Put Justice Back on the Menu: Part I

To unveil the mystery of the criminal legal process in general terms, imagine that you are eating at a restaurant in a common, everyday dining experience to illustrate this process.

The head chef, who is also the restaurant owner, has two sous-chefs, kitchen tasters, servers, dishwashers, busboys, hostesses, prep cooks, line cooks, restaurant managers, and so forth working in the restaurant. The head chefs oversees all meals being prepared and served to diners.

One of the greatest challenges for the head chef running the restaurant is delivering consistent quality when serving the diners the restaurant’s menu day after day. By contrast, in the courtroom, whether justice is served is relevant to whether diners keep eating at that restaurant.  

One of the main purposes of having a formal legal process is to avoid disorder and chaos by individuals taking the law into their own hands to seek vengeance for actual or perceived wrongs done to them by others. In translation, justice is rooted within the public confidence in the criminal justice system by the faithful, consistent application of the law in a non-discriminatory, impartial manner. In theory.

In reality, cynicism often plagues the public confidence and sense of justice in the criminal justice system like the leftover fish left in the trash overnight that makes the restaurant reek the next day. 

Whether justice occurs, and the truth prevails, is similar to whether you are eating at a great meal, an average meal, or a bad meal in the restaurant. Justice has been served: a great meal. The truth remains unknown: an average meal. Somewhere in between justice served and the unknown truth: a bad meal.  A bad meal leaves a bad taste in the mouth because a miscarriage of justice has probably occurred.

Just because the restaurant doors stay open does not necessarily mean that the food is great—or justice is being served. Open doors just means that business carries on as usual. 

By Deborah D. Davis