“Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”
Over and over again I hear people insisting that the Grand Jury should have indicted Officer Wilson in Ferguson so there could be a public, transparent, jury trial. This is a gross misunderstanding of how the justice system is designed. Did you ever think that there might be a good reason for the secrecy of grand jury trials? Did you ask why the system is structure the way it is? My guess is, you didn't. The truth is that you and I have no right to make such demands. Officer Wilson didn't shoot you and he didn't shoot me. He didn't shoot all black people and he doesn't represent all white people. This is not about the "value of black lives" as I have heard some claim. This is about whether or not Officer Wilson was justified in shooting and killing Michael Brown. That's it, nothing more!!
Grand jury trials are held in secret for some really good reasons. One of those reasons is to protect the integrity of the system. If Wilson was indicted and all the evidence presented to the grand jury was public, it would be very difficult to find a jury that could be unbiased, especially because of the different standards for evidence in a jury trial. Furthermore, since there is no defense team questioning the evidence, the public would only see one side of the story. Another reason for the secrecy of a grand jury trial is to protect the reputation of defendant. You might be tempted to think this is not a big deal, but think about it a little more. If the defendant is not guilty the evidence that was made public could severely damage that person's ability to earn a living or be a citizen in good standing. Remember, there is no defense team presenting evidence, so it is likely that if it was public the defendant's reputation would suffer significant damage.
It is also true that you and I don't have a right to demand a grand jury indictment. We don't have a right to see the evidence and we don't have a right to send a man to trial just so our curiosities can be satisfied. There is no good reason, in this case, to think that the justice system is broken! A jury looked at the evidence as presented by the prosecution without a defense team to cast doubt on the evidence or present their own evidence and that jury decided there was not enough evidence for the case to go to trial. A one sided presentation of the evidence couldn't convince 12 people from the general public to send the case to trial, but a bunch of people who have not seen the evidence, most of whom live hundreds and thousands of miles away, believe they can do a better job of making that decision than the people who served on that jury, saw all the evidence, and received legal instruction. Can you see the irony in this? You and I do not have a right to see that evidence or hear that testimony. We certainly don't have the right to send Officer wilson to trial and risk that all the media hype and pressure from race baiters like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and others might taint a future jury to the point that they might make an unjust decision and send an innocent man to prison. We do not have a right to have our morbid curiosities satisfied when the cost is potentially that great.
There are parts of the justice system that we, as a people, must simply trust. While it is true that the justice system sometimes fails, it is infrequent. However, some people have been led to believe that it is failing or has failed when, in fact, it has not. Most of the time, it is media hype and biased, self-appointed pundits who cast doubt prematurely or inappropriately. Some times this is done intentionally in order to manipulate the outcome. I believe that when people like Al Sharpton are involved, it is almost always intended to manipulate the system. If there is sufficient evidence to doubt that the system worked, then we certainly should question it, but there does not, in my opinion, seem to be sufficient evidence to doubt that it worked in this case.
It boils down to this, you and I don't have the right to see the evidence. One could argue that the Brown family or Daren Wilson does, maybe, but not you and I. The system isn't broken, in this case, it is working as intended in order to protect Daren Wilson who is innocent until proven guilty. That means any damage that can be avoided should be avoided in order to protect not only his person, but his reputation and the integrity of his life.
John Byrne is a pastor who has been spouting off his opinions his entire life (just ask his mom). This little blog is his venue for continuing in this tradition.