I rarely have much interest in the public lead up to criminal trials. The trial of defendants in the court of public opinion holds no interest for me as the stories are unavoidably one-sided and thus can never resemble anything approaching truth. It’s why we hold trials, and it’s the fundamental principle of courts, trials, enquiries. While they make a decision to resolve a legal question, they are also hunting for truth, and hopefully justice. Decision, truth, and justice, and mainly in that order. They guarantee the first, try for the second, and hope for the third.
In many respects, it’s not unlike the TV shows or movies where they show a single event from multiple people’s perspectives, all of them slightly misleading, or more pointedly, highly subjective, with often a few common elements that they all saw and a list of other ones where they saw different things, missed others, or even had some that directly contradicted each other. » Read the rest
The sex assault trial this week should be primarily about prosecutors laying the groundwork for overwhelming evidence of four crimes. For the case against Ghomeshi, the prosecutor should have the witnesses damn near bulletproof at this point. They even have their own lawyers to help them prepare. And yet, the defence attorney has picked them apart with relative ease. Not even after days of grilling, or horrendous cross-examinations that people expect. But rather, just pointing out major problems with their stories.
The first complainant said he assaulted her by pulling her by the hair so hard it bent her over the back of her car seat. Except she said she was wearing hair extensions that were clip-on — how did they not come off? She also said that he was driving this cute little VW car. Except he didn’t buy it until long after the day of that alleged assault. Neither of those details has anything to do with the assault, except they are part of her evidence of how she remembers the details of the day so clearly. » Read the rest
I was looking at various pundits predictions for 2016, and the only one that resonates with me is in the legal realm that sexual assault trials are likely to dominate major news coverage, albeit more “celebrity” / “entertainment” news than political coverage. In Canada, we’re going to see movement forward on the Jian Ghomeshi trial, and from the U.S., a potential civil and criminal trial for Bill Cosby (without prejudice to the future outcomes, I’m going to regularly refer to them as the “perpetrators” and their accusers as “victims”; I have no idea what happened with any of them). Add to that an increased attention to sexual assaults in general, and there will likely be more coverage of sports teams and frat houses going downhill rapidly from merely stupid behaviour to outright criminal behaviour when the testosterone, sense of entitlement, and alcohol/drugs get out of control on campuses rife with the so-called rape culture. » Read the rest