…Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled to protect defendants in capital cases.
It ruled that they can’t be brought into court with shackles.
Because seeing the defendant in shackles makes an impression on the jury.
“It almost always… affects the jury’s perception of the character of the defendant”.
The court was split. And some argued that the ruling can compromise security.
But there’s one thing that no justice said.
“Why worry so much about the defendant”!
Its part of our country’s value system. Life is sacred.
And we can’t allow for even subtle influences on the jury.
… The Supreme Court of Ancient Rome didn’t think this way.
If they weren’t bothered by what happened in the Coliseum?
Where human beings were thrown to the animals for entertainment?
They weren’t likely to care about shackling a defendant in court!
But today the world is different.
Because the Torah taught the world about the sanctity of life.
… Capital punishment exists in the Torah in very limited circumstances.
There were so many safeguards that it was almost theoretical!
Here’s a fascinating safeguard.
Capital cases had to be decided by a court of great Torah scholars.
Brilliant minds and impeccable character.
But if the court was unanimous? Defendant found guilty of a capital crime?
The sentence could not be carried out!
…Seems counter intuitive!
I would have said, maybe you should need a unanimous guilty verdict!
But that a unanimous verdict has to be discarded?
What’s the logic?
… Sometimes something makes an initial impression on us.
It may seem obvious.
And we don’t force ourselves to take a second look. A third look. And even a fourth.
There’s one thing that can force us to reexamine our position.
When someone disagrees. And advocates the other position. Strongly.
So there’s something missing with a unanimous guilty verdict.
The need to defend their position!
… We’re not judges.
But we do make judgments!
Next time we’re sure that someone did something bad?
We should try to find a dissenting opinion.
And if we can’t?
We should be it!
All the best,