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Wheels of Justice

January 13, 2012

The Murmur Mill in Mammoth is in full throat.
 
We don’t like it, but the reality is that the arrest of two of our citizens on child sex charges (P.1) is just too juicy for most of the murmurers to ignore. 
 
We’d like to remind our people that we have a system in place for those standing accused of crimes, no matter how heinous they may seem.
 
Sometimes, the criminal law system fails us. The O.J. Simpson criminal case (1995) serves as a good example. On the other hand, sometimes the system does its job just about right (Bernie Madoff, 2009).
 
As a civilization, we’ve been working on this for 4,000 years or so. But such are the unclear and blurry factors in each individual case that all we can do is let the system do its job, then tweak it along the way.
 
The Sumerians, between 2100 to 2050 B.C., designed the first written codes of law. The Greeks, under Draco (“Draconian Law“ ring a bell?), then had their hands in it, and then there were the Romans, who, in keeping with their character, filched just about everything from Athens.
 
Modern criminal law, which applies in the Andrew Bourne/Joe Walker case, developed in the 18th century, when European countries began maintaining police services. From that point on, criminal law formalized the mechanisms for enforcement, which allowed for its development as a discernible entity.
 
What a great thing criminal law is. 
 
What a mess, too.
 
Yet from these early developments, we developed notions such as “innocent until proven guilty” and we created a process of appeals.
 
As of now, the process has just been set in motion regarding the Bourne/Walker case.
 
The public has no idea what the evidence is. The public can only guess, usually in hushed whispers, about what it knows. In our experience, in our small little town where rumor frequently is the primary news outlet, the public is almost always wrong. Sometimes it is only a little bit wrong; sometimes it is seriously wrong.
 
That is why we have a legal system—to give defendants and prosecutors alike a fair chance to present their cases and override the murmurs.
 
Some 1,600 years ago, the Greek philosopher Sextus Empiricus wrote: “The mills of the gods grind slowly, but they grind small.”
 
That, in turn, led to the modern cliché, “The Wheels of Justice grind slow.”
 
In our situation, the Wheels of Justice have just begun to turn.
 
Let them grind slow.
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