Minor pitting: People, courts don't make truth

This isn’t going to be a profanity-laden whinefest. Just to let you know.

I’ve run into the attitude here and in many other places which suggests that no one can ever judge somebody else unless they got their day in court, and that somehow the rest of the nation is obligated to think the courts are always right.

The courts decide law, nothing more less. If someone is declared innocent or gets a hung jury, that’s all it means: a jury just decides according to the law. Justice and truth have nothing to do with it.

Orenthal James Simpson is guilty, plain and simple. There’s no alternative which is not completely farcical. There’s no mystery here: just some foolish jurors and terrible prosecution work. And the fact that he was aquitted doesn’t mean anything to anyone except the Department of Corrections.

We’re not allowed to have justice in this country. Got too much law for it. But that doesn’t mean the rest of us have to prance around and pretend the guilty aren’t, nor that the courts acutally decide anything justly.

You are using the word innocent incorrectly in this case. The courts don’t declare that someone is “innocent”. They declare that they are “Not Guilty” which means the prosecution just couldn’t prove its case well enough. That concept actually fits well with what you are saying and I agree with some of it. The prosecution and/or the police can make mistakes which forces a probably guilty person to go free but that is the price we pay for keeping the legal system as clean as we can.

Yeah; it just burns me when people say “we can’t say he’s guilty because the courts let him go.” Courts do things for a hundred odd reasons, and only one of which is justice.

It bugs me more when people say this before a person stands trial. As in, some celebrity gets caught beating off while driving his Hummer across a crowded playground with a blood alcohol level of 0.35, and there are dozens of photographs and witnesses out the wazoo, and somebody will say, “Well, we can’t say anything yet, because he hasn’t had his day in court”. Bullshit. Just because a court has to consider him innocent until proven guilty doesn’t mean that I have to.

I for one am grateful your brand of justice is suppressed in this country. The day that we convict and punish people based on some sort of ‘common sense’ standard is the day that our personal liberty dies.

In Scotland, part of The Remaining British Isles, they have a verdict called “Not Proven”.
Which means “We have probably just let a cutthroat go, but the system isn’t perfect.”

I didn’t say it was a bad thing overall. But still, we lack justice for having law. We just don’t have so much injustice, either.

Nitpick; the courts can, and very, very rarely do declare someone innocent and just not guilty. It’s so rare because the evidence required to prove innocence is of course much higher.

Cite? I have never heard of such a case. I have heard of prosecutors dropping charges and saying the accused was innocent, but never a trial verdict of the same.

So is the standard for proof of innocence an even higher one than the “beyond reasonable doubt” required for guilt?

I’ll see if I can find one. The only reason I even know about it is because a minor local news story of some fellow who went to the trouble of getting such a verdict.

IIIRC, yes; remember, it’s much harder to prove a negative. That’s why we have ‘innocent until proven guilty’, after all.

California Penal Code 851.8 © In any case where a person has been arrested, and an
accusatory pleading has been filed, but where no conviction has
occurred, the defendant may, at any time after dismissal of the
action, petition the court which dismissed the action for a finding
that the defendant is factually innocent of the charges for which the
arrest was made. A copy of such petition shall be served on the
prosecuting attorney of the county or city in which the accusatory
pleading was filed at least 10 days prior to the hearing on the
petitioner’s factual innocence. The prosecuting attorney may present
evidence to the court at such hearing. Such hearing shall be
conducted as provided in subdivision (b). If the court finds the
petitioner to be factually innocent of the charges for which the
arrest was made, then the court shall grant the relief as provided in
subdivision…

Although he was aquited of Murder, he lost a wrongful death lawsuit. So, it’s a mixed bag.

…serious question here: based on the evidence that was presented in court, what was so foolish about the decision made by the jury?

I think a huge part of why O.J. was acquitted was because one of the police officers investigating him was more or less demonstrated to be a racist in open court when it was shown that he’d used the word “nigger” within the past ten years.

Letting O.J. pretend he couldn’t get his glove on was also a monumental mistake on behalf of the prosecution.

Well, it was more the way he said it, you know?

Given that evidence, I can kind of see how a jury could have concluded that Officer Fuhrman might not be the most trustworthy witness in a case involving a black defendant. Especially after he pleaded no contest to perjury charges.

Well, outside of anything else anyone else did, you can’t just “fake up” the kind of evidence they had against Simpson. Copious amounts of blood, shoe prints, trying to leave the country (with a disguise no less) with cash, horrnedous “alibi”. And even the alegations of racism came down to a pretense that one cop who might have been racist and might have decided randomly to screw with Simpson didn’t cover the rest of the crime scene crew, who were involved at every step.

But as I said, I don’t entirely blame the jurors. The prosecution handled themselves like amateurs night at the lawyers bar. I think my kid brother* (OK, he’s in college now) could make better arguments.

…well yeah, that was part of the evidence. But the trial lasted for 134 days, and the jury heard a lot more than just the things you pointed out. The trial should have been a “slam-dunk”, but the prosecution, as you point out, did a very poor job. The chain of evidence was shown to have been handled very poorly and the defence, from everything I read, did a pretty good job of putting doubt in the minds of the jurors.

You contend that the jurors were foolish: have you got any thing specific? Was the jury told about the disguise kit? Several online sources suggest they weren’t told, but I don’t have a trial transcript handy. Were they told that he tried to leave the country?

The defence cast doubt on the validity of the blood evidence, and while it may have been just “smoke and mirrors” the prosecution did a poor job of rebbutal. It wasn’t just “one racist cop” that was the problem, but mistakes conducted by the crime scene guys all through the collection of the evidence. Now those mistakes may have not actually affected the evidence at all, and may well have been routine for this crime scene unit, but put up against the sort of money that the Simpson defence had it was never going to hold water.

I am as convinced as you are of Simpson’s guilt, but I see no reason to view the jury as “foolish” based on what you have presented.

I’m not sure I understand this. First, I think it is difficult to condemn the entire judicial system based on a single (or few) high profile cases.

Second, I’m not sure OJ got off “scott-free.” He does have a substantial civil penalty hanging over his head, and essentially lost his potential for future earnings based on his celebrity. So he may not have gotten the punishment you deem fair or appropriate, but he has experienced some not insubstantial worsened personal circumstances. Sure you can personally judge someone based on your opinion of them and their actions, whether or not they have ever been accused or convicted of any particular crime. You can personally shun them, tell your friends what a bad person you consider him to be, post a sign on your lawn, walk the streets wearing a sandwich board, start a website, write a letter to your newspaper, whatever. Just be sure you don’t leave yourself open to a potential slander/libel action.

I’m not entirely sure what you consider the intended or desireable function of our criminal justice system. I believe it attempts to set up an ostensibly fair and predictable system for assessing whether people violated laws, and imposing penalties when such violations are found. I readily agree that whether or not an individual has been found guilty or acquitted of a particular crime does not establish whether they are a “good” or “bad” person.

Some of the jurors were interviewed on Oprah, and at least one of them admitted that they did not consider the DNA evidence at all, because they “didn’t really understand it”.

The ones who spoke out also voiced their belief that evidence was planted at the scene. Doesn’t everyone find those paranoid theories ridiculous now?