Not guilty or innocent, that is the question
July 13, 2011
A murder trial in our area that gained international attention involved a young woman accused of murdering her two-year-old daughter. She was facing four counts of murder including the death penalty. After the jury deliberated, they came back and exonerated her on all four counts. The jury's verdict was, "not guilty."
As far as the law is concerned, this woman is not guilty of the crime she was accused.
I say, as far as the law is concerned, but not as far as the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage is concerned. For some reason she took an interest in this case and followed it quite faithfully. Fortunately, I did not have to follow this closely, my wife kept me up to date on all of the details.
I did listen to some of the news reports, which only served to confuse me on this whole matter. It's amazing how people who know nothing about the law and have never studied law seems to know more about the law then lawyers and judges. I think the only other profession where the layman knows more than the one who has studied it for years is a minister. Personally, I am uncomfortable being in the same category as a bunch of lawyers. I'm thinking of suing.
While I am thinking about lawyers, isn't it strange that everybody hates lawyers until they need a lawyer? Crooked is as crooked thinks.
Spill a cup of hot coffee on your lap while driving and who ya goin call? Not a doctor but a lawyer. Of course, the person that ought to be sued is the person who was drinking hot coffee while driving. Aren't mothers teaching their kids anything these days?
When an accident occurs, the first thing people think of calling is, not the police, not a tow truck, but a lawyer. I wonder what these lawyers did before cell phones. I would not be surprised to discover that behind the cell phone phenomena are a bunch of lawyers.
We have something in our country that says a person is innocent until proven guilty. What I want to know is, what do you call a person who has been proven not guilty? Of course, it is all in the eyes of the beholder.
It is too bad the jury in this recent case did not have an opportunity to hear my wife pontificate on this case. They may have come up with a different verdict. Nevertheless, the not guilty verdict was issued and that, as they say, is that.
Then my wife said something that spun my brain just a wee bit.
"What is the difference between being not guilty and innocent?"
Well, that puts things in a different light. It is entirely possible to be "not guilty" as far as the law is concerned and on the other hand not be "innocent," either.
Every husband knows what I am talking about here. No matter how hard he tries to prove he is not guilty, he never arrives at that euphoric state of being innocent. After being married as long as I have been, I settle for those brief occasions when my wife considers me not guilty.
I used to fight for being declared innocent by my better half, but I am willing to be considered not guilty if that closes the matter. Nothing like closing the matter so I can move on to the next issue.
Sometimes the verdict of not guilty is because someone has not caught you in the act but you still may not be innocent.
Take the Apple fritter incident this past week. My good wife could not prove I was guilty of eating an apple fritter but she also knew I was not innocent of it either. I am willing to settle for "not guilty."
I was thinking about this recent murder case and it dawned on me that what seems obvious to one person might not be obvious at all to another person. Almost like looking in a mirror. When I raise my right hand, the object in the mirror raises its left-hand. When I wink my right eye, the person in the mirror winks his left eye. The only consolation I have about this mirror business is that I am not quite as ugly as the person in the mirror. Right here is where I plead the fifth.
It is easy to jump to a conclusion when you do not have all of the facts pertaining to the situation at hand. My wife has been guilty of this in the past. Before collecting all of the evidence about a situation, she jumps to the conclusion that I am guilty. The problem with this is, I usually am guilty.
Right now justice is a rather fickle thing. We can look forward to a time when justice will be perfect. The Bible says, "And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more" (Jeremiah 31:34 KJV).
And, "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us" (Psalms 103:12 KJV).
Not guilty or innocent is not the real issue, but forgiveness.
(Rev. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship in Ocala, Fla. He may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)