Fair Trials Require Actual Accountability (or “Oops, My Bad” Should Be Criminal)

The usual apologia from the “law and order” right is to say a man like Glenn Ford (pictured below) received a “fair trial” and to then insist that anyone with any criticisms for the justice system is “on the criminal’s side.” There is no such thing as a “fair trial” that results in an innocent person spending even a minute in prison. There is nothing fair about prosecuting and caging an innocent person, regardless of weak apologia to the contrary from those willing to destroy a person’s life over public fears and media pressure.

Glenn Ford

The typical, “oops, my bad” after the fact is about the most that can be expected from so many prosecutors and judges who played a role in such travesties. An utter lack of real, life-altering and severe consequences for prosecutors, police and judges who play a role in such miscarriages of justice ensures that nothing will change.

Marty Stroud, the lead prosecutor for Ford’s case in 1984, recently admitted his role in this travesty, through an op-ed in The Shreveport Times:

In 1984, I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning. To borrow a phrase from Al Pacino in the movie “And Justice for All,” “Winning became everything.”

After the death verdict in the Ford trial, I went out with others and celebrated with a few rounds of drinks. That’s sick. I had been entrusted with the duty to seek the death of a fellow human being, a very solemn task that certainly did not warrant any “celebration.”

In my rebuttal argument during the penalty phase of the trial, I mocked Mr. Ford, stating that this man wanted to stay alive so he could be given the opportunity to prove his innocence. I continued by saying this should be an affront to each of you jurors, for he showed no remorse, only contempt for your verdict.

Stroud demonstrates what so many people have observed is horribly wrong about the U.S. justice system over the last several decades – the drive to win at all costs – even if it means locking up an innocent man.

When will those who are PAID and PRIVILEGED to uphold the law start being subjected to some serious legal consequences themselves when their negligence and arrogance destroy lives like Mr. Ford?

How many more innocent people do the Innocence Project, Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana and similar organizations have to free before legislators and citizens have had enough?

Where is the line?

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