Establishing Justice

Guilt, Innocence, and Due Process

Do we demand justice at the price of due process? I hope not, and for purely biblical reasons.

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Chuck  Colson

At the end of the long and emotionally charged murder trial of Casey Anthony, a prominent CNN reporter laid aside any shred of journalistic objectivity and fumed, “Somewhere out there, the devil is dancing tonight.”

The reporter was directing her anger at the jury, which found Ms. Anthony innocent of the murder of her young daughter. But after 33 days in court and eleven hours of deliberation, the jury simply found too many holes in the evidence to prove that Anthony was guilty beyond all reasonable doubt.

Now the millions of Americans who followed the made-for-TV drama on cable news, there was no doubt that Ms. Anthony was guilty. And why would they think otherwise?

The tragic death occurred almost three years ago. Since then, the media have breathlessly covered the sad story. They crammed every question of innocence and guilt and the details of the murder into emotionally charged, ratings-friendly, five-minute blocks. Let’s be generous and say that this kind of coverage merely fuels public outrage -- and it certainly does nothing to help the public rationally weigh the evidence of the case.

But then again, that’s not the public’s, or the media’s, job.

That job belongs to the judge and jury, thank God. And I mean that literally. Standards of evidence are so stringent in our legal system because the stakes are so high: depriving a person of his liberty or even his life.

Before that happens, the elements of the crime, all of them, must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. If this sounds “soft” to you, then the Old Testament was “soft.” We find in Numbers 35 and Deuteronomy 17 the requirement that there be more than one eyewitness to convict anyone of murder. God so abhors convicting the innocent that bearing false witness in a capital case is a capital offense in itself!

Contrary to the CNN reporter’s claim about Satan, what truly puts a giddyup in the devil’s two-step is lawlessness and chaos, which is why God instituted government and gave us law.

But, in the biblical view, law is about more than preserving order, as important as that is -- it is about establishing justice, which means requiring rules, not just about right and wrong, but how we determine who is right and who is wrong.

Think about the prophets: in addition to denouncing Israel’s apostasy and infidelity, they denounced wrong-doing in the courts and the misdeeds of those entrusted with establishing justice.

Hard as it may be to accept, a properly-functioning justice system will make mistakes: we are talking about human beings, after all. Sometimes people we believe to be guilty will go free.

And sometimes prosecutors are overzealous, as we saw in the case of Dominque Strauss-Kahn, former head of the International Monetary Fund. His behavior may have been deplorable, but the prosecutors were irresponsible.

Then there are those wrongly convicted, some of whom may be sitting on death row.

As a Christian, it’s these miscarriages of justice that disturb me more. If Anthony is guilty, she’s got to live with the consequences and the nightmares of what she did. I am confident that God will see that justice is ultimately done. That’s His job. Ours is working for a society where justice, as the Scriptures define it, is done today.

Further Reading and Information

The Devil Is Dancing
Nancy Grace | CNN | July 05, 2011


establishing justice
Thank you for calling attention to the responsibility to law without emotions. I am proud of those jurors that understood their responsibilities. The young child Caley can be found in the presence of our Lord. For her mother, Casey, I pray for this Prince of Peace to reveal Himself to her.
Not Guilty
Thank you, Chuck, for another great commentary pointing us back to a Biblical view of human events. I read a quote from one member of the jury, "I didn't say she was innocent, I said she was not guilty."
What about the converse?
Chuck always brings great light to anything he comments on. His question (Do we demand justice at the price of due process) is a great one. But I think that we might also ask, Did we demand due process at the price of justice? Must we be able to recontruct every detail with a perfect chronology in order to reach a reasonable conlusion? Just as science alone can't define reality, forenzic evidence (or a lack of) is not the only evidence to consider. Obviously, we can't discard due process and go with our gut. But I seriously doubt that justice prevailed in this case. Thankfully, I can't judge the jury, anymore than I can judge Ms. Anthony. And I still think ours is the best justice system around. I'm just glad our justice system does not truly render the FINAL verdict. That's God's job. And even if the devil is dancing, he won't dance forever. We know Caylee is with the Lord. Let's pray her mother joins her one day.
Truth, Love, Discipline and Justice
2 things have been rumbling over and over in my mind during this case and now with the very unsettling verdict (and yes the only way we the public can come to the conclusions we have is because of the media) and in light of this excellent article...1) Thanks to Breakpoint (and other groups, churches, ministries, etc.) who really uphold the highest standard and greatest protection of children's innocence according to God's design - one man, one woman marriage and; 2) as I was discussing this with my wife following the verdict these verses and thoughts came to my mind - Prov. 29: 17, 18 with regard to discipline, wisdom, vision or revelation and death or casting off restraint (Truth, and again, discipline) and then Prov. 24: 23 - 24 regarding innocence, guilt, judgment and blessing (this is not to render a judgment at all from me as that is completely in the Lord's hand where it ultimately always rests) and to simply point out one final thought regarding discipline, wisdom, justice and blessing in a culture that has so 'reduced' the Truths, morals and standards at all levels in our culture regarding life, love, respect, relationships, sexuality, laws, govt., education, media and so on that the very standard upon which most have been educated is at such a lower moral level to begin with that 'beyond a probable doubt' is so much more easily obtained - Prov. 29: 1 - 2 is an indication of where an entire culture is lead when the rulers (in nearly every area) are wicked (void of Truth and Righteousness due to Humanistic relativism).

Thanks for this article and for all you do and may our prayers be for Casey Anthony's salvation and Christ as her Lord!