In trying to understand the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial, I listened to one legal scholar explain that our criminal court system is not designed to handle the kind of circumstantial nuance that this case presented. According to the scholar, we are expecting too much in such complicated cases with no eye witnesses and no clear forensic evidence. We are simply expecting too much of this system.
Really? What kind of system allows an adult to initiate an action that leads to the death of a teenager and walk away? What kind of system accepts the lies of this adult (he had “never heard of” the “stand your ground” law); allows him to ignore the warning of a 911 operator to back off; and turns a blind eye to his view of his killing as “God’s plan”? Were our expectations really too high?
Though we may never know exactly what happened that rainy night in Sanford, Fla., we do know that our criminal justice system failed miserably. In this sad case, “not guilty” does not mean “innocent.” When the words “reasonable doubt” are permitted to trump reason, that system is not only imperfect, it is an utter failure.