No system better than the one that tried O.J.A few...


October 29, 1995

No system better than the one that tried O.J.

A few comments on the O.J. Simpson verdict come to mind as it seems everyone has an opinion, most of which are based on emotion, lack of understanding of our criminal justice system, or worse.

First, I believe the jury came to the right verdict, but probably for the wrong reason. Given the obvious racial polarization this trial seems to reflect it is a good bet the jury, mostly black, used race as a major factor in its decision to acquit. Yet the verdict was the right one as the prosecution's case was so riddled with problems that the defense could create enough reasonable doubt to drive a truck through.

Second, this case proves that if a defendant has money, he is more likely to get a fair trial.

Finally, what bothers me about the reaction of a number of people, including many talk show hosts and their callers, is the cry that our justice system is broken and must be "reformed." The question I have for these people is simply, how? Do you want to remove reasonable doubt as the state's burden of proof? And replace it with what? The easier civil case burden of proof? I have no doubt you'd have more people in jail, many of them for crimes they didn't commit. Or do you want to allow evidence introduced that was illegally gathered? Then we can have a system like they had in the Soviet Union where the defense lawyer agreed with the prosecutor that the defendant was indeed guilty and deserving of punishment but pleaded that the judge have mercy. Can't argue with their conviction rate!

Or maybe we can replace our jury system? A simple majority perhaps? I know, let's do away with the jury altogether, as all this scientific evidence only confuses the average person. What shall we replace it with? Trial by combat? Maybe we can allow torture; many countries do. Or how about the old Puritan custom of throwing the defendant in a pond? If he drowns, he obviously was not possessed by the devil and was telling the truth. If he floats, he is possessed by the devil and should therefore be executed.

You say, "Rammes, now you are getting silly." And you'd be right. But the point is when some of these pundits, or your friends, say that we need to reform our system of justice, find out exactly how they propose to do so. Then ask yourself if you'd like to be tried by their new system if, God forbid, you were accused of a crime you did not commit.

The founding fathers did a darned good job of putting this system together. If we change it, we'd better make sure what we replace it with is an improvement.

Frank H. Rammes


Tolerance dilutes KKK's ugly message

Due to the recent Ku Klux Klan activity in our town, and this group's historical, unremitting hatred for blacks, Jews and Catholics, once again it becomes necessary to defend the good people of Manchester.

It is appropriate and timely, because of the pope's visit to Baltimore, to make the public aware of the activity of men and women of good will.

For years, the church of St. Bartholomew has been inadequate to serve the needs of its ever-increasing number of parishioners. The Trinity United Church of Christ and Immanuel Lutheran Church since 1988 have offered their facilities to St. Bartholomew on those times when crowds were especially heavy: Christmas, Easter and First Communion.

A small thing? Not at all. It was an ecumenical hand extended in spiritual friendship.

My wife is an elder in our Trinity Church. I am an inactive elder. I mention this because of the many mean, sniping comments published in the press about the pope's visit and its cost to the taxpayers.

These nasty comments obviously come from people who feel they alone have access to the way, the truth and the light; their belief alone represents the only direct highway to heaven and everyone else is on a detour, at best.

Let us remember Maryland's wonderful history of tolerance and freedom.

Elmer C. Lippy Jr.


The writer is mayor of Manchester.

What if Alan Keyes headed D.C. march?

I was struck by the similarity of your coverage of the Million Man March with that of the pope's recent visit to Baltimore. I applaud The Sun's thorough coverage of both events.

As a white Catholic, I read with interest accounts of the spiritual mood and peaceful fraternity experienced by the march participants. Again, I was impressed by the similar feelings expressed by participants in the Papal Mass at Camden Yards. Your enlightening coverage of both events points out what may be two of the main causes of racial discord in this country: the erosion of spirituality and the power of the media.

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