Do you remember the Casey Anthony case about a woman who was acquitted of killing her toddler daughter. It became clear during the course of the trial that Anthony was probably a pathological liar whose lies impeded the investigation from the start. Most people outside the courtroom assumed a conviction was inevitable but her defense created enough doubt on the prosecution's case and created enough (irrelevant) sympathy for Anthony that they gained an acquittal.
In the aftermath, famous civil rights attorney Avery Friedman, interviewed on CNN expressed great surprise but then said something that has affected my view of the justice system forever: "Of course, a different jury might have found her guilty."
This is our justice system? It's not whether you are actually guilty or innocent but rather who is hearing the case?
This is justice?
I know the response is coming: "What's the alternative?" I don't have one, I admit, but I can no longer feel that the justice system deserves its name.
I could imagine a system like that, followed by a jury phase (if the magistrate convicts). The jury--who would be selected randomly, with the only disqualification being that they knew a party to the case, would have the ability to veto a conviction by a 3/4 vote. Yes, it would tend to lead to guilty people getting off "scot free." (I never understood that phrase.) But it would be a safeguard against.
Speaking of juries, one often hears of the defense requesting a change of venue, because they fear (often rightly so) that the media has inflamed the locals against the defendant. I've heard of unusual cases, where the prosecution asked for such, because the murder victim was profoundly unpopular in his locale.
No, I knew many of the difficulties of prosecution and that the system was imperfect in many ways, but that one comment laid it out as bare as it could be for me. Anyone who follows the news hears about people freed from incarceration for various reasons, and it stands to reason that for every one of them there are several other whose innocence hasn't been revealed yet.
What makes it worse is that apparently the girl's father and the shooter were taking turns cutting each other off, so the father bears some (certainly a less part) of the blame.