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  •  Why America hates the courts (1+ / 0-)
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    Desert Biologist

    Indefinite detentions and military tribunals didn't emerge from a vacuum.  Americans -- and by extension the officials elected by Americans -- don't trust ordinary courts to convict guilty people.  That's why they don't want suspected terrorists tried in ordinary courts; they fear that Osama bin Laden would be released on a technicality or acquitted for lack of hard evidence.

    Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is a high standard, and it can be difficult to meet that standard when a suspect has been detained before he has actually committed the crime that he is accused of planning.  It can also be difficult to prove the commission of a crime when that crime leaves behind little or no evidence.  Yet, even in absence of that proof, many Americans evaluate the suspect and the situation on the basis of so-called common sense and decide that a court should find the person guilty.  If that person is subsequently found not guilty, it causes Americans to become increasingly skeptical of the court system.  We liberals may understand the legal principles that allowed O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson to go free, but a red-meat red-state red-blooded American sees nothing more than two obviously guilty men who were allowed to walk away without any punishment.

    Guantanamo Bay, military tribunals and the case of Jose Padilla aren't the work of power-mad dictators.  They are unsurprising product of a nation that thinks "beyond a reasonable doubt" is unreasonable and that "innocent until proven guilty" is quaint.

    September 11th provided a good excuse to change the fundamental nature of the American justice system, but that change would have happened sooner or later even in the absence of the terrorist attacks.  The only long-term solution is to restore the people's faith in the courts, and that means restoring the people's faith in the idea that it's better for ten guilty people to go free than for one innocent person to be unjustly imprisoned.  

    That will be an uphill battle, indeed.

    •  As I recall.... (0+ / 0-)

      Napoleonic law has it that a suspect is guilty until proven innocent.  British law (after which our legal system is patterned) holds that a suspect is innocent until proven guilty.  The solution: adopt Napoleonic law but change its name to Freedom Law! We can't admit to anything French! We would be right up there with the Democratic Peoples Republic of (insert name), which have little to do with the people or democracy!

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