Everything You Wanted to Know about
Social Engineering -- But Were Afraid to Ask...
The US Justice System
If we take the scientific method to heart, we could never
get enough evidence against a criminal to send him or her to
prison. To solve this problem, the US judicial system has techniques
to be reasonably sure that many criminals wind up behind bars,
without putting too many innocent people into prison. Now, as
you read what I have to say about the criminal justice system,
remember that I'm not a lawyer and this discussion could be seriously
bogus. I'm simply doing my darndest to get it straight.
1) The criminal must be indicted. This takes a reasonable
amount of evidence. If a policeman sees a crime in progress,
he or she can arrest the suspect. However, for the suspect to
go to trial or even just be detained in jail, a judge must look
over the evidence. In some of the more complicated cases, where
no policeman has actually seen any crime, but others provide
evidence, a grand jury looks over the evidence and decides whether
a suspect should go to trial. The point of all this is to make
it difficult for a rogue policeman to abuse his or her power
by forcing innocent people he or she dislikes to go to jail and
face a trial.
2) The suspect has the right of trial by jury. This way, even
if the police and judge are trying to put innocent people in
jail, or are too biased or ignorant to recognize that there is
not reasonable proof of guilt, the jury can hopefully see through
it and free the suspect. In some cases the suspect may even be
guilty, but the jury may believe that law itself is wrong and
free the suspect (jury nullification).
3) Any suspect has the right to be represented by a lawyer. Lawyers
understand how to gather and present evidence that may prove
the suspect innocent, or at least show that the evidence does
not provide a reasonable proof of guilt. Sometimes the police
or prosecutors may even provide evidence they know is false;
other times they may be mistaken. Because the assistance of a
lawyer is so important, under US law the government must provide
a free lawyer to impoverished suspects.
4) The suspect has the right to have his or her lawyer cross
examine witnesses. Can the witness (or the suspect) tell the
same story over and over again? If the story changes, suspect
something. Is the story consistent? If the story contradicts
itself, something must be false. Does the story make logical
5) If convicted, the suspect has the right to appeal. As with
the scientific method, you never know when evidence may come
to light that may overthrow a theory or overturn a conviction.
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