Miscarriages of Justice

Topics: Law, Crime, Conviction Pages: 5 (1957 words) Published: May 15, 2005
The statement "It is better that 10 guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer" summarises and highlights the mistakes and injustices in the criminal justice system. In a just society, the innocent would never be charged, nor convicted, and the guilty would always be caught and punished. Unfortunately, it seems this would be impossible to achieve due to the society in which we live. Therefore, miscarriages of justice occur in the criminal justice system more frequently than is publicised or known to the public at large. They are routine and would have to be considered as a serious problem in our society. The law is what most people respect and abide by, if society cannot trust the law that governs them, then there will be serious consequences including the possible breakdown of that society. In order to have a fair and just society, miscarriages of justice must not only become exceptional but ideally cease to occur altogether.

A miscarriage of justice is basically "a failure to attain the desired end result of justice". In our society, every person should be treated equally and fairly as "our legal institutions are premised on the idea that our legal system is both neutral and impartial, and that all persons are equal in the eyes of the law". The country in which we were born, the language we speak, the colour of our skin and our gender should be of no relevance in deciding the outcome of justice. All these notions are part of "due process" and if this occurs in our society, why are there still miscarriages of justice? Our legal system is based on the fact that everyone deserves a fair hearing. In theory this is ideal, but due to human nature mistakes will always occur. The introduction of DNA into the courtroom ( which can free innocent people wrongfully convicted of a crime twenty years ago) and Anderson's view on allowing juries to ask questions and participate more in trials (by stating the evidence on which they base their convictions), on the surface appear beneficial to the outcome of justice, and in some cases this will be the result. However, justice will always be hindered by humans and their corrupt side. Unfortunately, this is part of human nature and even the people in high positions are not immune.

When a person is accused of being "guilty", society must assume the person is innocent until proven guilty. Anderson highlights the fact that the system is not designed in this way "If guilty people do not deserve justice, why should we expect an entire system that runs on this assumption to deliver justice to anyone at all". If we assume everyone who is accused of being guilty is in fact guilty, then a miscarriage of justice has already occurred. Society has not accorded the accused "due process" and has already determined their opinion without all the facts and evidence. Therefore, they would not have been given a fair trial. Anderson further states " the point is that innocence must be defined by justice, not justice by perceived innocence". In other words, if a person is guilty of a crime, then the law will prove that they are indeed guilty due to the evidence and facts surrounding the case. However, even a person "who has in fact and with intent committed a crime could be said to have suffered a miscarriage if convicted on evidence which is legally inadmissible or which is not proven beyond reasonable doubt". Whilst not inflicting the same degree ( if any ) of sympathy as an innocent person wrongfully convicted of a crime, the outcome is nevertheless a miscarriage as the person was not proved guilty by the facts of the case and a "conviction arising from deceit or illegalities is corrosive of the states claims to legitimacy on the basis of due process and respect for rights". Therefore, if a person is innocent, then the law will prove that they are innocent. Unfortunately, the "sufficiency of evidence actually required by the law to convict a person of murder is not always difficult to...
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