The criminal justice system in the United States is arguably a deeply flawed system. Part of the blame can be laid at the feet of the designers but most of the blame likely lies with the everyday actors whose personal opinions and work ethic can sometimes color the law. It could be the wrongfully convicted man innocent of any crime or the family of the victim who are seeking justice. Regardless of the reason, the fact remains that sometimes the criminal justice system fails those who rely on it the most.
The family of a 17-year-old Georgia teen found dead inside a rolled up gym mat nearly two years ago has filed a wrongful death suit against the school, Valdosta’s police department, and over 30 others. In opposition to the sheriff’s investigation which concluded the teen died in a freak accident, the suit claims that the teen was murdered and that there was a conspiracy between interested parties in covering up the specifics of his death. While police and other named parties have described the suit as frivolous, the family’s attorney has stated they have evidence to support their claims and dismissed the final police findings. No date has been set in the case and the federal investigation into the teen’s death is still ongoing.
Whether it is recovering the value of one’s fence knocked down by an angry neighbor or getting justice for a loved one whose life was ended too soon, a civil case is sometimes a person’s only option for justice. Sometimes people know a crime has been committed but they have no way of proving it beyond a reasonable doubt. Because civil cases have a lower burden of proof, wrongful death claims sometimes represent the only outlet a person can use to hold one accountable for the life they helped end.
A civil case is sometimes the only way a person can be made whole whether it is their last, first or only option. While it offers a different kind of justice, the civil court system may be the only place some people can find justice for the act perpetrated against them or the ones they love.
Source: Chicago Tribune, “Georgia parents file lawsuit in death of son found inside rolled-up gym mat,” Jan. 15, 2015