A philosopher once wrote that the only true test of any law is whether it manifests itself in the giving of justice. Everybody talks about justice, but do we really understand what justice means, and does justice have any place in the criminal justice system?
Many cynics would say that justice usually goes to the highest bidder or the wealthy litigant or defendant. There is much truth to that.
Justice of course can be defined in many ways, most notably in the way it is defined. Justice for one is not necessarily justice for another, and justice can be defined by an individual’s subjective ideas of right, wrong, good and evil. Of course, any of these principals can be influenced by ones particular religious ideas, or lack of, prejudices, bias, educational, mental, psychological or physical disabilities. Accordingly, if you had a room filed with a hundred men of women of different political, ethic, religious, economic and racial backgrounds, you would get a difference opinions of what is justice as it applies to any given set of facts and circumstances. Justice for someone would be injustice to others. The hedge fund or banker in the group would in many cases believe that he was “entitled to make millions”, and it was justice that he earn that salary, while the day laborer would shake his head an say it was injustice that he should make the minimum wage to support his family of four.
Likewise, some in the group would not think twice about judging as a juror in a criminal trial of finding a poor inner city young man or woman guilty of selling a small quantity of drugs, arguing that they were performing justice. They might argue that they did this in the name of justice knowing that the consequence of that judgment would send that person to prison for many years or even decades, because “he got what he deserved”, not understanding that the human being which they have righteously judged never had the chance that they did in life.
In truth the factual situations are endless in which people disagree in the most fundamental way in which they agree or disagree in their concept of justice.
In truth how can anyone judge anyone else? We see an action, but we never see a motive. The reason why people act or fail to act in any given situation can depend on countless factors.
Does the jury system promote justice? How can jury have any say in the justice system if juries are never told the entire truth, the full truth, of every case, and about the people to whom they are to judge. Why in the criminal justice system are criminal juries never told the punishment and sentence of their guilty verdict? Juries are never told, and under New Jersey cannot be told, that the defendant who is found guilty will be exposed to, such as extended terms of imprisonment, or periods of parole ineligibility if they determine someone is guilty of the charges. Juries are told that they can only be judges of the facts. Why should the jury not be told that if they believe the law to be unjust under the particular circumstances, that they can render a not guilty verdict? Is it not right and just to education the jury to the full consequences of their decision? Should the jury in a criminal case not know everything about the fellow human being in which they are to judge? To isolate the jury with limited knowledge renders their decision making process inadequate and flawed. In such a flawed system it renders the jury to be a mere tool of the State, and not true judges of the facts, which the law is meant to be. Giving lip service to justice with words only is not justice. I
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