Thursday, April 12, 2012

Has the system been compromised? If so by how much?

"We do not prosecute by public pressure or by petition." Prosecutor Angela Corey made the bold statement in announcing second-degree murder charges against George Zimmerman. But does anyone believe her?

Within minutes of Corey's announcement, there were media reports that Ben Crump, the lawyer for Trayvon Martin's family, was publicly thanking those who signed petitions and otherwise made a public push for an arrest in the case as being the catalyst for what just happened. 

The act of charging Zimmerman may be appropriate. I don't know all the evidence the prosecutor's team considered. But I also know the prosecution, nor any other official, has failed to quell the intimidation including threats of violence made against Zimmerman and the broader community over the case.

Allowing acts of intimidation to build and stand strong at the time of arrest sent the wrong message. 

The system appears compromised.

There's a good chance every potential juror in the case has seen it. So have witnesses who will be called to testify at trial. In a case already tainted by high profile intimidation, will those called to participate in the trial be driven more by fear than truth?

With Zimmerman now facing charges, and the system working toward the goal of a fair trial, will activists now cool the rhetoric and let justice take its course? Or will these activists, jazzed by the power they now perceive themselves to hold, keep up the pressure, and further taint the legal process by, at the very least, creating a perception that rule of law can be bent to appease threats presented by protests in the streets?

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