It was a lone comment on one of the hundreds of stories announcing the arrest of George Zimmerman for the death of Trayvon Martin:
"Now I pray for a conviction."
That's nice. I pray that there is a conviction as well, as long as it's because there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt for whatever charge the jury considers.
But I don't have all the evidence. Neither does Mark O'Mara, Zimmerman's wise choice as counsel. In fact, the evidence won't be fully developed until the witnesses are deposed (in Florida we get to take depositions of witnesses pre-trial), exhibits are produced, experts play expert, and about a few dozen other things happen.
So no one has all the evidence. Not even you, watching your favorite non-practicing lawyer opine on cable TV.
I know the arrest happened yesterday and in your "Law and Order" TV world, you are now outraged that it's the next day and there's no conviction along with some case ending philisophical comment from the prosecutor, but maybe you'll instead join me in prayer for the following:
I pray that:
Lawyers who know nothing about the law say nothing about the law in the media.
Lawyers who know something about the law but nothing about being a criminal lawyer (prosecutor or defense) say nothing about what they "would do" in this case.
Lawyers who know nothing about the lawyers in the case say nothing about "what they know" about the lawyers in the case.
Lawyers who practice criminal defense, don't fall in to the mob mentality and pretend on TV they would handle the case differently.
Lawyers who are on TV or in the media, help explain the system so that people understand, not so they are happy.
Lawyers who don't know what they are talking about, politely decline to be on TV.
Lawyers outside of Florida don't go on TV just to say "I don't know how they do it in Florida, but..."
Lawyers in Florida don't seek publicity for the purpose of trashing their colleagues (I got that request already.)
The media, specifically reporters, only say what they know, not what they think. Report, just report.
The media take every opportunity to educate the public and not make them stupider than they already are as a result of inaccurate TV shows about the criminal justice system.
The media tells the public that the state has 15 days to turn over discovery in Florida and that is extended routinely.
The media calls a "continuance" a continuance and not "another delay."
The media explains that both sides will need to be ready for trial, not just the state (who had a head start.)
The media explains that justice is a decision, a verdict, a conclusion that is just. It may mean the state drops the case, that the defendant gets a good deal for pleading guilty, or that the jury didn't find proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
To add to the above, that the media does not say that "justice was not served" if justice benefits the defendant, meaning he walks out of court when it's over, or that he won't die in prison.
But I probably need to pray much too hard for these things.
Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense lawyer in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court, and the author of The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer. Post to Twitter
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