Law Passion

In: Social Issues

Submitted By jillzwetch
Words 490
Pages 2
He stood six foot eight, cornrows cinched to his head, sweat glistening on his face, dressed in an orange jumpsuit that grabbed the attention of every observer. I sat within feet of the defendant, a man charged with the brutal murder of his girlfriend and newborn baby. I sat transfixed. A defense attorney was conspicuously absent. The accused appeared terrified and helpless, defending himself before an angry jury. A twelve year old on a family trip to Washington, DC, I was visiting a cousin, the Honorable Bruce Mencher, at the District of Columbia Superior Court. Judge Mencher had invited us to attend this trial. Having never been in a courthouse before, I had minimal knowledge of the American Justice System. I considered our Bill of Rights and its guarantee that a lawyer would be appointed were the defendant unable to afford one. I didn’t understand why an attorney wasn’t present. I was concerned; he needed a professional to have his voice heard. Although I did not know the specifics of the case, I had innumerable questions. Why was he speaking for himself? Had he opted to do so? Would jurors listen with objectivity or be swayed by the handcuffs and government-issued jumpsuit? Reflecting on the case today, I recognize our justice system as unique in its declaration that we are “innocent until proven guilty.” Yet in high profile cases, the public and the media often malign the accused before the case begins. I worry that “guilty until proven innocent” may supersede a time-honored declaration. I feel this concern now and felt the same concern then as I watched the perpetrator defend himself. Were those judging this man doing so fairly? The experience of the trial sparked my interest in the government. I joined a mock trial group during freshman year, viewing cases from multiple perspectives. I sat as judge,…...

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