WHOSE TRIAL IS IT ANYWAY?
Free eArticle to Read Online
When a ‘Defendant goes on trial’ for an alleged criminal offence it is to decide his guilt or innocence, right? Wrong. Well, mostly wrong. The State (Prosecution and Police) says that a ‘Defendant’ is guilty of a crime and will be punished. What is the safeguard to the individual against arbitrary punishment? The safeguard is that the individual, as against the State, should be allowed to say that I am innocent. I am not guilty and I wish to put your case, the State’s evidence, to the test in public, in open court, to see if it holds water. The whole purpose of a criminal trial, the only purpose of a criminal trial is to allow the individual to test and probe the State’s case and evidence in public. It is not the ‘Defendant’ that is on trial in a criminal case. That is the wrong way to look at it. Perhaps ‘Defendant’ is the wrong term to use for someone accused of a criminal offence as it may infer that he/she has to defend themselves. The ‘Defendant’ is innocent until proved guilty. It is the State’s case and evidence that is on trial in any criminal proceedings – not the ‘Defendant’. A criminal trial is for the benefit and protection of the individual against the State. If you lose sight of this basic principal then you are in trouble. If the judge is biased towards the Prosecution and Police or the judge is “naive” such that they blindly accept everything the Prosecution says or the laws of the trial process (and that includes the pre-trial disclosure process) are skewed in favour of the State then again the individual is in trouble.