Having experienced a few jury trials, including capital murder cases, I believe I may have earned the right to comment on our jury system.
First, if you are not in the courtroom, shut up. Let the jury do its job. Juries are not perfect, but they are by far the most fair means of determining guilt or innocence. You have 12 diverse individuals determining the fate of the defendant. Their education may be from not having a high school diploma to post-doctoral education. The jurors are both male and female. Racial content is usually mixed, especially in urban areas, and there is a plethora of ethnic backgrounds.
The jury reflects the community in which it sits. Understand that each juror holds a veto of the entire jury as a verdict must be unanimous, which forces jurors to truly debate any dispute of facts they may have.
Once those 12 individuals commence deliberations it hits them. They have someone’s life/future in their hands. Deliberations become serious, even heated, but in the end the truth is fleshed out. A verdict rendered. In the vast majority of jury trials, the jury gets it right. Our justice system is the envy of the world. Why change what works.
The Rittenhouse trial in Wisconsin was again a lesson in why not to listen to the national media. In all honesty, the local media in Kenosha did a very good job of reporting the facts and not sensationalizing the trial. Both political camps made the trial into a media circus. MSNBC and CNN had Rittenhouse convicted before the trial even started. President Biden even voiced in against Rittenhouse.
Rittenhouse was portrayed as a gun happy kid with an indulging mother who crossed state lines and wanted only to exercise white power. Fox News reported the trial as a gun rights case and a pure example of self-defense. Former President Trump also voiced his support of Rittenhouse.
Kenosha had had civil unrest in the days leading up to the incident wherein Rittenhouse would shoot and kill two individuals and wound a third. Rittenhouse would claim self-defense. The Wisconsin prosecutor rejected the claim of Rittenhouse and charged him criminally with offenses that would result in life in prison if convicted. The local press reported the news story. The locals are to be commended.
The national press in New York and Washington had other ideas. This incident embellished by the press would sell ads on their networks and push political agendas. In all honesty, they did a good job of playing to their political bases. Screw the facts. Spew out the agenda and our viewers will love us. Great politics and advertising, but reprehensible ethical reporting.
The liberal media played the race card calling Rittenhouse a white supremacist. Interesting, but all parties involved were white. Where’s the race issue? Rittenhouse crossed state lines with an assault rifle in a vehicle driven by his mother. Again, interesting, but was is relevant to the offenses charged?
The facts were that Rittenhouse, aged 17, lived with his mother in Antioch, Ill. He drove himself to Kenosha, where his father lives and got the rifle from a friend of his in Wisconsin. The distance involved is 20 miles, basically the distance from Clinton to Farmer City. The liberals played word games with this for weeks.
The conservative media was no better. This was portrayed as a 2nd Amendment gun rights case and a classic self-defense response to a riot situation. Let’s get real. Rittenhouse is a 17 year old kid in possession of an assault rifle at a riot scene. Does the term stupid come into play?
At age 17, do you have the maturity and training to insert yourself into a riot scene and expect positive results? From simple common sense, Rittenhouse should have never been at an active civil disobedience scene. However being stupid and immature is by and large not a criminal offence.
In this incidence there were videos of the occurrence and eye witness testimony. The jury took four days to reach its verdict. That is telling. This was not a fly by night decision. Four days. The jury room must have been intense.
But in the end, 12 diverse individuals came to a unanimous decision of not guilty. The jury heard the evidence, weighed that evidence by the law and made its determination. The system worked. End of story.
Now the left will seek to vilify Rittenhouse and the jury as proof that America needs more gun laws. The right will seek to elevate Rittenhouse as a cause celebrity for the 2nd Amendment.
Both positions are misguided from the facts of this case. The bottom line in this case is that the City of Kenosha failed to control a civil disobedience event that evolved into a riot over several days and that a 17 year old kid had a gun at the event when he should have been anywhere except at the riot.
The jury has spoken.