Not Guilty Isn't Always Innocent
Paul H. Robinson
University of Pennsylvania Law School
Chicago Tribune, Op-Ed, p. 18, February 8, 1994
Bernard Goetz shoots five youths who accost him on a subway in New York. His acquittal of all serious charges brings cheers from some and angry protests from others. After a high-speed chase and resisting arrest, officers severely beat Rodney King to a degree that seems clearly excessive. Riots erupt when a jury acquits the officers, but many others agree with the verdicts. After years of sexual and psychological abuse, Lorena Bobbitt cuts off her husband's penis as he sleeps. Her acquittal is applauded by some and decried by others.
Has the diversity of our society brought a lack of consensus on what constitutes justice? Will expected increases in diversity bring increasing disagreements? In a system like ours, of lay juries, a breakdown in consensus could devastate effective criminal justice. It also could further aggravate relations between races and genders.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 2
Keywords: criminal, punishment
JEL Classification: K14Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: March 30, 2005
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