Carroll County Times
Carroll County

Dean Minnich: Fairness not guaranteed by the law

Despite the fact that the trial went on for weeks and was broadcast on a zillion cable news channels, some people want a do-over on the trial of the guy who killed an innocent kid who was just walking while black.
Do they think they can get justice with a Mulligan?
A guy plays John Wayne and carries a gun around his neighborhood. Why? Because the Constitution as interpreted by the NRA says he can. Right to bear arms, right to carry, right to stand his ground. Right to follow the kid and engage him and then - right to defend himself against the guy he was following, pushing, crowding.
Well, pilgrim, John Wayne don't push far. Not when he has his rights.
All kinds of rights, but a jury of his peers found him without responsibility.
My theory is that we talk too much about rights and not enough about responsibility. So what do you expect? A jury of six found the shooter innocent. No. They found him not guilty. Maybe, in law, that's right; but you're not innocent if you go looking for trouble and find it.
The argument after the trial is less about whether John Wayne is guilty of excessive force and more about justice. The argument will go on for a while because Americans don't know the difference between law and justice any more.
And we essentially don't care about unfairness to others, only to us and our kind, which is why the House in Congress is essentially worthless today.
A lot of conservative white people thought George Zimmerman should never have been charged. African Americans and some less conservative others saw it another way: Here we go again. They rightly pointed out that had Trayvon Martin killed Zimmerman in their struggle, all things being the same, he would have been arrested and charged on the spot.
You may not like to believe that, but that's the essential truth in this whole debacle. Well, that, and the fact that a kid who was just walking along is dead.
It's not fair.
But fairness is not guaranteed by the law, despite what the Supreme Court or Judge Judy says.
Justice is often not fair, and the law can be terribly unjust. Of course, we have the lawyers and others saying after the trial that they respect the jury system, and it works.
Sure, it does. That's why another Florida jury found a battered wife guilty of murder after just 12 minutes of deliberation. The woman is doing 20 years in jail for using the same defense as Zimmerman - standing her ground - shooting a menacing, estranged repeat-offender wife-beater who came after her - again - in her own home.
Oh, that's right; she is a black woman. Guilty, prison.
You want justice? There's a lot of law, but we're a little short on justice everywhere.
The Zimmerman jury included a woman who already had a book deal the day of - if not before - the verdict. When that was disclosed, the book deal dried up, but was it a factor?
In the interview on WYPR-FM, she said the jury started out with a majority thinking Zimmerman - she called him "George" - needed to be found guilty of something. They asked for a definition of manslaughter, but did not get a satisfactory answer.
Manslaughter in most states is what they call it when someone puts themselves in a situation where their actions or negligence results in the death of another.
A jury of six seeking some punishment for the defendant eventually became of one mind that he is not guilty.
Since we can't figure it out, what the hell; everybody carry a gun.
And if whatever happens comes down to a trial, and the verdict doesn't suit us, let's have a do-over. A Mulligan, as they say in golf.
Trayvon Martin is dead. He gets no Mulligan.
The U.S. Attorney General says his office will look into whether it was a hate crime, and maybe Zimmerman could be tried on federal charges.
That would be a Mulligan. Law, perhaps: justice, maybe, but assurance of fairness? No.
That comes not from a court of law, but encountering our own conscience. That's when a lot of us decide we'd rather be popular with our own kind.