Our free society provides for equal access to trial by jury for every citizen of our country. It’s one of the ways we preserve individual freedoms and insure that a dictatorial, arbitrary form of government does not take over.
Courts are anal about assembling juries that are as fair as possible. Potential jurors are asked various iterations of “Do you think you can render an objective verdict?” The ones that say “no” or that the court perceives to have too many external, prejudicial influences are excused.
Defense attorneys are also important to the trial, but they are frequently appointed to defend an individual. Sometimes the evidence is overwhelmingly against the defendant: DNA evidence, fingerprints, and eye witnesses. What if the attorney begins the whole trial process saying to himself, “There’s no way this person is innocent? It is what it is.”
The point of this blog is not to examine the question of the attorney. It is rather to think about what it would be like to sit in the seat of a defendant for whom there is so much evidence of guilt that there is really no defense. When even the attorney believes (to self) that the client is guilty of the crime.
In our legal system no one says out loud, “This is indefensible. The case is what it is.” We’re too polite. Too afraid of where those words would lead us as a society. But under our breaths, in the quietness of our own thoughts we know. Sometimes the crime is too egregious and the evidence too massive. “It is what it is.”
The feeling of hopelessness at such times is akin to the feeling one gets when stopped for speeding or running a stoplight. “You’re right, Officer. I was in a hurry; I thought I could make it through the intersection before it turned red.”
Guilty as charged. It is what it is.
In some ways Jesus resembles the defense attorney who is appointed to take the case. He knows the evidence is insurmountable. “Gossiper? Guilty.” “Thief? Guilty.” “Mean? Guilty.” “Full of anger and hatred. Guilty.” “Lacking compassion. Guilty.” And most attorneys would not be willing to take the case. Only a court-appointed defense attorney – wondering how on earth a case can be built that will exonerate the individual.
But when Jesus says, “It is what it is,” his voiced is not laced with pessimism about the case. All of his cases are guilty.
However, he also knows that there is a divine verdict that is already filed with the court.