I’m 82. When grocery shopping with tongue in cheek, I humorously wonder if I’m going to outlive the orange juice dated good for three months or the AA batteries claimed effective for 10 years. Lately, I get a similar but serious sense about the life expectancy of our country’s jury system, when public gangsterism breaks out following jury trial verdicts in high-profile criminal cases.

Our criminal-jury system with its standard of proof and rules of procedure exists to arrive at verdicts justly. However, groups of people, as in the recent George Zimmerman case, riot in the streets when the verdict doesn’t fit expectations.

Criminal behavior on the heels of a verdict is not what the criminal justice system merits.

Try to sense the feelings of the six jurors in the Zimmerman case who agreed to put their lives and families on hold, sequestered, to exercise one of the highest callings of public service, only to see their efforts fill streets with criminal behavior.

All the while, they correctly applied applicable law to the evidence.

If our country isn’t careful concerning respect of our criminal jury process, the day may come out of the blue when citizens called to jury duty decline acceptance of that responsibility on the valid excuse of fear of the public rancor about the verdict.

In the Zimmerman case, influential black leaders, joined by whites injected the issue of racial prejudice in faulting the verdict, when none existed in the evidence or the decision. When given sufficient weight, even undeserving contentions take life.

I wonder what judicial replacement process the naysayers have up their sleeves.

John Benoit, Manchester

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