Problem

Unjust trials


Experimental visualization of narrower problems
Other Names:
Biased judges and juries
Incidence:
Allegations of unfair trial procedures have been made with respect to many countries. In most cases, such reports concern countries where a state of siege or emergency is in force, entailing the use of military courts or special courts. In several countries, the usual practice in respect of trials of political opponents appears to be that the accused is notified of the date and time of the trial only two or three hours in advance, thus considerably reducing the possibilities for his defence. The accused and his defending counsel are often informed of the charges against him only during the hearing or, again, the accused may not even be present at the hearing.

Criminal justice systems in democratic societies with long traditions of trial by jury are far from immune to punishing innocent people and failing to free these people even after overwhelming evidence has been uncovered proving their innocence. What sometimes happens is built into the criminal justice system. Unable to find the true perpetrator of a crime, the hard-pressed police create in their minds a suspect in whose guild they come to believe. Lacking probative evidence, they manufacture it by way of false confessions, suborning of witnesses, loss of documents helpful to the defence, and enlisting informants within the prisons in which the accused is staying, in the deluded belief they are seeing justice done. The trial judge and jury having to choose between the word of the police and the defendant, invariable favour the police. The accused is convicted and sentenced. The case goes to appeal, but the Appeal Court, having no means of knowing that the jury reached their verdict on false evidence, and where deliberations in any event are cursory, invariably dismiss the appeal.

Problem Type:
D: Detailed problems
Date of last update
13.03.1997 – 00:00 CET