Using the analogy of sports is the best way to describe the way in which one would think the Criminal Justice System should work. When attending a sporting event the referees will attempt to control the game when things are in question. A referee presides over a game and has full authority to enforce the rules of the game in connection with the match. The referee’s decisions regarding facts connected with play are final, so far as the result of the game is concerned. One would think that during a trial, the judge, and other representatives of the Justice system would have the same role that a referee has in game.
The Racial Justice Act took away the authority of the court when the first bill passed in 2009. In 2012, The Racial Justice Act has been modified and given some authority back to the courts. In Cumberland County three people are having a hearing under the New Racial Justice Act. A Michigan State study is at the center of controversy in the appeal. The study only includes statistics and does not include anything about the dynamics in the courtroom, the body language, or anything that could only be seen by being in the courtroom. Because statistics are playing a huge part in the hearing the state is battling an argument that has nothing to do with the crime. Trying to judge a crime based on statistics that are presented is similar to someone trying to referee a game by listening to it on the radio.
When someone sits in the courtroom your eyes will be opened to the reality of what happens. I entered the courtroom and saw a small seating area of about 40 people. There were three lawyers for the Defense and two for the state. The family and fellow officers sat to the right of the courtroom. The mood was dismal before the hearing started and when court was called to order everyone was hanging on every word that was said. This case will take time to sort out all the details and whether race was a factor in the three cases. During the case that is going on now there are many people making a case for whether or not race was factor in these Capital Cases. We all will be sitting on the edge of our seats to find out what happens at the end.
A representative from the Center for Death Penalty Litigation was asked to take the witness stand and discuss findings that she made while looking through documentations in the District Attorney’s office. The evidence ranged from possible jurors, preemptive strikes, and handwritten notes. The hearing will probably continue with multiple witnesses from both sides asking questions about their perception of the jury selection process. There will probably many more details that will be looked at before the ruling is made.
The Racial Justice Act is still playing out in the courtroom and we will see how much just the statistics play role in the decision. We know that even though people have been found guilty and given a punishment for their crime that this may not be what actually happens. The authority the court had is not final and maybe influenced by state-wide statistics regardless of the details of the crime or the guilt or innocence of the perpetrators.