We have a Hollywood fairy-tale idea of justice. It’s something that makes the hurt go away and heals rifts. Maybe sometimes that’s true. It would be nice if it was. But justice doesn’t always look like that.
In Pittsburgh, a significant number of people look at the Michael Rosfeld verdict Friday and don’t see justice. They see a dead black boy and a free white cop and feel an inequity that can’t be expressed. A trial is supposed to deliver justice. How can it leave the mother of a dead child feeling stricken again?
In Washington, two years of investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller culminated Friday with the delivery of his report on allegations of collusion and obstruction of justice by President Trump. On Sunday, Attorney General William Barr released his summary of the report: no collusion, no charges.
While Pittsburgh dealt with protests over the Rosfeld verdict, Washington and cable news shows chewed on the end of the Mueller probe. How could there be no charges? No indictments? But so many other people were charged or pleaded guilty or were found guilty. There has to be more!
But sometimes there isn’t.
Sometimes we have to acknowledge when the race is run, when the fight is fought, when the bell has rung. In both Rosfeld’s trial and Mueller’s investigation, there was a process that had to be followed. There were actions taken to try and establish whether someone had responsibility and whether there would be consequences.
Without a doubt, there were people on both sides of the issues. For every person who mourned Rose, there was someone defending Rosfeld or imagining their police officer husband or brother or son in his position. For everyone demanding answers about Russian interference in the election, there was someone adamant that Trump was not involved.
And that is every trial, every investigation. Whenever there are two sides, there is no answer that will bring us all together. The scales of justice tip based on the weight of the evidence or the opinion of the jury, but they seldom balance in a way that makes both sides say “Yes, that is fair.” Because some things will never feel fair.
Sometimes justice doesn’t look like the answer someone wants. Sometimes justice is just the end of the road.