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“Principles are the simplicity on the far side of complexity.” Stephen R Covey.

The legal system is a poor example of principles in action, even though you will often hear it quoted as such.

I say this because of the (money-generating, anti-justice) focus on the observance of process over the principle of truth.

UK readers will know of Nick Freeman, ‘Mr Loophole’, whose expertise is on getting people found not guilty of things they did, on the basis of – well, loopholes. For example, a drunk-driving client who was charged by a civilian and not a police officer, so the court erroneously let them off even though I can’t find ANY legal requirement that a police officer read the charges out. Charge-reading is no more than a means of bringing a suspect to court. The message, “My client did what is alleged but you didn’t dot a t and cross an I” does not serve justice, it serves the procedure – and the lawyer’s pocket.

They call this ‘legal ethics’. They are the ethics that allow lawyers to NOT ask their client if they did it because to do so might prevent them defending that client. But here’s a question – if you have to pre-describe a term, doesn’t the term become redundant. In other words, doesn’t the word ‘legal’ before the term ‘ethics’ mean that they aren’t ethical at all?

For me, the overriding question in all human endeavour should be – what is the ultimate purpose of this process? If the process has not been followed, can the principle still be achieved reasonably fairly?

Such a question would rule out the use of deliberate or even grossly negligent errors in convicting people who endanger society, while still allowing us to prevent ‘honest error’ letting criminals and other dangerous offenders getting away with it.

Alternatively – some courts, judges, magistrates and prosecutors should just stand up and be counted.