The Scales Of Justice Have To Remain Level
One of the biggest stories in the area is undoubtedly the search, capture, and now trial of Arthur Morgan the third. I've had the opportunity to follow the story from the moment Tierra went missing to when I found out Morgan was going to have his first court date in New Jersey.
Along the way I spoke to attendees of Tierra's funeral, members of the Prosecutor's Office of Monmouth County, and even Tierra's grandmother. Without a doubt it's one of the stories that has so many angles that people are interested in, and with good reason. A toddler found dead in a such a brutal fashion with seemingly no reason behind it, followed by a national manhunt for the accused father and his apprehension by US Marshals in San Diego, and culminating with his appearance in court where the prosecution accuses him of using a tire iron from his car to drown his daughter.
By all rights this could easily become a crime thriller or certainly a foundation for an episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit; however throughout all of this it's incredibly important to remember one simple fact.
This isn't television.
No, this isn't an episode of SVU and everything is not simple cut and dry. Many of the people I have spoken with are in horror of what happened to young Tierra and universally it seems their first instinct is usually the same: “throw the father in prison” or “give him the death penalty”.
Now I am not making a case for or against Arthur Morgan. That is for his defense council to do. However he has been put in the center of the case regardless of what the evidence.
What worries me is that in cases like these (and in my fledgling career as a reporter I have seen several) is that people often forget one of the most important tenants of our justice system. That is "Innocent until proven guilty."
While our primal need for catharsis is psychosocially understandable, we can't lose sight of the greater picture. The issue is not convicting any person for the murder of someone, but rather finding justice for the victim. I am concerned more and more that in their bloodlust, people forget about the fact that standing in front of a judge isn't a murderer “,” baby killer or "monster", it's a fellow human being and that human being is for all intents and purposes as innocent in the crime as you or I until a judge says otherwise.
One of the things more tragic than Tierra’s untimely death would be to condemn an innocent man for a crime he hasn’t committed.
Remember, for our justice system to work society has to have faith in it. When it's unjust we must speak up, but ultimately we must also allow for it to do its work. When a verdict is reached we can debate it’s fairness, however in the time being it’s more important to remember Tierra’s memory .