Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news from Florida for working families since 2007


Parkland Jury: No Elected Official or Candidate Should Ever Castigate a Jury for Its Decision

Jury box with headline: The "Parkland Shooter" Jury spared the live of Nikolas Cruz. Elected officials should never castigate a jury for its decision
Photo: Geoffrey Whiteway via Freerange | Columbia County Observer graphic

While some might be disappointed and angered by the jury vote for life in prison for Nikolas Cruz, the "Parkland Shooter," the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers says political leaders and candidates should never shame jurors for a verdict, penalty, or judgment.

As the judge in every jury trial tells jurors, we have lived by the Constitution and the law for more than 200 years.

Jurors are given specific instructions about the law and its rules for deliberation, which they are sworn to follow. In a death penalty case, the instructions are especially complicated and must be followed for each charge. The verdict forms require detailed findings as to each count.

We must remember that much of what the jury hears in a complicated case like Parkland, evidence about Mr. Cruz and his life, is not reported in the daily media. The jury hears all the evidence, deliberates privately, and renders a verdict according to the law, which some observers will inevitably disagree with.

Being a juror is one of Americans' most essential and demanding civic duties. This is specifically true in the Parkland case, where jurors were subject to extended time away from their families, work, and daily lives.

The jurors listened to an enormous amount of testimony, some of which was gruesome, and took it all in without complaint or incident. They are to be commended for their service, not shamed. The jurors did as they were instructed. They listened to the facts, applied the law, and returned a lawful verdict.

They deserve appreciation and praise for taking on this difficult case, and we all should respect and thank them for their service.

No elected official or candidate for public office should ever castigate a jury for its decision. Such criticism reflects a disregard for the laws we live by and the oaths jurors take and threatens to weaken the jury system, which is the foundation of the criminal justice system.

Ernest Chang is the president of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He has 32 Years experience as a Criminal Defense Lawyer trying over 200 jury trial cases to verdict, including several Death Penalty murder cases and is Death Penalty Qualified Lead Counsel in Florida and Pennsylvania.

Comments  (to add a comment go here) 

Meeting Calendar
No need to be confused - Find links to agendas and where your participation is welcome.

Make a comment • click here •
All comments are displayed at the end of the article and are moderated.