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Former Prosecutor: Not Guilty Verdicts Right Verdicts

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) Once each year it seems there is a high profile case that doesn't go the way the public expects, that somewhow generates controversy.  But do they shake our faith in the judicial system?  Is the system broken?

Did George Zimmerman get away with murder? Did James Corasanti get away with a deadly hit and run?

Justice is supposed to be the American way. But the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin has revealed two starkly different visions of what Americans think justice should be. And the Corasanti case last May - where a prominent phsyician was acquitted of manslaughter in a drunk driving case, had many asking whether the legal system is broken.

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"In both cases, absolutely not," says former Prosecutor Joe Maruszak.

Last week, a portion of the civil procceedings agains Corasanti -- were settled when Transit Valley Country Club reached an agreement with the family after serving Corasanti alcohol.  

  (AP) The national conversation over the Zimmerman  verdict shows two sides talking about two different things: either the two minutes when Zimmerman and Martin fought face to face, or the centuries of racial context that many believe caused a senseless death.

The debate also has revealed deep resistance to the idea that justice in this case might not be black and white, but could include a gray area with important parts of both visions.

Says Richard Lowry, editor of the National Review, the conservative magazine: "It was a terrible tragedy, it never should have happened, Zimmerman showed awful judgment, it has placed an unspeakable burden on the Martin family - but it just wasn't a crime."

"The justice system is essentially saying that context doesn't matter," says George Ciccariello-Maher, a history and politics professor at Drexel University. "It's not illegal to be a racist stalker - that's extraneous to the legal question of self-defense."

Rashad Robinson, executive director of the black advocacy group Color of Change, says the verdict shows "the American justice system is not colorblind, it is not fair."

"We can't have this discussion about whether the letter of the law is fair," Robinson says, "because the law is influenced by our culture - by bias and media depictions and all the other things that play into how judges make decisions, how police make decisions, how juries make decisions." 

Maruszak says based on the evidence presented, "the verdict was in keeping with the evidence."

He says many, including himself were under the impression based on newspaper accounts the case would be a slam dunk for prosecutors.

Maruszak is also wondering why one of the Zimmerman jurors claimed he got away with killing Trayvon Martin last year?

"From the evidence, it was overwhelmingly in favor of a not guilty verdict," explains Maruszak. "The forensic evidence had the deceased on top of Zimmerman when the shot was fired."

Maruszak believes the Zimmerman juror may be feeling the heat from the court of public opinion, and says some members of the media fueled the outrage.

"The problem that's going on here, is you have coverage of these trials, that is not balanced," believes Maruszak.

"The media, on both sides, have their own slants and agendas. They don't care about the truth. They don't care about balanced reporting of high profile events. They're looking for sensationalism, they're looking for headlines, they're looking to sell advertising."

Filed Under :  
Topics : Law_Crime
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Locations : Buffalo
People : George ZimmermanJames CorasantiJoe Maruszak
07/26/2013 5:40PM
Former Prosecutor: Not Guilty Verdicts Right Verdicts
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07/29/2013 12:18PM
Not guilty
Yes he was , they could not prove other wise and also showed it was not a race issue
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