Friday, October 06, 2006

Tried and Tried again.

Legal news.

The first person to be tried twice for the same offence in Britain for 800 years was today jailed for life, (See this Times article).

In my opinion this is a negative development. A strict application of the 'double jeopardy' rule, which prohibits defendants from being tried a second time for the same crime, is the best way to protect the individual and limit the power of the state in the area of criminal prosecution. The double jeopardy rule is also part of the European Convention of Human Rights, see Protocol 7 Article 4. The United Kingdom has not signed protocol 7, and Article 4 does allow cases to be reopened in accordance law and penal procedures, on the basis of new evidence.*

Yes I'm a 'bleeding-heart-liberal' and I'm not ashamed of it. I believe a free society can only be maintained if the criminal justice system's first priority is to protect the accused, not to convict every guilty person. I believe, for example, that Julius and Ethel Rosenberg should be pardoned posthumously. Not because they where innocent, which might not have been, but because their trial was flawed.

In holding these beliefs I known I'm in minority, but if I ever make it out of Law School then would I really like to quality in criminal law so I can defend the accused, innocent and guilty alike.

* Another example of how weak a document the European Convention of Human Rights is. This shows how incredible it is that the UK has so hard time staying within its limits.


At 06 October, 2006 22:10, Anonymous Iben Bidstrup said...

Hold on to the dream (It's not over till the fat lady sings). You don't know what's coming Torsten or why you're here, only God knows. Leave it to him.


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