Tragedies like what happened to these young men occur every day. Many if not most find their way into the judicial system, where professionals like these labor to reach the right outcome in a fair manner. They (the attorneys) are unusually bright, articulate men and women dedicated to resolving some of the thorniest and saddest predicaments in human affairs.
The process is complicated, by design. There are just so many variables and interests and ways that things can go wrong. We don’t want the local mob to take up their torches and their pitchforks and mete out justice the old-fashioned way. We are a civilized people. We require a civilized process. But for it to work, it will be very hard for laymen to understand.
There is a reason that attorneys set aside three years to study law, removed from productive labor. They have to gird themselves for intense, confusing problem-solving, where the case is not just an intellectual puzzle – like a Sudoku – but somebody’s patrimony, somebody’s reputation, somebody’s freedom.
Nobody expects perfection. The profession does the best it can, given its constraints, and then in cases such as this it turns the whole thing over to a jury, who are basically your neighbors. If we don’t want juries, then we reject the Constitution of the United States and hundreds of years of tradition. In the meantime, I can publicly acknowledge the importance of those officers of the court who tend the system. Wouldn’t want to be you. But thank you.