Justice can’t be treated as a business enterprise
29 August 2012
Michael Mansfield | Comment is free
“Justice is truth in action.” These words spoken in 1851 by Benjamin Disraeli encapsulate the ultimate objective. The moment justice is partisan, truth becomes a victim, and a core element of any democratic society is fatally undermined.
Miscarriages of justice provide prime examples of how easily individual errors and misdemeanours translate into systemic abuse unless there is constant awareness and scrutiny. Such vulnerabilities have to be identified and circumscribed by a regularly reviewed and effective process of checks and balances.
It is tempting to believe that the infamous miscarriages of the 80s are a thing of the past, and that the incorporation of various legislative instruments and organisations have eliminated the risk of repetition. Unfortunately it never works like this and each generation has to relearn the lessons of the past and build on the earlier remedies.
While wrongful convictions based on confession evidence are now rare to nonexistent, the focus of evidential attention has become forensic science. The problem in both instances is the same: the growth of a culture in which there is an arrogance of unquestioned presumption and assumption.
- Experts ask ‘who is responsible for miscarriages of justice?’ (guardian.co.uk)
- Cole on Forensic Science and Wrongful Convictions (lawprofessors.typepad.com)