One of the benefits of our system of justice, which guarantees everyone a jury of their peers, is that those juries can often respond to cases with plain old common sense - and deliver a message loud and clear.
Such was the case in the acquittal of a former Columbia County bus driver last week.
There is little doubt that Michael Wayne Wallace overreacted nearly a year ago to the scuffling, back-talking 9-year-olds on his bus. After stopping the bus, Wallace lost his temper, used foul language and shoved one of the boys into his seat.
Wallace acted appropriately the next day, however: He resigned. No matter how big a jerk a 9-year-old can be, a bus driver must be able to hold his or her temper and let higher authorities deal with uncontrollable children.
The next step was entirely bogus, however. Wallace's actions in no way rose to the criminal level of simple battery, much less the more-serious assault charges that the coddling 9-year-old's parents wanted.
Fortunately, the jury agreed. They took less than 30 minutes to find Wallace innocent.
Wallace should take the acquittal for the gift that it is and welcome the extra incentive to keep that temper in check.
The parents of that now-10-year-old should use this as a lesson, too: Few people believe it's OK for a preteen to smart off and backtalk adults in authority. These parents might think their son got a raw deal, but to the contrary: He still has all his teeth. The next adult might not be as restrained.
Perhaps if the boy's parents focus their efforts on teaching their son a little respect, he's less likely to be shoved around - or worse - the next time he crosses an adult with a bad temper.
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