Saturday, November 13, 2004

Thoughts on Scott Peterson Verdict - Triumph of Common Sense

CNN's airwaves were full of lawyers and legal analysts stunned at the guilty verdict for Scott Peterson. "But what about the evidence?" they decried in unison. "The verdict was about compassion, not evidence," said Dr. Henry Lee, famed forensic pathologist.

Apparently longing for another OJ-type verdict, the architects of our present legal system mess of justice-with-a-pricetag were bemoaning that the jury refused to linger over minutiae of a single hair strand, he said-she said scenarios, and estimated timeframes for Laci's wandering dog.

The original jury foreman, a lawyer and doctor, took 19 notebooks of notes (think book deal), and then attempted to disallow the jury from voting until he scoured all 19 notebooks with them. The jury wanted and felt qualified to vote without wasting weeks on mind-numbing detail. The foreman left the jury, claiming that he was threatened with violence.

The confrontation between between jury and foreman must have been both contentious and hilarious. It also neatly symbolizes the frustration of everyday Americans with our legal system.

Scott Peterson is an adulterer and psychotic liar who admitted fishing at the exact spot where his mutilated wife and son swept up on the shores of a San Francisco-area bay. He was arrested near the Mexican border with $10,000, his brother's driver's license and dyed blond hair. His behavior following Laci's disappearance was strange and hardly grieving, and smacked clearly and consistently of a man who killed his pregnant wife. He had the motive, he had the time and place, he had the frame of mind.

After 5 months of testimony, the jury knew he was guilty. The jury could see the whole forest, not merely individual trees. Meanwhile, the foreman wanted to spend scads of time examining the leaves, bark and twigs of each proverbial tree. And not allow the jury to take an initial vote before being bored to death while sequestered from their families.

Our present legal system is big business. It behooves well-heeled attorneys to take on impossible cases, stretch them out over months, and cleverly twist reality into a perversion of justice. (Remember....OJ is a free man.) Celebrity attorneys are extremely wealthy people. Mark Geragos made $1 million for defending Scott Peterson. $1 million for twisting facts ad naseum, questioning the crediblity of labs and authorities, and offering bogus alternative theories.

Yes, it's vital that all defendants receive a fair hearing, and that all the relevant evidence be examined. It's essential to a fair and just society that justice be served, both for innocent and guilty defendants.

The jury was correct in clinging to its common sense, and not drowning in a cesspool of corrupting, irrelevant legalistic detail and silliness. Scott obviously murdered Laci and Conner.

People outside the San Mateo courthouse cheered not for macabre reasons, but because justice had been spite of the legal system, not because of it. OJ may walk the streets a free man, but Scott Peterson will not. The crowd was cheering out of relief that justice had been served....that the system worked. That the common sense of a jury of everyday Americans prevailed over our flawed legal system.

On this morning, 200,000 respondents voted on the poll-of-the-day question....."Do you agree with the jury's verdict in the Scott Peterson case?" A whopping 84% voted yes.

CNN's own legal pundits and analysts would do well to ponder the meaning of that overwhelming vote. The jury was correct, and the American people agree with the jury. The jury system worked in the Scott Peterson case as it was intended by our forefathers.

Common sense prevailed over the justice-perverting legalisms and greedy goals of criminal and litigation attorneys.

We should all be cheering with those outside the San Mateo courthouse.

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