Yes, sometimes it’s not easy to put aside my personal feelings, but it is my job to do just that.
Because, not everyone is guilty.
Because, sometimes, there are mitigating circumstances that can change the nature of the crime– murder vs. manslaughter, for example.
Because, sometimes, the defendant is not mentally stable, and needs treatment, not just punishment.
Because, sometimes, the authorities make mistakes. They’re human, and all humans, regardless of their convictions to seeking justice, make errors in judgement.
Because, ‘innocent until proven guilty’ matters. It’s what separates the United States from most of the rest of the world.
Last night, a mass shooting took place. At the time of this writing, there is little or no explanation or evidence of who did it or why.
That doesn’t stop people from leaping upon their social media altars of personal truth and making proclamations which, more often than not, are merely justifications for their own prejudice, with little or no regard for the facts of the case.
And that’s why I do this. Someone has to stand up and say, “Wait a minute. The facts do not bear out on the conclusions of the State.”
It is absolutely necessary that a civilized society and it’s judiciary ensure that, even when guilt is proven, the punishment fits the crime.
This does not mean excusing the behavior, or that I somehow do not feel grief at the loss of life. On the contrary, it makes me appreciate life even more.
Despite the crime, we, as a society, cannot allow ourselves to be emotionally driven to make judgements that can destroy even more lives, simply because we are outraged and heartbroken, and feel a need for punishment, and even revenge, in the guise of justice.
My heart goes out to the families of the victims of this terrible event, and I sincerely hope that those responsible are caught and brought before the courts.
And even then, I hope they get a fair trial, if for no other reason than it means we can sleep at night, and look at ourselves in the mirror in the morning, knowing we did the right thing.
Because, in the end, a justice system without compassion is not justice.