It’s easy to forget that this grand American experiment was something new when it began more than two centuries ago. Our founders said no to a system of royals governing over their subjects, and started a system of free people governing themselves.
To make it work, and for the most part is has worked, they instituted a system of checks and balances and shared power.
New democracies struggle with this. Corruption is too easy to do, and very hard for many to resist. But, with the proper institutions in place, the United States of America has shown it can work.
One of those institutions is an independent judiciary. We have to trust that our courts, our prosecutors, our judges and our juries are doing their best and making good decisions.
Yes, there are plenty of examples when they got it wrong. But for the most part, they do get it right.
We had to remind ourselves of that this week after news that the Yavapai County Attorney has dismissed charges against Gene Carpenter, the Prescott Valley
man who was arrested for operating his drone in restricted airspace over the Goodwin Fire in June.
The initial reaction is, say what? If he is guilty, and he hasn’t been convicted, then that drone put the lives of firefighters at risk. It forced the grounding of all firefighting aircraft working to protect structures and support firefighters, which put property and lives at risk.
It was a selfish act and one that could have caused tremendous harm.
The county attorney’s office is returning the case to the sheriff’s office for “further investigation based on newly discovered evidence.” They would not say what the new evidence is.
This is where we must trust the system. We do not have all the facts, and we have to trust that the people who do are making good choices for the right reasons.
Trusting the institutions that protect our democracy is one of the things that has made this country succeed when many doubted it ever would.
We may not understand the decision to dismiss charges at this point, and perhaps it will become clearer to us in the future. What we can do is have faith in our system and trust in the people we have asked to make these hard decisions.