Jury of peers can’t convict

Published 10:15 am Friday, January 9, 2009

When the American legal system refers to the fact that everyone accused of a crime deserves to be judged by a jury of their peers, the intent was that this would actually happen on their day in court.

We are all innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. But, unfortunately, the court of public opinion is always in session and many citizens are far too quick to try and convict individuals who have been charged with a crime.

Recent headlines have grabbed the community’s attention and gotten the rumor mill going around the county and on online message boards.

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From the Rock Hill School teacher who has been accused of inappropriate conduct with female students to a Franklin Furnace woman arrested in connection with a triple homicide, these alleged crimes are ones that change lives forever and leave lasting impact on those involved and the entire community.

It is vitally important that each of us remember that all American citizens are entitled to due process and should be allowed to appear in court before the public declares them guilty.

Every allegation — or every crime — affects the lives of dozens of people. So hurtful comments, rash judgment and pre-determined decisions can only serve to damage our close-knit communities.

Understandably, it is difficult to keep emotions in check when these types of situations hit very close to home.

But each us must ask ourselves: What would we expect if we were ever in a legal situation of this nature?

Our forefathers intended our legal system to allow the accused to face a jury of their peers but that was meant to actually occur in the courtroom.