Recently, I gave my predictions on the Rittenhouse trial while it was still happening. I predicted acquittal, and I was proven correct on November 19th. On the same day, jury instructions were debated in the Ahmaud Arbery trial; the instructions were such a departure from the defense’s interpretation of the law that a guilty verdict was all but certain. The three defendants in that case were each found guilty of various charges in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery.
The Rittenhouse verdict was met with outrage and protests. Meanwhile, the Arbery verdict was largely met with peace, silence, and even sighs of relief. Of course, these cases are not the same; the government had a weak case against Rittenhouse and quite a strong one against the McMichaels. I believe both outcomes were highly predictable. So, why such varied responses?
Jurors almost certainly knew that their cases were highly publicized. Still, their duty was to reach a decision based on the evidence, the law, and nothing else. If they did this, then “justice” was served – even if the verdict is politically controversial. For this reason, President Joe Biden has stated both that he is (1) upset by the Rittenhouse verdict and (2) stands by it. Biden publicly argued that it’s important that we continue to respect our jury system, as it’s how we fairly execute the laws of the United States. The American jury system helps to protect ordinary people against injustice – without the protections of a fair jury, we are all at risk.
To me, these two cases are a reminder that our complex jury system is capable of acting independently from political pressure – that can only be a good thing for you and me.
This blog post is part of the CIMA Law Group Blog. If you are in need of legal help, the CIMA Law Group is a law firm in Phoenix, Arizona which possesses expertise in Immigration Law, Criminal Defense, Personal Injury, and Government Relations.