Monday, June 27, 2011

Flawed Justice System

From a Mark Steyn comment on the NRO site,
A New Hampshire neighbor of mine had the misfortune to attract the attention of federal prosecutors for one of those white-collar “crimes” no one can explain in English. The jury acquitted him in a couple of hours. Great news! The system worked! Not really. By then, the feds had spent a half-decade demolishing his life, exhausting his savings, wrecking his marriage, and driving him to attempt suicide. He’s not a big scary businessman like Conrad, just a small-town nobody. And he’ll never get his life back. Because, regardless of the verdict, the process is the punishment — which is the hallmark of unjust justice systems around the world.
Mr. Steyn nails a major defect in the American justice system. Best in the world, maybe .. maybe not. I have not studied all other justice systems.

Our system is terrible unless they prosecutors act with an intellectual honesty that is massively hard for the human brain to accomplish. The prosecutors become buddies with the police and more aligned with the police than is healthy for their independence. The prosecutors get in tight with the judges, because they see the same judges day after day. they ear more deference, frequently, than defense counsel. It is not a deliberate unequal deference by the judges, but a psychologically, the judges are inclined to cut prosecutors more slack.

The prosecutors have the power to over charge a defendant to put undue pressure for the innocent to plead guilty. They have the power to grant leniency or immunity to criminals to get their testimony (and give the criminals incentive to lie).

Juries are unpredictable, but I have seen juries fail to give the benefit of reasonable doubt. After all, the police would not have charged the defendant if he weren't guilty, they seem to think.

Police have the power to continue questioning the innocent (who do not exercise their rights to remain silent or to counsel (because, being innocent, they have nothing to fear, do they), until exhausted and under pressure they falsely confess. It happens more often than one would think.

For more information on how to conduct yourself when dealing with police, see the videos here and here.

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