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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 sense?
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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