|Type of paper:||Research paper|
|Categories:||Criminal law Police Criminal justice Human rights|
Justice involves the delivery of a fair trial in a court of law. Often, the justice system is a crude and complex set of procedures that relate to the communications within the courtroom, the gathering of evidence and the conduct of the judge or jury. Misconduct is a common cause for many mistrials and the denial of justice around the world. While injustice can range from false accusations to even poorly-conducted trials, simple issues of police harassment and the denial of rights constitute injustice as well (Mehandru & Koenig, 2019). The legal system in every country anticipates an ideal situation where every citizen is law-abiding, and thus, the conviction of criminals is based on the law. It is often the concern of the courts to ensure that justice is served and for lawyers to always defend the judicial process in every way possible. This essay discusses the ethical concern of witness tampering in court cases, and how the issue leads to a mistrial.
A Witness Tampering Case
Witness tampering involves bribery, which later leads to the wrongful accusation of a plaintiff. In 2016, John was wrongfully convicted of a crime. The charges against him were "breaking and entering" (De Brouwer, 2015). He was accused of entering a government building (where he was working from) in unauthorized hours and lied his way to access the senior management offices to steal some sensitive information (De Brouwer, 2015). At the time, the senior management sought to take action on the matter, but there were no eyewitnesses. Indeed, the building had been broken into, and someone was responsible. Since there was no sure suspect or willing volunteers, the case remained unsolved for about a month. A month later, he was called in the manager's office and asked to confess to the crime. He was even assured that the charges would be later dropped and that he would secure employment elsewhere at the recommendation of the management. Since there was no evidence against him, he did as most people would; and rejected the accusations (De Brouwer, 2015).
False accusations do not easily fly in court unless one has a significant backing of evidence (Jacobs & Jackson, 2016). John knew that he would not be convicted as he was innocent. A week later, however, he was discharged from his duties and subsequently charged. It was then that he was called to explain what happened. A few of his colleagues had agreed to testify against him and offer false accusations. In criminal law, offering false accusations in a court of law is a punishable offense (Worley, Worley & Wood, 2016). Since John was among the least senior officers in the office, the employees did not feel obliged to defend him as many did not have a direct working relationship with him. Indeed, the witnesses were coached and told what to say about the incident. The CCTV evidence in the office was also destroyed, and the case was done for John. A few weeks after the falsehoods, he was sentenced to six months in prison after a guilty plea and an out-of-court deal.
It is sad that the court system was not equipped well enough to conduct thorough investigations and ascertain the truth of the matter. Many cases are won out of evidence gathering and not the truth or facts from either side (Worley, Worley & Wood, 2016). Justice would later be served when John left prison. He launched his private investigation and established that indeed, the person responsible was within the senior management and that he sought to destroy some files that would tarnish his reputation as a manager to the auditor. A CCTV camera a few blocks away also caught the individual on tape and would be availed as evidence. John subsequently sued the company and got reparations as well as exonerating himself of the crime he had already served a jail term for. In criminal law, exoneration is an important aspect, and even if the sentence has been served, a pardon often rectifies the criminal record of the individual (Mehandru & Koenig, 2019).
Justice is almost always never handled as desired. Many people often imagine the ideal situation where everything is brought to light in a court of law, but generally, many cases do not dwell on the truth (de Brouwer, 2015). It is important always to have supporting evidence in one's defense. Alibis and character witnesses can be important tools to ensure that one is not wrongfully convicted. It is by using such tools that the individual can avoid unjust treatment by the courts and an eventual sentence for a crime they did not commit. The story of John is a personal experience of injustice. Many people around the world face injustices in the court system, where they are supposed to be getting justice in the first place (Jacobs & Jackson, 2016). It is hence critical to review the ethical basis of most criminal cases around the world.
De Brouwer, A. M. (2015). The Problem of Witness Interference before International Criminal Tribunals. International criminal law review, 15(4), 700-732. Retrieved from; https://pure.uvt.nl/ws/portalfiles/portal/23047785/De_BrouwerICLR_2015.pdf.
Jacobs, J., & Jackson, J. (Eds.). (2016). The Routledge Handbook of Criminal Justice Ethics. Routledge. Retrieved from; https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jonathan_Jackson3/publication/303447365_Editors%27_preface_Routledge_handbook_of_criminal_justice_ethics/links/5999817e0f7e9b3edb17b165/Editors-preface-Routledge-handbook-of-criminal-justice-ethics.pdf
Mehandru, N., & Koenig, A. (2019). Icts, Social Media, & the Future of Human Rights. Duke Law & Technology Review, 17(1), 129-145. Retrieved from; https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1334&context=dltr.
Worley, R. M., Worley, V. B., & Wood, B. A. (2016). 'There were ethical dilemmas all day long!': harrowing tales of ethnographic researchers in criminology and criminal justice. Criminal Justice Studies, 29(4), 289-308. Retrieved from; https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Robert_Worley2/publication/309066625_'There_were_ethical_dilemmas_all_day_long'_harrowing_tales_of_ethnographic_researchers_in_criminology_and_criminal_justice/links/5a6cac7f458515d4075703f2/There-were-ethical-dilemmas-all-day-long-harrowing-tales-of-ethnographic-researchers-in-criminology-and-criminal-justice.pdf
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