The American Legal System – In Review

Professo Krauss

Key Points:

  • The role of wrongful culpability and carelessness in the justice system.
  • The Daubert Discussion: the ability judges should have to assess the expert testimony and how this corresponds with the error rate of wrongful conviction.
  • Cognitive bias framework, the tendency to act irrationally and give more weight to evidence and testimonies that enforce pre-existing beliefs.

Sam Stone

Key Points:

  • The biases that are inherent in state judges as a result of being conflicted in the interests of justice and the way in which they have to face elections, therefore forcing them to make political considerations.
  • The impartiality of a judge is effected in these circumstances.

Elise Hansell

Key Points:

  • The tension between the need to convict and the need to protect society but maintaining the ability to protect the innocent from being convicted.
  • From a philosophical point of view, society would rather 10 guilty people escape prosecution rather than one innocent person be wrongfully convicted.
  • Brady Law: the fact that the prosecution have to turn over evidence that would point to innocence.

Professor Medwed

Key Points:

  • Optimal balance is necessary within the justice system for the safety of those in the system as well as the speed of processing those out of the system.
  • The lack of transparency due to the fact that judge plays no role in the criminal justice system as well the role of trial tax.
  • The prosecution does not have to give produce public evidence which forces the defendant to go into a plea bargain completely blind, because they do not know what the evidence is.

Q & A

  • Q: How do you influence the ASA to not prosecute people?
  • A: Professor Medwed – Encourage judges to be more searching when looking at evidence early on in the judicial process.
  • Q: When judges have previously been part of the prosecution or the defense, how has this influenced them?
  • A: Professor Krauss – From a psychological perspective, previous experiences will always effect your line of thinking, but this begs the question as to how can we change basic human nature
  • A: Professor Medwed – Prosecutors have a better chance of becoming judges, when an appellate judge finds out there has been an error in the legal process the defense is more likely to be shamed whereas the prosecution is rarely named
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