The way that the American justice system works is a mystery to many people who think that a grand jury finds a defendant guilty or not guilty of a charged crime. A grand jury does not determine guilt. A grand jury looks at the evidence and then determines if a person should be charged with a crime.
Following the riots in Ferguson, MO and the Eric Garner protests all across America a great number of Americans now think that our grand jury system is broken and that it should no longer be used to determine whether or not a criminal case goes to trial. They see spending months and months of listening to dozens of witnesses and experts and reviewing the facts of an alleged crime as just a delay in getting to what most people believe is the correct result.
In the Ferguson, MO case the facts and testimony of experts only got in the way since the truth about what had happened was known to many from the start. What we did find out was that the obvious truth of this situation could have been more easily documented if the cops had used police body cameras to record every stop, every incident, so that the public could see for themselves what had happened.
In the Eric Garner case in New York, where a black man died when the police attempted to subdue him during an arrest, we had a case where again the community knew what needed to be done to the police officers without having to review all of the facts of the case because of who was involved. They knew and there was a video to back up that belief. Looking at the video of the arrest numerous television personalities, who somehow became experts on police training and procedures, were able to confirm that truth to their viewers. Simply using the truth shown on the video alone to determine if the case should have gone to trial would have meant that twenty three citizens of a so-called grand jury would not have had to go over thousands of pages of testimony and expert findings. The video confirmed all that we needed to know which brings me to proposing the following:
When the police begin to wear police body cameras the general public will be able to immediately see the incident videos which can then be used to confirm the conclusions wanted by the public. The focus now should be on how and when to release these videos which confirm that conclusion so that we can get right to the next stage, the trial.
Assuming that there may be multiple incidents involving the police and the community occurring each week why not have all of the videos associated with the different cases released on the internet at 7:30 each Thursday evening? Following each video case the audience will use thumb-up or thumb-down buttons similar to “like” on Facebook or the voting on American Idol—thumb-up, no trial, thumb-down, trial. Who should vote? Justice is what we are looking for and since justice is a universal concept everyone around the world should be able to logon and vote.
Justice delayed is justice denied so this proposed system should help us along the path to providing swift justice and correcting our broken justice system. By going to a system which relies on video to determine whether a case should go to court we will not only speed up the process but also redefine what evidence really means in determining probable guilt and if that probable guilt can be determined, why not guilt?
Since this video “grand jury” system will be so efficient the same type of system could take the case right to a “video court” at 7:30 Friday night where a thumb-up or thumb-down, guilty or not guilty, vote would be done using the same videos plus any testimony the defendant or his or her lawyer may want to introduce. Now I’m not going to be the one to propose using this thumbs-up, thumbs-down system for sentencing (since there probably should be some type of appeal process) but a complete video justice system would sure get us to the desired result quickly and help us fix all components of our unjust system once and for all. An incident on Monday with a ”web grand jury” decision on Thursday, a “web trial” on Friday and a “web sentence” on Saturday could have the guilty police officer behind bars for life or executed by sunup Monday morning and isn’t that what the crowds in the streets really want?
No costs to the city controlling protests, no looting, no riots, no burned down business just pure justice for the people. What is the downside?


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