When I opted to become a lawyer, I entered the field having full respect for our legal system. I always thought that America stands for justice and that the guilty were the only ones to be given punishment. Today, however, after the ruling for Troy Davis to get death, my faith in our legal system has definitely been shaken.
In the US, we’re quick to downplay other countries’ systems and mock the corruption that apparently pervades through the veins of their officials. However, after today, I think our faith in the American justice system has been challenged.
I did criminal law last semester and the message that was reinforced to us fledgling lawyers was that the death penalty should not be given except in an extreme case. There is always a possibility that the person we are sentencing to death is not the guilty party. Furthermore, we say that death and murder in any form is not to be condoned, yet the system condones death in situations like this? I thought the whole “eye for an eye” rational no longer holds in a modern world.
In the case of Troy Davis, there was apparently no physical evidence and no murder weapon found. There are reports that the actual killer has notified cops that Troy wasn’t the actual killer. 7 out of 9 witnesses have since recanted their testimonies. That’s no paltry figure! That’s far more than over half!!
The right killer has to be caught! The right killer needs to be the one who is punished in order for our legal system’s deterrent effect to truly be effective. The problem with Troy’s case is that there is far too much doubt as to his liability to grant him death! The Supreme Court shied away from admitting that the courts in Georgia were wrong. This isn’t a school playground where friends need to stick with friends simply because they’re from the same circle. If the Supreme Court thought that admitting to a mistake would make our faith in the system falter, this decision has had a worse effect by making our faith shatter in the highest courts of our country. The Supreme Court should really remanded the case below or should have overturned the verdict and made it for life. At the least a new trial should have been granted. The death penalty has a high standard – that there must be clear and convincing evidence that a person is guilty. Here, this standard could not be met. There was too much doubt clouding the case.
I had a feeling that our Supreme Court justices would shy away from admitting their mistake. I had a feeling they thought they might set precedence that protests could cause a change in a conviction for a party. We have gotten too caught up in upholding a system on paper, and have lost all human compassion in our rulings. Even if Troy truly is guilty, the fact there is doubt suggests that the death penalty sentence is overturned.
Even if the Supreme Court did not pardon him, I wish the Plaintiff’s family in the case would pardon him. It’s sickening that Plaintiff’s sister will even watch them kill an innocent man.
This case is shocking to me being an American, and moreso because I am a law student.