Did the system work? Was justice served? We like to think of those questions as identical. After all, the point of a criminal justice system is to dispense justice. But with the acquittal of George Zimmerman on charges of murdering Trayvon Martin, the system worked yet justice fell short. This outcome is simultaneously sad but healthy — sad because a 17-year-old boy is dead and his killer walks free; healthy because the verdict seems justified as a matter of law.
There is an important place for emotion in criminal proceedings, both for mercy and for outrage. But the system cannot function if it consistently elevates emotion over rules.
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