There are many people who are angry, disappointed and upset by yesterday’s mistrial. I am disappointed former Charleston, SC patrolman, Michael Slager was not found guilty for the murder of Walter Scott. Yet I am hopeful for a number of reasons and concerned for others.
1) A Mistrial is Not an Acquittal – In the case of Mr. Scott, this trial did not leave us with the notion his death was justified. Michael Slager’s actions were not absolved and his conduct was not determined to be appropriate. A mistrial simply means there wasn’t a unanimous decision by the jury. It’s a high burden and only 2 states allow for dissent amongst the jurors in non-death penalty criminal cases (Oregon and Louisiana allow criminal convictions by a vote of 10 to 2). However, we must keep in mind that a mistrial doesn’t mean Michael Slager is innocent.
2) It only takes one – Any defense attorney will tell you it only takes one juror to “win” a case. While Slager didn’t win in that the charges have been dropped, a defense attorney will take a mistrial over a conviction any day of the week. Especially a mistrial when there is only 1 holdout. 1 holdout out of 12 is not a mandate of innocence.