Download Simple Justice by Charles Murray PDF

By Charles Murray

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The only reason that excluding evidence from prior arrests make sense is if we don’t trust jurors’ good sense. The criterion of ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ gives jurors no choice but to work with probabilities. They must combine many different types of evidence, none of them absolutely conclusive, and come up with their best estimate of an overall probability of guilt. The importance of prior record can vary widely. If the defendant’s prior record consisted of one arrest for a misdemeanour ten years ago, that record should be irrelevant to the jury’s calculation of probabilities.

Two of the three politicians were Tories. David Ramsbotham came to his post after a distinguished military career. Charles Pollard may not be a Cop, but he was a career policeman. Retired Judge Oliver Popplewell and Professor John Spencer scarcely qualify as wild-eyed liberals. David Faulkner worked for 30 years as career civil servant in the Home Office. Only Lord Woolf has a long history of published views that would clearly make him a Progressive. As a group, these representatives of the criminal justice élites are likely to be a bit more conservative than the average.

Now suppose you are told that four other women have independently filed complaints of date rape against this same man over the last few years even though none of those complaints resulted in a conviction. It is no longer a coin flip. The chances of a terrible miscarriage of justice have plummeted. Rape is the archetypal case, but it is not different in kind from burglary, robbery, or any other crime. A witness has picked out the defendant on a burglary charge from a lineup, let us say, but the light was bad and you, the juror, are not willing to estimate the likelihood of a correct identification at 100 per cent—90 per cent perhaps, but not 100 per cent.

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