American Justice System Essay, Research Paper
The justice system here in the United States is one that many people have a hard time understanding. It is a system that isn t easily accessible for the everyday person, even though that s exactly what it was suppose to be.The number one problem that I have with our legal system is the use of a jury. The idea of having a jury of your peers is one that seems fair and just from the outside, but in my opinion, is just the opposite. The truth of the matter is jurors are just ordinary people who are entrusted with the most valuable commodity in the world-another person s freedom, or in some cases, their life. It is human nature for people to have opinions and therefore, pre-conceived notions. I know that the juror screening process is supposed to weed out potential jurors with biases or other flaws but I see this as impossible. Appearance and presentation can be an overwhelming factor in a courtroom. If a person accused of something walks into a courtroom with messy hair and ripped clothes on, a person is more inclined to think of them as guilty than if they had walked in dressed in a suit and tie with their hair neatly combed. Most people will deny that this is true but it is an impossible act to deny. We make preconceptions all the time whether we realize it or not and just because someone has made it through the screening process and been selected as a juror, doesn t mean they don t do the same.
Another problem I have, although I don t see how it can be solved, is the beyond a reasonable doubt method used to determine guilt in a criminal case. I know that this is a means of protection for the accused but in some cases it just doesn t work. An example that everyone can relate to is the O.J. Simpson trial. I don t even need to get into specifics but I don t think it was possible to have connected Mr. Simpson with the crimes any more than the prosecutors did. Even afterwards, some of the jurors admitted that they thought he was guilty but voted not guilty anyway. This is justice? As I said, I really don t know how this could be improved but I think there has to be some kind of happy medium between beyond a reasonable doubt and more likely than not .
Up to this point I m sure I have come across as anti-American justice system but I definitely am not. I think the greatest part of our system is the fact that a person is innocent until proven guilty, although most people don t see it that way. An example is the Ray Lewis murder trial. Ray Lewis is a professional football player and his arrest on murder charges made the cover of every newspaper. Within days of his arrest, there were t.v. specials and articles about how football players have a hard time distinguishing between on and off the field situations and controlling their anger and every one had a picture of Ray Lewis next to it. As far as everyone was concerned, Ray Lewis and his friends were murderers and should be put away for life. Then a funny thing happened- Ray Lewis and his friends were tried and found not guilty. In fact, not only was he not guilty of murdering the two victims, eyewitnesses actually testified that he was trying to break up the melee which led to the murders. No matter what Lewis does the rest of his life, he will always be associated with murder. I don t think that media should be allowed to have any connection with any criminal cases until a verdict is reached.
This is the first time I have ever really sat down and thought about our legal system and what I like and dislike about it. I guess it is something that a lot of people take for
granted because it is accepted that that s the way it is and it will never change. I also think Americans are somewhat arrogant regarding our justice system judging by the best in the world label it has been given. I guess I really have mixed emotions about our system, although the flaws that I have mentioned make it one in which the odds are in favor of the accused. This can be a double-edged sword but I m sure if I ever end up on the other side of the fence, rather than looking at it from a future lawyers perspective, I will be thankful that it is the way that it is.