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Showing posts from September, 2018

Innocent till jurors start to really dislike you?

Here's yet another case , tragic in countless senses, where overzealous prosecutors jumped the gun and focused on the wrong suspect — the father, who spent eight months in jail — before learning six years later that someone else, in this instance a convicted sex offender, had done the grisly deed. The remarkabl e work of The Innocence Project teaches us that these episodes are hardly a rarity. All told, as of this writing, Scheck, Neufeld et al have freed 254 convicts who were wrongly (and, too often, wrongfully) co nvicted. This is why I've said many times that the standards of evidence, or what we call evidence, are way too lenient. (See particularly here and here . If you're a glutton for punishment [no pun intended], you might also want to read my long September '09 piece for Skeptic , " Criminal Injustice .") I am gravitating more and m ore to the position that if there isn't verifiable physical evidence linking someone to a crime scene, no charg

Life lessons from my Kenmore. Part 2.

Had an IM exchange over the weekend with an erstwhile editor of mine at the Wall Street Journal . He happened to mention that he'd seen Part 1 of this little series, and he thought it was much ado about nothing. "A cute little item," he said, "but what's the upshot? OK, so we can't possibly know everything all the time. So? We do the best we can based on the information we have. You can't get all caught up in what you don't know all the time, or else nothing would ever get done." That sort of shruggish, "big deal/so what?" outlook overlooks the crucial implications here for human fallibility and, in turn, the humility we ought to feel about the things we think we know. Sure, we still n eed to get things done. It's just that maybe we ought to do them with somewhat less certitude about our grasp of the pertinent facts than many of us display as we go about our business. As one of the most obvious and relatable examples, let's ta