Confusing Justice with Closure


I read a follow up article this morning about Artiston Waiters, the 19-year old who was shot and killed by a policeman after an altercation back in December. Just yesterday, a grand jury decided not to indict the Union City police officer because, according to reports, Mr. Waiters was attempting to take the gun of Office Lewis and altercation ensued. Mr. Waiters was shot and killed in the scuffle. The WSBtv article said the deceased’s mother ‘is heartbroken over the decision’ stating “Freda Waiters is devastated. It is hard to describe the pain that she is in at this point”.

I found this to be a particularly interesting statement because I wonder what Mrs. Waiters cause was driven by: Justice or Closure?

Our justice system is a tricky one. But it is just that: a system that seeks justice. It is not a system that was created to provide emotional comfort. That comes from God and your family. It is not a system created to invoke retaliation.  That kind of judgement comes, again, from God. The justice systems seeks to hold criminals accountable for breaking the law.

In the case of Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman experienced a prosecution and conviction by the media and by minority activist groups. Whether George Zimmerman is guilty or not is now irrelevant because he has already been tried in an emotionally chaotic public court. Surfacing evidence matters to few because the liberal left has already established an opinion. Martin family members and supporters have pushed for public crucifixion and take minimal account of any other circumstances because their son is dead. But that’s just it: He isn’t coming back.

In the case of Artison Waiters, we may never know the full extent of the story because witnesses were lacking. But the officer held an impeccable record with the police department and had outstanding marks from all of his superiors. Should we trust his story based on the oath he took or should we be skeptical? The decision has been made by the grand jury and again, Mr. Waiters isn’t coming back.

Both these cases have a strong resemblance to the Casey Anthony trial. Many of us, in our hearts, felt she was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. A jury did not and they used the Constitutional procedures pre-set to evaluate the case. And Andrea Sneiderman, the woman having an affair with the man who killed her husband. What about her? All of these cases have one thing in common: they stir up emotion. But being angry doesn’t bring them back. Being angry won’t get you a conviction. And being angry won’t make you feel better. As frustrating as it is, the system has loopholes but we mustn’t convict people publicly by media harassment when the correct forum for that is a court room. Remember the Centennial Olympic ‘Bomber’, Richard Jewell? A man wrongly accused suffered greatly for months because the media annihilated him before facts came to light.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t have a justice system that prosecutes and I’m certainly not saying we should be more lenient on seeking justice for those who become the voiceless victim. I am, however, saying that it is important to stay focused. There is no room for emotion in a court room. Cases should be tried based on facts and evidence, not on maintaining a memory of a loved one or attempting to fill a void of a loss. Far too often we see convictions overturned after years and years of wasted time and tax dollars because of emotionally-fueled investigations, emotionally-fueled indictments and emotionally-fueled trials.

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