Monday, June 16, 2008

...And Justice for Some

The angry reaction to R&B star R. Kelly's acquittal on child porn charges this past week reminded me of a similar reaction to OJ Simpson's not guilty verdict over a decade ago. 'How could he get off with all that evidence?' Well, once the young girl who was purportedly in the blurry sex video with Kelly denied it was her, it was pretty much over. And those who decry the justice system's faults and shortcomings in their disappointment over Kelly's acquittal, I agree with. Except I blame the prosecution. Not only in this case, but in general.

Yeah, I feel prosecutors should know better. I mean, were they surprised/caught off-guard by the alleged victim's denial? Didn't they take into consideration that this could come up? Aren't they aware by now of what it takes to win a high-profile case with a celebrity who has the resources to put together a tough defense? Shouldn't they wait until they have all their 'ducks in a row' before appearing in court? Or is it a case of "Hey, we're flimsy in our prosecution over here but maybe we'll get lucky. Plus, people will see we're doing SOMETHING, right?"

The problem with the justice system is that it isn't fair: regardless of R. Kelly being guilty or not, he got acquitted because he could best prove his side of the story. Period. If he'd been broke-ass Joe Schmo with an over-worked lawyer with no time/funds to mount a solid defense, he'd be going up the river. So, basically it doesn't matter whether someone committed a crime or not, it's all about who can best prove their argument. And that should be unacceptable. All things being equal, the righteous should prevail whether they are represented by a $1000/hr hotshot or a legal aid attorney. And the guilty should be convicted regardless of who's on their legal team. But for that to happen the prosecution has to be completely on the up and up. That means having their shit together, not looking weak and amateurish when they face a celebrity with a legal 'dream team'; or conversely, running over the defendant who can barely afford to go to court. Until that day...

Happy Juneteenth!