerman with a case they might have been able to prove, like manslaughter, they would have been pilloried for not charging him with 2nd degree murder.

The only time I watched any part of this trial (not counting the verdict announcement which I watched only because Fox broke into the Nats-Marlins game to carry it) was while I was on the elevator in my office building.

I work on the 5th floor so we're talking maybe 15, 20 seconds at a time.

This is why I am opposed to cameras in the courtroom: They add nothing to the administration of justice. Cameras in court only provide fodder for legal voyeurs, most of whom have a legal background limited to whining about a parking ticket.

The American legal system is far from perfect. This case is a good example: For the most part the only person who actually knew what happened, George Zimmerman, didn't testify. The other witnesses testified to what they think they saw or heard or what they wanted to have heard or seen.

In the end there were only six people on the planet who had a say in how the trial was going to come out: the jury.

You and I don't have to like the result, but we didn't have a vote.

Neither did the national press corps.