October 31, 2004


I was scooting around my blog and found some link love from Irregular Verbiage. Over there is a post on some legislation that has been proposed in the UK to allow the prosecution to introduce a defendent's past criminal record in as evidence.

This is the first I've heard of this and it is an outrage. I hope this gets stopped and never comes up in any country ever again.

If you're trying to prove that I committed a particular crime, what relevance does my other activities, good or bad, have to do with it? None. Any defending attorney would be well within reason to object on the grounds of relevance.

This isn't about giving the accused the benefit of the doubt. It's not patronizing the jury. (Point of fact, many would not discount recidivism as irrelevant to the case.)

I don't know if the UK uses the same rigors when regarding the burden of evidence in trials, but here in the states you can't (in theory) get a conviction based on conjecture, misdirection, and speculation.

What if our doctors took to diagnosing disease this way? What if engineers opted to certify the viability of our machinery that way?

Such legislation is a thinly veiled attempt to give the prosecution license to act as propagandists. I, for one, would not want the defense of my person and property to be decided on the balance of who can manipulate public opinion better. And if anyone complains that trials can be bought, this legislation would only make it worse - marketing firms are pricey!

Frankly, I'm surprised to hear about this sort of thing outside of France or the Middle East.

Oh wait.

Do they do trials in the Middle East? With the exception of Isreal, I thought they just threw big rocks up in the air and whoever is struck must be guilty of something per the guiding hand of Allah.

Ok. Well, I'm surprised to hear about it outside of France. How's that?

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at October 31, 2004 09:50 AM
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