I have heard many utter the opinion, "Michael Jackson was guilty yet he walked free". I have even heard people say that he should be "strung up". Some were serious! Sentiments and statements like these are the same attitude taken by lynch mobs of the past. Making these statements is practically the same as to saying that the jury did not rule the way I wanted them to, so I want to do away our system of jurisprudence and take the law into my own hands.
The truth of the matter is that our system of protections for the accused is the absolute best system ever devised by men. I want to tell you what the defense attorneys pounded into the heads of the jury, and this pounding was sanctioned by the judge and ostensibly by the prosecution. At least the prosecution must give assent to this notion. The defense attorneys made sure in the jury selection process and in the courtroom, that the jurors knew that Michael Jackson had the presumption of innocence until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by the prosecution. In other words, the entire time Jackson was on trial, he was innocent. Period. This is pressed into the jurors' minds several times during the jury process; from the selection of the jurors to the closing arguments of the defense. It is in fact the truth. In our system all those accused are presumed to be innocent until proved guilty.
These protections were not put into place to protect the rights of the guilty. The Founding Fathers put these safeguards in place to protect the innocent. Unfortunately these protections sometimes spill over and protect the guilty. Nevertheless, I would never want these protections removed. Put yourself in the place of the accused. Say that the police come to your house and arrest you for a crime you know that you did not commit. Would you want the protections of the accused to be removed? Of course not. Those protections will protect you, an innocent person, from the presumption of guilt and from a verdict of guilt without proof beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty. The presumption of innocence keeps you from being considered guilty before the trial occurs. That could sway the jury against you. The presumption of innocence keeps the jury from being prejudiced against you from the outset. That would impair the impartiality of the jury. The presumption of innocence and the requirement that a guilty verdict not be reached if there is a reasonable doubt that you are guilty may be your only hope for justice. A reasonable doubt may be the only thing that protects you from a guilty verdict. Would you really want these protections to be overturned even though they sometimes allow the guilty to go free? I doubt it.
You are, of course, entitled to your opinion. Many of you believe Jackson to be guilty. Yet you cannot be sure he is guilty. The public, when it hears that someone has been arrested for allegedly committing a crime, presumes the suspect to be guilty. Those of you who believe Jackson to be guilty need to consider this. The public nature of the criminal justice system, allows most of the charges made by the police and the prosecutor to be publicly revealed. The defense attorney is not required, in fact is required not to reveal any information between the attorney and the client. So the public only hears the prosecution's side of the story. The suspect's side is not made public until the trial. In fact, you would have to be present in the courtroom to hear all the information presented by the defense. So the public, quite naturally, having heard only the side of the prosecution, believes in the guilt of the accused. Only the jury and people who are present in the courtroom during the entire trial, will hear the entire story.
In the case of the Jackson trial, we, the public, were not privy to the evidence presented by the defense team. We only heard the sensational details provided by the sound-bite driven media. After listening to and watching the jury on national television after the trial, I observed that they were not emotional, nor were they wavering. They were articulate, well informed, and well-spoken. It was obvious that they took their jobs as jurors very seriously. They performed their duty in a responsible and competent manner. I truly believe that they listened to the evidence presented by both sides and having considered it intelligently came to the conclusion that the prosecution did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Michael Jackson was guilty.
You are entitled to your opinion. If you believe that Michael Jackson is really guilty of the charges against him that is an opinion. Truly it is. You have no evidence that he is guilty aside from what you have heard in the news media. You have formed an opinion based on hearsay. You did not have access to the real evidence. You cannot be certain beyond a reasonable doubt. In fact, you cannot be certain at all. You only have your belief, which is not based on the evidence, but on your gut, that is, your emotion, to guide you. That is an opinion and not a fact. It is not a fact that Jackson is guilty; it is your opinion. It is a fact that, in our system of jurisprudence he is not guilty. Based on the evidenced presented in a court of law, he was found Not Guilty.
Did Michael Jackson sexually abuse or give alcohol to children? Perhaps. But I do not know that to be so. He may have, but the prosecution did not prove it. I am not saying that he did not harm children. I simply do not know whether he did or not. But I am an American, and I believe that America has the best government that has ever existed in history. I also believe that our justice system, though flawed, is the best that has ever existed in history. I support it and I do not wish to change it. Therefore I must accept the verdict that was decided in the case. In my opinion and in fact, Michael Jackson is not guilty of the charges against him.
Copyright © 2005, Mark Oaks. All rights reserved.