Tuesday, November 22, 2005

And Behind Curtain B Is...

Tuesday Two - Episode 7

By Patrick

From Patrick's Weekender blog comes The Tuesday Two. Patrick explained it this way, “Here's the first playing of the Tuesday Two exclusively on Blogger. For those who have never played, the rules are simple: I offer two different questions, both related to the same topic, but you only choose one of them to actually answer. “

“The last edition was two weeks ago. Last week's edition was postponed because of the ad mess over at AOL. But two weeks ago, it was Barbara of " Confessions of An Angel Waitress " who was first to answer the topic of nudity. Congratulations, Barbara!”

“Now, onto this week's choice of questions. And remember: don't answer both questions! You'll find out why in December!”



“Do you believe the current "jury of one's peers" system is the right way to go, or should local citizens be elected or appointed to serve as "professional jurors" to hear criminal cases, and why.”


“If a simple, painless and foolproof "lie detector" system could be developed that could be applied to the accused in criminal cases, removing the possibility that an innocent person could possibly be convicted, would you be in favor of that system being used universally in all court cases to determine who is telling the truth, and why?”

“For each pair, choose A or B, (indicate which question you're answering!) then either answer the question in a comment or answer it in your journal and include the link in a comment. (To be considered "first to play," a link must be to the specific entry in which you answered the question.)”

“Remember: choose one or the other in each pair ... not both!”

My Answer to Question B:

Just as video arraignments have become the rule, rather than the exception, up in Aroostook County, Maine, in order to reduce transportation and labor costs and provide more secure conditions for the judge, the accused and others concerned with arraignments, so too should a concentrated effort be made to develop a tamper-proof, fool- and intellectual-proof “lie detection system” to help reduce the enormous expenses associated with the ponderous bureaucracy of the modern court system.

The primary benefits of such technology would be to ease the psychological burden on juries as they judge fellow humans as flawed as themselves. No one wants to incarcerate innocents and most do want to punish the guilty. It's the area of belief in an individual's innocence that bothers most jurors. Take away the fear of wrongful convictions and I think we'd see a vast improvement in the quality of jurisprudence meted out in our civil and criminal courts.

I concede that such a universal system would not be without new problems for “the system.” We lack the space to incarcerate prisoners as it is. Almost all non-violent felonies are pleaded down to house arrest these days. Misdemeanors are almost universally sentenced to probation for various periods sometimes accompanied by monetary retribution. Prosecuting attorneys would of necessity have to find new and better ways of obtaining convictions on the thinnest of circumstantial evidence (although I will note that recent advances in DNA technology have reduced the opportunities for retention of innocents in jail if convicted unfairly on blood or other human biological evidence. Defense attorneys would find it even more difficult conjuring up shadows of “reasonable doubt” to confuse a jury with if the jury could view the results of such an electronic lie detection system for themselves to determine the truth of the matter.

Finally, such a system could well and truly end the seemingly endless appeals process that seem to accompany convicted felons to penitentiary. Tough to argue unfair trial issues that potentially influence a judge and jury of ones peers if the technology allows for no intervention by biased third parties to the process.

But, I could be wrong about all of this. I'm fallible and I tend to prevaricate.

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