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What failure here?

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Published on: Thursday, July 18, 2013

By Brian J. Karem

It is that wonderful weather time of year in the beautiful Washington D.C. Metro area: hot and sweaty followed by hot and smelly. Working and living in this swamp is comparable to living in an armpit, but it does have its distractions.

The George Zimmerman media circus, after Edward “Scissor Mouth” Snowden and Paula “Fumble Mouth” Deen has provided the latest distraction.

CASA de Maryland – which is the state’s “largest Latino and immigrant rights organization,” according to a recent news release – has condemned Zimmerman’s acquittal in the charge of murdering black teenager Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012.

“CASA believes that the Zimmerman verdict demonstrates how flawed the United States justice system is.” Grammar aside, CASA isn’t the only group which has said as much. Nor is the group the first to claim Trayvon Martin was a victim of “racial profiling and hate crimes.”

The irony of a Hispanic group condemning a man of Hispanic descent for a hate crime and racial profiling against another ethnic minority does not escape me, but that’s too easy a target to shoot. Instead, it is the condemnation of the justice system which needs to be addressed in as logical a fashion as possible.

To begin, the death of Trayvon Martin is a tragedy. Of that no one can offer any dispute or evidence to the contrary. However when the 17-year-old died police investigated the event and determined Zimmerman acted in self-defense.

For six weeks nothing happened. Then the media got a hold of the story. On the surface it appeared there was something amiss – and to be honest the surface is where reporters work best. So, with questions of racism, racial profiling and hate crimes swirling around a new prosecutor succeeded in getting Zimmerman charged with murder. He was incarcerated briefly and made bail. He went to trial before a jury of his peers and was found not guilty on July 13.

So, my question is: where exactly did the system fail Trayvon Martin? It appears the system, including the media’s part in the system worked just fine. At first the alleged crime got little notice. Media attention put the spot light on it. A new prosecutor went after Zimmerman, the state held a trial before a jury of his peers – in the full light of the television cameras with a great deal of scrutiny – the jury heard the evidence and ruled.

The system did not fail anyone. You may not agree with the outcome of the trial, and may have your own opinion about the competency of the jury, but the system worked.

If there is a failure anywhere it is in the failure of the people. Systems only work as well as people do and since people are flawed – else we would have no need for a justice system – sometimes the results of trials are not as we like.

But the system was set up – much as John Adams discussed when he defended British soldiers accused of murder in the Boston Massacre – to insure the rule of law and not the rule of the mob is paramount. Better one guilty man should go free than an innocent man languish in prison. Yes?

Not so much today. It appears the mob would rather rule and while a jury determined there was plenty of tragedy but not a discernible crime committed, CASA and other civil rights organizations would love to destroy our civil rights to become vigilantes.

While we all have strong opinions about the guilt or innocence of George Zimmerman – and make no mistake I’m not defending him – the simple fact is this: More than 99.9 percent of us on this planet have no idea what occurred that tragic night. We only know what we’ve heard as presented by the media. Those who know the best are, in no particular order, Martin who is dead, Zimmerman, the police, those actually present at the trial when facts were presented – and the jury.

The rest of us are merely groping around the fringes, thumping our chests and shouting to the mountaintops in frustration.  CASA actually stated it best – though I’m sure it was unintentional: “This case also indicates how all kinds of people from all different backgrounds need to unite, stay strong and think clearly . . .”

Yes, truer words were never spoken. However, fueling the flames by condemning the system when it is people who are at fault does no one any good.

Yes it is hot in the D.C. area, but the heat should not affect our reason – even when facing the distraction of the Martin/Zimmerman case. Of course I said nearly the same thing several years ago – only the defendant in that case had the last name of Simpson.

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