Sunday, December 31, 2017

Guilty or not Guilty

Most books and films portray Nero as a monster. Margaret George in her book, ‘The Confessions of Young Nero’, appears to have gone in the opposite direction, almost suggesting that he was more sinned against that sinning.

The only thing that doesn’t jell with this is his killing his mother; and not killing her in a fit of temper or aggravation, but after a carefully devised plan that publicly would be seen as an accident and not as an attempt on a mother’s life by her loving son.

The plan failed – needless to say. So, what could a son do? You guessed it. He chose a few of his loyal, well-armed followers, to visit her and despatch her once and for all.

Of course he felt guilty (and a lot of good that did his mum) and anxious (his innocence of the crime was not as convincing as it would have been if she’d met her death on a sinking ship for all the world to see).

So, whether he was not quite as bad as history portrays him, killing off his mother, and subsequently other people as well, would suggest that he’d earned his reputation as not a very nice person.

As an administrator, on the other hand, he had much to teach. Instead of trying every case publicly, with great soul-stirring orations for and against a case, he would ask for written submission. He felt this would stop cases being tried emotionally by mob rule rather than law. He would read the case, consider it, and make his decision. This would also be sent as a written document rather than delivered publicly as an emotionally-charged speech.

Imagine the amount of time and public money saved if this were adopted by our legal process.

It is remarkable that thousands of years down the track we still cling to the juror system which had its problems even in its hay day, and even much more so today.

It is a system so slow and so ponderous that some cases take years to be heard; and sometimes years to be resolved.

While the system itself is expensive - the upkeep of the premises, the staff, the filing of the tons of evidence – it is even more expensive for the plaintiffs themselves.

And how just can a system be, when you hear that it’s clever lawyers that help you win a case. And how about the poor who have no money for lawyers - especially the clever, expensive ones who win cases. What are their chances of winning their case?

Now imagine if your submission was wholly in writing. Like a letter to a prospective employer, you’d include anything and everything necessary to make your case as clear as possible. This would be read by, say, a number of judges separately. They could ask for more information if necessary, but once they felt they had everything they needed to make a decision, they’d get together and discuss the case amongst themselves. Then together they’d make their decision which would be relayed in writing to the person concerned.

Seeing as the whole matter is one of legality, why not let judges, whose position is based on their knowledge of law, decide.

I rest my case. What do you think?

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