I had these thoughts while reading an Associated Press article about the upcoming federal trial of James Ford Seale who is charged with kidnapping and conspiracy charges for the 1964 killings of Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore in rural southwest Mississippi.
How does society value the re-examination and prosecution of long-dormant cases from an era where racial brutality was common place? Some believe it is "present day business" while others believe it is a "political movement." Will juries be fair? Or will juries believe they are supposed to come back with a certain verdict and apply the law in a certain way - only to appease the political furor over racially motivated crimes? I'd hope the prosecutors are only now bringing Mr. Seale to trial because they have uncovered new witnesses linking him to the crime or developed a new forensic angle on the case, rather than furthering some political movement.
When due process is delayed - due process is often denied. That is, what defense strategy does Seale have? He is entitled, under the United States Constitution, to the best defense his lawyers can provide. Hopefully, defense witnesses are not dead or have not forgotten key facts and details critical to his defense. If convicted, hopefully evidence mitigating to punishment still exists to help Seale prepare the best case possible for the jury.
I hope prosecutors think about these issues when deciding to prosecute decades old murder cases. Even though due process is delayed, it must never be denied.