Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Challenging questions from Judge Kozinski

Judge Alex Kozinski (9th Cir.)
Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has just published a characteristically provocative essay, Criminal Law 2.0, 44 Geo. L.J. Ann. Rev. Crim. Proc. (2015). He writes that "much of the so-called wisdom that has been handed down to us, about the workings of the legal system, and the criminal process in particular, has been undermined by experience, legal scholarship and common sense." He proceeds to examine the following propositions:
  1. Eyewitnesses are highly reliable.
  2. Fingerprint evidence is foolproof.
  3. Other types of forensic evidence are scientifically proven and therefore infallible.
  4. DNA evidence is infallible.
  5. Human memories are reliable.
  6. Confessions are infallible because innocent people never confess.
  7. Juries follow instructions.
  8. Prosecutors play fair.
  9. The prosecution is at a substantial disadvantage because it must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
  10. Police are objective in their investigations.
  11. Guilty pleas are conclusive proof of guilt.
  12. Long sentences deter crime.
Later in the article he offers his suggestions, both specific and systemic. Is he right? If he is, how much of what he describes applies to the administration of justice in military courts?

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