You have been wrongly accused of a horrific crime: Due to a bizarre collision of unfortunate circumstances and insane coincidences, it appears that you have murdered a prominent U.S. senator, his beautiful young wife, and both of their infant children. Now, you did not do this, but you are indicted and brought to trial. Predictably, the criminal proceedings are a national sensation (on par with the 1994 O.J. Simpson trial). It’s on television constantly, and it’s the lead story in most newspapers for almost a year. The prosecuting attorney is a charming genius; sadly, your defense team lacks creativity and panache. To make matters worse, the jury is a collection of easily confused sheep. You are found guilty and sentenced to four consecutive life terms with virtually no hope for parole (and – since there were no procedural mistakes during the proceedings – an appeal is hopeless). This being the case, you are (obviously) disappointed. However, as you leave the courtroom (and in the days immediately following the verdict), something becomes clear; the “court of public opinion” has overwhelmingly found you innocent. Over 95 percent of the country believes you are not guilty. Noted media personalities have declared this scenario “the ultimate legal tragedy.” So you are going to spend the rest of your life amidst the general population of a maximum-security prison…but you are innocent, and everyone seems to know this. Does this knowledge make you feel (a) better, (b) no different, or (c) worse?
Of course that makes me feel worse! The better question is how in the hell I managed to get tried by 12 (or however many are on a jury; I don’t know. I was on one for approximately 30 hours, including selection time and time at home spent freaking out about how this trial could last a week and I wouldn’t make it back to school in time, until they settled right before the trial was to begin…but that’s a different story. It clearly wasn’t long enough to learn much about the judicial system, except that it causes me undue stress) people within the 5% of this country who don’t think I’m innocent.
My lawyers got veto power, or whatever it’s called when you can override a certain number of the opposing side’s jury choices (thanks, AP US Gov, you clearly did me well), right? Thanks, guys, couldn’t you have made better use of that by, oh, I don’t know, FINDING SOME JURY MEMBERS WHO WOULD BE ON MY SIDE?!?!
Can’t you somehow get re-tried if enough people protest or think the verdict is wrong? Shouldn’t that get you a shorter sentence? I’m probably making that up. This is why I’m not a lawyer…although I think even I could have done a better job than these idiots who defended me. Still, I have a right to be hysterical and grasping at straws — I’m about to spend the rest of my life peeing next to where I sleep (I’ve seen those cells…ew!)
Apparently this goes to show that a) if you’re the victim of unlucky circumstance, you can definitely spend your life wrongfully imprisoned while the real perpetrator goes free (oh, hey, Anthony Capozzi and Altemio Sanchez), so therefore, b) money is well spent on a savvy, swift-talking lawyer team.
Yay, US justice system?