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The Reality of Our Justice System

My Experience with Our Court System.

Kallina Sims, Writer

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It’s always been evident that our justice systems have had issues. It’s a long and complicated process. It’s also necessary. The system is that way on purpose. Despite a thought-out plan for making a judicial decision on cases, the system is still flawed. The United States has an increasing rate of exoneration each year; 166 wrongfully convicted inmates were declared innocent in 2016 according to the National Registery of Exonerations. It took me over six hours in one of our local district courts to become inspired to write this.

The case I was involved in wasn’t perfect. In fact, it seemed to be judged with bias. Because this is a school publication and I am a minor and a minor was involved in the case, I cannot disclose much information about my personal account. I am also aware that I am definitely not a judge and I have very limited experience in a court room, but as a news writer I can recognize bias when I see it. The judge knew the woman behind the prosecution because their lines of work intersect frequently as she is a local defense attorney.  Despite having eye-witnesses to testify on behalf of the defense, an unsubstantiated DHS case, frequent incident reports from the school against the child, and video footage of the alleged crime, the judge listened to a man’s changed story of what he claimed happened (although his view was obstructed) and, I believe, he had motive to complain about this teacher. A judge should consider all evidence equally and decide based on what evidence was most legitimate. A judge’s decision, after all, can majorly affect someone’s life. That was just one personal account of what is happening in court rooms all across the country.

Another issue with these cases are that they are resolved long after the incident. Backed by psychological evidence, memory can very easily be manipulated. The case I was involved in was over a year after the actual incident. It is also possible to sway a memory based on the way a question is worded alone. When you add the pressure of public speaking to that, many people can misremember their account of the story. Perhaps it is the best we have to work with, but clear issues lay here.

Plea deals exist. I have an issue with this because it pressures innocent people to plea guilty to get a bargain of minimal jail time or fines or otherwise reduced punishment because they don’t want to risk running their trial and receiving a larger consequence. This seems very slimy to me, as it seems like a judge or attorney will reward potentially innocent people just so they don’t have to actually do their job. The only reason that plea bargains aren’t against the fifth amendment is that a defendant has the choice to take it. But my biggest problem? The pressure that people put on the defendant to take the deal after they have already decided not to. Admitting guilt, especially when they are truly not in the wrong, may go against that person’s morals, yet everyone expects them to push that aside because there might be a chance of smaller consequences.

The court system has issues that I have not stated here. It is clear that there are problems. It is obvious that these problems deserve a resolution, but the actual resolution is not obvious. I encourage you to go sit-in on a case and watch it unfold. You will find out that there are issues beyond disagreeing with a side.

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The student news site of Rogers Heritage High School
The Reality of Our Justice System