Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Paradox of Criminal Court

The lecture I went to last night I found particularly interesting, so I thought I would share some of what was said that really peeked my interest. One of the things that was talked about was the paradox of Criminal Court. As the crimes of the defence become more heinous, the more protection he/she is provided by the courts. That being said, the courts are actually more on the side of the defence than on the side of the prosecution. The reason being that, the courts would rather set a guilty man free, then send an innocent man to jail.

Now I know that the courts are supposed to be impartial, and that they are not on the side of either, but rather and unbiased judge of the case, but when you look at due process, and all that is involved in a criminal case in order to get a conviction, all the “hoops” the prosecution have to jump through, per se, it becomes clear where the courts protection lies. I understand this, and appreciate these barriers that have been put up to ensure that an innocent man is not sent to prison. But it does raise questions about who is protecting or standing up for the victims of the crimes? We had some interesting debate, and it left me feeling like I need to find out more. As I am still in first year law, we will not be going into great detail about criminal courts and the burden of evidence, this will be later on in my degree, but it has left me wanting more. Which is exactly why I signed up for this degree, I absolutely love having these debates, and thinking about things outside of everyday life, and looking forward to the next lecture!

As always, comments welcome. Till next time.


VC said...

It makes you wonder who would choose to become a prosecutor...

StephLambert said...

The system clearly has the Offender at its center and not the victim and that is a huge issue. There have been moves to try and make the victim more central, but those haven't really been very good... Fact is, the premise of Criminal law is that the V hands over the right to be involved to the State and it becomes an issue between the State and the Offender, e.g. R v Smith, R v Jones, not SMith v JOnes.
Anyway VC your comment is interesting as I have had so many questions recently about why I would be more comfortable defending rather than prosecuting... but here in NZ our society is incredibly punitive and we do not think through how punitive sentences actually bring more harm than good. I think we should be thinking about what kind of justice we want, and what that really means - just sending people to prison doesn't change the issues they have in their lives and it puts them in this fishbowl with worse criminals, so ten years later, they have been become everything we wanted to protect ourselves from.
Dan, great blog... wish we could talk this stuff through :)