Don’t want to be on wrong side of law

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Our judicial process is a beautiful, yet daunting, thing.

I’ve spent the last two days watching the murder trial against Bobby Wayne Copeland in amazement as the prosecution and defense laid the stepping-stones of their arguments.

I’ve listened as family members of the slain woman have given their recollections of the events leading up to her death.

I’ve always said grief is a tangible thing. After sitting through nearly two days of testimony, I still feel that way.

You could see the grief in the held-back tears as they talked about their loved one. You could hear it in the tremble of the voicse, and you could feel it like a knot in the chest mixed with the relief in knowing it’s not your family dealing with the tragedy.

Our judicial system is beautiful in the way that, as the accused, you are judged by your peers. On the flip side, that’s the same reason why it is also a daunting thing. Television has made it very difficult for the men and women in a courtroom – from the judge and counsel to the police who respond to the scene and the skilled forensic technicians who process the evidence.

On CSI, it only takes 20 minutes to get a result on a DNA sample. In real life, it could take months, if not years.

On Law and Order, the crime is solved, a suspect arrested and the case taken to trial in one hour. To know that’s pure fiction, one need only to examine the trial of Ronald Barbaree. That case was happening simultaneously Monday and Tuesday with the Copeland case. It’s taken nearly seven years to bring that trial to completion.

On Medium, there’s a psychic who helps solve cases. Luckily, in current memory, there hasn’t been a case where the police didn’t know who did it – or at least have a very good idea. There was that one time when they couldn’t find the man who allegedly bludgeoned a man to death and then set the home on fire with the man’s invalid wife inside. Incidentally, his name was Barbaree, as well, and a psychic probably would’ve come in handy when police were searching the countryside for him. They found him and he’s currently awaiting trial.

My point is this – our judicial system is so interesting they make TV out of it; it can bring justice to a grieving family; and at times can seem cruel.

The one thing I know for sue about it is this – I don’t want to be on the wrong side of it.