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Guilty or not guilty?

Where does our sense of justice come from? We all have an innate sense of what’s OK and what’s not. And it’s usually pretty refined.   I was on jury duty last week in Gainesville, GA. One of the cases before us featured a woman who left her two kids (nine and five) in the car while she wen…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
Where does our sense of justice come from? We all have an innate sense of what’s OK and what’s not. And it’s usually pretty refined.
I was on jury duty last week in Gainesville, GA. One of the cases before us featured a woman who left her two kids (nine and five) in the car while she went into the Walmart to get a few things. They were asleep, it wasn’t too hot, and she didn’t want to wake them, so she locked the car and ran in.
It took less than half an hour, but when she returned, she was arrested for negligence. She sat before a jury that convicted her. She had to pay a fine of $500 per child and do two days in jail.
If you sat on the jury would you convict her? If so, what penalty would you assign her? This internal sense of justice we’ve got fascinates me. Is it God speaking to us or is it just some cultural norm we’ve absorbed?
Once you’ve formulated a conclusion – ask this question: What was wrong or right about it and how should it get set right?

Comments (10)

  • Not guilty. This is a case of government overstepping their limits. My thoughts are sometimes not PC because sometimes being PC is simply wrong.

  • Was it poor judgement to leave the children in the car? Maybe, maybe not. Regardless, the responsibility lies with the parents not government. Is government really in the business of defining what is/isn’t negligence in parenting? Especially, at this level?

    This example of conviction infuriates me…especially when you follow the logic to it’s ultimate conclusion.

    I have a friend who is a very loving mother who accidently left her infant son bundled up in his car seat on the seat of her minivan during an entire church service. This was in sub zero weather in Minnesota. The boy was fine and still sleeping soundly as the mother, in a panic, discovered her mistake and rushed out to the parking lot. Should she be prosecuted?? That would seem crazy to me…

  • For some reason our society has become over zealous and unable to judge a situation fairly with these type of cases. As a kid, it was nothing for parents to leave you in the car as they went into the drug store or grocery store. Years ago, she would not have been found guilty of anything. I would not have found her guilty.

  • She is GUILTY!!!
    What are we talking about here?????
    There are many “what ifs” that could make the eventualities of this case very ugly.
    I wouldn’t list them. But if any of them connected and those kids got missing or hurt, no one will leave their kids in their car subsequently. She’d have given us all an avoidable pain. She’d have become an example of what happens when parents put their comfort and/or the comfort of their kids above commonsense.
    Was it just not wanting to wake them or was it laziness? The stress of struggling with two sleepy kids in the store… the pain of listening to their childish growls…

  • Our laws are formed with “ifs” in mind. Our cities are developed with “ifs” in mind.

    Before any risk is taken, we consider the odds with a couple of “ifs” don’t we? This looked innocent and harmless but it isn’t.

  • As a mom I can see both sides. This punishment does not fit the crime, if you choose to call it that.

    When someone can deliberately commit a horid crime in our society (true child abuse, animal abuse, etc.) and not receive a fraction of the cost or sentence that this mom received, that shows me that our system is not working as it was originally designed.

    God bless this mom, God bless her children, and God bless the jury that had to way the full evidence of the situation against the laws as they are written, and hand down this sentence.

  • There is a book called “the death of common sense” it is about the over-litigation and laws enacted that do the opposite of what is originally intended. It is really eye opening and right on. We have way too many laws. On the other hand, we are becoming an increasingly lawless society where laws are the only way to protect children from some parents who care little about their well being. My daughter has been a foster mom for the state for a while. The stories of abuse and neglect are horrendous. In these cases thank God the law stepped in.
    If this type of litigation will protect those children, then when I make a stupid mistake that is similar to this poor woman, I would apologize to the court for breaking the law, explain to my children what was going on and take my punishment. This is because I have seen the protection it has brought to those who really need it and want to teach my children how to react to authorities even if we don’t agree with them.
    When it comes to my children, even now, I ask myself is there anyway I can live to regret a decision I make concerning them. I make my decision based on how I answer that question. I don’t know if this woman regretted the decision she made. But I can’t help but to think of Jesus standing before pilot as an innocent man choosing to suffer the consequences of a broken world. I guess this woman needs to do the same….whether guilty or innocent, only God knows…but He will use the courts as they exist for His purpose as well.

  • Not guilty,the condition of the children was okay and the reason for leaving them was buying perhaps food or something necessary(the store was Walmart!)…the penalty of fining the mother and putting her in jail(away from the children!) is called “a cure that is worse than the malady!”

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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